Fun fact, Austin is losing both its artists and its diversity at a worrying rate. This is to be expected, of course, as corporations and the wealthy rush in, and the creatives and people of color rush out.
The fight to keep Austin grounded and colorful seems downright futile at times. But it’s a fight that the people of collective blue won’t be backing down from any time soon. Inclusion, diversity, and community are what this group of young visionaries are all about. Here’s what they have to say in their own words:
Texas Lifestyle Magazine: Who are you?
collective blue: collective blue is a lifestyle brand that helps diverse creators (women and people of color) get their work out into the world and get paid fairly. We do that by selling apparel on our e-commerce site, where designers get 60% of profits, and by producing events where we partner with local non-profits.
TLM: Where is your organization based?
cb: We’re based in Austin, and you can probably find us working out of Flightpath or Brew & Brew.
TLM: What made you create collective blue?
cb: Our team came together because we felt like there was no homebase in Austin where we could be 100% ourselves. collective blue came out of a desire to build a community of diverse creators who share our values of being community-oriented and unapologetically themselves. We wanted to build a tribe where people like us could make the right friends and support and celebrate each other’s successes.
TLM: What has been one of the most important moments in your organization’s lifespan?
cb: We’re most known for producing an event series called Austin’s Very Own. AVO is an art show and music showcase that features local diverse talent, and we donate a portion of our ticket sales to support Austin charities that we believe in – such as E4 Youth, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, and Out Youth.
Our first AVO took place last December at the Gatsby. We had over 200 people come through in the rain to support our musicians, artists, and vendors. We had live graffiti, built an art installation with black light and PVC pipes, and ran a social experiment called No Small Talk with prompts that challenged people to start conversations from a place of vulnerability. The energy was so positive, and people there just got it. They understood what we were trying to build, and it was a visceral example of how deeply needed a community like this is in Austin.
TLM: What motivates you?
cb: Although Austin has a reputation for being a progressive bubble in Texas, we still feel that women and minorities are strongly underrepresented in the creative field. A core part of our work is spotlighting members in this community to celebrate their craft and individuality.
TLM: How are you different from others in your field?
cb: Our business model blends being a community-building organization with a lifestyle brand in a way that’s profitable for us as a company and for our creators. Our team is also pretty amazing. Although we’re all from diverse backgrounds and have different skill sets, we come together to work on this vision that we all believe in – an Austin that truly feels like home for everyone.
collective blue’s Austin’s Very Own next event will be on April 22. You can follow them here for more info.