We had the good fortune of connecting with Henry Abuto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Henry, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success/the success of my brand would have to be me and my belief in it. I don’t mean that in a conceited way like “oh hey, look at me!” I mean it in that, I have to personally and fully believe in my brand, services, and products, or it won’t translate to the consumer or connect with them. At the end of the day, ByWasonga is a personality driven venture that is completely contingent on authenticity in order to be successful. There is no faking it. If I am selling a menu, I have to like it and believe in it or it won’t sell. If I’m planning an event or experience, I have to fully believe in it or it will flop. Consumers aren’t stupid, they know when a business owner believes in something or if they’re just doing it to do it. There have been times where I have cranked out a product just to crank it out and it hasn’t done well. When that happens, I have to draw a circle around myself and examine why it didn’t do well. More often than not, it fall squarely on what I believed about the product or experience. It forces me to operate with a certain level of authenticity and excellence in mind.
What should our readers know about your business?
My story starts in Kenya. I was born there and spent half of my childhood there before we moved to Texas in 1998 when I was nine. I grew up in a very big and communal family, so events were constantly happening around me. I would watch my Mom plan and execute all types of events. As I got older, I became fascinated with taking a simple idea and creating something meaningful out of it. Through that, I developed a passion for details. I learned how to cook by watching my Mom. I would plan birthday parties and celebrations for friends and loved ones. In college, I would take over the common area/kitchen in my dorm and host dinner parties. I realized I had a passion for hospitality and an eye for quality things. After college, I jumped into Corporate America for work. I did the 9-5 thing, but a part of me always knew it wasn’t going to be forever. In 2015, I decided to start ByWasonga (Wasonga is my middle name) as a side hobby. It was something I did when I had time. In the Fall of 2018, I made the decision to scale back from the corporate lifestyle and invest a little more time in ByWasonga. I tried to split those two things 50/50. It worked fine for a while but by mid 2019, I knew it was something I wanted to give my all and go full time. I started getting myself out there more as an event planner and a caterer for small to mid size events. I also began consulting for small businesses in the areas of marketing and design. As it exists today, ByWasonga’s simple mission statement is this: “Meeting everyday needs with meaningful works from the heart.” Whether it is planning a proposal or an engagement party, I pour my heart into each project. When I’m coordinating a wedding as a day of, I make sure every detail is executed to perfection. And when I cater, I prepare dishes that not only nourish the body, they feed the soul. A challenge that I (and many other business owners) faced this year was the (ongoing) Covid-19 pandemic. I saw my roster of events go from a good amount to zero in a matter of weeks! I had actually been pivoting away from catering and leaning more into the event planning and consulting more. As I tried to figure out how I was gonna survive, I realized “Hey Henry, people will always need food. figure out a way to do that weekly!” So I launched ByWasongaToGo, a weekly pick up meal service. And by the grace of God, it has sustained me! I’ve learned to be fine in the lane I’m in and the pace I’m moving at. Comparison and frustration can really make you doubt yourself and your abilities. When you launch something, you are betting on yourself. Five years into this, I’m not where I thought I would be. But that’s not a bad thing. I’m learning that I’m right where I need to be and that gives me room to breathe. Like I mentioned earlier, to succeed, I have to believe in myself and what I’m offering. And I fully do. I have bigger plans for ByWasonga that will unfold over the next few years. Stay tuned!
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?
Why don’t I just share my “must check out” places in my area? I live for Tacos! I seriously could eat them for all my meals for a week straight. San Andres on Magnolia is my Taco Tuesday Spot! If I want great tacos with a view, I am going straight to Taco Heads, owned by Sarah Castillo. For my favorite burrito and jalapeno margarita, meet me at Salsa Limon! For sweet treats, I pop right on over to Loft 22 Cakes on South Main owned by the fabulous Tareka. Literally the best cake I have ever had in my life! For a cup of coffee, you can find me at one of the Craftwork locations, BREWED, or Black Coffee. For the best chicken fried steak I’ve ever had in my life and some good soul food, I’m headed straight to Drew’s Place in the historic Como neighborhood. For a glass of wine or some bubbly, you can find me at Kent & Co Wines on Magnolia or WineHaus on Park Place. My favorite little book and tea shop is called Leaves and is owned by the sweetest lady, Tina! Be sure to check out Tulips or The Post for live music. Check out Boiled Owl and The Usual, both on Magnolia as well. I also like to go run or hike on the trinity trails. What makes Fort Worth so fun and exciting is the people. The place is full of creatives, entrepreneurs, and just all around good people. For a city of almost a million people, it has a small town feel, in a good way! Everybody is rooting for one another. Donnie Williams is a great artist to check out, and he just released his first book, a fire collection of some of his work. Hip-Hop Artist Lou Charles has been blazing his own trail the last few years and is such a fun creative to watch thrive! And last but not least, I would be remiss to not mention my dear friend Tony Green, The unofficial mayor of Magnolia, and Host of ‘Hello, I’m Tony Green” , and now with a weekly segment produced by Texas Producer that you can find on the local NBC channel.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It is impossible to talk about ByWasonga without acknowledging the influence my Mom has had on it. I learned how to cook from her, and growing up, she was constantly hosting dinner parties and events. I saw how much work she put in to create an experience with each dish she cooked, or whatever event she was planning. Also, as ByWasonga grows and evolves, I have to shout out my wonderful community and friends that continue to champion and support the business. They continue to be a blessing week after week. Not to mention all the wonderful small business owners that I have gotten to partner up with this year. They have been so generous with sharing their time, business acumen and resources with me. We are definitely all in this together! Lastly, I would like to say thank my good friend Joel Labrosse who took a break from the corporate world and jumped in to co-labor with me on this ride that is ByWasonga.
Ben McBurnett, Rambo Elliott and Lindsay Lutz