Entrepreneur Alta Alexander of East Austin boutique Altatudes shares how giving back and championing community is just as important as growing her local business.
By Alta Alexander, Photo courtesy of Dwayne Hill Photography
East 12th Street, once a prosperous black community with burgeoning businesses, has had a mass exodus of blacks feeling pushed out and displaced. With an influx of folks from other states moving in, it’s been difficult for many, particularly those from the black and brown communities, to get an economic toehold in this sector and open/reopen businesses.
It’s even harder for young people of color to see themselves in business in East Austin, a place that holds much historic culture for them. Opening shop in this community has given me the opportunity to realize my dream of entrepreneurship and allowed me to serve as an entrepreneurial role model. This is a personal point of pride.
Altatudes is among a few new pioneers committed to rebuilding the business community and culture to encourage all to return and discover the wonders—old and new—along the 12th Street corridor, in addition to living the entrepreneurial dream. I would love to see more black and brown entrepreneurs becoming merchants in the East 12th Street corridor.
It takes a lot of resources to start a business and sustain that business. But East Austin comes with its own challenges. East 12th Street does not have as much traffic as other areas of East Austin, but it is quickly growing. In the interim, my weapon of choice is exposure. You can build it, but no one will come unless they know about it. I endeavor to expose my business to every fashion-forward-thinking individual in Austin, the surrounding areas and beyond!
Additionally, teaming with others from the board of directors and new members of the East 12th Street Merchants Association to increase awareness and visibility, and thereby generate visitors within the sector, is paramount. Together, we host the annual Return and Discover event, through which we aim to feature merchants in the area and showcase their offerings.
This community reiterates to me that I need to find a way to give back. It’s a social responsibility all businesses should have. My presence in this community has helped shape my business, as well as the community and an extension beyond me. I will continue working to increase possibilities through entrepreneurship skill building and access for underserved and overlooked young adults.
Altatudes’ social impact is embedded in our core values, business strategies and operations. We are stitched into the fabric of our community and aspire to give back to satisfy a social need and clearly articulated core values.
Altatudes supports women’s empowerment causes and is vested in building confidence and self-esteem in young girls and women. In our nearly two- year history, the Altatudes Hearts and Handbags initiative has helped nearly 30 underprivileged young women boost their self-esteem, with an additional impact of donating more than 100 handbags to girls at Dell Children’s Medical Center and Kealing Middle School. My tribe at large (women throughout the city) is asked to donate their gently used or new handbags and fill them with toiletries, perfumes, makeup, gift cards and a note of inspiration. Handbags are given to girls in the community upon their participation in a two-hour self-esteem-building program. Our next objective is to double the number of participants in the pro- gram and connect with more girls and women to make a deeper impact.
If a woman does not feel good in her heart and in her mind, she will not feel good in her clothes. So, we must equip young girls with the confidence and self-esteem to own the future before them.
It is critical girls and women of all backgrounds see African American women in positive positions of business ownership and exercising power. I am proud to be one of those who can be a role model and impact women positively. That empowerment lends me the fortitude and tenacity to push through as I embark upon my second year in business.
I love what this community was when black businesses were prospering, what it is now as it grows and transforms, and what I envision it will be as it flourishes into the future. This community has allowed me to inform my space by way of giving me a broader definition of and better insight into a culture that once was through my own dream of entrepreneurship. As the owner of a startup business in a revitalizing neighborhood, to be able to come back to this area in this capacity to live my dream is a true blessing.
My ultimate goal is to have a positive impact in my community through Altatudes—and help women get their ’tude on!