Voyage Austin Interview

nicolette mallow

Imagery from VoyageAustin Magazine. Photography of Nicolette Mallow taken by Vivian’s Muse.

Last December, I received a note from an editorial team to inquire if I wanted to partake in a literary project called the “Inspiring Stories” series published by VoyageAustin Magazine. For the first time in 16 years, someone else interviewed me. It was so exciting since no one has ever asked in detail about my artistic journey. People usually only inquire about my writing career and forget about my performing arts history. I’ve conducted hundreds upon hundreds of interviews, but as far as I can recall. VoyageAustin Magazine is my first non-work-related interview where I was the subject matter instead of the interviewer. Perhaps on a few occasions like at The University of Texas at Austin. I spoke on behalf of the company. But this was the first time anyone interviewed me. http://voyageaustin.com/interview/check-nicolette-mallows-story/


Hi Nicolette, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.

My writing career began in 2005 at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). I joined the District, an award-winning student newspaper, and started to get published in my undergraduate program. After graduation, I left Georgia to begin an internship with the Editorial department at Texas Monthly magazine in ATX. Then I was hired as a contract employee to work in their Custom Publishing department for a different magazine. I wrote three stories for the Texas Monthly website and that was exciting! SCAD and Texas Monthly are the launchpads of my professional journey as a writer. 

Internationally published in the United States and Europe, I’ve obtained 110+ publications thus far, and counting. For 16 years, I’ve interviewed an extensive list of talent and collaborated with companies, directors, and PR teams from The Hollywood Reporter, National Geographic Channel, Prevention Magazine, HBO Films, SXSW, The David Lynch Foundation, Cine Las Americas, The University of Texas at Austin and more. Presently, my portfolio entails 12 national awards or scholarships, including both individual and group projects. Obtaining two degrees from the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), I earned a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration and a B.F.A. in Writing. But, writing is just one of the art forms I enjoy creating. 

From childhood until college, I focused primarily on performing arts. Born and raised in Texas and NYC—I’m an artist: writer, dancer, vocalist, thespian, model & (amateur) photographer. As a little girl, I was fortunate to be exposed to a colorful variety of music, artwork, and a beautiful array of cultures. A third-generation American, I’m a Latina, Lebanese girl that has always adored theatre arts, dance and music. 

Even at three years old, I knew I wanted to be a bellydancer after seeing the dancers and their costumes. My mummy says I ran to her at Disney in Orlando and declared, “I’m going to dance like that someday, too!” A year later, when I was four, my family took me to see The Nutcracker. Immediately, I was hooked. I needed to be part of the action on stage. I needed to dance! That desire only became more intense after seeing Phantom of the Opera at The Majestic Theater. Then, I wanted to be a vocalist, too. The makeup, the lights, the costumes and the music were hypnotic to me.

Anytime I saw a film, concert, or music video that inspired and enticed me. I wanted to be in it. Life just seemed so much more enthralling within the art world. And it is, for me. Tantalized by theatre arts and the world of music, beginning in pre-K and throughout elementary school, I partook in ballet classes. I attended music and voice lessons at the Jewish Community Center, even though I’m not Jewish. I was also part of our church choir. We showcased big theatrical productions in the winter and spring, as well as hymns every Sunday. 

When I got to middle school, I hid myself away artistically, at first, overwhelmed by the culture shock and the harsh adjustment from San Antonio to Lake Travis. In private, I auditioned for Barbizon Modeling and was accepted. In private, I kept singing and dancing. But I chose to focus on volleyball, swimming and academics, instead. In high school, I came out of my shell, once again. After I quit competitive volleyball and stopped swimming at West Austin Athletics, I re-focused my energy on performing arts. I became an Honor Thespian. And I think my favorite production we showcased was Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will? and I got to play Marlene Turnover. 

So, it began with theatres, classes and choirs, year after year. I tried the piano, too, but enjoyed singing and dancing far more than sitting still in one place. Although, I wish I had mastered at least one instrument. Anyway, I grew up in a house of musicians and artists. I am very fortunate to have grown up with such gifted, talented and intelligent individuals. I could go on and on with praise about each member of my family. 

