Learning from Locals: Jess Thompson of Velvet Dust

We have so many great Localeurs in all of our cities, especially our hometown of Austin, but sometimes we like to check in with other locals to find out what their favorite spots are, too. Learning from Locals will be your chance to get a short glimpse into the lives of some cool locals we admire in the cities we’re in. Recently, I sat down with my friend and Velvet Dust creator Jess Thompson to get her take on staying inspired and keeping it local in Austin. - Joah

(Photo courtesy Jess Thompson; photographer - Niraj Rai)

Localeur: Where do you go in Austin for creative inspiration?

Jess: I am most inspired when I’m able to disconnect from all of my day-to-day distractions. Austin is great for getting lost in nature, and I usually get my best ideas walking around Pease Park or hiking at the Greenbelt.

Localeur: What’s the best place in Austin for you to get work done?

Jess: Juan Pelota and Houndstooth coffee shops are basically my home offices! They both get great light and are just busy enough to keep me energized without being too distracted. And their coffee is my favorite in town.

Localeur: If you have a friend in town, what’s the go-to place to take them?

Jess: That’s such a hard question! I always love a long, late night French dinner at Justine’s. Nothing beats a good photo opp in their mirrored Infinity Room, and I love the Lumiere Tintype residency.

Localeur: If you could only spend one day in an Austin neighborhood, where would you go?

Jess: I think that these days I would hang in East Austin, although I have sentimental attachments to so many Austin ‘hoods! There’s just so much happening in that neighborhood right now - great coffee shops, restaurants, little stores. I love the street art and character of the Eastside and seeing all of the local business that is thriving in that neighborhood.

(Photo courtesy of Velvet Dust; photographer - Paige Newton)

Localeur: It’s a nice sunny day in Austin and you want a refreshing drink, where to?

Jess: I love Weather Up for cocktails. The bartenders are really knowledgeable and friendly, and their outdoor patio is perfect for sitting under the sun. Josephine, the bar at Hotel San José, is always a favorite too. The staff is amazing, and when I’m there I feel like I’ve been transplanted to a little bungalow getaway in a far-off place.

Localeur: You have impeccable style, where should ladies shop in Austin?

Jess: I recently fell in love with Sunroom, and its owner, Lucy. She stocks so much great and unique jewelry in her store, and she’s an all around adorable person. I can get into some real trouble there. Kickpleat is another favorite for everything (clothing, shoes, accessories), Feathers is my preferred spot for vintage, Moss is awesome for designer consignment scores, and I love the Bootleg trailer for shoes.

Localeur iOS 1.1.3 Updates

Today, we’re happy to announce significant improvements to the Localeur iOS experience that continue our mission of making it easier to truly experience local.

In this native update, we’ve increased contextual awareness for new users, increased your ability to organize all your favorite places and also enabled you to better engage your friends to learn about all of their favorite places to eat, drink and play through Localeur.

Onboarding Screensimage

Localeur content is unique in a number of ways. One of these, and one of the most important, is that all content is provided exclusively from locals. As in, only real locals from that city can recommend any place. And on average, a major percentage of our daily usage of our iOS app are from brand new users. Considering this, we wanted to create some additional context for this audience by adding a few quick onboarding screens that emphasize this unique (and cool) value proposition.

Place Listsimage

Your “Favorite” lists on Localeur should feel like your local hub, keeping all of your favorite local places organized and available to both you and your network. You’ve told us (and we’ve listened) that you want deeper organization in your Favorite lists. More specifically, that you want to be able note local places that you’ve heard of and want to try. Similar to a “wish list”. To accommodate this, we’ve added some new tools that give you clearer, more consistent controls in the form of two new list features for you to use: “Places To Go” and “Places I’ve Been”. To use these, just tap the Localeur heart on any place and you’ll see a pop-up come up from the bottom of your device. Simply tap the list you want to add it to. Then, once you’ve been there, you can tap the Localeur heart again and add it to your “Places I’ve Been” list. This effectively crosses it off your “Places To Go” hitlist. These lists are available for anyone in your friend network to see, and vice-versa. Now you and your friends can stay up-to-date each others local places that you’ve heard of, want to try and been to.

Invite Friendsimage

We’ve also heard that you want to be able to invite your friends to join Localeur. To enable this, we’ve added a few points within this version of the iOS app that allows users to invite their friends via Facebook, Twitter, email and text/iMessage. To do this, you can tap “Invite Friends” from your side navigation or from your Friends List that will take you to an “Invite Friends” landing screen. With this, you can unlock more local insight by inviting your friends to see their favorite local spots.

