In 2002, Burgundy Woods was the only student at the University of the Incarnate Word who wanted to enroll in a new class called “Music Industries.” What she didn’t know was that this “guinea pig” class would result in her earning a degree by the same name. “Now ‘Music Industries’ has a whole department. It has hundreds of students and its own wing and everything. So I’m really proud of that.” Her white-walled, brightly lit minimalist office sits in stark contrast to the cavernous creative workspace that precedes it. “This building in particular has amazing energy. The people who come in and out here you just would not believe. From all over the world. As well as people who were born and raised here and are coming in just to say hi.”
Before becoming an international traveler and resident of Hollywood, Woods grew up not too far from her current Southtown studio. “Growing up everyone said ‘You’ll never travel to Europe because you’re on the Southside. You’ll never do this, you’ll never do that.’ I can’t stress enough how much people kept telling me I was never going to do anything. To the point where it was like ‘You know what? I’m going to prove you wrong. I’m going to do all that stuff!’” And she did. In 2004, with her specialized degree and persistence, she landed an internship at Virgin Records in Hollywood. From there she worked at Interscope Records, Capitol Records, and EMI Records. She was hanging out with musicians, celebrities, and VIPs, immersed in the Hollywood Lifestyle. Woods sighs and laughs, “And then Steve Jobs had to go and invent the IPod.” Overnight, millions of dollars were lost to music piracy and there were massive layoffs in the industry. “I was there for a very historical American revolution. The music industry was changing.”
Suspecting the universe was telling her to try the next thing, Woods pursued another lifelong passion of hers: fashion. She attended The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. While working on a class project, she realized she was participating in something amazing yet no one else was seeing it. So she decided to start a YouTube channel to showcase the work. One day in 2010, she received a message from a representative at Myspace. “(I got an email) saying they wanted me to be the on-camera personality of their fasion channel.” Burgundy explains. She called them back, not certain if it was a prank. “They asked me, ‘Is this Burgundy Woods?’ I said yes. They replied, “Hold on.’” Shortly after, Burgundy became the curator and on-camera personality for the Myspace fashion channel. After Myspace succumbed to the force of new social platforms, Burgundy had enough of a following to continue on her own. “I was helping to mold and invent what is now online media in Hollywood. A company was about to bring me on.” She explains, “And that’s when my Mom got sick. That was a big, big pivotal point. Ten years building, building, building and you come to a crossroads-it’s like a pivot point in your life. I’m an only child so obviously I had to come home.”
I was helping to mold and invent what is now online media in Hollywood.
Burgundy returned after more than a decade away to find a different San Antonio than the one she knew years ago. “Southtown wasn’t here before, but because I lived on the cusp of this area I was noticing the change. I started noticing all the artists living here. It wasn’t just Southtown, it was King William as well which is full of generations of people who lived in that community and fostered art.” She emphasizes, however, not all aspects of the city have changed over the years. “I have seen people that have remained here in San Antonio for their whole life and I am grateful for that as well. Because they hold onto the cultural integrity of everything. When I came home, after being gone for over a decade, I said ‘Oh my God!’ So much has changed, yet you still see the people who have always loved the culture- and they have protected that. So now we have this beautiful new culture that’s a combination of everything people have protected combined with everything people who have come home (like myself) have brought into San Antonio.”
In 2014, Burgundy Woods launched Style Lush TV, a media network meant to serve the fashion community in San Antonio. From this venture sprung events like the San Antonio Fashion Awards. “I used to be a seat filler at the Oscars,” Woods cites as inspiration for the event, “I picked up a lot of things when I was there. I thought, you know, it would be really cool if we did it like that. An actual awards ceremony. You have to walk down the red carpet, you have to get an actual award, you have to go on stage, and you have say a thank you speech. It’s that vibe. We did it to bring credibility and validity to people whose work is superior. They are propelling us into the next generation of excellence.” Beyond that, it wasn’t just local designers Burgundy was highlighting. “I got a lot of emails from local boutiques who said ‘We’re struggling, it’s hard and we generate revenue through advertising and promotion. So we would like to do an advertising campaign, but that’s a luxury.’” Woods leapt into action and the resulting event was Look Local Fest, which occurred just two weeks before this interview. “This was fashion boutiques with their inventory. Their pop-up is right off to the side of the runway. So if people like what they see they can immediately buy it. It was a big success and again it served a purpose,” she recounts. “We didn’t throw it just to have fun and cocktails. It’s a direct response to everything the fashion community communicates to me.” The impact of events like these is becoming increasingly apparent, according to Woods. “The great thing about our fashion community getting to know each other through Style Lush is that they are collaborating now. Local boutiques have started to carry local designers in their inventory.”
So what in particular piques Burgundy’s interest in downtown, and why did she choose it as a place to do business? For her, it’s all about the community. “I gravitated towards here because this is the center of the city. You cannot walk down the street without running into a filmmaker, a fashion designer, a painter, a sculptor, an architect. I mean everybody here is doing art.” In her opinion, great cities foster great art. Woods says she is seeing this in San Antonio. “Every progressive city needs that art district. Well now, we have one.”
Every progressive city needs that art district. Well now, we have one.
There is a piano keyboard hedging one side of Burgundy’s desk. She explains the presence of the unusual office decor. “When you edit video, there’s times when you have to export it and you’re just sitting there, right? I really don’t like being idle and I would prefer to do something constructive while I’m just sitting there. So I’m re-learning Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.” Woods observes that she hasn’t left music behind, nor any of her other interests and skills. “Everything I did in the music industry is playing into what I do now. At one point I was in film and television music licensing. So everything you hear on Style Lush- I’m utilizing those skills I used there. I still play. I still sew. I utilize everything I’ve ever done. That’s the beauty of knowledge, you carry it with you forever and you never know when you’re going to use it again. I’m thankful I had the music experience I had. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do here.”
It’s been some time since her homecoming, and Burgundy remains optimistic. “I’m going on my fourth year and I feel like it just keeps getting better and better. There’s this momentum and it’s not stopping.”