Q&A With Kathleen Brady Stimpert

I’ve always been intrigued by the Blanton Museum of Art. The building, the artwork within, and its beautiful architecture. I’m also interested in everything that has to do with Public Relations and Marketing, especially at a museum. So I contacted the Director of Public Relations and Marketing at the Blanton and asked her if I could interview her for my blog. She said yes.

Where are you from?

I’m from a small town in Louisiana called Alexandria. It’s a cultural desert so I left at the first opportunity that came along when I was 16. I applied to the art school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. They had a program for juniors and seniors in high school and I went there as a classical voice major. It’s based in Winston-Salem so my last 2 years of high school were spent there.

Where did you go after you were done with school in North Carolina?

I moved to Boston and went to Emerson College. While I was at Emerson, I began taking Art History classes. It was a huge game changer for me as I decided to focus on Art History. Then I went to Boston University after Emerson for my sophomore year.

How did you end up in Richmond, Virginia?

My parents had moved to Northern Virginia and they looked into VCU‘s art program for me. I was always interested in new experiences so I decided to move to Richmond, Virginia to finish college. This was extremely helpful in preparing me for New York later on in my life.

What brought you to Austin?

I graduated from VCU in 1996 and I wasn’t crazy about Richmond so I packed my bags and moved to Austin.

What made you leave Austin and move to New York?

I moved to New York in 1999 because I couldn’t find any arts related opportunities in Austin. So when I got to New York, I literally faxed 100’s of resumes to every gallery that was in the Arts Dealers Association guide. It is very competitive, as you know, so I was happy to take anything. I got a job at this one gallery but didn’t really like it. There was another gallery that was close that I was interested in and I would go there and see the shows that they put on. I eventually sent my resume to them and they called me and offered me a job at Forum Gallery.

What were you doing at Forum?

First, it was primarily administrative, then I got offered a sales position at Forum. After doing it for a while, I realized that it really was just a glorified sales job. Just by the turn of events, the PR Director left and the Director of the gallery asked me to take over this position. I enlisted the help of other PR professionals in New York and I just learned on the job. I had never written a press release in my life. I never thought PR would be something that I would pursue.

How did you end up at the National Academy Museum?

A job opened at the National Academy Museum for Director of Communications. The interview must have gone well because I got the job. There’s no better place to do arts marketing than in New York. I was engaging with so many people and it was so interesting but I needed a change. I needed to get out of there. I had been in New York for 7 years and in 2005 I ended up moving back to Austin.

So you moved back to Austin for the 2nd time. What did you end up doing here?

I found a job with the City’s Art in Public Places program. I worked there for 2 years and I liked it because it was new for me but I was doing lots of work that was not really of interest to me. When I saw this job at the Blanton I applied for it and I got it. It’s been wonderful because the museum, over the course of the past 6 years, has changed and grown so much.

What do you do as Director of Public Relations and Marketing at the Blanton Museum of Art?

There’s the PR side of it, which entails writing press releases, doing outreach, and then pitching the press/media in hopes that they will cover the shows and exhibitions. Then the marketing side consists of getting the signage, brochures and collateral ready and up.

What suggestions do you have for people who want to get into PR? In a museum?

Identify people in the field and network with them. Continue writing so that you’re constantly honing your craft and so you don’t let that skill drop. Keep yourself open to all opportunities. I thought I wanted to be an art dealer and that wasn’t the right fit for me. Now I’m in PR.

Stay relevant, flexible and responsive to trends in culture. Social media is everywhere so it’s important to have a strong social presence.

Do you have any kids?

I have a 3 –year old son. The older he gets the more he’s able to understand art. The biggest change in my life is that I’ve gotten married and have had a son.

Are you involved with anything else in Austin?

I co- founded Austin’s Cultural Campus. It’s a pedestrian friendly cultural destination comprised of 6 museums, offering exhibitions, performances, shopping, dining, and more. I thought what’s a program that could benefit us all? We all help each other with marketing and we work to build awareness for all our museums.

