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How We Connected With Amazing Human Beings For Another one! SXSW 2016 In Austin March 28, 2016 22:45

The Madness of SXSW began March 11th as President Obama became the first sitting president to visit the festival of festival. SXSW is where technology, music, film, arts and all things new/legendary/exciting meet in our great State’s Capital. The Austin vibes were hectic, not uncommon during this fest, locals either made their way into the action for all the free booze, swag, music and prizes they could handle or stayed far away from the downtown scene. In this post we’ll give a run down of our experience as locals looking to immerse themselves in the stimulating experience with all the varied and exciting activities SXSW offers in an attempt to take away a key idea or two to build on.

Image via SXSW website

The festival is kicked of with the interactive portion, which primarily focuses on technology and education. As attendees poured in and out of conference halls and exhibition rooms the conversations and energy began to churn the machines of collaboration, new ideas, and reflection on the current state of the culture across various industries. We first find ourselves at the packed keynote for Gary Vaynerchuk (Expert on Marketing, Business, Social Media, and Trends). Gary allowed Q&A for the entirety of his time on stage and as the first question was posed on apathy versus empathy in business, the audience filled room anxiously awaited for his response. The questionee ended with the following "As a marketer I see that we are not just machines that go through the day in motions, we're trying to make life happen and have connections that fuel us-how did you start systematically applying empathy to your relationships?" Gary who jokes he has ego along with his empathy responded with a very insightful answer "Im one of the great salesmen because I've been applying empathy my whole life... If you understand what the other person is thinking and you are a true sales person, an operator, and business person, you can reverse engineer to get what you need to get." He admitted that this thinking can be used as a bad thing because of its power but in any interaction, business or non, really caring for someone else in return makes all parties involved enjoy showing empathy, be it business or non business.

 Image via GaryVee Instagram

The refreshing tone of the human element in business or while creating, as stated by Gary, was quite the appropriate way to begin a week where one would run into countless people from all fields and walks of life. The fact that "SXSWestees" might possibly collaborate, ink deals, or party with various characters and crews makes this a very useful mindset. With that, we were off to see the fashion folks at the Decoded house where guest were welcomed with key notes, beautiful people and drinks. Plenty of jewels were dropped by Frank & Oaks' as well Combat Gentlemens' CEOs, these two companies who's founders had quite the resume to prove their knowledge, spoke on meshing fashion and technology to better the end user experience . They touched on a making your website an interesting place to hangout at. Also mentioned was the challenges of fast fashion and how being a small company and owning the manufacturing process in the sense of doing all your CMT (cut making trim) and then taking it to the manufacturer can cut down cost and minimums all the while increasing quality and tackling a common manufacturing problem as it pertains to the latest styles for a smaller company. Also something we here at IE took to heart is the practice of pop ups being set up as more of a community event and not sales focused this is gold for uniting your tribe and building community around your customer. One impressive trick from Frank & Oak was to release new collections every month and working with the reality that seasons don't exist when you're providing fashion for the entire globe as its always shorts and jacket weather somewhere and this can work if you've tapped into your customers at that level. The quote we left with in mind was "Women like the pieces for the pieces sake, while men like the piece for the lifestyle it represents" 

Image via Pearson School of Design Blog

The Westin Hotel hosted a Fashion open hour on their third floor with a transcendental/modern recharge room where coffee and charging stations powered up cell phones and attendees alike. The panel here focused on the importance of knowing your customer. The question on the line was; had big retailers lost their ability to connect emotionally with their brands personality and customers? Talk on how Nike went from a strictly athletic, non fashion brand- to now allocating great time and money to building within the fashion world was a hot topic.   From here we wondered in on one of the 4 presentation rooms where we found Kendall Marie Warson and her project SensoryTT. Her display was selected by the Parsons School of Design, where she attends, to showcase her innovation here. The passionate graduate student designed her collections for the independence of people with visual impairments. Her jacket, Sensory (which is part of a larger collection), is designed with several adaptations to heighten the tactile and auditory awareness of wearers, allowing them to be more in touch with their surroundings. It includes a braille system that allows the wearer to identify the garment; cuffs and flaps that adjust up and down, and an embedded cane, that is used to detect objects in the path of a wearer; and large pockets that allow easy access. Fashion is a form of self-expression,” Warson says. “To not understand color and patterns, people with visual impairments lose so much independence. I want them to get that back and to feel a sense of empowerment.” via

Image via Pearson School of Design Blog

In traditional SXSW fashion we digested the info for the days great panels with a nice cold alcoholic beverage, courtesy of the open bar at SxStyle. We were of to  let the knowledge settle with stops at pop up lounges, showcases, and parties to boot.

