IndieAustin: Tapestry Dance

Tapestry Dance is both 30 years old and brand new in 2019.  Founded in 1989, Tapestry leapt onto the national stage and instantly became a highly regarded dance company.  Tapestry’s dance company is now the only full-time professional tap dance company in the world. But Tapestry’s reach extended far beyond the performing dance world with the establishment of its multiform dance academy and classes that made dance accessible to everyone.

Co-Founding artistic directors Acia Gray and Deirdre Strand created Tapestry to bring together the diverse worlds of tap dancing, contemporary, ballet, modern, and jazz.  Over the decades, Tapestry’s reputation and expertise in tap and tap fusion has earned a global reputation. Its annual Soul to Sole tap festival brings together dancers from all parts of the world in a multi-day celebration of dance technique and history.  As a resident company, Tapestry performs at the Long Center as well as other local venues while also touring the US and abroad. While featuring tap dance choreography, Tapestry concerts are known for telling profound stories and looking at compelling issues through a fusion of dance, music, poetry, and percussion as well as tributes to this indigenous American artform.

On the educational front, Tapestry has taught dancers of all levels and from all walks of life with astonishing results.  Students of Tapestry Dance Academy have gone on to professional dance careers not only with Tapestry itself but with STOMP, Michelle Dorrance Dance, Momix, Doug Varone & Dancers, The Rhythmic Arts, and SoundMovement in New York City to name a few.  Students looking for anything from professional honing to a great workout have found themselves in Tapestry dance classes. Tapestry’s dance programs focus on increasing self-confidence and self-expression while celebrating the history and technique of each style of dance.  This allows students to become dancers in the truest sense: through their art, they share themselves with their families and their communities whether for recreation or professional training.

Tapestry celebrates more than dance, more than tap, more than art–it celebrates rhythm itself.  Tap dancing may be the most celebrated form at this renowned organization, but rhythm works its way into every class and style and lesson that students young and old can take away from its varied courses.  Tapestry’s dances, concerts, classes, and faculty all embrace the artform of dance and the rhythm that connects us all.

Now Tapestry has found its new home in the Riverside neighborhood and is ready to welcome dances of all ages and from all parts of Austin and beyond.  Tapestry’s new home at 2105 Riverside Drive celebrates the impressive legacy of the company with dance studios named after their prior homes, while also moving forward with new and returning teachers, new classes, and a desire to serve their local community as well as all of Austin.

Who is the ideal student to take a class at Tapestry?  You! If you are alive then your heart has a beat; come celebrate that beat and the rhythm of your life with a dance class at Tapestry!

You can find out more about Tapestry and the full schedule of classes at

IndieAustin: Think Big! Program

The Think Big! Program and its creators, Sandy Stewart (Founder) and Natalie Rodgers (Program Designer), are based right in the heart of the South First IBIZ District. They support small business growth here at home in Austin, as well as across the United States.

The Think Big! Program is a training program that was initially designed in 2007 as a spin-off product of Swiss Avenue Partners, its parent company. Swiss Avenue Partners’ proprietary training tools and methodologies were redesigned to fit the small- and micro-business needs and became the Think Big! Program. The curriculum teaches business skills, from the basic to the complex. Some have even referred to it as their own customized MBA program, specifically tailored to their company’s needs. Business owners and key (or upcoming) managers learn skills, know-how, and shortcuts for how to run a better business.

From day one of starting the company in Sacramento, Sandy had her sights set on moving the company to Austin where she had already been living previously for 6+ years. As she says ‘Once an Austinite, always an Austinite’. She was sure to tell anyone in California who called her a Californian, ‘oh no, I’m a Texan who just happens to be living in California’. She moved the company’s headquarters to Austin in 2010 and never looked back.

When it’s time to put their strategic hats on for their own business, they get out of the office and head to some of their favorite Austin spots like Barton Springs Pool or the Austin Public Library. They can also be seen out and about checking out the local coffee shops and restaurants when they want to get into a creative thinking mode.

In the fall of 2018, Sandy and Natalie decided to begin digitizing all of the training modules to create an online platform serving small businesses of all shapes and sizes.

The program is an online academy and includes multiple courses that range from lessons in both Direct and Indirect Sales, Strategic Planning modules, Financial Modeling lessons to modules dedicated to hiring and managing staff.

