Stay healthy this summer with knowledge from our experts SEARCH OUR DOCTORS close

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Fifteen years and 180 issues later, Austin Woman isn’t slowing down any time soon. 

By Maddy Hill and Lauren Jones, Photos by Sarah Holcomb and Caitlin Candelari

Become

Empowered women empower women: This mantra is apparent on every page of Austin Woman magazine. In the 15 years following its inception, the magazine has stayed true to its roots as the only women-centric publication in Austin. Many readers are familiar with this magazine and the inspiring tour de force of women featured therein, but few know the publication’s own success story.

Founded in 2002 during Austin’s tech boom, Austin Woman magazine is the brainchild of powerhouse Publisher Melinda Garvey. After hearing from a friend about an Iowa-based magazine called Des Moines Woman, she became fixated on the idea of starting her own women’s magazine that would serve the Austin community in a time when there was a substantial lack of representation of women in the media.

With a strong belief that the No. 1 issue hindering the advancement of women was the absence of relatable role models, Garvey used her inspiration to start drafting her business plan the next day. In September 2002, the first issue of Austin Woman magazine was released with Amy Simmons of Amy’s Ice Creams proudly smiling on the cover, ice-cream cone in hand.

Garvey’s staff, which consisted of five people and a handful of contributors, spent the month of August 2002 working out of her home. Unforeseen at the time, the small-scale operation would quickly skyrocket into the spotlight of the Austin community and seamlessly became interwoven in the lives of hundreds of women. The profiles about powerful Austin women were written with such candor that, to readers, the cover stars seemed to be more like friends than unreachable local celebrities. The content resonated in a way no Austin magazine had previously done.

In September of that same year, Austin Woman’s popularity started to snowball as it became the go-to source to learn about Austin’s most impressive female entrepreneurs, philanthropists and changemakers. Most importantly, the publication created a new way for people to get involved in the community and established the idealized version of an Austin woman­: someone who is empowered by realizing her own gifts and talents, someone who always inspires those around her and provides opportunities to lift one another up.

Grow

Throughout the years, the focus of the magazine has grown and expanded past profiles and forayed into subject arenas of exercise and nutrition, travel, style and beauty. Acting as a trusty confidant for the Austin woman, the magazine offers something for every reader. The team has often asked themselves what direction they should be moving in, according to Garvey, only to keep coming back to what they’ve always loved: captivating profile content and candid advice.

Gripping and inspiring stories were the foundation of Austin Woman magazine, and these features became an essential launching pad to sparking constructive conversations between women in the Austin community and beyond. The magazine is nothing if not impactful for both readers and the women who grace its pages.

“My biggest fear starting Austin Woman was running out of women to feature,” Garvey confides. “That’s not been a problem; it’s been the contrary. I feel like we never have enough pages or space, and that’s why we’ve built a bigger and robust digital platform. There are so many more women to feature.”

Innovate

That’s why ATX Women to Watch is launching in this issue celebrating Austin Woman’s 15th birthday. The section, designed to spark an interest among readers about local women-owned and women-led businesses, will highlight four women each month in the Austin community. These short-form stories will shine a light on women who are working diligently to live out their dreams and build their customer bases.

With the future of journalism becoming a balancing act between past, present and future, Austin Woman is also expanding its digital presence. Readers can expect to see daily content online at the publication’s new website, {atxwoman.com}, as well as behind-the-scenes videos and multimedia content. While the namesake is different from the print title, the content of the site remains true to the spirit of the print magazine.

At nearly 2 million residents, Austin is the 11th-largest city in the U.S., and Garvey sees the development of the digital side of Austin Woman as crucial to the publication’s longevity, as the age range of women in the city continues to skew toward a more millennial audience. According to apartmentlist.com, Austin ranks third in the country when it comes to millennial population growth.

“We’ve captured more millennials and 20-somethings over the years without losing the older readers. As a group, as women, we all want the same thing: Stories about relatable women, fashion, home and what’s going on in health,”Garvey explains. “Women of all ages know they can get that in our magazine and online.”

In the past 15 years, Austin Woman has been able to fill a void that no publication in the city was able to do before, proving Garvey’s long-held belief that “when women thrive, everyone thrives.”

Expand

When women from throughout the U.S. started expressing their approval of and affinity for Austin Woman, Garvey saw an opportunity to take the power of Austin Woman and expand its impact outside Austin’s city limits.

April 4, 2016, a more wide-reaching venture was launched to fill the void of women underrepresented in media. With an email list that currently spans 10 countries, including New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Australia and England, On the Dot Woman—a daily, audio newsletter—has quickly become the most trusted source for many women when it comes to finding role models that will enrich how they live their everyday lives.

On the Dot is published every weekday, with each newsletter opening with an inspiring first thought and an interesting statistic about women before segmenting into a brief story about a woman who is changing the world. Designed to be consumable in less than four minutes, the e-newsletter is available in both text and audio format. Women who have more time to relax and read in the morning can scroll through the newsletter with a cup of coffee in hand, while women on the go can obtain the information through a daily voice recording as they rush out the door.

