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Photo Essay 10 of 12

Story by Wesley Verhoeve April 27th, 2016


What: One of Many is a monthly series of photo essays about twelve American cities and their creative communities.

Who: Designers, woodworkers, chefs, engineers, illustrators, writers and anyone else making something that moves people.

Why: To inspire and be inspired by the independent creative movement that is reshaping our economy and culture. To encourage others to make the leap. To empower those already there, and let them know they’re not alone.

Why Now: The growing creative independent movement, along with renewed interest in life outside the big cities, is rapidly reshaping our economy and culture.

Read much more at and find below the tenth of twelve One of Many essays.

Many thanks to the good folks at Squarespace for helping make this project possible. I highly recommend using Squarespace to build your own website. Use the code “oneofmany” to get a 10% discount, and you’ll be supporting One of Many in a small way.


The Hunger For More

Irvi Torremoro may be the hardest working gal in Austin, TX. The woman is obsessed with food and has been grinding it out in various food and beverage related roles around town for the last few years. She completed culinary school and is working towards a degree in journalism. She’s a server at Central Standard, and currently collaborating on a pop-up dinner series with man-about-town Moyo Oyelola and food photographer Nico McCrary. Somewhere in there Irvi also finds time to ready her new Flavor + Bounty blog for launch. It will focus on gathering stories from people involved in the food and beverage community, and get her back in the kitchen to learn about every aspect of the industry. Irvi is hungry, in more ways than one. Keep an eye on this one.


Boots & Coffee

Joshua Bingaman is the founder of Helm Boots and Progress Coffee. Helm isn't his first foray into shoes. Together with his brother Brock he operated SF’s renowned vintage sneaker spot Subterranean Shoe Room in the late 90’s. Joshua complements these experiences with periods as a special-needs teacher and a musician. What connects these different roles is that each expresses a desire to create community. Each of Helm’s shoe releases is named after a close friend or family member, and every outside item sold in the Helm store is made by Austin-based companies. They recently brought their newest boots to Italy and they looked just as good overseas.
Also pictured, on the right: Tim Clancy, creative director.


The Road Less Traveled

Austin Kleon is a writer who draws. He’s best known for his New York Times bestselling books “Steal Like An Artist“ and “Show Your Work!“. Born and raised in Ohio, Austin made his way to the city that bears his name when his wife was accepted to a local university. Success came via a relatively unintentional and non-linear path that included stints as a librarian, web designer, and copywriter. Austin inspires, breaks, and opens up new thought patterns for himself and other creatives.


By Design

Ben Thoma has taken to calling himself a creative catalyst for brands and communities. What this means is perhaps best illustrated by Ben’s role at the local chapter of Creative Mornings. He helps organize a monthly lectures series to inspire and bring together the vibrant creative community. The role of the organizer within a creative community cannot be underestimated. They are an anchor around which a network can form and a waving flag attracting others from afar.

BJ Heinley is a multi-disciplinary creative and a partner at Sputnik Creative. BJ landed in Austin after a period in SF where he was employee #148 at Yahoo and focused on the Yahoo Kids vertical. In his current role as CEO of The Bear James Company, he occasionally dresses up as a bear to read stories to kids. The company has two children’s books in development and has created Thinga, a platform to help kids safely discover the best on the internet.

Sam Kapila is a designer and educator with a passion for podcasts and typography. She grew up on the Dutch island of Curaçao and spent time living in India, Florida, Greece, and South Carolina. She currently teaches responsive web design at The Iron Yard. Sam also taught Communication Design at Texas State University for six years and helped build their web design curriculum. She’s a hard one to pin down, but if you try hard enough you might be able to catch her chasing food trucks around Austin.


For The Story

Clara Bensen and Jeff Wilson are lovers and the subjects of a Salon article, which inspired a book, and a movie deal. They met on OK Cupid and their first date was a 21 day trip around the world. They brought nothing, which inspired the title of the aforementioned book: No Baggage. Meanwhile, Jeff earned the nickname Professor Dumpster, by living out of a converted dumpster that sits on the property of Huston-Tillotson University where he was employed as the dean at the time. Since then, Jeff has taken the lessons learned from that experienced and used them as the foundation of his minimal housing startup Kasita.


A Creative Direction

Joe Simon is the creative director for video production company The Delivery Men. His focus is on creative narrative storytelling for lifestyle brands and documentaries. Joe has a deep past in the world of BMX biking. Every day is a choice between picking up the camera or his bike, and during the best of days, he gets to combine both.

Moyo Oyelola is a Nigeria-born multi-disciplinary creative who roams across Austin spreading love and inspiration. Zelig-like, I run into Moyo at least once every day whenever I am in Austin. He is inescapable and his sense of fashion makes him easy to spot in this city. You may find him designing a client logo at a coffee shop, shooting an engagement video in a park, or even creating art installations.