Because the program services a multitude of industries, they have fun playing in all different types of companies; bakeries, accounting firms, IT consulting firms, confectioners, manufacturing, construction, auto transportation, and senior care services to name a few. In all, they’ve helped over 65 different industries.

There are some areas that the program does not focus on, and in those areas the team at Think Big! Program becomes a referral source for a multitude of B2B service providers. They often uncover business needs that are best served by other experts, such as Marketing consulting, CPA and accounting services, bookkeeping services, IT consulting, legal services to just about anything that a small business might ever need.

Because the Think Big! Program team lives and breathes a value of community, they are keen to know well any B2B professional service neighbors so that their clients have a matchmaking experience that provides the best fit referral tailored to their need and personality style.   

They are already helping small business startups in the Austin area and with the sponsorship for startup grants, know that this will become popular in Austin with such an entrepreneurial spirit. In June of 2019, they are launching a sister academy called tãkoff built specifically for the startup business owner.

Sandy and Natalie were excited to join AIBA because they felt such a strong match of values between the Think Big! Program and the AIBA community. Both care deeply about small businesses and believe that strong, healthy, small business growth is what fuels a healthy economy and feeds a local community with flavor and style.

You never know when you might see them around town teaching at luncheons, breakfasts, webinars, or other events. Please introduce yourself. They are eager to get to know their fellow AIBA members and fans.

Contact the team at Think Big! Program via email at, by phone at 512-686-3600 or visit their online academy at And check out their startup program tãkoff at

IndieAustin: Hoover’s Cooking

It’s 2pm on a bright Friday afternoon and the lunch rush at Hoover’s Cooking is still simmering with laughter and conversation. The welcoming scent of smoked meat drifts through the open dining room where new and longtime customers enjoy generous plates of the city’s finest comfort food. Hoover’s Cooking is twenty-one years old and still going strong, thanks to the inspired efforts of owner Hoover Alexander and his mission to promote, maintain, and protect Austin’s culinary traditions.

“I’m a guardian of Austin restaurant history,” he says. “I maintain that honest, straightforward niche, help bridge the old and the new, and celebrate and honor the unsung heroes of the past and present. At some point, pride becomes a brand of its own.”

To understand where he’s coming from, you have to go all the way back to 1932, the year the Night Hawk restaurant opened. The chain, whose last Night Hawk Frisco Shop closed its doors last year after a 65-year run, employed women and minorities before such things were politically correct, and was Austin’s first fully integrated restaurant. Its owner, Harry Akins, was an innovator, entrepreneur, and food quality evangelist. (He raised his own beef to ensure the quality of Night Hawk’s steaks and hamburgers.) The Night Hawk and Frisco Shop were legendary, and Hoover Alexander started working there when he was in college and went on to learn every thing there is to know about running a successful restaurant business.

“I worked every single position there. I started as a busboy and ended up doing everything, he says.” One of the unsung heroes he honor to this day—he thinks a lot about life’s unsung heroes—is Mr. Leon, a longtime Night Hawk friend who showed Hoover how much love, effort, and labor it took to make the food that made the Night Hawk so special. “Mr. Leon worked there forever. He had a third- or fourth-grade education, could read bible verses and recipes, and was a real inspiration to me. He mentored me. He taught me how to make gumbo, pie shells, the whole from-scratch thing.”

Fast-forward to now, an era of lightning-fast growth and a super competitive restaurant market. Where does that leave Hoover’s Cooking, an Austin institution of the highest degree? “ We have to constantly reinvent ourselves, keep giving the customer what they like, “ he says. “ You have to keep marketing to the new population when you aren’t the new kid on the block. You just have to keep your name out there.”

Adapting to change and staying relevant is right up there with being “honestly, sincerely grateful” for the twenty-plus years as the captain of his own ship. Hoover says, “after this long, you have the perspective of a business owner, and you start to really appreciate the core group of employees who don’t get the credit, but do get the blame.” Several members of this core group have been with Hoover since the beginning, back to when he owned
GoodEats. “I get up every day and set the dial for ‘G,’ for grateful,” he says. I have a lot to be grateful for.

