Donut Masters: The Grove Donutz & Deli

"They say you can't buy happiness, BUT you can buy doughnuts! and that's kind of the same thing right?!"

At least that's what Tam Hoang, owner of The Grove Donutz and Deli thinks about his sweet delectable creations! The Grove, one of the few shops in Houston that carries "Cronuts" half croissant, half donut, is taking Houston by storm! Located in Richmond, TX people come from all over the vast city just to check out what Tam and his wife Renda have cookin' up! If you want to see what's new on the menu you are REQUIRED to check their Instagram, one of the main social media sources they use to interact with customers! 

We caught up with Tam and asked him a few questions and this is what he had to say!

The Grove Donutz

The Grove Donutz

1) What gave you the spark to open The Grove Donutz and deli?

"Well before Renda and I got married I told her I had been wanting to do something for us. She likes to bake and I like to cook. Because of both of our passions, I started looking on Craig's List and found this place, took a leap of faith... and The Grove came about!"

2) What's the hardest thing about running the Grove?


"Hardest thing is still waking up early in the morning to go make donuts! Haha we're really NOT morning people. Dedication... knowing that a bunch of people now rely on Renda and I waking up and making their favorite creations"

3) How has being in Houston helped?

"It has helped me cause that's how me and my wife got together. She's my biggest motivator. And also Houston offered me the ability to thrive with both of my businesses. I am also a hairdresser after the morning shift. I make doughnuts beautiful by day, and people beautiful by night!

Houston is a growing city that has lots of opportunities. Also it's a melting pot where all cultures collaborate together to make this city what it is today. To me, it's the city of dreams. Think big and big things will come!!"

Donuts have been with us from the mid 1800's and it doesn't look like these tasty little treats are going away anytime soon!

If you want one of the most sought after Cronuts, you MUST call a couple of hours to a day in advance to have custom orders made for you (^_^)'

Stop by and say hi to Renda and Tam at The Grove Donuts and Deli!

Tam Hoang/Renda Hoang
phone (281) 232-6406
Instagram @thegrovedonutz


Christopher Do: Celebrity Stylist

“Beware of her fair hair, for she excels all women in the magic of her locks; and when she winds them round a young man's neck, she will not ever set him free again"

Christopher was destined to be a hairdresser. His mother, his uncles and aunts all own their own salons. It was only a matter of time before he picked up the scissors to change the lives of sooooo many women he's sat in his chair. A single cut can average $80+, and a color, whether it be his perfected Ombre, or Balayage goes from $170 and up! This doesn't include the must have styling and blow dry that makes women feel like they're ready for the Red Carpet!

Christopher Do: Celebrity Stylist

Christopher Do: Celebrity Stylist


 What's the hardest thing about making every client BEAUTIFUL?

 "The hardest thing about being a hairdresser is convincing every client that I know more about making them beautiful than they do. I am an expert. I've mastered skills, spent tons of money on education, worked my way up working local shows to New York Fashion Week, done celebrity hair, offered to take over a product line, you name it I've pretty much done it. But one thing I do know is that you never stop learning. The education and progress goes until death. Every client is a different walk of life with different facial shapes, hair texture and personal preference but it is MY job to sit them down during consultation and take away all anxiety...and soothe them through my words of wisdom and experience that they will leave my chair feeling sexier, more confident than they've ever felt before. This is the feedback I get from my clients and their friends, so I'm not making this up! The hardest thing is convincing a new client, the easiest thing is accepting their love and adoration after."

How has being in Houston helped grow your amazing career?

"Being in Houston may have been a blessing in disguise. I didn't have to compete with the likes of LA and NY. I got to make a bigger name for myself in a small pond. Another good reason for being from Houston is that if I messed anything up in the beginning of my career, they would think.. of course.. he's from Houston, what kind of talent COULD they have? I followed the greats having mentors such as Vidal Sassoon, Robert Cromeans of Paul Mitchell, All the famous brothers from Toni & Guy, Jonathan Anton, Brandon Martinez, Johnny Lavoy, and Warren Tricomi JUST TO NAME A FEW. In Houston, I got the best of both worlds. I got to study my mentors and be under the radar without the pressures of 'making it', but when I mimicked a famous stylist's work, I'd be praised for it. My greatest mentor and personal friend Michael Singletary, owner of M Salon, gave me the foundation and proper education needed to be recognized as a top stylist in this country. "

When did you realize that hairdressing was your passion?

