Nina Means & the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator

Nina Means & the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator

Texas fashion industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Recently, we sat down with Nina Means, an award winning designer, creative director and one of Texas’ most dynamic leaders in Austin. A graduate of FIT in New York, Means has had a strong career in fashion. Before living in Austin, Texas she interned for Rebecca Taylor, designed for American Eagle Outfitters and H by Halston sold on QVC. After relocating to Austin TX, Means launched her namesake label, an elevated daywear brand for the sophisticated woman available in specialty stores and online.


Currently, she is an adjunct professor at the Art Institute of Austin for fashion design and fashion marketing, instructing in product development, production, introduction to manufacturing, technical design and computer illustrative media.

Nina Means: Designer, Creative Director, Director of  ACC

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Recently, on April 30th, Austin community college celebrated the one year anniversary of the new Austin Community College Fashion Incubator. As Director of the ACC, Means is bridging her previous career in public health and fashion together, focusing on developing students, emerging fashion businesses and creating gainful workforce development opportunities to the greater Austin area.

Visit ACC at their website

During our interview, Means gave us insight into her thoughts on advocacy, collaboration, the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator and rising stars in her area. Here’s what she had to say.

SLTV: Nina, it is such a pleasure to speak with you today. We are enormous fans. You have taken on the role as Director for the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator. Why is it important to support the positive growth of the Texas fashion industry?

NM: The Texas Fashion Industry has been home to some of the most respected talents in the fashion industry – Tom Ford and Brandon Maxwell who just won his second award from the CFDA recently. We have to take the initiative to develop our local talent. We want to continue to mine the great talents Texas has to offer.

SLTV: What genres of fashion industry do you think are Austin’s strongest assets to the Texas fashion industry? What have been some recent innovations?
NM: Austin’s brightest brands are in the bridge contemporary space with the casual cool vibe you would expect from the local Austin culture. We see influences from western affects and details as well as a lot of light weight materials and airy silhouettes. Active is also having a moment in Austin. Indicative of the local outdoor lifestyle, active brand and retail darling, Outdoor Voices, is making its mark. We’re seeing more brands experiment with pushing the envelope on sustainability as well. Austin has a zero waste policy for businesses, and fashion is not excluded. We will be seeing more brands incorporate high-technology solutions in order to accomplish this. At the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator, where I serve as Director, we are leveraging a digital solution package from Gerber Technology in order to help businesses create a more targeted product, with less upfront cost and very little waste.
SLTV: This is incredibly exciting! I love hearing about local lifestyle playing a role in direction; so genuine. And yes, we agree, if you are in fashion and are not incorporating eco-consciousness into the grand plan of industry, it is a huge missed opportunity. How great!


Patternmaking for fashion design class at the ACC Fashion Incubator photographed on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at the Highland Campus, building 4000.

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SLTV: Can you name some of your favorite Austin fashion start ups? Who are your “ones to watch” right now? What about veterans? Who is a fantastic Austin fashion professional role model for younger generations and entrepreneurs to look towards for inspiration?
NM: My personal favorite fashion startup is Chapter Goods. As a new mom, I appreciate the niche product and customer they are aiming for, but the clothes are great for anyone. In terms of ones to watch, House of St. Claire and Esby Apparel are building steady business in Austin. It is exciting to see native brands build significant distribution channels all over the country and the world. In the sustainable, naturally dyed, ethically made apparel space, Miranda Bennett is doing fantastic work with a notable distribution.
SLTV: Wow! These brands look incredible! Thank you Nina. Please do share our info with them. Would love to do stories on all of them. 


SLTV: What do you think has been the most positive benefit from having the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator available to Austin creatives and entrepreneurs in fashion?
NM: Personally, I think the most positive benefit of having the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator is that we have a hyper-focused opportunity to help build local fashion business with the help of the City of Austin, Gerber Technology and the community college. We participate in events with Austin Fashion Initiative and other local players to pull down the silos in order to build a collaborative fashion industry ecosystem. 
SLTV: Well, that sounds incredible! The Texas Fashion Industry Initiative would love to collab and offer unwavering support. Please do continue to keep us in the loop so we can launch news about all your endeavors. The future of Texas fashion looks brighter than ever.

ACC celebrates the grand opening of the Fashion Incubator on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at the Highland Campus, Building 4000.

SLTV: How can people get involved with the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator ?

NM: There are several ways you can get involved with the ACC Fashion Incubator. We have classes available for newcomers as well as fashion industry vets to take your fashion skills to the next level. If you are a budding startup in Central Texas, you can apply for the Designer-in-Residence program through our website. And if you are the more casual, curious type, come join us for Fashion Hour (our in-house, monthly show that airs on ACCTV) or join us for a master class or workshop with local industry veterans. 

SLTV: In your professional opinion, and based off of what you experience on a daily basis, how can Texas fashion industry professionals band together to bring positive change?
NM: Communication and participation are key for a true collaborative effort in Texas. We all have so much to bring to the table, and there is no way for any one person to have all of the answers. People are learning so much every day. 
SLTV: Completely agree! Thank you so much Nina for taking time from your busy schedule to share with us. We look forward to continuing to support you, your efforts and hopefully working with you soon. 

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Burgundy Woods
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Burgundy Woods has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music/Music Industries from the University of the Incarnate Word and a Design & Trend Forecasting degree from The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. She began her career in Hollywood, California, where she worked for major record labels such as Virgin Records, Interscope Records, EMI Music and Capitol Records. Later after attaining her fashion degree, she was discovered by MySpace, Inc. and was immediately hired to be their Fashion Curator starring and producing her show THE B-SPOT Fashion & Trends on their Fashion & Shopping channel. During this time, online media was in its infancy. She and her colleagues contributed to the invention and molding of the online fashion media industry. Many of the stylized ideas and tools that were launched through these platforms are still used to this day as industry standards for online fashion media. Later, with her extensive experience in developing online fashion media, she continued the show independently and has successfully rebranded THE B-SPOT into Style Lush TV online fashion network. Now, with over nine professional years in online fashion media and trend forecasting, she continues to pioneer, maneuver and develop her industry. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Style Lush TV. She is also the President of the Texas Fashion Industry Initiative. The state's official non-profit for the positive growth of the Texas fashion industry.