But yeah, as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the performing arts and playing sports. As a kid, I was always torn between the arts and athletics. My first swim team in Kindergarten was the Shavano Sharks, up until my Master’s swim team in college at St. Stephen’s. I would bounce back and forth between my two greatest loves. In college, when I finally had to choose, I chose the arts. A decision I do not regret; alas, it was one of the most challenging choices of my young adult life. True, I am still an athlete—that energy in my heart will never die—but my career and my greatest passions lie within the art world. Art heals me and gives me a purpose in a way sports cannot. However, dance is a sport, too, not just a form of art. Regardless, it’s been a wild adventure ever since I devoted my life to the arts.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

I laughed when I read this question. No, it has most certainly not been a smooth road, and it still isn’t, especially with COVID-19. Artists all over the world can relate to this struggle. First, the most obvious challenge is that I’m a dyslexic writer, an oxymoron. It took many years, tears, and many successes for me to fully believe: I’m a writer. When it came to my writing, my confidence was intermittent, inconsistent. Even if I always knew from birth, I’m an artist and an athlete. I used to doubt my writing skills. 

Writers are supposed to be flawless at grammar. My dyslexia was and is a constant challenge. For decades, there has been a harsh stigma about dyslexia: if you have dyslexia, you must be incompetent, which is far from the truth. Earlier this year, I saw an article with a video featuring a dyslexic woman, Laura Schifter, that graduated from Harvard. She spoke of her struggles with dyslexia. Right before she attended Ivy League Harvard, an older man said something to Schifter: “Well, if you’re going to Harvard, then you must not have dyslexia.” Oy! It was hard to watch, but she talks about the brutal comments and the misinformed judgments many people hold towards dyslexia. 

For years, I kept my dyslexia a secret from employers. I was advised that no one wants to hire a dyslexic writer. It was implied most editors see a dyslexic writer like a deaf musician, a colorblind photographer, or a one-legged runner. I heard from other professionals that employers see a writer like me as too much work. It’s unfair, it’s wrong, and it’s saddening—but it’s the harsh truth. So I kept my dyslexia secret, which ended up hurting me in the end. Sometimes, I still get hate mail from a reader like, “You should learn to improve your grammar if you consider yourself a writer.” Or people will stop to correct me, mid-sentence, while I’m talking. I’m often treated as incompetent by insensitive people. But, I do not see myself as disabled or having a disability. Regardless, I am blithely aware that my grammar is a bit more “colorful” than most professional writers. 

Thinking back on it, I was always writing. I even had some of my little chapter books laminated. My first research paper for this gifted and talented program was about Ramses II (Ramses The Great). Obviously, I had assistance from my parents, but I still picked the topic, read about it, and put together the project. I’ve always loved reading and writing! And no one should be able to take that away because I’m dyslexic. It makes me sad for younger generations, the children, because what kind of message does that send out. “Kids, you can be anything you want to be, so long as you don’t have a learning disability.” 

It’s funny because I learned to read at the age of three using Hooked on Phonics. So I was already reading chapter books on my own before I even got to elementary school. When I read books, I felt like I was entering this other world of daydreams and imagination. Writing, the written word, was a safe place to have a voice of my own. I loved my diaries! Art is a healthy escape for me from the real world. Through artwork, I can create, express, or alter my reality; convey my mind, heart, and soul in a safe place: light or dark. 

Sometimes it can be frustrating to create art when your mind gets the words, times, and tenses all mixed up. I advise reading aloud, helps you with pronunciation for public speaking, and catch errors or issues with chronological time waves. I hate it when I jump around from the first person to the third person in my diction. The worst! 

