Making Space for Creativity | An Interview with Dante Clemons

by | Humans

Dante Clemons started her career as an architect before making the switch to the tech industry. Out of that major career move, KickInThaDoor was born.

KickInThaDoor is the business where Dante acts as a consultant & counselor helping people leverage their skills to make their next career move.

“KickInThaDoor is distinct in that it’s literally my channel to give back based on information I have and the things that I’ve learned. One of the things that happen with Kick the most is people come when they are ready to transition careers or they come for negotiation support around offer letters and salary negotiations.”


“I love [career consulting]. It was born out of my own personal hardship with transitioning from being a practicing architect to a technologist. I had nobody who was an example of what I could be. Also, I didn’t know that a lot of the skills that I was establishing and leveraging as an architect were transferable into another high-value field.”

“My process of transitioning from architecture to tech was a multiyear thing and I wanted to shorten it for other people. I learned a lot in that process. I learned how to get much more efficient and practical.”

“KickInThaDoor became a place for me to offer that kind of guidance and to pour into others one-on-one. Kick to me is this lifelong channel that I will use to educate and share.”


Dante is impressive in her examples of exacting work. But she has a side to her that craves creativity and space. This is why she co-found a company like the Austin-based coffeehouse, Origin.

“Origin is more anchored in physical space. It’s more of my expression of creativity and art making.”

Origin is an oasis in one of Texas’ most interesting cities — Austin.

Dante is the co-founder of Origin Studio House. It is a coffee shop and creative space for artists and people who support artists primarily through the lens of Blackness.

“I’ve worked on this for probably the past two years. We have a physical space that is currently under renovation right now that should be opening at the end of the year. It’s really just designed as a place of refuge for Austin’s Black population. A migrant population.”

“The quality of life [in Austin], it’s safe, it’s a cool city to be in in terms of food, culture. The challenge is that it can be hard to find and to establish community primarily because you don’t have consistent physical spaces.”

“The physical spaces we access in Austin are oftentimes through the means of a pop-up. You rent a space, show up, have a good time and if you go to that spot the very next day the music’s different. Your community’s not there.”

“Instead of complaining about Austin or moving on to another city – like many do, they go to Dallas or Houston – I decided we need to create space. Space is the missing layer of this.”

“I wanted to create a space that was community-oriented and that the community could become co-creators within. Whether they wanted to come in and partake of what we have to offer in addition to renting the space out to do things they felt were important. Origin is born of that. I have two co-founders that I work with and we are all deeply rooted in Austin and deeply committed to Austin. Origin is our first expression of that need.”


“There is this Japanese architect who was self-taught, Tadao Ando. I love his buildings. I couldn’t model my career after his, he wasn’t that type of reference. He was a reference to be just by his determination. When it came to architecture itself I didn’t have a lot of references. I didn’t have Black architects that I could think about.”


“I like solving problems. If a problem is sticky to me, meaning I can’t stop thinking about it, I will put effort behind coming up with a solution. I also love collaborating with and being around other creatives. There is a wholeness I feel working with designers and creators. I’m motivated by that feeling. I feel limitless. I don’t feel there are limits on what I can do. If I’m inspired by something or perplexed by a particular problem I’m motivated to see what I can contribute to solving it. I’m motivated by the possibility of improvement and change.”


“A warm cup of coffee, being around my aunts and mom, my friendships, traveling. A sunny day and good company – that’s joy!”


“Origin is my favorite project. Because it’s so boundless. It touches spaces, digital and the literal fabric of my community, there’s a global lens to it. There is so much there. I’m excited about what we are doing and I love working on it.”


“I check-in with myself often. I pause and ask, ‘What do I need right now?’ Sometimes it’s as simple as, ‘I need sunshine.’ or ‘I need water.’ If I don’t have the awareness or the ability to communicate my needs nobody else could help me through that. And so my daily self-care is literally pausing and asking myself, as if I’m a three-year-old, ‘What do I need right now?’ then prioritizing that. Oftentimes it’s the most simple things.”

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