Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Women’s social group celebrates one year, cultivates community in Austin

Ximena Ochoa
Samantha Leonard films a video clinking glasses with attendees of Sunday’s “A Taste of Italy” brunch at L’oca d’Oro in Mueller, hosted by her social group ATX Brunch Girls.

For some, summer means tanning on a boat in the middle of Lake Travis and swimming in the water to cool off. For others, summers entail crafting vibrant floral arrangements while meticulously selecting each flower. But for members of the social club ATX Brunch Girls, summer means doing both with food and new friends.

ATX Brunch Girls exists for women to create new friendships, enjoy delicious food and explore Austin. Founded by Samantha Leonard, a recent guest on UT’s Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute’s podcast “Founding Fearless,” ATX Brunch Girls will celebrate its first anniversary on July 27  from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Austin Winery. Leonard said she established this social group because of the loneliness she felt after moving to Austin. 

“I moved to Austin almost two years ago not knowing anybody here … and I was working the typical eight-to-five routine,” Leonard said. “When you’re older it’s harder to make friends. … I started to think of ways (to) connect with people, make friends and explore Austin … so I created the Brunch Girls.” 

With events ranging from “Brunch N’ Crunch,” an outdoor fitness class to “A Taste of Italy,” an Italian-inspired brunch, Leonard’s themes are unique and amusing. Attendee Heidi Collins said “Vision Boards & Brunch” remains one of her favorite events.   

“We took over a table at the restaurant and brought poster boards, glue and glitter,” Collins said. “I love to craft, (but) … I hadn’t done it in so many years. That brought me back to my inner kid, getting to do the crafts with all the girls there.”

Leonard said growing up she would always find herself in a leadership role but never imagined one day creating her own business. 

“I never thought I would be this entrepreneur in a way,” Leonard said. “When I created this brunch group it was a spontaneous thing. … I didn’t think I would ever do it, but I’m so glad I did.”

Attendee Elisa Perez said after moving to Austin, she found it difficult to create new friendships, especially given the size of the city. 

“I tried multiple things like improv groups, pickleball … (but) nothing stuck,” Perez said. “I found this … and I had such a great time. Within the week some girl reached out like ‘Hey, let’s go to a yoga class together.’ Many friendships have come from this and it’s expanded so much in the year.”

Leonard established ATX Brunch Girls in July 2023 and said attendee turnout ranges, depending on the activity and time. 

“A challenge is figuring out what people want and don’t want,” Leonard said. “There have been events in the past where we’ve had two people show up, and then there are events where we have 50 people show up. So it’s having to find the timing … and figuring out what tailors best to our community.”

Open to all women, Leonard said she hopes ATX Brunch Girls will offer comfort and help more women feel less alone. 

“It’s okay to not know anyone when you first move here,” Leonard said. “It’s scary. It’s intimidating. … But getting out of your comfort zone and going to these events, meeting these people, is what’s going to make you feel more confident. … It’s okay to be scared, … but it will be alright.”

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