The Austin Woman staff look at women and businesses who are intentional with their inclusivity.
It’s inspiring to see equity and inclusivity promoted organically through someone simply doing what they love. Joyce Ni is the co-founder of PlowBao and is doing just that. PlowBao is a food truck that serves dim sum, bao and Chinese fusion. It also happens to be vegan. PlowBao is the first business to come out of an employee-to-entrepreneur program created by Isaac Mogannam, owner of Plow Distribution (Plow Burger). Ni realized there weren’t many plant-based options for Chinese cuisine in Austin and pitched PlowBao.
With a passion for food sustainability, she is tirelessly working to provide Austinites with more food options for environmental, dietary (food allergies) and ethical reasons. Although her recipes are loosely based on more traditional ones she remembers from her childhood, they are very much her own. All of PlowBao’s packaging is also completely compostable and biodegradable. Through PlowBao, Ni also regularly partners up with various animal sanctuaries and rescues offering her time and money while promoting kindness to all.
I love keeping up with Future Front TX (formerly Boss Babes ATX). I think they’re a wonderful organization championing equity and inclusivity in everything they do. Last year, I went to their Front Market and got to meet and shop with so many diverse artists and makers. I easily spent way too much money, but it was well worth it to support local women and minority-owned businesses.
Community and Events Manager
Creative Action is an arts and music program for children of all ages. Their vision alone shows the dedication to teaching core values to the future leaders of our society. “One student, one project, one community at a time, Creative Action will be a force for equity, belonging and joy in our society.” Creative Action reaches out to young people in low-income urban public schools, rural school districts, public housing sites and juvenile detention centers, ensuring every child has the opportunity to embrace their own creativity, courage and confidence.
Creative Action works toward a better, stronger and more inclusive community. They not only stand up against injustice and oppression through their programs. It is in their core values to actively work toward equity, justice and love. One of my personal favorite programs they offer is the Color Squad, a group of artistic teens that have created eye-opening and conscious conversation-starting murals around the city.
Nowadays, most people only recognize House culture from shows like Pose or more loosely RuPaul’s Drag Race. (Older millennials will remember the sadly exploitative but no less pivotal documentary Paris is Burning.) However, many don’t really grasp the importance of Houses (and by extension House Mothers) in the lives of predominately Black and Brown LGBTQIA+ teens and young adults.
Austin only has a couple, perhaps none more prominent than the House of Lepore. The head of the Household (and first House Mother in Central Texas), Natalie Sanders, aka, Mother Girl6 Lepore, is more than just a dedicated and loving mother to her children. She’s an outspoken advocate for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ rights and a health prevention specialist, providing free STD and STI testing. In 2020, Sanders began work on the Orisha Mere Project, a business that will provide the community with, among other things, housing, scholarships, GED/high school diploma classes and food assistance. She’s always on the front lines, fighting for her children, her people and her community. She is the physical embodiment of true equity and inclusivity.