Nevertheless, I still struggle between writer versus performing artist: introvert versus extrovert. Initially, I was accepted to Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) to study Media & Performing Arts in my undergraduate program. In my sophomore year, I switched my B.F.A. to Writing and was amongst the first crew of SCAD Writing students to ever complete the program. I recall the exact moment I knew I’d become weary of performing arts. I remember the class and the assignment. Up until then, I loved being on stage! I loved being in the spotlight. I loved role-playing. And I was so thrilled to be centerstage: all eyes on me! 

I was always on a euphoric high each time we began something new. Suddenly, to much surprise, I dreaded playing someone else. I dreaded memorizing someone else’s lines and someone else’s voice. Because I didn’t know my voice. I felt like I’d been roleplaying my whole life and had no idea who I was. I didn’t want to wear a costume anymore. Suddenly, I didn’t want to be the center of attention. I wasn’t as extroverted any more. That’s a long story, too. 

Ultimately, writing helped me rediscover my voice and identity. Writing reminded me of my role in life. Writing helped me begin to heal from any secrets I was harboring. I could rewrite the story or not, but I had the control to make it fact or fiction. After college, I got back into dance and learned belly dancing through Stacey Lizette and Suhaila Salimpour. I performed at restaurants, nightclubs, and parties. Then I got into my Master’s, and I haven’t been on stage in a few years to sing or dance. Not including karaoke. I’ve hidden away, once again, for good and bad reasons. Of course, now I miss being on stage. So, I need to find that perfect ambivert balance of writer and performance artist.

Due to COVID, I’ll probably go digital until the pandemic clears. I do my best to keep my professional writing career separate from my performing arts interests and my nonfiction memoirs. I want employers to see the distinction and that the two are not intertwined. However, I’ve discovered that some employers dislike my modeling and dancing career. They think it’s too sexy or salacious, which saddens me because I’ve never been fired from a single job, and my credentials are pretty solid for my age. Thankfully, many employers do not feel that way and love having artists and creative types onboard. Who I am at the workplace is not who I am on stage or in a photoshoot. We all wear different masks and different costumes at work. I am grateful to everyone that believed in me along the way. I have so much work to do in the future. I am still far from where I need to be. But I am on the road. Books are my next goal.

So let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?

One of the proudest moments of my career is when my editors at WideWorld Magazine in London, UK, commissioned me to interview a photographer for National Geographic and a sponsored athlete for The North Face, Jimmy Chin. They flew me out to Washington DC, where I interviewed Chin at The Madison Hotel before attending a banquet at National Geographic headquarters in his honor. The interviews were published in 2010. In 2019, he won an Oscar for his Documentary, Free Solo. It’s amazing! 

This interview made me internationally published in the US and Europe, a massive step for me in my career. Plus, I’ve adored Nat Geo since I was a child, and this was a dream come true. Mr. Chin was also very kind to me, and I remember that kindness because I was so new to the game and trying not to look or sound like a rookie.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?

Well, I’ve learned the hard way that not everyone is eager to help you. Especially if they’re competing for the same goal, you might find cold comfort from those who want to see you fail. Even if they like you, they might be disinterested in assisting you on your journey. And you may never know why. So, I advise going where you’re wanted and trusting your instincts. My advice is to seek mentorship from someone that is smarter than you, possibly older and wiser, but definitely more advanced in their career. You should not be competing with a mentor. You need someone to look up to. Seek out the “angels” of the art world that want to help aspiring artists. People that love and adore the arts and see their value. Also, be sure to remain open-minded to constructive criticism. Negative enforcement is not healthy, and you will know it when you hear it, feel it… Artists can get a little egotistical and hypersensitive when it comes to their craft, and rightfully so. But it’s imperative to be able to take advice from others that hold your best interests. 

Contact Info:


Mark Thomas Studio offers hair, make-up and skin care specials for Valentine’s Day

unnamed-2
Photography provided by Mark Thomas Studio.
Mark Thomas Studio is featuring specials in honor of Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re giving a gift to a loved one, or buying your own Valentine as a token of self-love, the studio is ready to beautify clients with their hair, make-up and skin care services. Located on Jefferson Square in Austin off West 38th Street, Mark Thomas is the only boutique in Texas that offers the European brands Philip Kingsley and FACE Stockholm makeup together in one place. Recently they debuted a Quick Eye Blow Dry Bar next door to their studio. Mark Thomas Studio bestows exceptional service reminiscent of a lavish boutique infused with Southern hospitality, permeating luxury and gentility into one location. Book an appointment by February 28, 2018 and these Valentine’s specials will apply to the following services.

