Wendy Bowman, Melissa Delgadillo, Melissa Unsell-Smith, Eleanora Morrison and Lisa Weller

Last Friday night marked a milestone: our first ELEANORA event. Melissa (Delgadillo) and I made the deliberate decision to “soft launch” our magazine over the past few months, shying away from any sort of large splashing, launching, etc. We wanted some time to slowly and quietly test the waters and tweak our product before we brought it offline and into an in-person community…and a room full of spectators.

If you have caught up with us since the beginning of this new year, you might be familiar with the fact that our January Issue highlights the visual story of the life and legacy of Ada Lovelace, a mathematician in 1800s England who invented the algorithm that essentially led to our modern-day digital age. When we were “casting” the trailblazing woman of today to help depict (her)story, we knew we wanted to work with a woman who is a leader in technology, entrepreneurship, women’s advocacy, but who also has effortless style…and our friend Melissa Unsell-Smith ticked all of the above boxes (and more). We were thrilled to ask her to be our cover gal for this project, and she was beyond supportive and generous to in turn ask us if she could host a celebration of the issue’s launch.

Melissa Unsell-Smith, Melissa Delgadillo and I have all known each other for at least five or six years, through various civic engagement efforts in San Antonio. It always amazes me that you can know people in silos, and art has the power to weave relationships together that should have been no-brainers all along. Our Ada Lovelace project was one of those special uniting circumstances.

Circles of young professionals from Melissa D.’s and my former corporate / nonprofit lives were there to celebrate this project we have been working on for over a year, and we were also joined by all of the additional artists (most of them women) who have put their energies into creating this with us. It was certainly a full-circle moment for me, and I know both Melissa’s likely felt the same way.

The evening was inclusive, celebratory, and empowering, in a totally approachable and low-key way. We gave Melissa U. a big portrait of herself as Ada Lovelace to commemorate her beautiful “performance,” Melissa D. and I spoke about the essence and the mission of ELEANORA–not only as a digital magazine, but also as a community of support for the timelessness of women’s shared stories– and we professed our hopes to inspire leaders of the future through looking back at pioneers of the past and tying their narratives to trailblazers of the present. We all toasted, cheered, took many a photo, and our creative teams’ significant others and close friends were there to show support too. It was an evening that gave us all a sense of belonging as we lifted each other up. It meant something very special.

As an unexpected added perk to the evening, my friend Elizabeth Cox at North Park Lexus of San Antonio heard about our event and offered for us to drive the new Lexus UX to the party, because the car was engineered and designed by Chika Kako, Executive Vice President of Lexus International and Lexus’ first female chief engineer. (You can read all about her and the barriers she is breaking HERE.) The interior was *razzle-dazzle* red…the gadgets and buttons were sleek and user-friendly, and the car drove so smoothly. I kept it and test drove it for the weekend, and I was sad to give it back on Monday (they dropped the car off to me and picked it up too…the customer service was fantastic. I was not paid to say this, I just had to share the news with anyone in San Antonio who reads this and cares about quality…I was beyond impressed.) Here are a few spontaneous video clips of our Lexus UX joy ride:

All in all, it was a night that I will remember for a very long time. Leading an audience online is one thing, but when you realize that a group of artists have come together to express themselves and create messages they are passionate about, and that are also translating in the offline (real) world, that realization carries some weight. Thank you Melissa Unsell-Smith and Brian Smith for being the most gracious hosts, for celebrating what we are creating, and for believing in it. Thank you to our friends and family who were there to encourage us, and to all of you–our readers–who are supporting the movement we are making through our medium of digital storytelling.

Melissa Unsell-Smith and Brian Smith

Melissa as Ada Lovelace

Ellie and Dan Morrison

Kristie Shaw and Melissa Delgadillo

Lisa and Courtney Weller and Cody Shown

Chantz Butler and Wendy Bowman

We can’t wait for the new adventures and friendships 2019 will bring.

xx,

Photography and videography is by me, Melissa (Delgadillo), and our friends. We wanted this night to feel like the old days, of passed-around disposable cameras and scrapbook albums…because those were the best memory savers and we are nostalgic for them.