We had the good fortune of connecting with Riley Garza and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Riley, how do you define success?
I believe that defining success for yourself, is so important. I used to live my life attaining goals that other people have set out for me because they taught me and influenced me with their own definition of what success looks like.
My parents, my teachers, my mentors, my culture and traditions, society, being an immigrant, my mental health, my relationships, and my failures; these have all been huge factors on my journey with defining this word.
Success comes in all shapes and forms and the older you get, the more clearer it becomes for you, and the better you detach from everyone else’s definition of it.
For me success is being able to live a comfortable, happy, healthy life I always wanted with my family and loved ones, while being able to give back to the community in some way. It is also being able to live your life on your own terms and being able to love what you do and feel fulfilled after each day.
As simple as it sounds, its absolute bliss for me;
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I admired and loved the creative arts. In high school, I would be in charge of the bulletin boards, the T-shirt designs, and was even voted “The Most Creative” of my class. I wanted to be a graphic designer but my parents being filipino immigrants in the Medical Field, they wanted me to be in either the Medical or Engineering Field. I gave their choices for me a chance, and went to school in Boston to be a Pharmacist and after realizing how unhappy it made me, I moved back to Houston to pursue an engineering degree which made me feel even more lost.
To be honest, the lack of support in the very beginning of my journey made me doubt myself. I started to believe that I actually did not think I was good enough to pursue a creative career. I started to compare myself to artists and saw how incredibly talented everyone was compared to me–without even having started to pursue that career yet. My parents somehow convinced me that–at the end of the day, it was just a hobby and it was an impractical career.
I was in one of the lowest points of my life. I was working for Panda Express and was depressed, I would cry in my car after every 10-12 hour shift. I felt like a failure.
My mother in law and my husband, (boyfriend at the time) were actually the ones who pushed me towards the path I took. My husband used to always buy me art sets, and stationery, stickers, and art materials. His support and confidence in me really gave me the push to pursue my passions. He always told me never to compare and doubt my abilities, and my passion; that there was room for my creative mind in this world, and that everyone had something to offer, and it shouldn’t stop me from sharing my talent to the world.
With his help, I decided I needed to I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided to do something about it. I looked for another job and came across this Stationery Store that was hiring called “Paper Source”. I worked there while taking Engineering Courses. I met the most amazing, wonderful, creative, uplifting people while working there. From the co-workers to the clients and customers that came in and out.
It introduced me to the Calligraphy and stationery side of the Art World. I would do demonstrations on how to make things during my shift, and I met fellow artists and Wedding Planners all the time. My husband then convinced me I should do this as a side hustle while I was in school. That was when I started my instagram account. Once I started the account, I actually entered a contest for a free spot at a calligraphy workshop. At first she told me I did not win, and on the last minute, hours before the workshop started, the winner backed out, and she gave me the spot! That was when I slowly started offering my services to other people.
Meanwhile, while I was still working at Paper Source, I met this one young lady that told me about the Hospitality Branch at University of Houston, and told me about an organization specifically for the Events Industry. Looking back at it, I knew it was fate. Every single step led up to where I am now, and as corny as it is, it was all meant to be.
Once she told me about it, something in me just sparked a fire, I went home immediately and did all my research and applied right away. I felt nervous, uncomfortable and scared because it was a big risky change. But those feelings are usually a great sign that growth is happening and a new chapter is about to start.
For the first time in my life, I was actually pursuing something I wanted.
Within the two years, I went all in. I was part of the student board an amazing organization called “National Association of Catering and Events”. There, I planned successful events, fundraisers, and I met my mentors, successful people in the industry, fellow students, who I now call my colleagues in the Industry.
Those two factors merged once I graduated, I pursued a Calligraphy Service based business in the Events Industry in Houston, while I worked another full time job in the Events Industry, until I made my business my full time job at the end of 2020.
Every time I think about my journey, I always remember how much I have learned. But the one thing I PREACH, because of how true it is: It’s that– It’s never too late. It’s never too late to start college, to start that business, to quit and start over, to switch careers…it’s never too late to just do what makes you happy. And if one day, that thing that makes you happy doesn’t make you happy anymore…It’s not too late to stop and find something else that does.
My best friends Sarah and Lorena gave me advice lately that I can’t stop thinking about. They said “You are never stuck. You always have a choice”. So, make the choice that you want for yourself, the one that will make you happy because no matter if it was the right one or not, it will lead you to where you are supposed to be. It will lead you to the right people to meet and pave the way you are supposed to take, not what someone else wanted for you.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation (or Uptown) – Favorite Mexican Restaurant Siphon Coffee shop
Brass Tacks Coffee Shop
Rice village Shops + Westheimer Vintage Stores
Crawfish Cafe (Best Crawfish Ever)
Kung fu tea
Ocean Palace for Dim Sum on Sundays
Picnic on Eleanor Tinsley
Night markets Discovery green and Sawyer Yards
Bar Boheme (Get their Vietnamese Fries and Frozen Mojito!)
Astros or Rockets game
Rollin Phatties Food Truck (Get their Nutella Phattie!)
My Elote man that sells in front of Fiesta on Lyons St.
St. Arnold Brewing Company
Frank’s Pizza (Late Night Pizza!)
La Calle (Late night Birria Tacos)
Drive in movie in Hockley, TX
Postino Wine Bar
Cafe Mawal (Hookah Bar and Mediterranean Food)
Macaron by Patisserie
The Color factory
Picked flower Co.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband and his family. They honestly deserve all the credit. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave my graduation commencement speech, and he really emphasized how he didn’t succeed on his own and that there were so many people that helped him along the way and he will never take sole credit for his successes.
All I could think of was my husband and his family. They were consistently always pushing me to believe in myself, they supported me in every aspect of my journey, they never got tired of my mental breakdowns, complaints and self doubt. They just wanted me to see myself how they see me and they wanted me to be happy and fulfilled.
I am nowhere where I want to be as far as my career goals. I have so much more I want to do and accomplish. My husband has never once doubted me, or complained for having to pick up the slack at home when I am glued to my laptop and drowning in work. He is even my assistant for my business and helps me with delivery, pick ups, set ups and production of my work. Most of all, he is my biggest supporter.
For someone like me, a strong support system is so important when it comes to going after your dreams. Because many goals and dreams seem so unconventional, unrealistic, seemingly unattainable, or just plain HARD. You don’t need more people bringing you down and telling you you cant do it, when your inner self-doubt is already doing enough of that.
Thank you Marian and Mike, Mom Janet, and most of all, the most amazing husband in the world, Andrew.
Linkedin: Riley Daquioag
Facebook: Riley Elizabeth Design Studio
Other: Tik Tok @rileydesignstudio
Ulises Reyes Photography and Cinema Andy and Carrie Photography Angela Sostarich Photography Mustard Seed Photography Taylor Elizabeth Photography