These updates are available in our 1.1.3 release, available today. Download the app or update to the new version and let us know what you think. We hope you enjoy experiencing local with your friends as much as we do! Stay tuned for more exciting updates in the near future.

Co-Founder & Head of Product

Brother Localeur Does Dallas in 36 Hours

Chief Localeur Joah here and I am proud to introduce one of the newest members of the Localeur family (and a member of my real family), my oldest brother Kahron aka Brother Localeur. He’s traveled the world over from Portland to Portugal, Austin to Abu Dhabi and he recently moved back to Austin after spending nearly a decade living/working in the Middle East. To help him get acclimated to the Localeur lifestyle and help you all get familiar with him, he took a trip to our newest city, Dallas, and shared his experience. Enjoy his words below! js

How Brother Localeur Did 36 Hours in Dallas

Being from Austin, it’s easy to want to compare other places to Austin.  Recently, I’ve heard good rumbles about Dallas, completely unrelated to sports. I came away thoroughly impressed.  It has its own unique mix of that familiar Texas-sized persona, with pockets of co-op warmth.  Dallas isn’t Austin, and that’s just fine.  I’ll definitely be back.

One note: wrap your head around the driving situation.  It is what it is.  It’s a big city.  Think bigger and get over it.

The first thing I wanted to do what get out and stretch my legs, and take in a little culture.  For all its Texas-sized business dealings and luxury shopping going on, art has long been appreciated in Dallas.   Situated in the esteemed Dallas Arts District is the Nasher Sculpture Center, one of the best locales for sculpture art in the country.  


You’ll see works from noted heavyweights Picasso and Gauguin, to more contemporary talents, like Dallas native David Bates.  It’s complete with a picturesque outdoor sculpture garden.  It’s the most fulfilling ten bucks you will spend on art in Texas.


Next – checking into my room at the Belmont Hotel, a retro gem in Oak Cliff.  Can you hear everything in the next room?  Yep.  Does the hotel live up to the mid-century motor inn feel?  Absolutely.  Get a strong drink in the attached Bar Belmont, and enjoy the nostalgia and views.


After check-in, I drove a few blocks down to Chicken Scratch/Foundry, a laid back combination outside bar slash fried chicken joint.  The namesake sandwich absolutely doesn’t disappoint. 


One pleasant surprise I found is Lucky Dog Books.  This second hand bookstore is more of a library of well-selected works.  There are stairs leading up to a nice loft area.  The racks of retro magazines are stocked in a modern way.


Another short drive takes you over to the beautiful Bishop Arts District, where I sought out a very specific place – Emporium Pies.  Upon arrival, I saw the telltale sign of awesomeness – a line outside the door.  I recommend ‘In the Limelight’.


Following that significant piece of pie, I walked a couple blocks down to a curious coffee house, with a Dachshund for a door handle, called Oddfellows.  The cappuccino, made on a limited edition La Marzocco Strada espresso machine, hit the spot.


I was told brunch is a ‘thing’ in Dallas.  The next morning, I went to Bolsa, a cozy chic modern American restaurant built out of a converted garage.  Given the set up and the name brand chefs involved, I maintained a certain expectation, which was fulfilled to the utmost.  The Eggs Benedict did something for me.


Before I left town, I had to check out Good Records.  Best thing about it, other than the high quality of offering, is the arrangement of music by alphabetical order, and not by genre.   Al Green and Arcade Fire are located in the same area.  All is right.


Get Ready: Free Press Summer Fest is Around the Corner

Free Press Houston has done it again, folks. The 2014 lineup was released mid-February, and the Internet went all sorts of crazy. This is probably (no, most definitely) the most anticipated event of the year, and it all takes place in the heart of Houston at Eleanor Tinsley Park from May 31-June 1.

So, let’s chat about a few of the headliners, shall we?

Ever heard of The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, or the ever-so-popular White Stripes? Jack White was one of the masterminds behind each of these bands, so you can bet Houston is elated for a musical genius like him to grace us with his presence. This may be a long shot, but wouldn’t it be rad if Jack White and The Kills (also playing the fest) frontwoman Alison Mosshart performed a number from The Dead Weather? That would be too cool.

I’m particularly excited that South Africa’s Die Antwoord are making their way to Houston for the first time, ever. If you haven’t watched any of the duo’s videos, hop on it. You won’t see another performance like this one for quite some time, let me tell ya.

No doubt the masses will be going gaga over Cage the Elephant and Vampire Weekend and rightfully so. as both bands cater to the indie-pop lovers of the world. One-man wonder Washed Out will bring what is known as “chillwave” to the fest, and Mariachi el Bronx (the alter ego of punk band The Bronx, who played last year) will get your feet moving before you know it.

