Austin “Ones to Watch”: Jesse Parker Stowell
Get to know this local public relations expert with an impressive client roster ranging from Hermès, Christie's auction house, the Andy Roddick Foundation, and more
This December, our Tribeza magazine issue has centered around local “Movers and Shakers’ — a chance for us to highlight and celebrate the vibrant people of Austin. We love these spotlights as a perfect opportunity to get to learn about interesting personalities, occupations, passions, and the energy that makes this city alive with such a creative spirit. In our category of “Ones to Watch”, we’re shining a spotlight on Jesse Parker Stowell, founder of PARKER|PHOENIX Public Relations.
Bringing luxury to laid-back Austin
Jesse Parker Stowell has been instrumental in introducing many high profile luxury brands to Austin over the past several years. From Hermès on South Congress to Christie’s auction house’s Austin residency this past fall, to the impressive American Express lounges and activations at Austin City Limits Music Festival, Jesse has been collaborating with such brands to figure out the very best way to balance high end chic with Austin’s quirky, laid-back vibes.
Jesse’s success with local restaurants and bars include the disco ball dance club, Superstition, floral-filled downtown dream, Estelle’s, and one of Austin’s “Best New Restaurants of 2023”, Underdog — among many more exciting projects. He has worked with a list of top talent including Brooklyn Decker, Andy Roddick, Asia Kate Dillon, and Camilla and Matthew McConaughey.
We recently sat down with Jesse to chat about the success he has had this year, his impressive roster of clients, and why Austin is his chosen home base.
An early career path that began in high school
Regarding his initial path towards public relations, Jesse shared, “It was rather interesting. I grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and in high school, we actually had unfortunately dealt with a situation of school violence. So the local news stations kept coming to the school, trying to do interviews with people, and the interviews were not going well. It was a one-off terrible situation that happened, but overall the interviews were not making the school look good. I was actually president of student council, so (school staff) said, “you’re gonna go through media training with a publicist to figure out how to be our spokesperson for students.”
This unique situation propelled his interested in p.r. and marketing. During his college years at Columbia University, his internships led to full-time work post-graduation. Experience in this industry in New York City gave him opportunities to represent fashion brands, nightclubs and restaurants. What started off with some small brands eventually led to overseeing lifestyle divisions, supporting such clients as Revlon, Victoria’s Secret, Ann Taylor and many restaurants and talent. Jesse noted, “I really had an amazing mentor who saw me go from an intern to a Vice President.”
From New York to Austin with the encouragement of a few famous friends
With a successful career in New York underway, Jesse started thinking about a move to Austin after encouragement from two famous talent clients he had at the time — Brooklyn Decker and Camila Alves McConaughey. Having traveled to Austin many times, it was at their nudging, along with a desire for a better work/life balance, that prompted his decision to make the move in 2015. With his busy work life at the time, Jesse noted, “I was running on steam. I needed to look at a lifestyle change. So I just started my own agency, thinking ‘I’ve gotta make this work.'”
Jesse shared that the move to Austin was a bit of a crash course in adulting and adapting. “I pretty much did all my growing up in like the first three months of living here. I never owned a car before, and so I bought a car. I rented a house. I learned to cook. I got a dog. And then luckily I met some really great people.”
Speaking of people, Jesse cites that connecting people and building relationships is the cornerstone of his work. Jesse shared, “In New York, things were very, very competitive. Everyone worked in silos.” But as for life in Austin, he notes that “We happily help each other out. What I’ve seen from almost every business — and why they do so well — is that everyone plays nice in the sandbox. I really like that aspect of Austin.”
Jesse provides a lot of support to the Andy Roddick Foundation, and noted that it was Andy who offered some advice that he now incorporates into his best practices at PARKER|PHOENIX Public Relations:
“My dad told me to surround myself with smart people and ask a lot of questions. I agree with him, if you’re always the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong rooms.” -Andy Roddick
Knowing what works in Austin
Having been in Austin now for many years, Jesse offers clients a level of honesty and expertise when it comes to approaching luxury at a local level. Pulling from extensive career experience and critical, forward thinking, he is adept at advising clients. “I’m working with a lot of clients that are coming in from New York or Los Angeles,” says Jesse, “so I help them with a bit of a soft landing, explaining that you can’t have that New York or LA mentality here. It doesn’t work. If you come in and you think you’re the hottest thing, you’re gonna get turned down very quickly here with a ‘no you’re not.” With a true understanding of Austin life, Jesse knows how to incorporate local partnerships, charities, artists, etc. to really craft his clients’ projects to appeal to Austin lifestyle preferences.
While you may see him busy at work on the scene at such grand events as the recent Andy Roddick Foundation Gala, you are more likely to run into him around town with his dogs, Ruffle and Fritos, and fiancé Adam, having dinner at favorites like Esté or Bureau de Poste, or just enjoying a cold Canadian beer at Nickel City.
Learn more about Jesse Parker Stowell at www.parkerphoenixpr.com and keep an eye out for what interesting brands he introduces Austin to next.