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Meet Our Founder: Melinda Knowles

Over the next few months and leading up to the grand opening of Flint & Flowers in April 2024, we will be introducing you to all of the people who are working hard to bring this vision to life as well as giving you behind-the-scenes glimpses into various elements to share with you all an exclusive sneak preview of what guests will expect from this sanctuary located near the Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to our Founder, Austin native and avid traveler Melinda Knowles. 

A seasoned entrepreneur, Melinda purchased her first home at the age of 17 and owned 16 units by the age of 24. Since then, she has vastly expanded her real estate portfolio and her investments count numerous businesses, including the foodie favorite 5000 Burnet Food Trailer Park in Austin as well as Ridge at Loafer's Glory-an all-natural free-range cattle farm that she operates with her husband Kevin Knowles.

Travel becomes you" has become her favorite phrase with its double meaning. She has shared that she feels as though she keeps little pieces of everywhere she has traveled either in her heart, her soul, or on her wall. 

Learn more about her vision for Flint & Flowers, life journey, philosophies, and more via this Q&A. 

Q: Where were you born / where did you grow up?

A: I was born in Austin. 

My parents were both students and we moved to Tucson where my father got his PhD in Archaeology. 

We then moved to Lexington, KY where my father was a professor of Anthropology/archaeology at the University of Kentucky. 

We were also lucky enough to go with my dad to Bordeaux, France while he was with The University of Boudreaux and then to Les Eyzies in Southwestern France. 

My father was studying lithic tools and the famous cave paintings of Lascaux. 

Q: Growing up, what was the most important thing that you learned from your family? 

A. Be interested without judgment. 

Q: What college did you attend?

A: I went to the University of Texas in El Paso my first two years and worked for Archaeological Research, Inc and "The Center for Inter-American and Border Studies. 

I then transferred to UT Austin and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology. 

I completed my field school in Belize. 

Q: What was the first career that you can recall wanting to pursue?  

A. I had planned to work in the coroner's office but by then was a single mom of two young children and didn't have the flexibility required to be on call. 

I pursued a master's in Anthropology and worked for two years at the "body farm" at Texas State University. I did not finish that degree, but did end up getting my MBA at Baylor. 

Q: What made you want to embark on the journey of bringing Flint & Flowers into the world? 

A: Honestly, I did not consciously plan on any of it.  

I had gone to see my cousin’s band in Luckenbach and sitting with family and friends learned that a friend of a friend was going to be selling her property right by Pedernales Falls State Park.  

It just hit me what I would do with it, how I would design it, and all the things I would like to do with that piece of land. We went to see it within days and I purchased it shortly thereafter.

Q: Can you share with us the story behind the name Flint & Flowers? 

A: I first looked up Pedernales to understand the meaning and when I learned it meant flint, I was first embarrassed that I didn’t already know that– as an archaeologist who speaks Spanish, I probably should have known that. 

When I went to see the property the previous owner had a yard full of wildflowers and the name just fit perfectly.  

In trying it out I liked that it not only touched on the physical nature but also on the history and blended a masculine solid with a feminine softness.

Q: What are some of the offerings that you hope to incorporate into Flint & Flowers?

A: The hope is to bring a natural sanctuary feel to the entire place for guests to relax and rejuvenate.  

On top of that, I am hoping to create weekend retreats for women who find themselves in midlife perhaps in search of the “next step.”  To facilitate that I want to plan sort of a guided experience that may include:

  • Nutrition appropriate for our age

  • Overcoming a challenge together such as a hike to the falls

  • Meditations and journaling

  • Floor Pilates/Yoga

  • Life coaching clinic

  • “Fun Night” that includes dinner with local wine/beer

  • Art class

  • And perhaps even a career coach to help them navigate this chapter of their lives

I also would like to use the retreats to introduce relevant resources such as Med Spa offerings, books, podcasts, nutrition options, exercise options, volunteer opportunities, etc.

Q: What do you hope Flint & Flowers can bring to those who experience it?

A: Encouragement, exploration of positive midlife activities, perhaps a little self-awareness, and we hope some friendship and community. 

We hope to create a safe and welcoming space where every guest feels comfortable and empowered to acquaint themselves with who they are in this phase of their lives. 

Q: You’ve been very thoughtful in not only the guest experience within Flint and Flowers but also in the physical elements that you are integrating into Flint & Flowers including the type of tents, furniture, art, etc. along with the careful selection of the vendors and artisans who will be supplying these items. 

Can you share a little about why you chose these over others? 

A. Bushtec - South African Safari tents  During a Kenyan safari we stayed in their Safari tents and I just fell in love with them.  In the process of making sure this was the company I could trust in the United States I found they are a favorite of all types of venues in the United States and worldwide.  I also learned they manufacture their tents in a small village in South Africa employing over a thousand locals, most of them women.

Fourhands – Furnishings. Fourhands is also a company that supports artisans from all over the world with many of them being all women-owned.

A Touch of Craft - Artisan Horse Benches Meeting the owner and Artist at an art bazaar in Manilla I instantly had a connection with her.  She repurposes fabrics from other upholstery makers and hires young artists to make all of her amazing designs.

We will be sharing more about these vendors and their stories in forthcoming behind-the-scenes blogs. 

Q: Why is it important for you to work with vendors and artisans like the ones that you have selected?

A: If I am able to empower villagers and women who might not have the basic human resources needed,  then that is what I will do my best to do.

Q: How would you describe the “elevated camping” experience that visitors will enjoy at Flint & Flowers?

A: In many places in the world (and with our military) tents and other non-permanent structures such as yurts or even tipis are enjoyed and functionally understood.  

Here in the U.S., we think of tents as shelters being used for very short periods of time by a small percentage of the population.  

I believe solid structures such as cabins are wasteful, often environmentally unfriendly, and by design, they tend to separate people from nature.  

The material of our tents, canvas, allows a more integrated experience with nature which is ultimately what people seek during these types of retreats, but I am the first one to opt for a private flushing toilet.  

Getting out of the cities and being more in tune with the natural environment is good for the soul.

Q: Let’s talk about the “second life” generation epidemic that most anyone at or near retirement age experiences, it can be a very difficult chapter for many as they look ahead at life after retirement. One of your hopes is to bring in a career coach that can help this demographic navigate finding their place again in the professional world if they choose to embark on a new career path. How do you envision that working?

A: I think a clinic with a career coach will open up many possibilities that people haven’t even thought of or would even know existed.  

Possibilities bring excitement, I think, and if that creates action toward a more positive path, then we have been successful.

Q: What have you found that you have learned or are learning as you continue to work towards bringing Flint & Flowers to life?

A: Everyone I have been able to talk a little about Flint & Flowers and about what I am doing seems genuinely excited about it.  

I have never been much of a salesperson but when I am truly passionate about something I am doing, I guess I am able to share that feeling with others I also have been able to not let any doubters get to me.

Q: If there was one piece of advice or knowledge that you could share with the rest of the world, what would that be?

A: I think traveling has taught me that there are many ways to look at the same thing. 

I believe a person can become frustrated with life if they only see their reality through a single lens.

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