by George Steckel
For Foster, South by Southwest (SXSW) is the most important time of the year. They had 11 private events planned for 2020 SXSW and started booking clients in December of 2019. In February and early March, Foster’s team of three was going on site visits, talking to their clients, working with vendors, and applying the final touches for the upcoming events and experiences. Sadly, on March 6, SXSW was canceled and business for Foster came to a screeching halt. However, it did not stop Foster from staying involved and active in the Austin community. They paused, took a deep breath, and got to work on how to adapt, rather than fold.
Who is Foster?
Foster is run by three best friends: Sara, Steph, and Shelby. After a backpacking trip around Europe, they returned to the States ignited and craving something different. They founded Foster, a community platform with an overall mission of bringing the Austin community together. They quickly became a staple in Austin and have put on events for many local companies, including yours truly. So what did a week at Foster look like before the pandemic? Busy, to say the least. Taking calls with clients, visiting sites for events, brainstorming sessions, and developing the business are just some of the things that were on Foster’s day-to-day schedule. When the pandemic hit, things slowed down. The weeks were a lot less hectic, but the work didn’t necessarily come to an end. Foster re-evaluated what their new life would be like, both as individuals and as a business. They decided to embrace the change rather than run from it.
So what does this change look like? For starters, they’ve made it clear that virtual events are not their thing. And who can blame them? Connectivity issues, people speaking while on mute, dogs barking in the background. Its strength was in connecting with people and fostering community. Going virtual didn’t seem like a solution.
Adapting to Meet the Needs
Their solution came in the form of showcasing all that Austin has to offer. People come to Foster to learn about and experience Austin, and a pandemic was not going to stop that from happening. Foster used its platform to amplify some of their favorite hidden gems and local businesses. They evolved their platform to include an intentional media and influencer program, one that felt very human and on-brand for Foster. They promoted community favorites from Assembly Kitchen, a service that provides ready-to-cook meals from local Austin restaurants to Bricolage Curated Florals, a flower and scent shop.
They also rolled out a wedding service, which was something that was highly requested. Foster has always been interested in redefining the wedding scene, and by working with clients, they’ve been able to create experiences that are tailored to couples’ dreams for their big day. When asked about how these changes play into the long-term plans of Foster, the response was encouraging. These adaptations are what define Foster now and what will continue to define Foster in the future. Rooted in Texas, they have used their voice and platform to amplify Austin as a city with endless offerings. In these unforeseen times, many businesses have had to take a step back and rethink their plans and goals. Foster has found new paths during these difficult times, as they launched Recess, a platform that gives brands "a pulse", through content creation, community programming, and creative direction. We couldn’t be more excited to see this come to life and share the city of Austin with Foster.