Break Down, Break Through

Katie Kelly is a native New Yorker with a history in of working in the non-profit world. On a whim, she decided to join her best friend on a trip to Austin to pick up a yellow ‘82 Mercedes Benz and drive it back. It broke down four times, but not before Katie fell in love with Austin’s two-stepping ways. Within a year, she found her way back to Austin, this time as a resident pursuing a new career as a hair stylist.


Doing It For Themselves

Natalie Madeira Cofield is the CEO of Walker’s Legacy, a collective designed to build an eco-system of support for women of color in business. She also runs Urban Co-Lab, a shared co-working community for urban innovators. Natalie is fighting the good fight, with more grace and an open vulnerability than I can imagine most people being able to muster in similar situations. She centers herself in the middle of a triangle that matches politics with business and community. Her previous experience includes being the president of the Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, where some of her work gained national attention, including the #IAMBLACKAUSTIN diversity marketing campaign.

Hallie Rose Taylor is a Salt Lake City-born illustrator who stuck with her decision to move to Austin some five years ago. She reads books in which almost every sentence is underlined, and savors moments of quiet solitude and sun. Hallie’s watercolors are often realistic and dreamlike all at once, often involving nature and wildlife. If you look closely, hints of Charles Vess can be found in her line work though it’s mostly authors that worm their way into the aesthetic. The year 2014 was a year of craft and growth in which she completed one painting or drawing a day. Since then, she’s been working as a freelance artist, creating commissioned art as well as designs for product packaging, t-shirts, flyers and more.


On The Move

Bushra Mahmood is a Colombian-born Canadian citizen with Afghani/Pakistani parents. This bundle of internationalism moved to Austin to accept a position as a designer at a local tech company. After putting in her time in the startup trenches, she made the leap to a company that counts many designers and startups as their customers: Adobe. Her role involves going boldly in a new direction as her teams builds out the future of 3D for this well established creative giant.


For the Record

Dan Ruddman contains multitudes. He’s the director of Punctum Records, a vinyl publisher of music and other sonic forms. He also holds a Ph.D. in Sanskrit Language and Literature. Punctum Records’ wingspan is a lot wider than traditional labels. It’s more of an experiment in bringing together cultural theorists, musicologists, sound artists. There is an academic bent to how they do business, and book publishing plays a large role in this set up as well. The desire to educate seems to be at the very least equal to the desire to entertain.

Punctum operates out of a beautiful space called Studium, also run by Dan. They call themselves a “co-disciplinary space for critical and creative inquiry” and also provide a home to handmade clothing and good purveyor Byron & Blue, leather workshop Stowe Provisions, and Attendance Records, a nonprofit providing music education programs to local schools.

Simon Walker is an English graphic designer who has worked in advertising for over a decade. His original interest in the field developed during the first wave of Hip Hop and breakdance culture to hit the UK in the 1980’s. After a teacher pointed out that his drawings often went the way of graphic design by containing type, Simon applied for and was accepted to the University of North Texas. A million logos, fonts and designs later, Simon is truly embedded in the creative community of Austin.


Two Kingdoms

Dai Due is an amalgamation of a farm-to-table restaurant, a butcher shop, and a classroom. From the beginning, husband and wife team Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield have focused on locally produced and fresh food. Incorporating a butcher shop inside of a restaurant is just one of the ways the fresh element is guaranteed. They serve a larger community of farmers, ranchers, food enthusiasts, and chefs.

The physical realization of dreams was all a long time in the making. In 2006, Jesse started teaching and hosting pop-up dinners around the city. He also published a cookbook. As his reputation and mailing list grew, so did his ambition to better provide for the community that had been built over 8+ years. The most recent expansion includes the New School of Traditional Cookery, which offers in-depth hunting and fishing workshops, as well as classes on butchery and canning. A most inclusive version of the farm-to-table experience if there ever was one.

Pictured below are Morgan “The Wolf” Angelone, director of operations at Dai Due’s New School of Traditional Cookery, pastry chef Abby Love, and line cooks Matt Hawkes and Red.



For over a decade and a half, Hoover Alexander has been cooking for the city of Austin. A fifth-generation Texan and local Austinite, Hoover’s food embodies the flavor of his home state. In his presence, food is more than just fuel. It’s what bring people together and the glue that can keep them together. The farm-to-table movement is not a trend for Hoover but just the way food has traveled from his childhood growing up on a farm. Picking vegetables and fruits, and watching his father butcher home grown animals, it was all in a day’s work.
Hoover spent most of his twenties working at various local institutions honing his craft. Moving from bussing tables to bartending, working the line and finally managing restaurants prepared him perfectly for opening up his very own restaurant and catering company. Hoover’s Cooking is just a few blocks from his childhood home and grew out of his first food truck. Perseverance and commitment pay off.