“Our belief is that if millions of women listen every day to a story about a relatable role model, the bigger and greater conversation about women will change,” Garvey says. “Women will believe in themselves and will start businesses. We’ve been doing that in a little microcosm in Austin, and now we’re trying to do that on a much bigger scale.”

A Conversation With…
Mellie Price
March 2016 Cover Woman

Austin Woman: How did you react when you were chosen to be an {AW} cover woman?

Mellie Price: Obviously, I was totally honored, but I was surprised for a couple of reasons. I’m a queen-sized out lesbian and not what I would think of as the stereotype for who you’d see on the cover of a magazine.

AW: How did being on the cover affect your career?

MP: The timing when my cover came up ended up being really serendipitous because I had just decided to come to the Dell Medical School and dive deeper into my commitment to Austin rather than working on another startup project.

AW: What impact did being on the cover have in other areas of your life?

MP: Being on the cover was transformative for me, and it connected me with a different part of the Austin community, which was super cool. I realized that we are all just people doing our thing…and the power of the media. For the month that you are on the cover, it forces you to reflect on how privileged you are and the gifts and the opportunities you’ve been given. It consolidated my gratitude in a very precise period of time.

AW: In your opinion, what makes Austin Woman stand apart from other magazines in Austin?

MP: Austin Woman is committed to telling the real story of women, not the story of how a woman should be seen, [but]really taking the gifts of who that person is and letting them shine through. The magazine covers all different people and it really allows women to connect and lift one another up.

AW: Austin Woman is built on a foundation of female empowerment. What does the word “empowerment” mean to you?

MP: There’s multiple perspectives to empowerment. In a leadership role, I believe it means a steadfast commitment to creating opportunities for others and giving others the break they need to grow into all they can be. It is using the gifts you’ve been given to ignite others. In other parts of life, empowerment helps you connect with all that you have to offer, and empowering others is like helping people see the wonderful parts of themselves.”

AW: What message do you hope readers took away from your story?

MP: All things are possible.

Andra Liemandt
September 2015 Cover Woman

AW: How did you react when you were chosen to be an AW cover woman?

Andra Liemandt: I think, initially, I was shocked, and, of course, it is such an honor. The magazine is beautiful and I love Melinda.

AW: How did being on the cover affect your career?

AL: There are many opportunities that come your way when you are on the cover of the magazine. From a business point of view, it allowed me to just be able to have conversations with people from New York to LA, and people were very interested. It was such a big deal for [Liemandt’s all-girl band] The Mrs’ reach as well. It really helped us share our story and connect with other women who may not have known what we were doing.

AW: What impact did being on the cover have in other areas of your life?

AL: I’m sure it has had impact in ways that I don’t even know about. My kids thought it was super cool. … What my kids think of me means a lot. My kids give me strength in so many ways. I live for them and I learn so much from them. I love that if I can put things into the world, that will make it better for them. I try to make choices that do that.

AW: In your opinion, what makes Austin Woman stand apart from other magazines in Austin?

AL: Austin Woman magazine is such a platform for women who need to have a voice and share their story. It is one of the only magazines that does that, not only in Austin, but nationwide. One example I have is when Sharon Watkins, owner of Chez Zee, won the Woman of the Year Award at Woman’s Way. Celebrating women and their work and their lives is a very needed thing in our community. Years ago, I remember sitting at Chez Zee eating a piece of pecan pie, and not even an hour later, my boyfriend, who is now my husband, proposed to me. We will have that memory forever, and for a woman like Sharon not to be celebrated would be a shame, but she has been because of Austin Woman.

AW: Austin Woman is built on a foundation of female empowerment. What does the word “empowerment” mean to you?

AL: Empowerment means being enough. It means not letting anyone tell you any different, holding on to your voice, standing up for who you are and believing in yourself so fiercely that you inspire those around you.

AW: What message do you hope readers took away from your story?

AL: We are all enough and we were all created to be enough. The things that we write in our albums, such as in the songs “Dare Me” and “The Beast,” are stories of our lives.

Gigi Edwards Bryant
August 2011

AW: How did you react when you were chosen to be an AW cover woman?

Gigi Edwards Bryant: When I was chosen, I called my husband and said, “This is going to be so much fun!” Austin Woman had been one of my favorite magazines, and I was excited to be a part of the female power culture, where I could influence young girls with my story. This was the first or second time that I had gone into detail with my story.

AW: How did being on the cover affect your career?

GEB: When I ran for office at Austin Community College, I had to answer less questions because everyone felt like they knew me already. Being on the cover has had a reach that I never expected.

AW: What impact did being on the cover have in other areas of your life?

GEB: The cover women all know each other. We are cover women forever. We reach out, get together and it’s always a good starting point for conversation. For the younger generation, it is a way of telling them about each of us without having to be in the room. It’s one of those things that I’m always excited to tell people about.

AW: In your opinion, what makes Austin Woman stand apart from other magazines in Austin?