Would you ever go back to NYC?

No, now that I have a son probably not. I still find it to be the most amazing city ever though.

What are your favorite places to eat in Austin?

Contigo, Hillside Farmacy, Foreign and Domestic, Salty Sow, East Side Café, Barley Swine and Uchi is the best Sushi I have ever had! My husband is a master BBQer. I’m not much of a chef but I love to eat!

What are your favorite things to do in Austin?

I like to walk around the lake in the Mueller neighborhood. I like to go to the Farmer’s market, do yoga, and I love having BBQ at friends’ houses.  

Do you have any pets?

I have a 14- year old cat named Rudy.

Born in a small town in Louisiana, Kathleen needed something that was much bigger and exciting and it looks like she got that and much more. Moving to North Carolina, Boston, Virginia, Austin, New York then back to Austin, Kathleen is not a stranger to travel. She said that her town that she was born in wasn’t “culturally diverse” and now she’s definitely cultured because of her travels, by working at a museum and currently residing in one of the most diverse cities in the nation.



Guacamole is so versatile! Everyone can make it their own way and it doesn’t take a lot. Add more of what you like and don’t be afraid to play around with it. Once you make it a few times, you’ll eventually find your favorite combination.

I like a lot of cilantro and lime juice in mine! The cilantro adds a dash of freshness to it and the lime juice really makes it for me and pulls all the flavors together.

If you’re not making homemade guacamole you need to start! This is the best thing you can make at home because you can control the portions of the ingredients that you put into it.

When I’m craving guacamole all I’m wanting is my homemade guacamole. Once you start making your own, that’s all you’ll be wanting all summer long.

How do you guys like to make guacamole? What other ingredients do you use that I have not mentioned?



  • 2 avocados, peeled
  • ½ a red onion, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, diced or torn
  • 2 small jalapeno’s, diced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 3 large juicy limes, squeezed
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 bag of your favorite tortilla chips


1) Add everything into one big bowl.

2) Pour the lime juice in and don’t be afraid to get in and get messy.

3) Pour guacamole into a smaller bowl and serve immediately with tortilla chips.

 Serves 1-2.

Q&A With Molly Siegler


Molly Siegler is the Culinary Content Editor at Whole Foods Market, where she puts her knowledge and love of food to work by coordinating the creation of editorial culinary content like recipes for the website, email newsletter campaigns, social media channels and more.

I sat down with Molly last week to see how she’s lovin’ this city and all the things that come along with it.

Mary: Where are you from?

Molly: Winfield, Kansas

Mary: When did you move to Austin?

Molly: January 2013

Mary: What brought you to Austin? 

Molly: I was blogging for Food52 and through that I got an offer at Whole Foods.

Mary: What do you do as the Culinary Content Editor at Whole Foods?

Molly: I primarily direct recipe development, do different promotions for recipes, and I edit and publish the Whole Foods Market newsletter. We’re already working on holiday stuff!

Mary: You have a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. What made you want to go to culinary school?

Molly: I realized food issues in college and I was interested more about the people and not just the food. I love providing recipes for customers so I’m glad that’s what I get to do.

Mary: What was food life like at home for you?

Molly: We all cooked together and ate together. It’s not like my mom just cooked and we all came home and ate. We all helped and were a part of the process.

Mary: What is your favorite place to eat in Austin?

Molly: Contigo

Mary: What are your favorite things to do in Austin? 

Molly: Lady Bird Lake and really anything outdoorsy.

Mary: What suggestions do you have for people who want to get into the editorial aspect of the food industry?

Molly: Read as much as possible. Read tons of blogs and cookbooks. Get familiar with what’s already out there and the writing opportunities that are available. Know your grammer and writing conventions.

Mary: Do you have any pets?

Molly: Yes, I have 4 rescue cats. My goal is to start volunteering regularly with Austin Pets Alive.