  • mark thomas studio
Blow Out & Make-Up
  • Book with Madison to get a shampoo, blow out and style for $25. Monday- Friday 3 P.M. – 7 P.M.
  • Book with Robbie for two Blow outs, shampoos with styling for the price of one: $45. Monday- Friday 3 P.M. – 7 P.M.

Creative eye shadow application is included with each shampoo with style.

The Look of Love: Eyelashes & Brows

  • Book with Mia to obtain 50% off full sets of eye lash extensions. This offer applies to new clients only. Lash sets range in price from $300-$375. 
  •  Book with Nancy to receive $100 off on microblading. 

Current clients that purchase a lash fill receive a complimentary brow shaping & lash tint. 

microblading
Photography provided by Mark Thomas Studio.

Skin Care

  • Book with Kathy and purchase an ultimate facial to receive a complimentary brow wax. The ultimate facial costs $114 and is worth every dollar. I’ve personally had this facial and it leaves skin radiant, refreshed and youthful. 

Love is in the Hair

  • Book with Lacey and purchase a full highlight or a single process tint to receive a complimentary shampoo & hair cut.
  • Book with Mark Thomas and purchase a full Balayage, haircut & a blow out in order to obtain two complimentary shampoos with blow out styles at Quick Eye Blow Dry Bar. Mark is a Master stylist and colorist and always leaves my long locks looking beautiful and healthy. 

Pucker Up: Lips and Make-up

  • Book with Amanda and purchase a full make up application for $65 and receive one complimentary lip pencil, lipstick or eye shadow.

For more information please visit their website at www.markthomasstudios.com or call Mark Thomas Studio at 512-459-6900. 

Mark Thomas Studio and Quick Eye Blow Dry Bar
1601 W 38th Street, Suites 9 & 10
Austin TX 78731

Mark Thomas Studio transforms and beautifies with their royal treatment and southern hospitality

mark thomas studio

Photography of beauty parlor provided by Mark Thomas Studio.

Mark Thomas Studio will transform and beautify your hair, scalp and skin with their royal treatment. All guests will leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and more polished than ever before with the salon’s all-encompassing and luxurious products. Mark Thomas Studio provides exquisite services inside a fun, playful and relaxing atmosphere located in the heart of downtown Austin off West 38th Street.

This high-end salon is the only location in Texas that offers Philip Kingsley products and FACE Stockholm makeup together in one boutique. Mark Thomas Studio bestows exceptional service reminiscent of a lavish boutique infused with Southern hospitality, permeating luxury and gentility into one location. You will not find another boutique like it within all of Texas or the Midwest.

“For those unaware of Philip Kingsley, he coined the phrase ‘bad hair day’ and is the world’s most respected authority on hair and scalp health. With over 55 years of Trichological experience, Philip Kingsley’s past and present clientele include politicians, royalty and celebrities. Called the ‘Hair Doctor’ by The Sunday Times and the ‘Hair Guru’ by The New York Times, Philip has written many publications on both sides of the Atlantic. Philip has recognized the need to bridge the gap between science and hairdressing as well as providing solutions for the most extreme hair and scalp problems, and those who just want the best from their hair.”

Whether you are in need of a new cut and color – or whether you seek a bikini wax and a deep pore facial – or whether you simply want to have a makeover. Mark Thomas Studio will cater to your every need without the stress. This intimate salon is perfect for men and women of all ages. And they offer the best products and services– striving for every client to leave satisfied.

For more information please visit their website at www.markthomasstudios.com or call Mark Thomas Studio at 512-459-6900. 