GEB: The stories are in-depth, about women, about families, about communities and about businesses. It’s about the future, but also about the past. {Austin Woman} builds a network that is far-reaching.

AW: Austin Woman is built on a foundation of female empowerment. What does the word “empowerment” mean to you?

GEB: “Empowerment” is an unusual word in the sense that it holds power in its name, but it really holds a lot of elegance. It’s letting every young girl know that power isn’t out of reach, but it’s within you. It may not be the power to lift a car, but it’s more of a way to take what’s in you and bringing it out. I believe that the world is changed more by lifting teacups, as opposed to lifting buildings. As women, it is in our nature to…talk, communicate, multitask and put all these things together and turn them over to the next generation.

AW: What message do you hope readers took away from your story?

GEB: One thing that I hope people took away from my story is that children are not supposed to take care of themselves, that we are to support them in whatever system they are in. Secondly, I hope people know that you don’t have to allow the things that happen to you to define your path, that you should use those things to heal, and once you are healed, you can tell your story. Bad things don’t have to create fear or make you bitter. I want people to know that every journey includes steps, some are forward and some are backward.

Andrea McWilliams
January 2007 Cover Woman

AW: How did you react when you were chosen to be an AW cover woman?

Andrea McWilliams: Well, I had a lot going on at that time. I had a newborn and I had just finished chemo. I was super excited when I found out because Austin Woman allowed me to come out and tell the world about me having cancer, on my own terms, so, I was excited to have the opportunity to do that. I was able to tell my story in the way we wanted to tell it and from the perspective of empowerment for other women that were going through the same thing.

AW: How did being on the cover affect your career?

AM: Definitely, being on the cover took my relationships in Austin to another level because the magazine is so well respected and such a great platform for women in business in the community. For me to be on the cover made me a part of a club that I’m proud to be a part of.

AW: What impact did being on the cover have in other areas of your life?

AM: It was interesting being on the cover because everyone realized I had cancer. It affected my life in that other people who were going through similar struggles reached out to me for support and assistance, and I view that as part of my mission.

AW: In your opinion, what makes Austin Woman stand apart from other magazines in Austin?

AM: Girl power! Just knowing when I pick up the magazine that I’m going to be inspired by other women and it’s going to be presented in such a positive, powerful light is such a gift. Not only is it a gift for women my age, but it’s a gift for women of all ages to know that there is a publication out there that is all about empowering women and about showing women in their strongest and most favorable environments.

AW: Austin Woman is built on a foundation of female empowerment. What does the word “empowerment” mean to you?

AM: Empowerment means that you are comfortable in your own skin, in who you are and in what direction you are headed. Being empowered means that you have the confidence to take on your day and not look back or second-guess what your direction is with your career and with your life.

AW: What message do you hope readers took away from your story?

AM: You can go through hard things and still succeed and be at the top of your game. That is why I agreed to do the Austin Woman cover. I wanted women to see that you can go through really awful, personal things in your life, but you can still succeed in life and be at the top of your industry. That is the reason I was willing to go public. I didn’t have to because no one knew I had cancer, but I chose to so that women had the opportunity to be encouraged by my story.

Amy Simmons
September 2002 Cover Woman

AW: How did you react when you were chosen to be an AW cover woman?

Amy Simmons: I was really honored because there are so many incredible women [in Austin to feature], and really excited that the magazine was starting because it is so needed.

AW: How did being on the cover affect your career?

AS: The best part of it was relationships that I built within future Austin Woman cover woman and being involved with the event each year. Conni Reed of Consuela is one of my best friends now, and I would never have met her if it wasn’t for Austin Woman. It hasn’t necessarily changed my career path, but it has strengthened my network a lot.

AW: What impact did being on the cover have in other areas of your life?

AS: We are all fighting for our place in the sun and so, actually getting your story out there and why you are doing what you’re doing is so much more important than just seeing someone successful at arm’s length. I think that getting that story out there was really fulfilling to me because there is big distance between “I want to” and someone who’s done it.

AW: In your opinion, what makes Austin Woman stand apart from other magazines in Austin?

AS: Well, obviously it’s gender-specific, but it’s so needed. Austin Woman does an incredible job of highlighting what’s so special about women in so many different professions. It is a network of support that is so different from a magazine that is just for entertainment. It really feeds your soul.

AW: Austin Woman is built on a foundation of female empowerment. What does the word “empowerment” mean to you?

AS: Acknowledging your personal strength and accepting yourself as who you are. We are looking for perfection. When we see other people with different skill sets, we want those skill sets. Therefore, the secret to happiness and your own self-satisfaction is accepting who you are and acknowledging that you are valuable. Empowerment is loving yourself.

AW: What message do you hope readers took away from your story?

AS: I hope that readers saw themselves in it and know that whatever their passions are, it can be accomplished. You can really bring about change through business, and it’s a wonderful community-action vehicle. Hopefully, people see that not only through nonprofits, but through profits, that positive change can be seen in the community.

Share.
this is social

Leave A Reply

%d bloggers like this: