From fostering startups and supervising healthcare compliance, to creating the perfect brew, jazz tunes and paintings, the women of the 806 are just as impressive as the craft of which they perfect. Learn what these five women love about the city they call home and how they inspire others to live, work and invest in Lubbock, too.
In life, we’re faced with three major decisions: what we do for a living, who we choose for a partner and where we live. The latter is arguably the most important, as it often dictates the other two. For Kimberly Gramm, Associate Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Texas Tech University Innovation Hub, relocating from South Florida to Lubbock, Texas was not part of the master plan.
In the midst of a nationwide search to fill the role of Senior Managing Director of the Innovation Hub, Gramm was approached by Texas Tech in late 2015. By April 2016, Gramm had accepted the brand-new position and was working in Lubbock’s hub of innovation and entrepreneurship.
“I wasn’t looking for a new job or a new place to live, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to move initially,” said Gramm. “But as a female in leadership, and thinking further about the opportunity, I realized it’s really important to champion the American dream. There is no better place than Lubbock to do that.”
Gramm settled into her work at the Innovation Hub guiding entrepreneurs to develop ideas that support their respective communities. Since its genesis, the Hub has invested over $5 million dollars in start-up companies and supported over 40,000 entrepreneurs and innovators. Gramm attributes much of her success, and the success of the Hub, to the community.
“The accomplishments that I’ve had representing innovation and entrepreneurship are a function of the people that are here,” said Gramm. “They care about this community and they care about people succeeding here.”
Today, Lubbock’s ever-growing network of successful businesses can largely be attributed to the city’s entrepreneurial spirit. In the South Plains, no idea is too small or too outlandish. It’s no surprise Inc. named Lubbock No. 13 on its list of the Top 15 Best Cities for Women Entrepreneurs. Here, people can actualize their dreams and be met by a supportive community.
“I’m not the only one who’s found success here,” said Gramm. “In Lubbock, we connect the dots between industry needs and talent. There are new products, new talent and new opportunities arising every day. This is an awesome place to live, work, play and start a business.”
Talk to anyone in Lubbock long enough, and you’ll come to realize that Texas Tech University plays an enormous role in the growth and culture of the city. Lubbock is proud of its university, and for good reason. In 2020, the Wall Street Journal ranked Texas Tech graduates ninth nationally in workforce preparedness. In 2018, Tech was named one of the top universities for international students by the U.S. News & World Report. With more than 52,000 college students living in the 806, Texas Tech is situated at the epicenter of education in the South Plains.
For Sonya Castro-Quirino, Vice President and Institutional Compliance Officer for Texas Tech Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), the university played an essential role in both her personal and professional life. As the daughter of a single mother, Castro-Quirino remembers what it was like to watch her mother put herself through nursing school at Texas Tech.
From an early age, she knew she wanted to be involved in the healthcare field. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Castro-Quirino put herself through school, graduating with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Texas Tech.
“I’ve lived in Lubbock most of my life,” said Castro-Quirino. “I did move away briefly — to Washington D.C. for four years, and Arkansas for five — but after being away for nine years, I got married and started a family.”
Today, Castro-Quirino is responsible for ensuring the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center adheres to legal and institutional compliances.
And as the TTUHSC compliance office continues to grow and develop, so too does Lubbock — the two are intrinsically linked. Though Castro-Quirino’s professional success and accomplishments continue to contribute to the community as a whole, she attributes much of the reason for her return to Lubbock to her family and the amenities of the “Hub City.”
“Family, friends and community have kept us here,” said Castro-Quirino. “Lubbock is a small, close-knit town, but one where you can still find interesting and enriching things to do. There is explosive growth in South and West Lubbock and I only see that growth continuing.”
From established local breweries to up-and-coming hop shops, Lubbock is West Texas’ destination for craft beer. As a city that prides itself on its music scene, beer comes naturally. For Minnesota transplant and The Brewery LBK brewmaster Sally Taylor, the success of the Lubbock brew scene is all thanks to citywide interest and encouragement.
“Supporting local matters,” said Taylor. “Local restaurants, wineries, bars, events. Chain restaurants have their place in every community, but since we are so far removed from another city our size or larger, supporting my community matters. It's part of the reason The Brewery LBK has become so successful — local support.”
Before beer, Taylor traveled about 28 weekends a year covering bodybuilding, powerlifting and strongman events for an online fitness magazine, where she fell in love with a man she worked with who lived in Lubbock. In 2011, she followed her heart to Lubbock, giving up her job to be with him. This turned out to be a great decision, they’re still together and she fell into her new profession.
Taylor was a homebrewer, and as luck would have it, she lived downtown across the street from The West Table Kitchen & Bar, a seasonal restaurant she frequented. When they expanded by opening The Brewery LBK, they needed a brewmaster. She was up for the challenge, and today she brews beer for one of the top-ranked breweries in the nation. In 2021, The Brewery LBK was chosen as the No. 1 brewpub in the nation.
“Having The Brewery LBK nominated by USA Today as one of the top small craft breweries in the country is an amazing honor,” said Taylor. “We were the smallest city in the competition and still placed in the middle of the pack in popular voting. It's all due to the community of Lubbock getting behind us and getting us noticed not just locally, but nationally.”
With six breweries and counting, the “Hub City’s” brew scene is hoppin’ with new growth. Because of work like Taylor’s, and contributions from businesses like The Brewery LBK, the South Plains celebrates a flourishing food and drink scene, which is intrinsically tied to the art and music communities as well. When one person succeeds in Lubbock, everyone does.
“The continued success at The West Table and The Brewery LBK in downtown is a big deal,” said Taylor. “Cameron West, owner of both establishments, and his partners took a chance on downtown and now growth is happening quickly. Sure, people are moving to the south and west sides of town, but they are all coming into downtown for the art and music, but also the great food, beer and wine.”
Taylor looks forward to the continued revitalization of downtown and considers it integral to the future of Lubbock’s continued success.
“In the future I see a bustling downtown with a food, beer and wine scene that people travel to as part of a successful movement. A sense of community, led by old school values that are embraceable by everyone,” she added.
You don’t need to be a local to know that music is the lifeblood of Lubbock. No matter your taste in music, this community has it all. With a dynamic and happening music scene, the “Hub City” really knows how to turn up the volume.
Recognized nationally for producing such acts as Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, Mac Davis, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, and Tanya Tucker, Lubbock has long been at the epicenter of good music. With such a supportive and vibrant scene, musical artists from across the spectrum come to Lubbock to put down roots and pursue their music careers.
“I think Lubbock is a hidden gem,” said local jazz musician Joy Harris. “People are just now starting to notice all of its charms and the many perks of living and working in this city.”
For 31 years, Harris has called Lubbock her home. Starting her music career as early as eight years old in the church choir, Harris found she was supported in every iteration of her career. With more music venues per capita than any other Texas town, Lubbock knows how to crank it up to 10.
“I’m an African American/Native American, gay female in West Texas. I’m also a bassist, pianist and percussionist in a male-dominated field,” said Harris. “Sure, I’ve faced challenges in the past, but whenever I have, Lubbock has always supported me. We’re a tight-knit community and we stay active here in Lubbock. The community has been very supportive of me growing in all the ways that I want to — both personally and musically.”
With music such an elemental part of the “Hub City’s” legacy, the area continues to produce talent, year after year, that disrupts and inspires ingenuity in the music industry. For Harris, music is quintessentially a part of Lubbock.
“Find music, find art. You will see and feel the essence of Lubbock, Texas when you do,” she said.
Talent is alive and well in West Texas. Not only is Lubbock home to bustling engineering, technology and entrepreneurial communities, it’s also a city where the arts flourish. For Janelle Barrington Spivey, being a successful artist and settling down in Lubbock’s vibrant art scene was an easy transition. She arrived on a jet plane (she worked for American Airlines) over 20 years ago, started hanging her artwork in local restaurants and now runs her own art studio and gallery.
“From word of mouth, to places asking me to show my artwork, the Lubbock community has always been very supportive of me,” said Barrington Spivey.
And while Barrington Spivey now celebrates artistic success in the South Plains, she didn’t initially consider herself an artist. She began by painting in whatever spare time her schedule allowed. It was only through encouragement from friends, family and the community that she found the courage to pursue her art as a career.
“I support myself as a full-time artist now,” said Barrington Spivey. “I treat it like any other job. I work at least five days a week, sometimes more.”
Ranked among the top 25 cities with the best work-life balance by SmartAsset, Lubbock equally celebrates the arts as it does enterprise. With a burgeoning creative community, Lubbock’s downtown is now garnering national and international attention, and is increasingly regarded as a premier destination for the arts. With LHUCA, the monthly First Friday Art Trail, Charles Adams Gallery and more, visitors and locals alike have a wealth of galleries and exhibits to explore and enjoy. As the community lifts its locals and their creative endeavors, the city’s art scene continues to grow and thrive.
“Moving to Lubbock is easy to do,” said Barrington Spivey. “I think most people that land here will tell you the same thing: the cost of living is low, it has a great central location with neighboring states to visit, and it’s a wonderful community to raise a family. There’s also every opportunity for an artist to make it here as long as they’re willing to put in the work.”
There’s a reason Lubbock is a destination worth calling home. This West Texas community is a burgeoning hub of innovation, inclusivity and creativity. Here, the people are what make this community one-of-a-kind. Discover why Lubbock is an ideal city to work, play and invest in.