Austin’s Jane of all tradesPublished 3:37am Wednesday, February 27, 2013
There’s more to Kiersten Hall than Festival of Lights and Tuesdays on Main
Kiersten Hall is no one-trick pony.
The Aflac insurance agent is perhaps best known in Austin for being the founder of the Austin Festival of Lights and the driving force behind Tuesdays on Main and the Downtown Alliance.
But, the driven mother of four can’t be summed up by those ventures. Hall takes pride in describing herself as self-employed since 1989, and having skills in a host of areas, from doing her own computer and auto repairs to writing a book.
“I’m kind of known as a Jane of all trades,” Kiersten said. “My mom calls me a chameleon.”
In fact, Hall’s mother, Mary, said her daughter needs extra time for all her interests.
“She needs a 36-hour day,” Mary said.
Kiersten shows no signs of settling on one interest, as her goals, if anything, are expanding.
‘Many different interests’
Kiersten admits she has never been one to gravitate to what many call a normal job, as her resume is scattered across multiple fields. Her background includes videography, as she filmed more than 1,400 weddings for her previous company “I Do” Productions and the spin-off DMA Corporate Video. For about five years, Hall published a women’s magazine called the “Wedding & Event Directory,” aka WED, putting out the entire publication herself in west-central Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas. At one point, Hall also sold gourmet retail candy, and she even sold pillows for My Pillow Shop from 2005 to 2008.
On top of her goals to grow the Festival of Lights and Tuesdays on Main, Hall has a number of broad goals: become fluent in multiple languages, work in film again, write a screenplay, travel, bring ballroom dance classes to Austin, learn about architecture, and become a best-selling author.
“I have so many different interests,” Kiersten said.
Kiersten has ideas for multiple books, including a near-complete manuscript called “I Do Productions: Memories of a Wedding Videographer.”
Mary, a former copy editor, helped her daughter edit the book and said it was very funny, but also captured what it’s like dealing with brides and grooms.
“She hit right on the head,” Mary said.
One story is about a groom who took allergy medicine for sneezing during the ceremony, but he didn’t think about his alcohol intake during the reception.
Hall said she wrote the wedding memoir with her own reasons, too, so when she is in her 80s, she can read it and look back and go “I don’t remember that, but it sounds like fun.”
Although Mary described her daughter as a talented writer and a people person, she said her greatest gift is belief in herself.
“She believes in herself. She knows she can do it, and she will not give up,” she said.
Mary said Kiersten sets big goals and has a mantra of “I will do it.” That mantra led Kiersten to form the Austin Downtown Alliance.
After discussing Thursday’s on First on an Austin Area Chamber of Commerce trip to Rochester, Kiersten was determined to bring the idea to Austin.
“Once I bite into something and I know it can work, I don’t let go of it,” she said.
After putting the idea on the shelf for a few years, Kiersten started Tuesdays on Main and the Austin Downtown Alliance last year, both modeled after Rochester’s event.
Kiersten admitted it was slow going, but the project is moving forward.
“It will grow, but we have to be patient,” she said.
The downtown festivals will return from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays from June 4 to Aug. 27. Part of growing the project, Kiersten said, is to make it a habit for people.
“I think for the people who made time to come down, they had a great time,” Kiersten said.
Kiersten is looking to secure more sponsors to fund live bands, and she’s aiming for big, national sponsors.
Along with all her other interests, perhaps Hall’s favorite is what she calls “Tom Sawyer-like adventures” with her children.
“I live for my kids, and I live for the adventures I have with my kids,” Kiersten said.
It was on one of these adventures that the idea for the Austin Festival of Lights formed. In December 2010, the family toured area Christmas lights; but they were spread out, and the children became bored.
Kiersten and her children brainstormed about bringing a light display to the area.
“It wound up turning into our first business meeting,” Kiersten said.
Not a rehearsal
Despite her varied interests, Kiersten wants to make each new goal a reality, rather than just discussing it.
Hall commonly tells her children that life is a journey, and it should not be an obligation, though.
“Life is not a rehearsal; live life to its fullest,” she tells her children. “You don’t get a second shot at it.”
“You only live once, you might as well have fun,” she added.