Press Releases & Blogs

Emerging Houston Designers Prepare to Launch During Super Bowl

Houston • Jan. 11, 2017

Pop-up shop aims to promote the creativity, diversity and innovation of luxury goods designed and produced locally

HOUSTON (January 6, 2017) – Houston First Corporation (HFC) has partnered with seasoned fashion influencer Sydney Dao of Squid Inc. to create LAUNCH, an exclusive pop-up shop to showcase Houston’s growing and thriving fashion and design community. Opening January 14th – February 26th, LAUNCH is a nod to Space City, and a platform for local designers to "launch" into the international stage of the Super Bowl.

"Houston’s arts community is as diverse as its residents," said Dawn Ullrich, President and CEO of Houston First Corporation. "As the most ethnically diverse city in the nation, it is our aim to show guests why Houston is known as ‘The Culinary and Cultural Capital of the South’. Launch does just that, by bringing together local designers and artisans in a unique pop-up experience that highlights Houston’s welcoming spirit and vibrant culture."

Approximately 13 designers and artisans will showcase their apparel, jewelry and home accessories in an exclusive space on the ground floor in the Partnership Tower. Featured designers and artisans include: Chloe Dao, Project Runway Season 2 winner; RongRong Devoe, fashion illustrator whose work has been featured in Vogue, Elle and Neiman Marcus; Onyii, a finalist in Martha Stewart’s Made in America; La Mochi, a finalist of Handbag Design Award 2016; Temple Street, a jewelry line whose work was featured in USA Today Magazine; A Leap of StyleMarilyn BilesKisa KisaStateline DesignsBrenda Grands, and Claire Drennan.

"I’m excited to offer local designers an international platform; these opportunities are rare," said Sydney Dao, Founder of Squid Inc. "Designers and artisans here are creating and producing elevated, high-quality goods. It is time to show the world that one can have a successful creative brand out of Houston, and to have the support of Houston First Corporation means the city itself recognizes the talent and economic potential rising from this community."

Designer and craftsman, Gino Vian of Merchant and Market, will transform the interior space and create custom furniture and lightning to highlight the eclectic mix of goods. Janavi M Folmsbee’s colorful cityscape mural will echoe the vibrant energy of Houston as Houstonians for the big game. LAUNCH is located in the Houston Partnership Tower on the ground floor at 701 Avenida De Las Americas. The hours are: Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Follow LAUNCH on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @launchtx.


Lisa Spence, DPWPR  lisa@dpwpr.com   713-224-9115

A.J. Mistretta, Visit Houston   amistretta@visithouston.com    713-853-8917



Houston First operates the city's finest convention and arts facilities to position Houston as a world-class destination. In 2014, Houston First and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau aligned operations to create a single voice representing the city under the brand Visit Houston. Houston First owns the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel, manages the George R. Brown Convention Center and 10 city-owned properties and is a driving force in developing the new Avenida Houston entertainment district. Learn more at HoustonFirst.com and VisitHouston.com.


Based in Houston Texas, today she is a highly-prized project manager, live-event producer, merchandizing and design expert, fashion industry consultant, and public relations and brand manager. From 1997 to 2003, Sydney worked in the fashion industry in New York, managing couture showrooms and placing designers in many major department stores, such as Saks Fifth Ave, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Tootsies, and Neiman Marcus. She secured editorials in major magazines, such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and In Style. She dressed celebrities for major award shows and television shows, such as Sex and the City, and regularly produced fashions shows during New York Fashion Week. In 2003, she moved with designer sister Chloe Dao to set up the first Houston based boutique called Lot 8, later re-branded as DAO Chloe DAO. She propelled Chloe into an internationally-renown designer, with a Project Runway 2nd season win under her belt. Sydney is a force of nature and with a large family, has a lifelong experience managing teams and finessing quality interactive experiences with a broad spectrum of personalities involved. A tireless producer of dramatically successful live events, an active member of several prominent advisory boards and organizations, Sydney has an intentionally small roster of clients for whom she helps manage their brand image. www.squidincpr.com