Imagine... you're in a beautiful space filled with interesting people, engaging conversations, budding friendships, delicious libations, live music, and brimming authenticity. This is what it's like to be at a Foster ATX event. Stephanie, Shelby, and Sara are the dream team behind this brilliant concept, and we're excited to be able to chat with them and share their story!
Tell us about yourself and your background. How did the idea for Foster come about?
After graduating from The University of Georgia with Marketing degrees, we took time off from the career paths we were on to backpack Europe for five weeks. Our trip opened ours eyes to the world full of passion, culture and the shared appreciation for the simple things in life. When we returned home, we felt uninspired by where we were headed and knew there was no better time than the present to chase after a life full of purpose. On a whim, we booked a flight to Austin, eager to see what it may spark within us. In just a few short days, we became enamored by this place and the people. It was during this trip that we unknowingly started to build the framework for what is now Foster. Born out of a love for good food, good music, and great company, it dawned on us that we're the happiest when we're creating, gathering people together and surrounding ourselves with inspiring individuals who are chasing after passions of their own. When we join arms to support one another, something within us opens up and becomes alive with wonder. Foster is a collection of these moments, these people and the raw talent that is insanely present here in our town.
"Born out of a love for good food, good music, & great company, it dawned on us that we're the happiest when we're creating..."
Explain what Foster is to someone who has never heard of it.
Foster ATX is a collaborative platform that curates intimate gatherings centered around music or food in unique spaces, which are open to the Austin community to join for a ticketed price. Our whole purpose is to support local talent while cultivating a community around shared passions. Whether it be a unique pop-up dinner by an aspiring chef, or an intimate, stripped-back concert featuring an up-and-coming artist, we strive to enable the talent within our town by creating raw, authentic and meaningful experiences. Our spirit is best captured by our name. Foster is built upon the belief that you should 'foster' (nurture, encourage, support) your passions, your relationships and your community. Foster is a place where you meet new friends, discover new music, and share life with others around the dinner table. In the short term, we hope to grow the number of gatherings we have each month. We have recently grown to have three gatherings per month, but we'd love to have something new and different each week. In the long term, we plan to grow our platform to be the go-to spot for local food and music discovery, creative collaborations and exclusive, authentic experiences.
Why did you decide to start Foster in Austin specifically?
There is a contagious spirit about this place. Where you can hear live music from just about every street corner. Where you'll find musicians encouraging and supporting one another, and jumping on stage to create a beautiful melody together. Here, you'll find references to local farms throughout menu descriptions, people rallying behind their favorite food truck to enable them to become a brick-and-mortar, and 'competing' chefs teaming up to curate unique dining experiences. While these scenes may be booming, it's what is at the heart of them that makes Austin so special. It's the people, who, although may not share the same background, adopt a shared understanding of kindness and thoughtfulness, and are in pursuit of a passion-driven life.
"Foster is built upon the belief that you should 'foster'
(nurture, encourage, support) your passions, relationships
What has been your proudest moment so far?
We've had many proud moments throughout this short, yet invigorating journey. An especially proud one was seeing a guest of ours, Gillian from Sound Dessert feature Cowboy Diplomacy at her showcase at Stay Gold, a connection that sparked at one of our gatherings. It's been a joy to watch the friendships that have formed and grown through Foster, and hearing when guests go out to support our artists at their next upcoming show. Beyond these moments, it's been amazing to collaborate with so many creatives and small businesses here in Austin. Between brands such as 9 Banded Whiskey and South Austin Brewery to beautiful spaces including Handsome, Vuka and Articulture Designs, to partnering with crazy talented photographers and creatives. We're most proud of the people who have reached out, taken a chance on us and enabled us to bring our idea to life.
Who would be a dream performer or chef for Foster?
For music, it would a dream to collaborate with Texas natives such as Shakey Graves, Leon Bridges and Wild Child. As for chefs, we absolutely love what Rene Ortiz is doing at Launderette, Bryce Gilmore behind Odd Duck and Barley Swine, and Paul Qui's innovative concepts.
Have you had to overcome any struggles after starting Foster?
When we decided to pursue Foster, we didn't have the slightest clue as to how to start a business. We took a leap of faith, read a lot of books and just dove in, full force. As with starting any unknown venture, there are countless obstacles and learning curves that you have to figure out by doing. From the start, we've been forced to learn the legalities of running a business, staying on top of finances, taxes, and budgets, while also building a platform and brand that aligns with our mission and values. On top of that, we've been challenged personally, with one of our biggest tests being finding a balance between our full-time jobs (what pays the bills) and knowing when to turn off the clock and take time for ourselves. Thankfully, we have been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by the greatest network of mentors and positive influences who have inspired, encouraged and enabled us to continue this journey.
How do you use social media to grow your business?
Social media is our main avenue for growing Foster. Being that we are completely bootstrapping our business, we've really utilized these platforms to reach new guests, engage with our audience and showcase our brand identity. Instagram has been our brand album, showcasing the creativity that is at the core of Foster, but also what it is that we love so much about Austin. Facebook events have also been an incredible avenue for us. It's crazy to see how much of an event-focused platform it has become. With the ability for users to show 'interest' in an event, we are able to reach countless eyeballs and generate buzz around what we're doing. It's also an incredible outlet for discovering Austin creatives to partner with. Whether it be musicians, food bloggers, sponsors or photographers, we have used social media to grow the Foster community from within.
"With the ability for users to show 'interest' in an event, we're able to reach countless eyeballs
& generate buzz around what we're doing
[through social media]."
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs wanting to create something unique like Foster?
Find your passion and chase after it. Invest in people. The hardest part is getting started, so just start somewhere. Read. Learn as much as you can from others that have gone through this before you. Don't fear the unknown, embrace it. Make time for what it is that feeds your soul. It's not going to be easy, but it'll be worth it.