We had the good fortune of connecting with Bailey Powell Aldrich and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Bailey, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
In Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” a line reads, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” It’s been something tucked in the back of my head since I sat on the University of North Texas campus as a teenage undergrad, thumbing my grandmother’s Whitman paperback and exhaling clouds of cigarette smoke. I’ve always had a melancholic interior, but reminding myself with that quote that I do indeed have a lot to offer and am complex in a valuable way has been life-saving in ways. Although it’s a popular line in general, I used to never share it or say it aloud because I was fragile and clinging to it. Now, I hope it can help someone else dealing with self-esteem in the professional realm or elsewhere.

I think we’ve all got to give ourselves grace and make a concerted effort to not forget that there is inherent value in each of us. Whether it’s a skillset or story, everyone has something to offer. Especially as a woman, you can feel shoved into a box with an oversimplified label, or made to feel “basic,” “cheugy,” or whatever the youths are saying these days. Don’t forget that you contain multitudes. And don’t smoke cigarettes.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Fort Worth Key was founded by Amon G. Carter in 1936, then called the Fort Worther, as a part of his answer to Dallas’ Texas centennial celebrations. The guy hated Dallas, so much so that he took a sack lunch if he ever had to be in Dallas during the day so that he wasn’t spending any money in the businesses there. Anyway, he couldn’t stand the publicity Dallas was getting for all their centennial programming. He was Fort Worth proud, and was “key” (see what I did there) in establishing this travel guide that touts our many merits. The name changed to Fort Worth Key in 1967 and was sold to my family in 1995. My dad published it for 28 years with help from my mom and grandparents. Now, it’s my turn at the helm. What’s exciting is the potential for Key. While many people still appreciate the tactility of a paper magazine, which is our bread and butter, there is a rich opportunity here to take a legacy into the future and compete in the digital realm. We have brand equity that others don’t have, and we’re small and personable. I’m proud of our approachability and sincere engagement with hospitality staff, local businesses, and tourists (visiting or local!).

So, not only am I learning the ropes of publishing a magazine, I’m also trying to reinvent it. It feels like a start up. I wear all the hats: editor, accounts receivable, marketing, content creator, the list goes on and on. It’s both exciting and terrifying.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There is simply so much to do in Fort Worth. It’s overwhelming, but there is truly an ideal itinerary for everyone. It just depends on individual interests.

Depending on the friend’s style, I’d recommend staying at the Stockyards Springhill Suites, Stockyards Hotel, or Kimpton Harper downtown. Or, if it’s a trendy young millennial or Gen Z, Hotel Revel.

I’d take them to brunch at Cafe Modern and enjoy a coffee by their reflecting pool, or to HG Sply Co. and eat by the river.

Downtown, I’d stop by the Water Gardens, a peaceful work of art where Kendrick Lamar shot his latest music video (and in the pool at The Modern!). I’d also point out the Fort Worth Hilton, FKA Hotel Texas built in the 1920s, where JFK stayed the night before he was assassinated. It’s devastating, but an important tidbit of American history.

For an afternoon pick me up, I’d head over to Funkytown Donuts and Drafts to get an original glazed and try out their specialty du jour, and maybe wash it down with a beer from a local brewery or prosecco.

For a little shopping, we could then head to some of my local favorites include Tucker Brown, Flea Style, local thrift shops, and all the boutiques up and down Camp Bowie.

Billy Bob’s offers inexpensive line-dancing lessons, which would be great fun before grabbing some legendary BBQ at Dayne’s or Heim for dinner, I’m vegetarian, but I wouldn’t deny any meat-eating guest of mine that experience! If the person does lean more toward plant-based, I’d take them to Spiral Diner or Righteous Foods for casual lunch or dinner. For a dressier dinner, I’d head to Reata downtown. For a classic steak, Cattlemen’s. For Tex-Mex, Los Vaqueros. For a margarita and ambiance, Joe T. Garcia’s. For a trendy restaurant, Provender Hall or Paloma Suerte. For casual Italian, Cane Rosso. Also, Billy Bob’s strikes again with a western-themed murder mystery dinner, something else that’d be great fun.

Fort Worth is on the come up musically, so you have to catch some local sets one of the nights in town. I’d head to Tulips, Lola’s, or Billy Bob’s to catch a show- could be rap, country, folk, you name it. Fort Worth’s got talent in all genres.

In the Stockyards, definitely pause to see the cattle drive. I like history and spooky stuff, so I’d also go to Cowtown Winery in Mule Alley for one of their Stockyards ghost tours. You also have to stop in Hotel Drover for a chic cocktail and some people watching afterward. You’ve also got to go to Cowtown Coliseum to catch a rodeo, and you can’t miss local theater at places like Jubilee Theatre and Casa Mañana. If you’re a true theater queen and feeling spend-y, you might want to go see one of the Broadway at the Bass shows at Bass Hall! You can always enter the digital lottery and cross your fingers for a $31 ticket.

Since the Fort Worth Zoo is undergoing such a colossal, $100M renovation, and it’s already one of the top-ranked zoos in the country, it’s a must see, as are the Botanic Gardens. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth are just two of the many incredibly curated museums in the area.

Phew. Can you tell I’m conflicted on the ideal itinerary?!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First comes my grandmother Nany, journalist and writer by trade and the first person who told me I had a knack for writing. Next comes my AP English teacher junior year of high school, Mrs. Hamilton, who affirmed what I thought Nany felt like she had to say because she’s my grandmother. Then there was an English professor I had at Tarrant County College. I think her name is April Kincaid. I’ll never forget her. She had this wild red hair, tattoos, and drove a chopper to school. She taught me that it was okay to take up space, and to do so unapologetically. She also helped me begin to unravel some deep-seated trauma in a healthy way (fun!) and also taught me to assert my needs, as is my right. So many times women, especially southern women, get taken advantage of or steamrolled because we’ve been conditioned to be polite, and some people see that as weakness. This lesson was continued with Dr. Jessica Strubel at North Texas, this no-nonsense, Jewish New Yorker who’d joined a gang- to the point of getting a tattoo- for the sake of authentic research in fulfillment of her PhD. Then came New York City. The city’s not a person, but it’s a beast. It embraces some people, and chews up and spits out others. It’s sink or swim, only there are weights tied to your ankles. NYC taught me tenacity, mercy, patience, and was an absolute master class in various cultures, nationalities, religious sects, tax brackets, and so forth. I’d say the city chewed me up, but I refused to be spit out. After ten years there and 18 months in D.C., I’m a tough bird. My thesis advisor when I got my MFA in writing was Susan Cheever, a triple Leo who laid down the law, and the law was that I was going to write an important book, dammit! (I’m still working on that one.) She was so generous with her time and knowledge, and continues to be. Most importantly are my parents and spouse. My parents have encouraged me and patiently guided me through all my phases in life. Their generosity, in every sense, knows no bounds, and I’ve loved working with my dad on Fort Worth Key as he passes the family business to me. The chairman of my personal board of directors is my treasure of a husband Rick, a New Yorker who enthusiastically agreed to move back to my home, DFW, to work on Key. With the three of them behind me, I’m not afraid to leap.

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Image Credits
All photos c/o Fort Worth Key.

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