14365496_10210424444752613_955533485_n

Photography of beauty parlor provided by Mark Thomas Studio.

Top Drawer opens a second thrift shop in the heart of Austin

Photography provided by Top Drawer and Project Transitions.

PT logo

A welcome party was held in honor of Top Drawer’s second thrift shop located in the Crestview neighborhood within the heart of Austin, Texas. This newly released thrift shop operated by Top Drawer opened its doors earlier this spring. However the official party was hosted at 7101B Woodrow Avenue on May 15, 2016, the exact date as the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Top Drawer Thrift is the social enterprise arm of Project Transitions. “Since 1988, Project Transitions is a non-profit dedicated to serving people with HIV and AIDS by providing supportive living, housing and hospice in compassionate and caring environments.” Top Drawer’s original location on Burnet Road has been open since 1993, always sustaining a focus to sell items in support of Project Transitions. To this day, all proceeds directly benefit the programs of this nonprofit and volunteers mostly run the shops.

Arts and Entertainment Writer, Nicolette Mallow, interviewed the Manager of Top Drawer thrift shop, Karin Kokinda. The two spoke of donations, the history of the shop and how the employees often get sentimentally attached to the pieces. (An audio recording can be found on YouTube.)

“I can’t begin to tell you how excited Project Transitions is to dive into this new experiment. For over 20 years we’ve had the Top Drawer location at 49th and Burnet and it has been amazingly successful and popular,” said Karin Kokinda, Top Drawer’s manager. “The new store gives us the opportunity to showcase some of the more special and unusual items that are generously donated.”

The welcome party at Top Drawer’s second shop in Crestview featured complimentary wine, fruits, cheeses and crackers. All items were 20% off during the party. Entering the thrift shop, guests will notice it’s like an infusion of a high-end fashion boutique, antique library, art gallery and a retro thrift shop with vinyl records and other goodies of the past. Inside the store there is something to be desired for purchase by anyone and everyone. Top Drawer is beautifully decorated and arranged to where the space is filled top-to-bottom with inventory, and yet it does not feel crowded or scattered. The room is neatly organized and the eyes can never get bored. Boots, dresses, books, tables, lamps, giant mirrors, old cameras, artwork, imported goods and other miscellany are available for purchase.

Arts and Entertainment Writer for Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, attended this special event and purchased a lovely, handmade Italian brown leather notebook as a keepsake and a literary diary. After the purchase, Mallow interviewed the Manager of Top Drawer, Karin Kokinda. The two spoke of donations, the history of the shop and how the employees often get sentimentally attached to the pieces. To hear the interview, please click on the video above.

To contact Top Drawer Crestview about acceptable items or more information, please call 512-454-5161. The store hours of operation are 11 A.M. to 7 P.M. every Monday through Saturday. Donations will continue to only be accepted at the Burnet location. For more information about Project Transitions, please visit www.projecttransitions.org or call 512-454-8646.

“It’s a collaboration between the community and Project Transitions. It starts with our donors who provide our inventory, then our loyal customers that come shop in our store, and finally, our clients who directly benefit from 100% of the proceeds,” said Madge Whistler, Project Transitions Financial Administrator.

 Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in June 2016.  

Screenshot from the original publication on Examiner.com.

Naomi Whittel: Founder of Reserveage Nutrition has a vision for global wellness

JP1_6287 (1)

Naomi Whittel. Photography by Jack Plunkett.

Founder and CEO of Reserveage™ Nutrition, Naomi Whittel has dedicated her career to naturally beautify the world with a vision oriented around science, health and wellness. Whittel is a ‘nutritional navigator’ who travels the globe studying various cultures and ecosystems to discover the best standards in nutritional health. Launching her company with four products in March 2009—Reserveage™ Nutrition now offers an extensive list of products ranging from skin hydration, metabolism boosters, anti-aging, cardiovascular support, antioxidants, and much more. Naomi Whittel has received several prestigious awards for her role as a successful female entrepreneur, including the following: the Gold Stevie Winner as Female Executive of the Year and the Silver Stevie Winner as Female Entrepreneur of the Year. “Naomi Whittel is one of the nation’s leading female innovators in the natural products industry. With two decades of experience in developing and managing sustainable companies in the health and wellness sector, she is the founder and CEO of Reserveage Nutrition™ and two sister companies: ResVitale™ and ReBody™. Together these natural health supplement brands have earned over 30 industry awards in four years, and are recognized for their mission to produce life-changing products based on ground-breaking science.”