Visit Hoover’s cooking at 2002 Manor Road, 512-479-5006,

—Story and photo by Ann Guidry

IndieAustin: Precision Camera & Video

Precision Camera has maintained its status as an Austin original since 1976 when it opened as a camera repair shop. Founders Jerry and Rosemary Sullivan grew the business into the largest camera store in Texas, the oldest camera repair shop in Austin, and the most trusted retailer for photography equipment, classes, and print services in town. The store is known for its stellar customer service and talented staff of salespeople. General Manager Gregg Burger says, “Everyone who works here is incredibly knowledgeable about photography and cameras. And they are all really nice people, too.”

Recently, the Sullivans retired and handed the reins over to new owner Phil Livingston. The previous Oakland Raider (he was a Super Bowl champion in 1981) relocated from Boulder, Colorado to Austin to run Precision Camera. Burger says, “There’s a renewed energy in the store. We’re offering the same great service and equipment, but now we’re taking our expertise out into the community. We are going to New Braunfels, Fredricksburg, Houston, and outlying areas so customers who usually come to us can take classes where they are.” Among the free and paid workshops Precision Camera now offers outside the city limits are basic how-to-use-your-camera classes as well as Flash Fest, a three-day event that teaches photographers about off-camera flash techniques.

Some things are changing while most others stay the same. Precision Camera continues to sell cameras and equipment for the same price as online retailers and big box stores. The difference is that when you shop at Precision Camera, you gain the tremendous benefit of the staff’s expertise and guidance. Burger says, “When you shop here, you get to play with the equipment, talk to a professional about it, make sure you are getting exactly the right camera for your needs. We have deep knowledge about what is going on in the industry. That means we can let our customers know, for example, that it might be better to wait a month and buy a camera that’s just coming out if the one in the store doesn’t suit them.”

That kind of value is hard to find, and it’s what Precision Camera does best. In addition to selling cameras and photography equipment, and offering top-notch classes, the shop does photo restorations, including transferring your old movies and videos onto memory sticks. Burger says, “We do everything in-house, so you don’t have to worry about your memories getting lost in the mail.”

Visit Precision Camera & Video at 2438 West Anderson Lane, 512-467-7676 or today.

—Story and photo by Ann Guidry

North Loop Sign and Graphics Shop

North Loop Sign and Graphics Shop, in the heart of the North Loop IBIZ District, is not a sterile, corporate print shop. Your first hint is the whimsical space cowboy mural out front offering “Greetings from North Loop” alongside a banner promising “full service graphics action” and professing a love for, among other things, “festivals, art, fun, progress, ideas, and people.”
The shop Lisa Bruner opened 15 years ago is now home to a small but mighty team of five. Nick Treviño, who joined forces with Lisa 9 years ago, says, “We’re part of the group of elders here in the District.” And for them, as for most of their neighbors, that means a strong commitment to their neighborhood and neighbors.

A 17-year North Loop resident, Nick loves to live, work and play here, as well as send his daughter to school right nearby. He loves being part of a community that takes care of its own. And he loves to participate in District events like the North Loop Block Party, joining up with the bar next door to provide a beer garden with food, entertainment, and even fireworks!
When they’re not throwing parties, North Loop Sign and Graphics provides everything you’d expect from a printer: digital printing and vinyl products like banners, yard signs, stickers, flyers, postcards, and business cards. But they also do fun stuff like vinyl wrapping, channel letters (electrical signs), neon, dimensional letters, and plaques.
By partnering up with event planners, artists and other service providers, they’ve been able to participate in larger events like SXSW, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Euphoria, and other local festivals. Some memorable projects include:
• Wrapping an entire bus for the Texas Monthly barbecue tour (their largest wrapping job so far).
• Custom printing and panels for 28 foot display.
• Creating an airport for a children’s party.
• SXSW structure takeovers, including a 4-venue project on Rainey, wrapping a coffin, and creating custom flags and cornhole games.
• Wrapping classic arcade games for Bird’s Barbershop, and wrapping downtown pedicabs.
• Museum projects at the Mexic-Arte and Blanton
What couldn’t they wrap? “Bring it in and we’ll see if we can wrap it!” they told us. Musical equipment, drum heads, surfboards, cranial helmets for kids, buildings, you name it! Go ahead, turn your car into a ladybug!
While Austin grows and changes around it, Nick noted that North Loop seems to have a slower growth trajectory, almost magically retaining its character and personality over the years. Even so, the District is happy to welcome newcomers to the fold, and new businesses on the block quickly become part of the North Loop family.
For North Loop Sign and Graphics, that neighborhood character is important. The charm that makes for a great place to live and work also draws customers, a significant competitive advantage. If you can get your printing done in a charming little shop in a charming little neighborhood, why wouldn’t you? You might even spot the naked biker guy with the Crocodile Dundee hat who regularly bikes the area. Bonus!
Given their commitment to local business and partnerships, it’s not surprising that North Loop Sign and Graphics has been a member of AIBA for so long they’re nearly running out of space for new armadillo stickers.
If you’re still not convinced this isn’t an average corporate print shop (“far from it,” agrees Nick), just ask to see Jeff the next time you stop by. Jeff worked at the shop until he passed away last year, but the team wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye. So Nick asked Lucretia across the street at Room Service Vintage to help them find a cool urn for Jeff. And that’s why, on any given day in the North Loop IBIZ District, at the North Loop Sign and Graphics Shop, you can say hello to Jeff in his eternal resting spot: a vintage ceramic frog.
Overall, we’d say Jeff is a pretty lucky guy. If you worked at a shop this fun, with a team this cool, in a neighborhood this cool, you wouldn’t want to leave either.
Contact the team at North Loop Sign and Graphics Shop at 512-407-9409, or stop in at 102 E. North Loop Blvd.
—Story and photo by Eve Richter Dinnan

