SXSW Sunday Recap - Neiman Marcus

SXSW Sunday Recap

Alexandra Evjen

March 14, 2016


As classes came to a close at the School of Self Expression, visitors got one last chance to touchup in the Beauty Locker, sign the year book, and take a school pic in the Neiman Marcus Dream Closet. (One of the most popular pieces: a Eugenia Kim hat with “Currently Offline” on the brim that came alive with paper airplanes in the augmented-reality booth.)

But before the last bell, there was one more round of workshops and Q&A sessions with inspiring women making their mark on the world…


Imagine, instead of a power plant, that everything around you could generate energy. That’s the vision of Jessica O. Matthews, founder of Uncharted Play. At the age of 19, she invented the SOCCKET ball, an energy-generating soccer ball that provides off-grid power for the developing world. Today, her company’s core product is M.O.R.E. (motion-based, off-grid, renewable energy), a micro-generator that can turn almost anything into power source.

Today, she’s exploring ways to make energy a fundamental human right, and creating more of it by transforming kinetic energy from daily life. That means more innovations like jump ropes that create hours of light and strollers that charge cell phones.

Matthew’s philosophy is about living out of bounds. “We’re often told to stay in our lane,” she says. “We’re told to not even bother, especially as women in science. But the definition of science is the study of life, and if you’re alive, observant, and willing to engage, you’ll be surprised by what you can create.”


Photographer and Parsons alum Chuck Grant sat down with Refinery29’s Creative Director Piera Gelardi to talk about feminism in art, inspiration, and storytelling.

1. No matter the subject, she likes to keep an open mind.
“I approach the people I’m shooting with an open heart and establish a relationship to form a level of trust. There’s always a way to relate to people, no matter where they’re coming from.”

2. She loves Kurt Vonnegut
“I’m fixated on him and am making it a point to read everything he’s ever written.”

3. She’s a big fan of Korean spas.
“Remember you’re entitled to your own happiness. Make time to do something like going to a Korean spa—which, by the way, will totally change the quality of your skin. But whatever it is, instill a routine that’s entirely about taking care of yourself.”

4. When she was young, she wanted to be a cartoonist.
“I love The Far Side comic. Gary Larson is a genius; the way he can fit a story into a single panel is impressive.”

5. Instagram is good, but in-person is better.
“Go to museums and galleries as much as you can.While Instagram can give you a sense of a photographer, actually experiencing the art is important.”


In a spirited, mood-boosting session, singer-songwriter Wynter Gordon played unreleased songs, talked about her creative process, and led the group in an impromptu songwriting session. She shared what she’s learned collaborating with artists, such as Mary J. Blige, Flo Rida, and Jennifer Lopez. The biggest lesson of the day: Have fun with it! “Keep it organic. Music is all about healing and emotion and just letting it all pile out,” says Gordon. “There are no rules when it comes to music.”


Beautycon CEO Moj Mahdara led a rapid-fire Q&A session with YouTube personality Bunny Meyer (Grav3yardgirl), whose channel has accumulated over one billion views.

1. It all started with nails.
“My very first video was five years ago about fake fingernails, and I found such an amazing community. There were so many people commenting and it made me so passionate about it.”

2. She doesn’t prepare for her videos.
“I’m the least prepared person in the world and I like the experience to be raw. If I’m going to mess up, I want to film myself messing it up. I still stack my camera on two shoe boxes; I’m just sharing my life with people.”

3. Her favorite thing is her viewing community called the “Swamp Family”
“I love meet-ups where I can see everyone in person. I feel sad because I always wish there were more ways to connect with people.”

4. Her favorite videos are her weekly “Does This Thing Really Work?” series.
“The energy is so high, because I’m excited to see what’s going to happen and if the product you see on TV is actually going to work.” (Her favorite so far is the Wubble Bubble Ball.)

5. Self-esteem is important to her.
“I’ve been bullied all through my life, and when I was younger I felt so discouraged. But but you have to disregard all that. You know what’s true about yourself and who you are. Everyone is beautiful and unique. You’re amazing; don’t change.”

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