What’s not to love about Molly? She’s a chef who gets to share recipes with the world at Whole Foods Market and she loves animals! Molly seems to be adjusting just fine in Austin, Texas with her new job, husband and 4 cats. It seems like this is the perfect place for her since she’s a foodie, has pets and loves the outdoors. Only time will tell all the exciting things that the future holds for Molly as she starts the next chapter in her life.

Q&A With Chloe Chiang

Chloe Chiang is a 2011 UT graduate who has been in real estate for four years now and loves every minute of her job and the city that she lives in. Last week I sat down with Chloe to ask her a few questions about Austin, TX and real estate, two of her favorite things!

Mary: Where are you from?

Chloe: Born and raised in the Houston Texas area in Missouri City.

Mary: Why real estate?

Chloe: I enjoy all the different aspects of real estate. I never get bored and I’m always learning something new. It’s about being educated about everything in the city and around you. Plus, I’m my own boss. I don’t have any one telling me where to be or what to wear. I have a lot of freedom being a real estate agent. I set my own goals, not some company goal.

Mary: What are some of your favorite places to eat in Austin?

Chloe: Uchi, Uchiko, Food Heads, Eddie V’s and Ramen Tatsu.

Mary: What are you favorite things to do in Austin?

Chloe: I like going to the lake, music festivals, relaxing, watching TV series, working out, hanging out with my dog and happy hours.

Mary: What’s the one place you would like to visit if you could go anywhere in the world?

Chloe: Thailand! I hear the beaches and food there are amazing.

Mary: Do you have any pets?

Chloe: I have a 10lb maltipoo named Mia Bella.

Mary: What suggestions do you have for people who would like to get into real estate?

Chloe: Do your research. Pick a real estate company and interview multiple of them. Make sure the one you pick is the right one for you. They need to be good mentors and support you through all the steps that you take.

Q&A With: Owner Tara Miko of Happy Hemp

Who? Tara Miko
What? Happy Hemp
When? 2011
Where? HOPE Farmers Market and SFC Farmers Market Downtown
Why? Tara worked in the fashion industry in a super stressful job and eventually got laid off after 10 years. She lost her health insurance and all the comfort that comes along with being employed. After this happened she became stressed out, wasn’t happy and noticed she was having lots of digestion problems. One day she heard about hemp and decided to try it (she was skeptical just like anyone would be) and liked it. She became obsessed by it because it was so hard to get in the U.S. One day she tried some hemp from Canada and noticed that it tasted much better and the flavor was a lot richer. Voila! Happy Hemp was born!

What’s hemp? It’s a super food that is rich in vitamins and essential amino acids. It promotes healthy hair, nails, skin, sleep, is a digestive aid, and just overall promotes well being. Oh yeah and it’s gluten-free, vegan, and certified organic so you can check that off your list. Check! Tara already did that for you.

How do I eat hemp seeds? Just sprinkle Happy Hemp on any food, in drinks or eat it as is and get your dosage of goodness and yummy for the day.

Where can I get some? Happy Hemp sells at SFC Famers Market Downtown Austin on Saturdays from 9am-1pm, HOPE Farmers Market on Sundays from 11am-3pm and various other health food store locations around town. If you can’t make it on the weekends Tiny Taiga sells Happy Hemp during the week.

Make sure you check out Happy Hemplike them on FB, and follow them on Twitter!

Q&A With: Owner Blake Shanley of Tiny Taiga

Who? Blake Shanley
What? Tiny Taiga
When? 2012
Where? 1200 E. 11th Street, #106, Austin, TX 78702
Why? Blake has studied nutrition and holistic therapies since she was 18 years old and always wanted to share that with people. Her love for all things healthy led her to open up her own shop where she can help people in finding what they’re looking for. She was also a real estate broker at The East Village so having been involved in the community through real estate it made perfect sense for her to choose this location for Tiny Taiga.