Recently, Naomi Whittel assented to an interview with a local Arts & Entertainment Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, to talk entrepreneurship and becoming a CEO at the age of 23. Whittel also shared some helpful tips and insights related to wellness. The interview was held within the Press room at Prevention Magazine’s third annual R3 Summit held at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas.

Nicolette Mallow: On stage, you spoke of age and numbers. You emphasized that a number doesn’t define us no matter how young or advanced in age. Listening to you talk about starting a company that went global and being the CEO at 23 years old is so inspiring to all female (or male) entrepreneurs. However, I also recall during the presentation you mentioned that sometimes in the past you hid the fact you were the CEO because you felt your age might cause others to not take you seriously… How did you overcome the fear of being the youngest? It’s important for us all to learn from our elders or those with the experience of time that exceeds our own. But I have often felt the same way as an artistic professional when I’m the youngest, and often the only female, in a group where everyone else is older. It can be hard to be taken seriously and it can feel discouraging… How did you break free of all that and succeed?

Naomi Whittel: Being a young entrepreneur can be difficult. In hindsight, I wish that I hadn’t always kept it a secret that I was the CEO. But it’s a learning process for everyone starting out. First off, in order to succeed you have to be willing to fail and to be bold. To take risks. Failure is a huge part of success, but so long as you hold fast to your purpose and sustain boldness in all you do. In due time your visions and dreams will transpire. It’s also imperative to have a voice and to be honest with yourself. To know your strengths and weaknesses… Not long ago, I was in a meeting with other entrepreneurs and we were discussing investments. We needed to raise money for something that day and it seemed daunting to the others. At first no one was willing to invest, but I saw no reason to not make a move and act. I was the first one, and the youngest, to offer up a check to invest. Once I made the first move, the others were interested in the investment and we raised the money that day. Boldness goes a long way… Once you harness your internal power and know how to use it in a healthy way. Once you find a vision and hold onto it: falling into success becomes natural.

NM: Speaking of healthy, in regards to nutrition and wellness, it can be daunting for those just starting out with a mission to achieve a better diet or a healthier lifestyle. There are thousands of books, recipes and products out there for people to try. Where to begin? What is your advice for anyone wanting to change their lifestyle and nutritional diet but they don’t know where to start?

NW: Yes there is a lot of information there. I would advise the first step to be the elimination of processed foods. Processed foods do not carry natural nutrients, or often any nutrients, and therefore the body is not getting anything vital or healthy from these processed foods. Processed foods can do more harm than good. Solely because processed foods often carry a lot of chemicals and damaging, artificial substances within them, too. People aren’t always aware that what they are eating isn’t actually food at all… I was fortunate to grow up in a home of science and chemistry with parents focused on a biodynamic, organic lifestyle. However, I want everyone to join me on the journey to wellness no matter how or when their journey begins.

NM: My last question is, for those of us who sustain an overall healthy diet, exercise, drink plenty of fluids, take nutritional supplements and hydrate our skin, hair and nails. For those of us who feel we are nearly doing it all. What is something else that we can do to improve our diet and overall wellness?

NW: Intermittent fasting is something even the pro’s can forget to do. Fasting periodically from 8 PM to NOON has amazing benefits on the body. Intermittent fasting has proven to control blood sugar and insulin. It can promote weight loss and reduce cholesterol levels. Intermittent fasting can even assist with cellular repair or inflammation in the body, reducing stress.

For more information regarding Naomi Whittel’s background story or to view and purchase products online, please visit www.reserveage.com.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in January 2016.

nicolette mallow