Aside from the bigger names, the crew at Free Press Houston does a wonderful job integrating local bands into the fest. Wild Moccasins, Jana Hunter, The Tontons, A Fistful of Soul, and Bagheera are a few of those acts. There’s also a handful of acts hailing from Austin, including Eagle Claw, Driver Friendly, and Shakey Graves (who puts on an awesome one-man show, by the way). Peep the official flyer for a full list of 2014 acts.

While FPSF is certainly no Coachella or SXSW, the fest has made deep waves in Houston since its creation in ‘09. The first year garnered 30,000 attendees, which grew to more than 100,000 festival goers in 2013. Attendance this year is going to be NUTS, so make sure to grab tickets before it sells out (and it will).

Are you planning to attend FPSF this year? If so, Tweet me at @britneyIRL and I’ll help you #experiencelocal while you’re in town.

- Britney

If you’ve been following us since we launched March 2013, you know we’re fans of great design. Not just in our website and our iPhone app, which recently got praise from the LA Times and Huffington Post, but also in our team apparel. We started with limited-edition tanks and tees with our friends We Are the Process and to celebrate our first birthday during SXSW this year, we introduced snapbacks as well. These are going to some of our biggest contributors and supporters. Join the team and you can get one too!

Thank you for your continued support of Localeur. We’re proud to share  the newest and bestest version of the Localeur iPhone app.
We’ve listened to your feedback and made some improvements to make the experience even better for you. Now for the updates:1. Familiarize yourself with Localeur through a new on-boarding experience. Just so you can, ya know, get to know each other a bit better. 2. Browse through the app more easily with a tightened up navigation to help you experience cities like Austin, Houston, LA, New York and San Francisco. 3. Easily invite friends to Localeur through email, text, Facebook and Twitter. This way, you can see your friends’ favorite local spots.4. Made bug fixes. Score.If you enjoy Localeur or have feedback, please shoot us a note or leave a review on the App Store. We appreciate it. Zoom Permalink

Thank you for your continued support of Localeur. We’re proud to share  the newest and bestest version of the Localeur iPhone app.

We’ve listened to your feedback and made some improvements to make the experience even better for you. Now for the updates:

1. Familiarize yourself with Localeur through a new on-boarding experience. Just so you can, ya know, get to know each other a bit better.

2. Browse through the app more easily with a tightened up navigation to help you experience cities like Austin, Houston, LA, New York and San Francisco.

3. Easily invite friends to Localeur through email, text, Facebook and Twitter. This way, you can see your friends’ favorite local spots.

4. Made bug fixes. Score.

If you enjoy Localeur or have feedback, please shoot us a note or leave a review on the App Store. We appreciate it.

Must-Have Items for SXSW First Timers

We recently asked one of our New York Localeurs, Dre Hayes (co-founder of The Foundation), what his must-have items for SXSW are – he’s done the festival more times than we can count. Here’s what he had to say.

1. Smartphone A smartphone may be the most essential item you bring with you to SXSW or anywhere else. Whether it is to access the Localeur SXSW guide, upload notable moments to Instagram, or use Google Maps to get around Austin, it is an important tool to stay connected to the people and places around you.

2. Comfortable shoes A festival is NOT the place for heels or shoes you can’t stand in for long periods of time. At SXSW, you have to anticipate that there will be tons of walking from attraction to attraction. A comfortable pair of shoes are a basic necessity to get you through each day.

3. Backpack or day bag You will definitely need a place to stash all of your belongings while you are roaming around SXSW. A bag that can hold a lot of stuff is ideal so that you can keep close those extra layers of clothing, sunscreen, a bottle of water, and whatever else you may need from morning to night. (I prefer a backpack because it keeps my hands free to take pictures, hold a drink, or just put my hands up with the crowd). As with everything else you bring, choose a bag you don’t mind getting dirty or damaged.

4. Mini umbrella Weather is the most unpredictable factor in any city, so it is imperative to plan ahead and bring a mini umbrella just in case. The worst thing would be to walk around soggy or drenched.

5. Mophi The Mophi Powerstation is something I never leave the house with, especially when I know I will be on the move all day. This little block provides reliable on-the-go power that is capable of charging virtually any USB device, meaning you can charge your iPhone and your friend’s Samsung Galaxy. Unlike rechargeable cases, the Powerstation provides power that can be shared communally – perfect for SXSW.

We know everyone is super excited for #sxsw this week and we are too! That said, there’s probably no better day than today to announce the next city we’ll be launching on Localeur: Dallas! It’s obviously one of the largest cities in the country, but it’s also home to plenty of great drinking, eating and shopping destinations not to mention one of America’s best sports towns. Stay tuned for more info on our upcoming Dallas launch!