Editor's note: It's small business week from May 2-8, so Austonia is highlighting a small business every day this week. Check back tomorrow for the next small business profile.
When you buy one of D'André Woodard's pieces, you're not just buying a custom-made piece of furniture, you're supporting a three-generation legacy.
Growing up with a do-it-yourself-enthusiast carpenter for a father, Woodard was around tools, renovations and creations his whole life. Though he couldn't knock down walls or replace the cabinets in his rental home, he wanted to stay true to the skills he learned as a child.
So, alongside another part-time job, Woodard started building custom furniture in 2016. It started spreading through word of mouth, making custom creations for friends and eventually started to snowball through social media.
"It's been very freeing to kind of take on different projects and try this for my business, my skills and natural affinity," Woodard said.
The business is in his blood, having grown up with a handy father and stories of his grandfather, who made furniture as well. From his own original designs to working with customers to realize their visions, Woodard is a one-man band.
Woodard started living and working in Austin after he graduated from the University of Texas. Woodard said he feels like the people of Austin support him as an artist, giving him an advantage by being in the city, so he tries to pay it forward by sourcing from other local businesses.
"I think Austin just has more attention toward local businesses, so there's a lot of people who appreciate supporting locals as well and appreciate artistic endeavors," Woodard said. "I think it's just a good environment for this industry that I'm working in."
Right now, Woodard's favorite pieces are his custom "Katara'' mid-century modern coffee tables. His prices vary and Woodard prides himself on being able to complete a project that is uniquely suited to the needs of his customers.
"If you have someone that wants to help create something from nothing, that checks all the boxes that you have, you won't have to settle for what everyone else is getting at Ikea," Woodard said.
Once he delivers the furniture, especially with an exceptionally unique piece, Woodard said he likes the idea that something he crafted will last the test of time and become part of something new.
"(My customers are) supporting the continuation of family legacy, you know, keeping this tradition alive," Woodard said. "It's very clear to me that what I made is going to become a very special table, even an heirloom someday. So, seeing that in its final place, the setup in the care (is) very special."
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.