Spotlight: ATX Mafia (Plus A Shirt Giveaway!)
Made in "the best place on Earth" — Austin, Texas — this line of casual apparel comes from a good-hearted all-girl "mafia."
CMT’s 'Texas Women' star and rising country singer Ali Dee.
Photography: Brandi Nellis Photography LLC/Courtesy ATX Mafia
Five million tees on 5 million women, celebrating all the strengths of young country women — the strong, the wise, and the good-hearted!”
That’s the five-year vision of Jill Beerman, the founder of “Austin casual” apparel company ATX Mafia. After nearly two gratifying decades with the influential Austin advertising agency GSD&M, Beerman decided it was time to follow her dream of having her own boutique. A few years later she found her real passion: “putting out positive messages for all the young and young-at-heart girls who are comfortable with who they are, what they stand for, and where they come from.”
Working with family and friends, she founded ATX Mafia as the production posse to capture and proclaim the spirit of country girls on a line of soul- and shape-flattering T-shirts.
C&I talked with Beerman about living what you love and loving where you live.
Cowboys & Indians: How did ATX Mafia get started?
Jill Beerman: I had the absolute pleasure of marketing Chili’s restaurants at GSD&M advertising agency in Austin and was with GSD&M for almost 20 years. Then the entrepreneur bug bit me! I wanted to fulfill that little-girl dream and “play shop.” So five years ago I opened up a gift boutique called Oh Yeah! in Bee Caves [a neighborhood in Austin]. I quickly learned that hip young girls and women love to go out on dates with their husbands or out with the girls and wear a pair of nice branded jeans, high heels or boots, and a cute tee. I wanted to fill the “cutest tees” requests for my Oh Yeah! customers, but all I could find were tees that were either too boxy, too corny, or degrading to women. That’s when ATX Mafia was born.
C&I: Why do you focus on country women as your target customers?
Beerman: I’m very thankful that I was born into the Western lifestyle. Women and girls involved in the Western community set the example for others. They are country strong, extremely proud, hardworking, loyal, and so very kind. We do not take it lightly that we put out messages that reflect these women both present and past.
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Jill Beerman’s Favorite Things
JEANS: Miss Me, if I’ve worked out hard enough. I like the bling!
BOOTS: Corral! Have several pair. Nice company, too!
BAGS: Consuela. She is from my hometown of Dripping Springs, Texas.
RODEO: The Austin Rodeo, for sure. Been goin’ every year since I was a kid.
WESTERN EVENT: The CBR [Championship Bull Riding]. Ali Dee is teaching me a lot about this circuit!
COUNTRY SINGER: Ali is my up-and-comer. And Carrie Underwood writes songs that touch me. “Mama’s Song” was a tearjerker. Plus she seems nice and continues to raise her bar by coming up with one hit album after another.
WESTERN: Steel Magnolias. It’s not truly a western, but it’s very Southern, honest, funny — and oh so real!
SONG: “The Eyes of Texas!” I’m absolutely a huge Longhorn fan! Hook ’em!
WESTERN GETAWAY: Wyoming. I went there when I was little and would love to go back.
CELEBRITY: Patsy Cline. She is one of the originals. She paved the way for so many singers, especially breaking into a man’s territory. She empowered a lot of women with her actions and her songs.
BOOK: Steve Jobs [by Walter Isaacson, 2011, Simon & Schuster]. Can’t get enough about this incredible visionary. It’s a big fat book but a page-turner.
PLAYLIST: Ali Dee’s “Sweet Southern Song” and Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee duets album.
MUST-HAVES: My family. My dogs. My horses. And Oreos.
C&I: Two years into it, what’s a good day at work?
Beerman: Accomplishing our purpose beyond selling tees. Spreading positive messages for women and laughing a lot while doing it. We are all family at ATX Mafia — hence, “Mafia” — and we don’t mince words, so we can accomplish a lot because we keep honest and always so very real!
C&I: What are your latest pet projects?
Beerman: We just launched a line for rising country artist Ali Dee of CMT’s Texas Women. Ali is as sweet as her “Sweet Southern Song.” We developed seven tees that reflect her and her amazing career. We also had the incredible opportunity of shooting an episode about the line with Ali on Season 2 of Texas Women. It’s been a complete blast, and we’re pumped!
C&I: Sounds like you’re very passionate about your work ...
Beerman: It’s true: When you find your passion and your purpose beyond making money, it’s not like “working” at all. We don’t work less because we love what we do, but we work because we believe in what we do! As one of our tees says: I am the “luckiest girl in the world.”
C&I: And when you’re not working?
Beerman: We live on a small ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas. Our home is quaint; it’s a place that really fits our “the more the merrier” lifestyle. We have five horses: Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Red Hot, Layla, Lady, and Peggy Sue — all named after songs that we grew up on.
C&I: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your business?
Beerman: Be kind — always. There is good in everyone; sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper. Like the old saying says: “Treat people as you want to be treated.”
C&I: You’re a God Bless Texas kind of gal. Why did you decide to call Austin “The Best Place on Earth” in your tag line?
Beerman: Austin is home. Born and raised here — I’m one of the lucky ones! So, of course, I will always feel it is “the best place on earth.” We still have good ol’ Southern values, we welcome everyone as they are, and we treat people kind.
Read more about Beerman in the October 2012 issue of C&I (on newsstands in early September). For more information on ATX Mafia, call 512.656.5579 or visit www.atxmafia.com.