The HT Group

Austin, aka the Silicon Hills, is a great place for tech industry professionals to live and work. The HT Group, one of Texas’ top staffing agencies, is thriving in the current candidate’s market. If you are looking to hire the best, or searching for your dream job in or out of tech, the HT Group is the recruiting partner you want on your side.

With offices in Austin, Beaumont, and Orange, the HT Group is a multi-solution employment agency that has been top-ranked by the Austin Business Journal for over a decade, and recognized by Forbes as one of two staffing firms in Austin to be listed as of America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms. Over the past year, the staffing agency has put several new processes in place to help grow its Technical team. The effort has paid off. The group has since doubled in size, staff- and income-wise, and is proud of the work it has done for its clients in 2017, the company’s best year ever.

Jayson Spaits, Director of the HT Group’s Technical Staffing Services Division, said, “New technologies are coming online at a fast pace, which means we have new specializations and niche clients to serve. We are focusing on emerging markets, finding talent and filling positions in DevOps, full stack developing, blockchain, and IoT. The market has really changed over the past three years. Now, there is lot more opportunity in Austin to find a wide diversity of positions.”

Spaits moved to Austin after working in Dallas because he wanted to help established and up-and-coming companies and candidates find their place among the diverse opportunities they are afforded here. He said, “The market in Dallas is more focused on older technologies. Tech companies in Austin, on the other hand, are always striving to be on the edge of a new technology. They are pushing the boundaries of tech all over the place. Here, you can get in on the ground floor of something special. Austin is the future. It’s where it’s at. It’s got a better tech vibe, for sure.”

He explains that Dallas is very mid-market driven, basically founded on start-ups with funding. Austin, conversely, has a range of huge tech innovators, including Dell, Apple, and Google, as well as a spate of start-ups looking to disrupt markets and create real change. Spaits said, “The philosophy on the tech side of staffing has changed significantly. There has been a real shift from being primarily client-driven to being much more of a candidate’s market.”

Recruiting processes have changed within this candidate’s market to keep up with the many emerging technologies. “We like to focus on candidates and companies who are trying to grow something,” Spaits said. “In that environment, given the new specializations and niche clients, such as those focusing on cybersecurity, for example, it’s important to remember that companies know how a potential candidate thinks. They are willing to train someone in emerging tech as long as they know that the candidate can adapt and learn quickly. It’s the difference between learned knowledge and application knowledge. Because older skillsets are dying out, it’s critical from a recruiting standpoint to staff the most cutting edge technologies. That’s the most challenging, and it’s where we can make the most impact.”

The HT Group has adapted to keep up with the new tech that continues to emerge and change. But their guiding principle has remained the same. Spaits said, “I embrace the HT way because we really want to help people. I’m not just here to staff. It’s a big win if we can place talent where they can create a new, successful app or technology and grow and sell that. We want to help companies grow. By placing the right talent there, we can do that.” The HT Group CEO, Mark Turpin said, “We are excited by the growth of our technical staffing division under Jayson. Austin is the center of tech activity in Texas and a great place for us to grow the business.”

Visit The HT Group at 7718 Wood Hollow Dr., Suite 100, 512-533-9700 or