SXSW Unofficial brings much needed joy during an anxious time


Maryam Wilcher / Hilltop Views

A bright pink mural displays support for Austin in troubling times. SXSW Unofficial was hosted by Kendra Scott, a well-known jewelry company.

South by Southwest (SXSW), a premier destination for creatives, hauling in hundreds of thousands of people craving art, music, film, professional growth and much more has been shut down due to COVID-19. Amid a fearful and hectic few weeks, Austin needed a little love to help with the heartbreak and loss of this major event. 

SXSW Unofficial did just that.

One of the many events held was located in a small Kendra Scott store called “We Love Austin,” right down the street from St. Edward’s University. What seemed like a small party had a lot of activities for visitors to enjoy including a DJ, wine tasting, happy hour drinks, a photobooth, aura readings and a piercing party.

CEO, designer and philanthropist Kendra Scott transformed her small business that she created in her bedroom into a billion-dollar fashion brand adored by many and continues to expand across the world. A couple of her stores are in Austin as well, one of them being right in the middle of South Congress Avenue. 

Unique designs and high quality brings customers in; however, “We Love Austin,” attracted a much bigger crowd than some employees imagined. 

“I didn’t think we’d get many people in here. I thought it’d be a slow day, especially because of the pandemic that’s creating so much fear in our city,” Hannah, an employee, said. “I understand the seriousness of social distancing right now but I just think we all need a bit of happiness in our lives. If that means coming to this event, then by all means.” 

One of the stations that created a huge buzz was the aura photography station. Here, with a purchase of $75 or more from the store, visitors received a personalized portrait of their energetic state and had an aura reading. 

“I love how this event isn’t just about jewelry. This is honestly what Austin is all about,” Joseline, one of the attendees, said. “Who would’ve thought that I’d be able to get an aura reading done at a jewelry store?”

Of course there was some disappointment due to the cancelling of SXSW. It is a much anticipated event holding rich history spanning over thirty years. However, most kept a positive attitude and enjoyed the moment at “We Love Austin.”

“Of course, I’m upset about SXSW and I am hurting for those who work in service or in the clubs and bars downtown; I know how much money they will be stripped away from and how much the city will lose due to this virus,” Joseline said. “I think right now it’s best to focus on any bit of bliss and positivity we can think of. I’m grateful Unofficial is still providing that sense of relief.”