For all those positing that New York is the greatest city in the world, Brooklyn Decker would like to politely counter with: Austin.
The former model moved to the Texas city 11 years ago, with husband Andy Roddick, and has been smitten ever since.
“I don’t want for anything; there’s not a restaurant that I’m missing, there is such a great restaurant culture here, it’s really progressive and interesting, but I can drive a car, there are lakes and trees and all the things I didn’t get to enjoy when I was in New York,” she says. “It’s a good best-of-both-worlds place.”
As an Austin resident, Decker is no stranger to SXSW, but since starting her company Finery — a digital wardrobe organization technology platform — the festival has become about networking and sharing the gospel of female-driven entrepreneurship among other attendees. This year, she was one of the panelists gathered by Fossil and Create & Cultivate, the online platform and conference series for women in the professional networking sphere, to share wisdom on the subject to a crowd of women.
“We just loved their audience because they are informed, smart, interesting women who are wearing several different hats, who are either on the brink of something exciting in their lives or searching for the next big step in their life,” Decker says of the Create & Cultivate audience, upstairs at the event space in Downtown Austin. “It was an audience I really connected to, being someone who has changed careers several times. They’ve created this awesome community of women who are supporting each other. It’s one of the more genuine groups I’ve interacted with.”
The need for a female-focused talk on the power of supporting one another professionally felt especially poignant at the 2018 festival.
“I think what’s so interesting about the #MeToo movement and this whole new wave of feminism in general, is that women are finally seeing, ‘Oh I can start my own company, oh I can learn to code, oh I can leave my nine-to-five job and do the thing that I want to do.’ And the reason why I don’t think we did it before is that we didn’t see other women doing it,” Decker says. “If you can’t see it, it’s really hard to be it. And the fact that it happens to coincide with the #MeToo movement, it feels like the right time. Like a bubbling over of awesomeness.”
Decker lists women like Jenn Hyman of Rent the Runway, Steph Korey and Jen Rubio of Away, Jordana Kier and Alexandra Friedman of Lola and Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin of The Skimm as inspirational figures.
“The cool thing about female entrepreneurship, it’s not a good thing, but what we can benefit from is the fact that it’s such a small world, in this male-dominated community — that’s not great. But the good thing is that because it’s so small, everyone is really willing to help each other,” Decker says. “We reached out not knowing any one of them personally and were just like, ‘Hey, we’re starting this thing, if you have some time.’ And every single one of them said yes. I look up to women like that. There is no personal connection, there is no backdoor entry, it’s just like, ‘You’re a woman starting something, I’m going to help you because I’ve been in your shoes.’”