We had the good fortune of connecting with Raya Hensler and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Raya, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I live my life authentically and wholeheartedly. It’s important that is translated through my work. I want to allow space on my platform(s) and through my podcast, Coffee Meets Vodka, for people to be their true self. I think if you are true to yourself, your path, and your purpose, success will come. The audience can tell when a brand is being genuine, I really have so much fun creating content for my fans and I think it shows!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community? What are most proud of / excited about?
I am most proud of my podcast, Coffee Meets Vodka (available anywhere you stream podcasts). I discuss a wide variety of topics each week ranging from dating + relationships, pop-culture, mental health, spirituality, and even feature small businesses. I love interviewing interesting people, story telling, and even talking about serious topics in a light-hearted way. I’m an entertainer at heart so this is a perfect medium for me. My idea for the podcast came in 2016 when I was chasing a different dream in Los Angeles, acting, but timing wasn’t aligned to start a new project. I moved back to Houston in 2018 and things started to fall into place for me. Everything I was chasing in Los Angeles started to happen right in my own backyard. I was signed by Neal Hamil Agency for acting, booked photoshoots and campaigns, started my freelance marketing business, and launched Coffee Meets Vodka Podcast— which has been my favorite passion project. My idea for the future of Coffee Meets Vodka is to have my own spirits, coffee, seltzers and more! I can’t wait to watch the brand grow and see what it turns into. My dad used to tell me to “find something you love to do and you will never have to work a day in your life,” I feel like I finally found my path in the creative/entrepreneurial world. It doesn’t feel like work and I have so much fun creating content for my clients and my fans. Whenever you chase a dream or pioneer a new path, it can get lonely. I’m sure I could take the safe route and find a corporate job, but ultimately my happiness would be sacrificed. Although this path can be riddled with loneliness and failure, it’s the small moments of victory you have to take in stride. That is what keeps me going and that is what keeps my heart full. I don’t see myself doing anything else but building Coffee Meets Vodka and being a content creator at this point in my life. I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been and I wouldn’t have gotten here without the failures, amazing support system, and tons of nights spent praying vigilantly. I am grateful to say the least.

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?
I am open to ideas for this one! Some of my favorite hang out spots are Postino Heights (they have a great happy hour!), The Rustic for brunch and live music, The House Of Blues, comedy shows, drag brunch at Boheme or Hamburger Mary’s, or having a nice picnic at Levy Park. I love doing stuff during the day, I am an early-bird! I’d also probably ride bikes around downtown, schedule a photoshoot with my friend, or go out of town. There isn’t much to do in Houston besides eat and drink which you can only do SO many times. We need more activities!

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?
I’d like to shout out Lifestyle and Food Blogger, Melody Price of Musing With Mel (https://meals-with-mel.com)! We make such an AWESOME creative team. She’s my go-to girl to bounce ideas off of, brainstorm, and even the structure I need in my business and personal life. More importantly than that, she pulled me out of a dark place and allowed me time to heal and was incredibly patient until I felt creative again. We have collaborated on many campaigns and business ventures together and have also parted ways on some. We are true friends who support each other through and through which I don’t take lightly. I know how rare our friendship is and I feel extremely blessed! I would also like to thank my therapist, Nyree Kyoumjian at West Houston Counseling Center, (S/O mental health!) for listening to me ramble, ugly cry, and actually heal. I have gone to therapy many times in the past but I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. Whether it was timing, circumstance of life, or divine fate, I am forever grateful our paths crossed. I am such a huge advocate for mental health because I’ve been on both sides, unhealthy and healthy, and I’ve reaped the rewards of what it means to truly be whole and happy within self. That is a feeling I pray everyone finds. The relationship with yourself is the one you have for life so you owe it to yourself to work on it. Lastly, I would like to thank my close friends, near and far, for always answering my phone calls, listening to my wacky ideas, and helping me talk through things when I feel anxious. I am so lucky my friends have turned into family. They have taught me more than words can express, I look up to each and every one of them and they have shaped me into the woman I am today. Also, I would recommend reading anything by Brené Brown or Gabby Bernstein– their books are life-changing and really helped me on my journey!

Website: https://littlerayasunshine.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/raya_hensler/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/raya_hensler
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coffeemeetsvodka
Youtube: TikTok: @raya_hensler
Other: COFFEE MEETS VODKA INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/coffee.meets.vodka/

Image Credits
Melody Price, Photographer (mealswithmel__) Angela Brooke, Podcast cover art (@estrange.art)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.