Ethan Brown is our Production Manager and Design Lead which means he does a lot of things at HELM. He came to us with a background in fashion production after working at Zero + Maria Cornejo in NYC. He has been instrumental in dialing in our production end of things here and we could not operate on such a tight schedule without him…plus he looks good in a pair of HELM boots.
The East Side of Austin is our home which means we care about it a lot. HELM has always had a home on the East SIde, from our very first studio space on Riverview St., and we intend to keep it that way. We love the vibrance of this side of town, the entrepreneurial spirit and the community.
Michael Muller is a friend of the brand and of all of us personally which means we like to spend time with him. He’s an amazing photographer and an incredible musician. He’s understandably busy but he is also astonishingly kind and will say yes when asked last minute to document a photoblog about East Austin and HELM Boots.
Look back to this post from Spring of last year to see what happened when all of these things came together. Ethan’s words and Michael’s photos told a story about our shared love for HELM’s boots and the East Side.
As the studio manager for HELM, I get a really unique opportunity to experience the East Side on multiple levels – shifting back and forth between our offices on East Cesar Chavez and our flagship on East 6th lets me catch glimpses of the East Side I may not normally see otherwise: driving by small restaurants, boutiques and getting a daily fix at local coffee shops really lets me feel like I’m part of this growing – and changing – community.
If you’re visiting Austin this Spring, I urge you to stop in to our part of town and experience a piece of Austin that is rapidly changing. This is just a small selection of the people and places that get me through my every day – by no means is the list extensive (I’ve left out East Side Tamale House, Sahara Lounge, the myriad venues down 6th street, and then some!) but it’s a taste of what keeps me living and working on this side of Austin.
Did you really think I wouldn’t mention our own flagship?
Working for HELM has been an absolute dream – as studio manager, I’m back and forth between our offices and our flagship here on East 6th. Joshua, Hillary, Broc and I – in conjunction with our amazing shop associates, Patrick Ratliff and Hunter Lawrence – have tried to make this a unique and comforting place with a serious emphasis on quality boots and American-made products. We burn palo santo during the day and everything just feels cozy in the late afternoon when the sun comes through the windows and lights up the austere, but comfortable, shop.
I’ve been told the place feels like a home which, to me, is the highest compliment. Come on in to try some HELM Boots on, particularly the new Spring styles, or get some other products such as leather care, candles, bags by local makers BEXAR and Stash or just have a beer and pass a half-hour with us – we love our community and we love having people hang out in the shop.
Easy Tiger is a great spot just over the highway but still with an East Austin ethos.
The bar/café/bakery is almost a one-stop shop – come by early to grab a great coffee or fresh pastry and if you stop by a little later you can get a great selection of snacks (heavy on the sausages and pretzels!) and beer.
The staff is always great and the bridge overlooking Waller Creek is really picturesque with the vines creeping up the exterior brick of the historical building. It’s a great place to have a pint or two and just enjoy the Spring day before it gets too hot.
BREW & BREW
Brew & Brew is recent but, really, it feels like they’ve been here for years.
The build-out of the inside is gorgeous. It’s exactly what I want in a coffee shop: clean colors, clean light and every time I stop in, I get to have a conversation with one of the baristas – who are also all great friends at this point. The outside area is a great place to sit and have one of 30-ish beers they keep on tap and their menu is small, but perfect, for when you need something light and delicious.
I couldn’t make it through 80% of my week days without being able to run over here before opening the shop or before a meeting.
In addition, Matty B honestly makes the best cortados on this side of the planet.
LAS CRUXES/FAREWELL/FLAT TRACK
This is, hands down, one of my favorite spaces in Austin – on par with Vane and Maryam Nassir Zadeh in New York in terms of aesthetics and interesting selections.
Start with a quick coffee at Flat Track – if you need a great coffee but aren’t exactly in the mood to head over the East 6th, this coffee shop on Cesar Chavez has close ties with Brew & Brew and is like a tiny, hidden gem that smells like perfectly roasted beans.
Head over to Farewell Books to see an amazing selection of zines, vintage and rare books – from manifestos on art and architecture to first edition hard covers to hard-to-find fashion compendiums, this is my favorite book place in Austin. The selection is carefully curated and immaculately presented, making the whole experience amazing.
Las Cruxes is certainly my favorite stop for clothing in Austin. Veronica Ortuño has a great eye for both vintage clothing and small designers and I always feel like I’m supporting a great cause when I shop here – the light blue trousers with the elastic cuffs by Publish (you can see them in the photos!) are one of my favorite finds and they’re produced with great quality. If you want something unique and well-made, Las Cruxes is always a great bet.
Kyle Muller is a great friend of HELM – he used to have a small pop-up in our original show room and, in fact, his brother Michael Muller took all these photos of me that actually make me look photogenic: so you know they’re a talented family.
Kyle’s new-ish space on 4th street is honestly a wonderland – if you need any vintage men’s clothing, this is the place to go.
From vintage knits to military jackets, Kyle works really hard to find the best and most unadulterated vintage in the state of Texas. All this is in addition to the comfortable and easy space he’s set up as of last November – it’s a little out of the walking path, but far worth the effort if you need any vintage boots or just a unique piece of clothing to wear for the weekend.
- photos by michael muller