Next morning we got the Zen like start we needed with some Virtual Reality meditation following a key note on Mapping out Emotion and how it relates to music. Eric Rodenbeck's team and the Dalai Lama worked to analyze the major moods which they paired into five categories Fear, Excitement, Sadness, Joy, and Disgust this also tinseled into Peter Swearegen Mappable Music maps which allows visual directories for music in form of game-like maps. The next amazing key note included friends of artist we admire, who are also play the key roles of A&R. The panel spoke on the "Future of A&R in Hip Hop" and had representatives form all-star acts like Jay-Z, J.Cole, Fabolous, Jene Aiko there was some great back and forth between these iconic leaders who helped manage and shape some of our favorites today. Legendary Rocnation's Lenny "Kodak Lens" Santiago spoke on making sure your artists wants it bad enough before you make the investment of repressing them. Ibrahim "Eebs" who manages J.Cole explained the sense of vision that artists who are multifaceted have, "If your artist can produce and rap, even if he's working with outside talent, it cuts the time and increases fluidity when creating new music or building on the artists' brand."  Jewels on jewels on jewels!

The next panels seemed to give us a guideline as to where we should focus our attention during South By's hectic happenings.  One comment in particular from Deigo Figueroa, who spoke on a panel about building brands within culture, struck a chord "Expose yourselfs to stuff that is outside of your daily sphere because that's where interesting ideas can come through your filters. If you're in music go see so weird tech stuff. If you're in tech go see some of the movie premiers." He set the audience off with something to act on knowing that many of these disciplines focus only on their craft or industry when they should be out there exploring outside sources of stimulations to add to their experience.

We made our way to the Sparks Capital one small business house later in the week. This hidden gem sits right on 6th Street between the daily ratchetness and downtown madness as an AirBnB rental which Capital One's hosted guests with drinks, food, and walls lined with story board drawing for their small business panels and networking. The presentation we saw was with the founder of Chubbies Shorts, Tom Montgomery, who explained how the brand "disrupted" the fashion industry. Chubbies created a strong relationship to their followers who were more than proud to show off their "Chubbies" via a lively and involved community of weekend warriors who related to the companies ideals. The take away here; brands should start a conversation with their audience in order to achieve an emotional reaction "If you can sit in front of a camera and talk for 5 minutes without boring your intended audience thats when you truly know them - you may hire a team to work on your business at this point. Otherwise go back to the drawing board".

Chubbies gained its momentum by starting controversy with its name and going by its own rules. The brand began after some friends, who were tired of the corporate suit and tie world, made some fun shorts as a brotherhood like stamp that they wore on the weekends. Their shorts would start conversations and they found a demand for people wanting to join in on the fun and weirdness of the shorts. Soon there after they began producing great, engaging, and funny content that became viral on social media and they grew into what Tom describes as a 2 part business; creating content and selling product. This simple prescription put things into perspective for us here at IE and the discussion drove it home with this quote: "As long as you give your community a reason to root for the underdog they will." The examples of how they made a hilarious MARIO CARTS video viral and the attention to detail was fascinating and insightful for the many entrepreneurs in the room.Image via Capital One Instagram

The next major stop was the famous Fader Fort. What the Fort seem to lack in activities it made up for in the quality of their first day exhibitors, from funny improve stage show with Cipher Sounds to Music making gloves and more, all on the house. On stage, before the music, we saw artist Yung Jake displaying his incredible emoji portrait skills. He asked an audience member to choose an icon and completed the image right before our eyes and concluded by emailing the art to the lucky attendee that requested the portrait. Next we headed to the juice bar and embroidery station where one could get a simple custom embroidery on SXSW branded bandanas and enjoy a delicious healthy smoothie. 

