Behind the Brand

It’s no surprise that this woman with half of her forehead wrapped up in her hair, almost doing a Donald Trump imitation by mistake, has arrived a bit on the late side. She just happens to run a successful blog that provides Austinites and travelers an “IN” guide to the city she has called home for the last seven years.

After graduating from UT Austin with a Corporate Communications major, Kristy Owen had no concrete plans for her future, so she decided to stay and eventually chose to become a realtor. Kristy says what she didn’t expect was to fall in love with the city all over again. “Living in Austin as a student and as an adult are on completely different levels. Once I left campus, I discovered a whole new side to Austin, I started to really branch out.” Owen says she started trying out everything and anything. From restaurants, to bars, to paddling on the Lady Bird Lake, she broadened her horizons.

On the verge of 2010 Owen says she was deciding on her New years resolution. It is common knowledge that when most people choose their goal for the new year, they usually don’t commit as time goes on. However, for Owen, her harmless goal turned into a thriving business.

“I sat there browsing my options for my New Years Eve resolution. I thought, maybe yoga? Then my sister, who sat next to me, threw out the idea of a blog,” says Owen. “ I was a realtor who loved selling futures to people in such a great city, and she thought that it would be a great way to sell the entire experience of Austin living to my clients while providing myself with a fun resolution for once.”

The name for the blog is self-explanatory, every day Owen writes a blog entry on something new, and exciting to do in Austin. “On New Year’s Day, we brainstormed over lunch and wrote as many ideas to try for the blog as we could, and it really just took off from there,” says Kristy Owen’s sister, Alison Owen.

That day the blog was born. Launched on a WordPress platform she started herblogging journey until one day when it all changed for the better. “A friend of mine propped the idea of posting on Facebook instead,- that’s when the site really started getting popular so every post I made when to the top of all my friend’s news feeds and it just blew up,” says Kristy Owen. “By the next day I already had over a hundred likes on Facebook by people I didn’t even know. That was on a Thursday. By the end of the week, I had over a thousand likes.”

Currently Owen not only has her Facebook account but her website, Instagram and Twitter. Between her various media platforms, she has between 10,000 to 30,000 hits a day on her website, 25,000 to 300,000 hits on her Facebook page, over 38,000 followers on Instagram and over 41,000 followers on Twitter. Owen says this wasn’t without help, she hired a man who makes up her team of three- herself, her intern, and Jason Neff.

Jason Neff has marketed “365 Things Austin” for the last few years and has made the blog into a profitable business. Neff says he started with advertisements – only local proclaims Owen- and has recently worked on several other enterprises, in order to expand the blog’s audience and provide Owen with an income that allows her to maintain the blog as her primary focus.

“In the last year we’ve totally overhauled the website, improved our marketing strategies, published a book, and are currently in the process of exploring the idea of apparel, as well as procuring our OWN events,” says Neff. “We sell out events for other businesses, why not arrange our own and get a bigger slice of the pie? On top of that, who doesn’t like throwing a party??”

Owen has definitely made a name for herself, well, for the brand, because one of the biggest principles to her blog is that she doesn’t let anyone know who she is. Owen says she will get a lot of calls to come in and review a place but she will never announce herself, instead she goes and reviews the place unexpected just like any other person. She says it is the best way to tell her audience about her experience with authenticity.

“ I think of my blog as a positive place to get to know a great, unique city that radiates positive vibes daily,” says Owen. “ I don’t feel right blogging about a negative experience, so I decided early on to only share what I have enjoyed, and I think it has really helped me maintain the blog’s image and have it respected by others.” Every day you will see another post about a part of the city you may not have known about the day before. “ I love this blog, it is my life, but if you would have told me that four years ago, I would have laughed right in your face.”

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Women’s Soccer Head Injury

Women are just as susceptible as men in sports to suffer traumatic head injury, says a University of Texas at Austin expert.

Head injuries in men playing sports surface in the news more often, however, many don’t realize that traumatic head injuries for women are on the rise. According to a study by The Center for Disease Control, traumatic brain injury (TBI) hospitalizations have increased by 20% from 2001 to 2010.

Traumatic brain injuries result from “repetitive, frequent, and forceful head impacts,” and later on may produce “neurological conflicts such as dementia, 20 years down the road if not diagnosed early on,” says Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at UT, Dr. Steven Kornguth. Since the skull stops the brain as its moving forward, allowing the brain to move back and forth repeatedly, nothing prevents the brain from the hit.

In sports, society accepts aggressive behavior as a natural part of the game. Soccer displays this most obviously with the “head butt” move, where players use their head to move the ball in hopes of scoring. Although men and women use their head in the game, however, “women tend to receive TBI’s due to their necks not having the same strength seen in a man’s neck,” Dr. Kornguth said. “Biologically speaking women are built with shorter, weaker neck stems that when hit with such force, usually cannot withstand the same whiplash as a man could.”

Last year Austin High Women’s Head Soccer Coach Amy Simpson witnessed several players receive head blows and having to sit out until they were healed. “ The nature of the game has changed, girls are much more aggressive, and the gap between men and women’s soccer is closing; It is very hard to tell my kids to sit out when I know so much is on the line, such as college scholarships,” Coach Simpson said.

Although Coach Simpson requires players to be aware of the consequences TBI’s have on an individual’s neurological skills, they urge to play.The limited amount of help from protective equipment allows them to have no real assistance.

“Providing my girls with protective head gear was a waste because even when you think you’re taking strides in protecting the safety of your players, the padding doesn’t do much but soften the blow,” Simpson said. “ A colleague once told me a great analogy, you got to look at the brain as an egg, you can’t keep the yolk in the shell once hit, once you drop it, it’s going to move.”

Although not much prevents a TBI, this hasn’t stopped women’s soccer teams from doing what they can to protect their players. Recent graduate and former Texas women’s soccer player Kara Hoffman has participated in UT’s effort to diminish head injuries. “ People are pretty smart about what they do on the field, but sometimes its unavoidable, thus, the university requires we take a baseline concussion test, it’s actually pretty difficult because it tests your reaction time, balance, and memory,” Hoffman said. The testing protects the player by keeping their mental health in check.

Every student must take the test in the beginning of the season in to be allowed to play. “So if I ever got hit in a game and came out, I would have to retake that test and they would compare the scores,” Hoffman said.

Simpson agreed that the best way to protect girls is to do the best you can in picking the right time to be aggressive versus being on the safer side. While soccer players, especially women, may be informed with the dangers of the game, there isn’t much else to do for protection except for just that, being informative. “ We can’t make heading illegal in soccer, its part of the game, we just have to teach kids to protect themselves as best as they can.”