We had the good fortune of connecting with Monique Pham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monique, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I am generally risk-averse, non-confrontational, and go about life playing things on the safe side. I’m usually forced to take risks or some life event gives me no choice but to take a risk. When I think about how taking risks affected my life and career, I don’t regret the decisions or risks I’ve made. Even though the immediate consequence may not be favorable, I always learn something from that experience. I’m continuing to work on this. Having this side hustle and baking for people’s important events is a risk because it is someone’s special moment, and I am personally invested in not ruining it. I think about that a lot, and it both drives me to be better, but it is also a source of anxiety. One of the biggest risks I will eventually have to face will be taking the plunge and doing this full time.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Professionally I am an accountant specializing in Research & Development Tax Credits. Creatively, and also as a side-hustle, I bake for special events and prepare custom cakes. When I am able, I try to use my baking skills to help community organizations and non-profits in Houston. I have held bake sales in which proceeds have gone to several organizations. The pressing question in my mind in tumultuous times is “What am I able to do about it?”. While we are in COVID, these bake sales are one of the few things I have within my ability and control to do. It’s difficult juggling this and a job as well as other responsibilities, and it requires grit and a lot of late nights to get everything done. I’ve learned lessons on efficiency, communication, and when you’re doing something repetitively, such as baking cupcakes over and over, your skills may increase.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
While I am pretty biased (born and raised here, in Southwest Alief Texas- SWAT), Houston has this unique diverseness and culture that no other place could ever replicate.
The Alief Store
Bellaire between Cook Rd. and Ranchester: miles and miles of Pho, bubble tea, dumplings, shopping, etc. There gems on Beechnut between Dairy Ashford and Beltway 8 too!
Some of my favorite spots are:
Pho Binh by night (get yours with a bowl of bone marrow!)
Bun Bo Hue Duc Chuong Midnite
Golden Dumpling House
Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki
Tao Rice Roll & Pancake
Dim Sum King
Hong Kong Food Street
Katy/Spring Branch/Memorial Area
Tacos Dona Lena
Katy Asia Town
Better Luck Tomorrow
Downtown and EaDo Area
The Pastry War
Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
EaDo Art Murals
Tongue Cut Sparrow
The Menil Collection
Cy Twombly Gallery
Buffalo bayou Cistern
Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue
Wildflyer Mead Company
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My friends and family have been my constant supporters in this journey, and I am grateful for their neverending enthusiasm, advice, and help.
One of my goals in life is to also use my love of baking as a way to help others. I would like to use this opportunity to recognize some of the organizations that work tirelessly to make the world, as cliche as it sounds, a better place to be. These organizations never fail to remind me that there are good people in the world.
Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership-Texas Gulf Coast (HOBY)
Vietnamese Culture & Science Center- Houston
All Neighborhoods Powerfully United (ANPU)
SHAPE Community Center
Friends 4 Life