By Katie Friel
In retrospect, Jessica Honegger could have lived a very different life. Growing up in San Antonio, Honegger had a self-described “comfortable upbringing” in the tony Alamo Heights neighborhood. In the early 1990s, Honegger, then a “strong-willed and curious” eighth grader, embarked on a church mission trip to the then-downtrodden Washington, DC neighborhood of Adams Morgan. It was an experience, says Honegger, that forever changed the course of her life. “I remember being in this home for women recovering from drug addiction, and … looking outside the window and they said it was the largest open-air drug market in [the city],” says Honegger. “I think that juxtaposition of being in my country’s capital, two miles from the White House and yet seeing poverty and what it [was doing] to the community [impacted me].”
The mission trip had such an impact on Honegger that four years later when it came time to apply to college, she submitted multiple applications at universities in DC. Though she was accepted into most, her father, a fourth generation Aggie, quickly nixed the idea; Honegger rebelled by instead attending the University of Texas at Austin. While at UT, Honegger majored in Latin American studies and continued her mission work, returning to volunteer in DC and abroad.
Post college, while working for Food for the Hungry International in Bolivia, Honegger met the man who would become her husband — a Midwesterner also volunteering — and together they continued on to Guatemala. “[Joe] was always the one who was vacuuming and putting the chairs away [after meetings], he had such a sweet, servant nature about him,” Honegger says.
Eventually, the couple returned to the U.S. and landed back in Austin. Unsure what to do next, the pair began flipping houses and Honegger began working towards a master’s degree in education at Texas State. Together the pair had two children, and began research into adopting a third from Rwanda. When the economy started to slide into a recession in 2008, houses that had previously stayed on the market for days now sat for months. Halfway through the adoption process, the family realized they needed help raising funds to bring their son home. Inspired by her trips to Africa, Honegger decided to host a trunk show at her home featuring jewelry made by Ugandan women. Eighty of her friends showed up, and Honegger walked away with enough money to bring her son home from Uganda — and an idea.
“At the time, five years ago, there weren’t a ton of fashion-forward, fair trade brands that were also social selling models,” explains Honegger. Inspired by one of her favorite Bible verses, Isaiah 58:10, she trademarked the name “Noonday Collection.” She began curating jewelry from women in countries in East Africa, Southeast Asia, as well as Central and South America. (Noonday has since brought on a creative team that designs the jewelry and then outsources the work to women in these countries.)
The decision to go into business for herself was easy, says Honegger. “I grew from a long line of entrepreneurs. My dad owned his own business, my grandad was this crazy rancher, oil man guy. I never knew anyone who ‘worked for the man.’’’ In 2010, she brought on a co-CEO, Travis Wilson, and together the pair has created Austin’s fastest growing business.
Part of what has contributed to Noonday Collection’s success is its social selling model (think your grandmother’s Tupperware parties, but cooler), which allow “Ambassadors” to work when they want. Says Honegger, “Being an entrepreneur and an ambitious woman, I feel like I just want to give women permission to be ambitious.”
She also wants to give back. Since its inception, Noonday Collection has made supporting adoption part of its business model, and today 10 percent of all trunk show sales are given to adoptive families. For a company whose revenue was $11.8 million in 2014, that means real change. “When women come together, we rise and shine. When we talk about these heavy things, poverty or the orphan crisis, it can feel heavy and debilitating, [Noonday] stands for something, creating something.”
by Joanna Steblay
As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.
For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.more
The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...more
by James Ruiz
Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.more
Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.
Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?
From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...more
by James Ruiz
As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.
Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...more