FOMO Factory Founder Rachel Youens Has Passed Away

The community mourns an Austin creative who brought her vision to Houston.

By Chris Gray July 22, 2019

Editor’s note: FOMO Factory founder Rachel Youens passed away last week. “With the death of our founder we are permanently closed,” the company said on its Instagram page, referring any questions to [email protected].

Following a successful six-month run in Austin, the 35-year-old Youens opened FOMO Factory on the Galleria’s third level in May; it had been scheduled to run through Dec. 31.

Youens graciously showed Houstonia around the space in mid-June, for an article that will appear in our August issue, which has already gone to press. Our deepest condolences go out to Youens’s family and entire FOMO team.

Here is the story as it will appear in our upcoming issue:

The props at FOMO Factory can suffer some unusual collateral damage. The day Houstonia visited the “immersive art” pop-up—located on the Galleria’s third level, directly above the Apple store—owner/founder Rachel Youens was busy repairing a “head wound” incurred by a basketball-size cupcake in the birthday-party room.

“I forgive the people for the destruction,” says Youens, a marketer by trade. “They just get really excited in this space. It’s hard—once they’re invited into a space to play, they just get a little wild.”

FOMO Factory offers digital natives the chance to take selfies to their hearts’ content, building their personal brands by posing with whimsical props. But more than that, Youens says, she wants it to be a place where people feel comfortable just being themselves.

“I consider it sort of like an adult play space,” she says. “We’re at a higher rate than ever of adults choosing not to have kids, of which I’m one, and there’s not a place for us to play.”

Visitors are invited to, among other things, put on lab coats and goggles in the science-lab room; don sashes and tiaras for mock prom pictures; sit in chairs upholstered out of actual Care Bears; and frolic in a pool of plastic balls (lose a phone, and you’ll have to swap your nametag for a “shame tag”).

One of FOMO Factory’s main influences, Youens explains, is “adult summer camps”—extended retreats where grownups play games, do arts and crafts, and indulge in other activities that help them reconnect with their younger selves. Considering how much social interaction plays out online these days, Youens believes that these types of spaces have become vital. “I think people are profoundly lonely,” she says. “I think they’re always looking for opportunities to meet other people.”

Since FOMO Factory Houston opened in June, Youens says, crowds have been healthy—check out the fun on Instagram at #thefomofactory—and the attraction has seen more walkup traffic here than in Austin, where it previously had a five-month run.

And while Youens lives in Austin, she says she instantly connected with the Bayou City’s eccentric, yet inclusive, ecosystem. “We really want to be of this community, and I think it’s vital for us to understand this market,” she says. “Houston’s got its own diverse, unique, crazy vibe that I dig.”

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