Tiny Taiga carries superfoods, teas, tonics, tinctures, essential oils, herbs, all natural body care, minerals, books, and gifts. It’s a mini feel good wonderland. Go and explore for yourself and meet the magical shoppe keeper who will help you find your remedy. Blake’s already done all the work for you so you don’t have to worry about that part. Go and discover, grab a book and sit by the fire, look at the paintings, smell and test some of the essential oils, and taste the teas. Don’t forget to spread the love and let all the good people around you know about Tiny Taiga because they deserve it too. Stop by and say hi! Check out Tiny Taiga on the web and like on FB!

Q&A With: Owner Sonya Cote of Hillside Farmacy

Who? Sonya Cote and son Thorne
What? Hillside Farmacy
When? 2012
Where? 1209 East 11th Street Austin, TX 78702
Why? When East Side Showroom, a restaurant, opened up years ago, the owner Miki and Sonya, the opening chef at the time met. They realized they always wanted a deli, saw this space and thought it would be perfect.

Hillside Farmacy has had great success in that it’s only been open less than a year and they’re doing really well. Not to mention, Sonya, the owner and also the head chef has been recognized by multiple publications locally and nationally. However, she doesn’t let any of that get to her and she’s super sweet and humble. They serve everything from sandwiches, salads and soups to many other unique dishes. Next time you’re craving creative pairings of food, that you won’t find anywhere else around town, try this!

Q&A With: Owner LaValle Twibell of The Purple Bean Cafe

Who? LaValle Twibell
What? The Purple Bean Café
When? August 2010
Where? 1104 East 11th Street, Austin, TX
Why? LaValle always wanted to have a small restaurant and never had the time to do it. Her favorite color is purple and she needed to tie it in with coffee so The Purple Bean Café was born.

The Purple Bean Café was started by LaValle and her family in a small 12ft trailer. In just 6 months they out grew the little trailer and expanded to a bright yellow 30 footer. Then they out grew that. Now they’re located inside the Victory Grill. They serve sandwiches, coffee and baked goods. Check them out below!

Website: www.thepurplebeancafe.com
Like: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Purple-Bean-Cafe/

Q&A With: Co-owner Michael Freid of East Side Pies

Who? Michael Freid

What? East Side Pies

When? Started in March 2006.

Where? 1401 B Rosewood Ave. Austin, TX 78702

Why? Because he and his partner decided that it would be a good idea to open the only pizza place that delivered on the east side at the time. Michael himself is a baker so it only seemed natural. “We deliver pizza, that’s what we do” is their thing and Michael stands firmly behind that.

This was my first stop on the east side but it certainly will not be the last time I go back to this place. He loaded me up with pizza slices and I was stuffed by the time we were done with the interview. They grow their own spices right outside and he buys his ingredients all from local farms. They also recycle as much as they can. He is definitely doing something right. Michael is such a nice guy and I only hope I come across friendly, warm-hearted and just all around really good people for the rest of my stops on my journey.

One more thing…don’t forget to find them at all the places below!

Website: www.eastsidepies.com

Like: www.facebook.com/EastSidePies

Follow: www.twitter.com/EastSide_Pies

Q&A With: Owner Willy Pearce of Way South Philly

Who? Willy Pearce
What? Way South Philly: Food Trailer
When? April 2011
Where? 1104 East 6th St. Austin, TX 78702
Why? Because Willy was in the restaurant business for 13 years prior to this and wanted to do his own thing. Also he’s from Philadelphia and thought “Austin needed a truly authentic cheese steak” and he knew he could deliver.

Their bread is shipped straight from Philadelphia and you can tell! A traditional south philly cheesesteak has cheez whiz on it so that’s a super popular one but Willy also has all the other cheeses too. The South Philly “food trailer” is all rocky themed and the sandwiches are all named after rocky characters. How fun!

Don’t forget to find them below!

Website: www.waysouthphilly.com

Like: www.facebook.com/WaySouthPhilly

Follow: www.twitter.com/waysouthwilly