"I can't lie, it wasn't my first choice. I fell into it since I was surrounded by them all of my life. I started my education at a no name beauty college and practiced on willing friends and family. I think the first time I realized I was going to go full throttle being a stylist was when I was giving my cousin a haircut (he asked for a 'trim', he was growing out his hair for about 2 months) and ended up shaving his head due to nicks and uneven lines blah blah blah... I was so discouraged I thought about quitting that night. My cousin saw that I was down so he quickly looked in the mirror, acted like he was super cool with having a shaved head and that he was thinking of doing it soon (total lie) and said that no matter what, he would always let me practice in his hair. At that moment I knew that I'd give hairdressing 2098409320948%. That's a lot of percent hahaa. From that point on the rest is history. Take a look at my work and TELL me I'm not the best in Houston..."

“I think that the most important thing a woman can have- next to talent, of course- is her hairdresser.”

You can see his work through his social media listed below. To book an appointment with Christopher please call M Salon at 713.572.3100.

Christopher Do

M Salon (Richmond and Weslayan)

twitter - @lp_christopher


instagram - @lp_christopher



Jessica Bolaños Vanegas: Crowdfunding Artist


Crowdfunding is not simply a business, it is a delicate art which requires a talented and passionate artist.

Crowdfunding is the collaboration of the efforts of many people getting together to make a distinct difference on the world through a specific cause. Jessica Bolaños and her husband Nelson Vanegas both are discovering what it takes to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. Together, they have founded Goodspero, which is “a crowdfunding digital campaign production house that works with people and organizations from around the world to provide educational opportunities for youth in developing countries.” Crowdfunding is more than just creating a website and asking for money, it involves guerilla marketing, being able to create viral videos that reach the hearts of thousands, and figuring out how to partner with other organizations in order to reach a common goal.

Goodspero has since completed its first crowdfunding campaign, which greatly impacted the education of Colombian children. They are now working on upcoming projects in El Salvador, Africa, and Asia, with a commitment in the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative University network to crowdfund $4 million for education by 2015.


Jessica Bolaños Vanegas: Crowdfunding Artist

Jessica Bolaños Vanegas: Crowdfunding Artist

What is the hardest thing about running a successful crowdfunding campaign?

“Ha! Getting money! -- no, umm... I guess the hardest thing about crowdfunding is you have to be extremely transparent. If you have a product or something usually you don’t give out every single piece of information, especially financial information about what you’re trying to do. I think that’s the hardest part for us, even when we crowdfunded our video, it was our first time crowdfunding and we didn’t even have a product, so it was real difficult for us to say exactly where every single dollar was going to go. What we do is for a good cause, but we don’t know exactly which child, or anything specific we could tell people about exactly where their money is going to go. So I think that was the most difficult part, getting people to trust you, when you can’t even tell them honestly where exactly that dollar is going to go. So it’s a good guessing game, making assumptions in a video, forever, online!”

How has being in Houston helped?

“Well I’ve been here all my life, so I was born and raised in Houston. It really helped that I had a big network here to support me, and Nelson too, my husband, he also was raised here in Alief so he had a lot of support in Houston as well. That’s the big thing with crowdfunding, it’s all through your own social networks, really. It’s social media driven, so the bigger your network is, the more support you’ll have. Pretty much every single person that contributed to our crowdfund, we knew directly, or they were one contact away. There were a couple of strangers who pitched in, but Houston was pretty much everybody that contributed.”

When did you decide you wanted to go into crowdfunding?

“When I got into the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship [at the University of Houston]. Goodspero was born there. When I got into the program I thought I was going to expand my for-profit, Evident Empire Media, which is a multi-media marketing company. However, the first day in the program, and I say this over and over, they did the whole “personal purpose” thing, and made us “align all our dreams to everything we wanted to do in life and your career and everything” and that just kinda changed our whole perspective on what we wanted to do in life. So we took everything we were already doing with multimedia production, videos, and photography, everything digital basically and we just did it for a good cause instead. We wanted to start a non-profit. We tried to start a non-profit but apparently it was too similar to our for-profit so now we’re working our way around that, we’re going to be like a “social enterprise” of sorts, so... we’ll see where that takes us!”

 Jessica and Nelson can be spotted at nearly every important event in Houston. From startup and technology conferences to underground hip-hop shows, this hardworking couple is constantly out networking and expanding their reach. Follow her online to keep up with and help with her upcoming campaigns. 

Goodspero & Evident Empire Media


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Giovanna Albarran: Bow Tie Artisan


Bow tie wearing can be a notable characteristic for an individual.

Wearing a bow tie "is a statement maker" that identifies a person as an individual because "it's not generally in fashion". Little did 7 year old Giovanna Albarran know that all of those years of ripping and sewing back all of her Barbie's clothes would one day lead to her starting her own company making some of the most beautiful self tie bow ties. Her styles and cuts range from the Classic and Tuxedo rounds, to flimsy Butterflies and Diamond cuts that go for $69-$89 a pop.