Outside of his restaurant, Hoover is involved in community building as an active member of Foodways Texas, the Texas Restaurant Association, Capital Area Food Bank’s Kids Café, the Austin Independent Business Alliance and even served as president of the Citizens Police Academy in Spring 2015.


In Pursuit Of Happiness

Chris Perez is the creative director of Left Right Media and the founding editor of Citygram Magazine, a digital city guide about Austin. His story is quintessentially One of Many. Chris moved to back to Texas from Michigan after obtaining degrees in electrical engineering, physics, and mathematics. He left behind a secure 9-year career with IBM after deciding to prioritize job satisfaction, and it’s worked out just fine. Citygram has made an impact and his freelance work as a strategist keeps him embedded in Austin in all kinds of ways.


Thought out

David Call is a photographer and musician, gainfully employed by Apple for his educational talents. His musical efforts focus mostly on the electronic genre, with releases through Armada, Black Hole, and other reputable labels. A quiet and keen observer who notices the little things, David pulls inspiration from his family life and translated all the incoming into outgoing magic.

Sarah Natsumi Moore is a photographer who thinks a lot. Previous to going the self-employment route, Sarah worked as an in-house creative for a Dutch travel magazine. Her 2016 took an interesting turn about a month in when she realized all her well thought out resolutions and goal metrics didn’t truly connect with her heart. She turned this realization into a transformative plan. All her resolutions were replaced by 12 monthly experiments, and her focus went from performance to experience. She calls it her “personal research on being”, with topics ranging from “Saying Yes” to “Emotional Discomfort”, “Generosity” and “Gender Equality”.

Kevin Sharon and Brian Bailey are two peas in a pod. Kevin is an art director heading up National Design Service and Brian is the head of product for Ping Board and the brains behind Uncommon In Common. They both build networks of kind creatives. National Design is a network of designers, developers, researchers, and content strategists who work together on digital products. Uncommon’s mission is to serve as the “front porch for the Internet”. They both seems to start from "we", rather than "I", which is probably why they get along so well.


STrike Out

Callie Collins is the co-founder of A Strange Object, an independent press focused on unusually heartbreaking fiction and thoughtful ephemera. Her past includes a stint at literary journal American Short Fiction. When this magazine lost its funding, Callie and her colleague Jill Meyers decided to strike out on their own and start a press to focus on full-length fiction on a smaller scale. Creative control seemed like a wonderfully organic progression and a more fulfilling path to success. Four years and several books later, A Strange Object takes up a special place in the local and national press landscape.


Made To Last

Noah Marion designs, fabricates and sells leather goods and accessories. From keychains to bags, wallets, and coasters, his Quality Goods aim to be passed on to future generations. The manner in which each item ages depends entirely on how each individual uses it, which adds a certain poetry to the way that Noah’s work delivers value. Is it a little coffee stain or a reminder of that time your child took his first steps and knocked over your mug? It’s all about perspective.

Phil Coffman is a digital designer and creative director with an educational bent. In early 2011, he released Method & Craft which is best described as “the DVD extras of design”. It’s a collection of techniques and practices of design professionals to help others push their craft forward. Phil originally pursued a business degree and eventually stopped resisting his creative impulses by taking some art classes. After completing his education he ended up being pushed into the deep end of the pool and having to learn how to swim to keep from sinking. Fresh out of college and with no experience to speak of he was hired to be general manager of a design firm during the founder’s pregnancy leave. He had three months to learn before the position became available and spent it cold-calling professionals in the field to learn everything he could. Three months into that position, the agency was shut down and it was back to the drawing board for Phil. A rough start to a now long and impactful career. Perseverance again proves vital.



|| More To Read and See ||

|| Visit for the story behind this project, and information on upcoming cities and essays.
|| Find more photos on Instagram and by searching the hashtag #oneofmanyAustin
|| Find outtakes on Tumblr, published on a regular basis.

PREVIOUS ESSAY: Seattle, WA - Published February, 2016.
NEXT ESSAY: Salt Lake City, UT - May, 2016

Follow along in real time via Instagram. Many thanks to the good folks at Squarespace for helping make this project possible. I highly recommend using Squarespace to build your own website. Use the code “oneofmany” to get a 10% discount, and you’ll be supporting One of Many in a small way.

Footnote: Special thanks to Yaron Schoen, Katie Friel, Madeline Vu, Brian Bailey, and everyone else who helped make this essay possible.
Austin, TX, United States