Best in the Citi: Terry P. Mitchell

terry p mitchell black leaders collective austin
Terry P. Mitchell, Founder Black Leaders Collective and The Austin Socialite
Serial entrepreneur Terry Pierre Mitchell has made her mark on Austin's social and business scenes. Now, she's working to build a better city to raise her daughter.

At 35, Mitchell has hit all of my goals. She lives in her dream home and drives her dream cars. She has an amazing husband and a loving family. Now, the new mother to a one-year-old daughter is motivated by re-building a sense of community in her hometown that welcomes and affirms her Black daughter.

“I was always an ambitious person, and she’s put a whole other fire under me,” Mitchell said. “I just want to be a role model. I’ve been doing a lot of community things because I really want to shake things up for her. I want Austin to look a lot different than it does now.”

I really live day by day of the principles of Kwanzaa,

The Austin Mitchell said she wants for her daughter is diverse and sees Black people thriving in every pocket of city life:

  • there are a significant number of Black businesses and there are at least 100 Black millionaires in the city.
  • here’s equity in the school systems, and in the school community.
  • health disparities are eliminated, and there’s a greater emphasis on health as currency among Black residents
  • the community helps each other, supports each other, and stands on its own without seeking validation from the outside

“I really live day by day of the principles of Kwanzaa,” said Mitchell. Unity, self-determination, community work and responsibility, cooperative economics and networking together to build infrastructure, living in purpose, creativity, faith — “those are the things that shouldn’t just be expressed and celebrated seven days out of the year,” she said. Those are things we should be expressing and embodying 365 days out of the year.”

The African American Leadership Institute

The Perfect Prescription for Austin's Inclusion Problem

Mitchell knew her entire life she’d be a self-starter and entrepreneur. “My mother ran a school, then I’d see her hustling with different endeavors and different ventures growing up,” she said. Her grandfather was a mechanic, her grandmother was a seamstress. Her uncles owned several clubs in New York. “I grew up feeling almost invincible. Even if I failed, I was never a failure, it was always just a stepping stone for my next thing.” 

“I finally made the decision to jump off the ledge when I started working in Bee Cave at Bank of America. I started noticing that all of the white people who came into the bank, they created their own schedules. I’d ask them where they were going after the bank, and they’d be going to lunch or going to the golf course. Their quality of life, to be able to have the time to do what they want, the schedule they want, seemed very appealing to someone who was sitting in a bank making $10 an hour, as they were making $50,000 deposits,” she said. 

Mitchell said she had a difficult time in college at the University of Texas solidifying a degree path, and she had to get very clear on what she was good at doing. She realized she’s good at organizing and sales, but she realized she loves marketing — “I consider it a science,” she said. 

Putting all of those things together, she started her first business, The Austin Socialite. 

A friend of hers was coming to Austin from Atlanta to get her master’s degree, and her friend was looking to find some kind of a comparable social scene in her new city. “We will never be Atlanta, at least not anytime soon, but there are things to do,” Mitchell said. “ You just need to be in the know.”

Mitchell started an events listing website as a hobby, but it very quickly gained traction. The City of Austin was looking for ways to alleviate the Black population decline in the city and became one of the site’s biggest financial supporters. 

I’ve been doing the best I can to bring all the worlds together

Mitchell, who left the City for eight years after she graduated from college, sees herself as kind of a middle woman between native Austinites and transplants because she understands the experiences of both. And though her mother worked very hard to provide a comfortable enough life for Mitchell and her sisters growing up, Mitchell said they still went to schools on Austin’s Eastside. She knows a lot of folks from the hood, and she knows a lot of professionals.

terry p mitchell austin tx
Mitchell with her husband Elon and their daughter Elle.

“I’ve been doing the best I can to bring all the worlds together,” she said. 

It is in this spirit that Mitchell recently pulled together a group of Black leaders from transportation, education, healthcare, housing, cultural arts and entertainment, policy, criminal justice to form the Black Leaders Collective

“The purpose for me was to be a bridge for these different intersectionalities in the Black community,” she said. In the first three months, the collective completed 28 of its actionable objectives designed to improve the quality of life for Black people in Travis and Williamson counties.

Mitchell still runs a few businesses, including the Glam Beauty Bar in Pflugerville and helping her husband to run E & Co Tech, a full-service digital, and branding studio. But she’s looking to move from the CEO space to the investor space, where she can help small Black businesses go from idea to implementation by providing needed capital. 

“Every person has a gift or talent they can monetize,” she said. “Austin is a completely blank canvas, and so looking at it like that and being a part of creating what I want to see here, it’s incredible, and it’s been an incredible journey.”

Mitchell was recently awarded SHERO of the Year at the Werkit Awards from Women Who Werk. You can follow Mitchell and all of her exploits via her blog. To see the full list of 2021 Innovative Leaders — click here.

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