Bow Ties have been made popular by real world personalities such as President Franklin Roosevelt, Sir Winston Churchill, and actors Humphrey Bogart and the infamous Frank Sinatra to name a few.


Giovanna Albarran: Bow Tie Artisan

Giovanna Albarran: Bow Tie Artisan

What's the hardest thing about making the "perfect" Bow tie?

"That's a funny question. The actual labor of making a bow tie (any style, cut or fashion) is actually pretty simple... if you can follow directions. the most difficult part is finding the "perfect fit" for a particular individual matching their facial features, body structure, and most of all personality. There's a lot of research done before each custom bow tie is made. I ask for a photo of the person, who they hang out with, what their occupation is, their style of clothing, etc. and I make my recommendations for the cut, style and pattern for each order. I've always been great with my hands but I never knew what I wanted to do with them growing up. I used to rip my clothes playing outside with the neighbors and my mother was so tired of patching them up or buying new ones so she told me if I wanted to play outside, I would have to learn to sew my own clothes back together.... and so the legacy of Giovanna began... at the ripe age of 7. I haven't had a complaint from any of my recommendations so far and I don't plan on starting now. This is my passion now and I plan to stay high end and dream of being on the lips of fashionistas and fashionisters alike."

How has being in Houston helped?

"Houston is what.... 4th largest city in the United States??? Not only that, Houston is KNOWN as a melting pot so you can't pin point and label the type of 'style' or 'culture' Houston has. Being so diverse, you have styles and fashion of all types and can never feel stale or stagnant, knowing that the next trend or idea is just around the corner. We try to keep up as much as possible with NY and LA but we hold our own. being here in Houston makes it easy for me to experiment and try new things outside of the box without feeling trapped or obligated to do what everyone else is doing. I have the range to express myself through my work and the willing patrons to support my craft and encourage me to push further! Houston has been good to me and all I can do is give back with each and every inspiration I have! Not to mention everyone is so friendly and supportive here" 

Can you tell me a little bit about the history of the bow tie?

"Cravat, derived from the French word Croat (scarf) were used to hold the top of men's shirts to their collar and may have evolved into the bow tie and neck ties. They tend to be associated with the particular professions such as architects, finance receipt collectors, attorneys, university professors, teachers, and politicians. Even though you see bow ties becoming 'popular' now, they've been around for centuries (since the 1700's) but they resurrect every time someone of notice starts to sport the popular neckwear and seems to be the 'new' thing again. With social media being so prominent in today's society it may be here to 'stay'."

Giovanna plans to have a full working website by end of year. Until then you can order a custom bow tie by contacting Giovanna by email or via her facebook page.

Giovanna Bow Ties
twitter - @bowtiesbygio
instagram - @bowtiesbygio



Meagan Merta: Photographer


Photography captures a moment that's gone forever, impossible to reproduce. 

To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture a fleeting reality. Meagan Merta expresses this when bringing fashion shoots to life or sketching spontaneity through the shutter of her camera at a concert. Her photos savor life intensely in an eighth of a second. We caught up with Meagan and here's what she had to say:


Megan Merta

Megan Merta

What's the hardest thing about being a photographer?

"I'd have to say the time consumption it takes to do everything. Not only do you have to set time aside to do the actual shoot, but I spend an extra 3-4 hours every day for a week or two editing the photos from the shoot. Also travel time, etc. Although it takes a lot of time, it's worth it to me. The long editing hours are my choice. I could easily just throw all the photos in Lightroom (an Adobe mass editing program) and just adjust a few things on each photo and have them done in one night. But, I'm very particular about my photos and my editing style is different from most photographers."

How has being in Houston helped?

"Oh wow, I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'd have to say it's easy for my work to be noticed with so many people around. It started with a few model friends from school, it spread to their agents, and so forth. I even had the opportunity to work with Cierra Ramirez from ABC's "The Fosters" and Disney Channel. She's actually from my area and she randomly came across my work from her friend. I just love the connections I have here."

Can you tell me a little bit about the history of your photography experience?

"Well, it started when I got my first low-end Nikon digital camera when I was 15. I started out by just taking photos of scenery and plants and then my best friend from school asked if I wanted to take photos of her. My first shoot was better than most people's first shoots (not to brag, that's just what I was told). So, it was motivation to get more experience. Now, I shoot fashion and glamour photography and do concerts and promotional shoots for fun on the side. I actually have the Neal Hamil agency interested in making me a preferred photographer. Anyways, I'm self-taught and use Photoshop CS6 to edit. Everything I've learned on there was from trial and error and some instructional videos. My goal is to be known for my fashion and glamour work and/or work with musicians and travel as their photographer, like Adam Elmakias."

You can contact Meagan by phone or via her facebook page.

Meagan Merta Photography

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