Now that we had downed our vitamins for the day we hit up the Fader open bar and strolled over to a virtual reality set up. We spoke with photographer Ruvan's who's work varies from National Geographics commissioned School Yearbook of Afghanistan Grade School to his project on display, "Unstitched" - a VR experience of a live photoshoot that takes the viewer into the middle of the fashion action. Ruvan also exhibited various print out portraits and encouraged guest to take one, as students of photography we gladly snatched out picture of choice, thanks Ruvan! Another cool new company making its debut at The Fader was Off Top app, it allows you to rap over beats submitted by various producers and makes networking easier between artists and producers in addition to offering a fun way for you wanna be rappers to give your flow a go and share with friends. The app has a super dope interface and is based here in Austin, Tx! 

Birds Barbershop hooking up free Fader designs.

Wall of Photography by Ruvan

Cipher Sounds at the T8 Gloves wearable Gestures as sound Technology.

Throughout the week we were blessed with the company of our friends Dj Bounz and OG. Checking out multiple showcases by the Texas Scratch League we were able to get reenergized with some local flavor and brainstorm our plans for SX and beyond. Be sure to check out the On Mindset podcast and the Risk Happy movement from these inspiring Austin locals we are proud to call our friends.

Now It would not be Austin and the SXSW full experience without some good food. Throughout the week we enjoyed the South Bites food truck extravaganza and were very impressed by Odd Duck's vegan sampler and the energy and delicious Asian Fusion from the Carolinas own Roti Rolls, definitely must tries if you get the chance. With a tummy full of food truck delicacies we wanted to get off our feet, lucky for us the Film portion of the festival was happening and there was  some big screen and comedy action for us. Austin's own Richard Linklater Dream is Destiny documentary premiered this year. The famous director and producer of films like Slacker, Dazed & Confused, School of Rock, and many more, discussed how he came to the once quaint town of Austin and began his creative projects in film; making waves by standing out in a world dominated by large studios and succeeding at various levels in the film industry. Judd Apatow and Friends had a stand up showcase with various comics including Robert Klein, Nate Bargatze, and Hannibal Burress a totally hilarious showdown with boucoup Bill Cosby impersonations at the legendary Paramount Theater.


Upon leaving the theater it was clear this was the first time of relaxation we've had from what seemed to be a nonstop, show to show, panel to panel two week run. This got the engines turning and the ideas a-flowing on what would come next after SX so we soaked up the rest of the festivals good vibes with a vision in mind of what would come next for IE.

Up Close and personal at The Woodies, Jack Garratt brought Anderson Paak on and we hooked up the talented bloke with an Art Never Sleeps Pocket Square he humbly accepted, thanks Mate!

Kevin Garrett Soulfoul Sounds at Pandora Stage

Image via Missio Facebook

Austin Local Missio prescribing the ATX vibes at The Blind Pig 

Enjoying some amazing Art by Santana at Old School Bar

Robot Dance at the Tech Tradeshow in The Austin Convention Center


Second Annual "Live at the BBQ" Mass Appeal Madness with 2 milly, Mannie Fresh, BasBuckshot, Smif & WessUn, Black Moon,Sean P bday celebration & DUCK DOWN RECORDS family reunion, Large Professor from Main Source, Yo Gotti, Trae Tha Truth pre Wyclef, DJ Kahled, Bun B, 2Chainz, & Nas  1991 who premiered New Track with JDIlla “The sickness”. 


Bas and the Dreamville team at The Belmont

In closing SXSW 2016 we saw various shades of uniqueness, inspiration, and changes not unlke our crazy weather the scene out here changed daily but it was all very inspiring. Each panel, demo, or performance had its own flavor or a different style yet the most important take away of this years festival was in realizing the similarity that is the lives of every single person we got to interact with or see in passing. All the knowledge and advances and parties are part of a bigger human need we all have and that at a human level we all have the same story in a sense; we all want to enjoy life, we all have fears, aspirations, we all have people we admire and people who depend on us. Everyone was coming for their own reasons, for their own purpose to an extent but seeing that we are each others counterparts can be so powerful. In remembering that each day everyone is on their journey and having awareness of your path while learning about what others' might makes the experience as a person or business to serve your community more rewarding. We look forward to next SXSW with the intention of building our story as these great teachers we met during the festival have built theirs and by looking at our culture, city, and neighbors not as statistics but humans who provide so much we can use as insight and info on how to benefit them- in business and personal generosity this is how impact is made, heres to SXSW 2016!

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