We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Hoang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie, how do you think about risk?
Risk always comes with reward. In my experience, I have had to look at results of risks as lessons and opportunities especially if they are unexpected.
My first memorable risk was selling origami stars at 3rd grade recess for $.75 each. I didn’t know if any of my friends or teachers would buy it, but it was a risk I was willing to take. I learned how to make those origami stars when I spent a summer with my cousin in Vietnam a few years before. I lived life on the edge in Vietnam- riding four people to a moped, chasing stray dogs in the food markets, and climbing up coconut trees daily. Those risks may have led to a moped accident and getting lost countless amount of times, but my love for adventure and travel was able to blossom at a young age.
I have learned to embrace risks and the risk of putting myself, business, and nonprofit out there. I was able to grow as a photographer by shooting in seemingly dangerous or drab locations and work with people from all spectrums. As a result, I started a photography business specializing in senior and family portraits when I was 14 years old. Now, I embrace risks and capitalize on business opportunities that come forth.
The saying, “Adversity is the price for advancement”, goes hand in hand with risks. I encounter adversity at every risk I take and obstacle life throws my way. My childhood trauma and misdirection enabled me to learn how to navigate (some, unfortunately not all!) life’s difficulties at a young age. I learned how to be an empowered, selfless, and driven leader. A leader who serves and guides in love, purpose, and intention. I took a risk when I started my 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Dare to LEAD. Since 2020, Dare to LEAD has worked directly with underprivileged youth experiencing homelessness and trauma in the Dallas Fort Worth area by providing meals, blankets, and educational support. We develop youth leadership by equipping our volunteer community of over 200 volunteers resources and events to Learn, Empower, Act, and Direct.
I encourage everyone no matter what age, race, gender, or circumstance to overcome the fear that stems from risks. As Miss Teen Texas and now, Miss Teen International, I would not be able to walk in 6 inch heels or speak to children about Dare to LEAD if it were not for the risks I have taken.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a first generation Vietnamese American, I have seen my parents and grandparents work tirelessly for the American dream. I have the privilege to say I strive to live to work rather than work to live. While being a high student is a full time job itself, I feel more fulfilled when inspire other young people to chase their wildest dreams through my nonprofit and business.
I began Katie Hoang Photography three years ago after falling in love with photography through blogging. I actually started with videography and messed around doing videos for boutiques and sports teams before I was truly challenged by photography. It’s harder to tell someone’s story in one picture frame rather than a full three minute video, and I thrive on that challenge. I have a passion for creating and a love for meeting new people. I learned that I could make money doing this early on in high school and began taking friends’ pictures. That then become taking pictures for their friends, coworkers, and people who I have never met until our session. My end goal from a session is to make people feel seen, heard, and beautiful. During the process of establishing and developing my business, I have learned not only how to navigate a camera, but how to navigate my own identity.
Helping others pose and feel comfortable in front of the camera helped me grow in confidence and started my modeling endeavours. I model commercially for local boutiques and as Miss Teen Texas International, a role which I soon learned is a job itself. I work with sponsors, businesses, and charities to connect with the Texas community and prepare to compete at the national level. Most importantly, the title of Miss Teen International 2021 gives me a large platform to further my non-profit work with Dare to LEAD.
I like to think of Dare to LEAD as a my baby, it’s my story and mission that is constantly growing and developing. Establishing a nonprofit was beyond anything 15 year old me knew she was capable of. I grew up without the leader I needed to navigate through my child hood trauma, so I become that leader. I learned that if it is below one to serve, it is beyond them to lead. Within a year, Dare to LEAD has raised thousands of dollars for cancer organizations, provided resources for hundreds of homeless, and created a community of over 200 volunteers. Learn more about Dare to LEAD and how to get involved at www.daretoleadnonprofit.org and @DaretoLEAD. I may not know where I will be in 5 years, but I know wherever I go to college and the career path I take will allow me to continue my story-telling, creativity, entrepreneurship, and service.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Dallas Fort Worth is the most diverse and exciting area to live in. There is so much history to explore and development to experience. I am a foodie at heart and I would make sure my best friend doesn’t leave Dallas empty stomached. My perfect day starts with an early morning sunrise and rest of the day filled with fun adventure.
My Favorite Sunrise Spots: Grapevine Lake Hiking Trails- I love starting the day with movement and nature.
Brunch: Moxie’s- the french toast is a must, Yolk, Snooze AM Eatery, Seven Mile Cafe- I order the Very Berry French Toast or The Usual with chicken apple sausage
Fun Outdoor Activity: Cliff Jumping at Grapevine Lake, biking the Trinity River in Fort Worth, Dallas or Fort Worth Zoo,
Lunch: Sushi- Ozeki, Sushi Axiom, Sushi Kadan, and Uchi, Italian- Cane Rosso (get the Chicken Fettuccine), Taverna Rossa, Taverna, and if the Food Hall in Legacy West is a must try! There are also so many great Tex Mex spots- Velvet Taco, Joe T.s, Bartaco, and Avila’s.
My Favorite Shopping Spots: Northpark (Lululemon, Topshop, Nordstrom, Free People, and Aerie), Southlake Town Square, and boutiques: Adeline, Impeccable Pig, American Threads, and Lily Rain.
Coffee Shops: I go to Kindred Coffee, Graduate Coffee, and Redefined Coffee. I want to try Ampersand, White Rock Coffee, and La La Land Coffee.
Nearby Roadtrips: Fossil Rim, Space Caverns, Magnolia Market, and Austin
Healthy Dinner Spots: HG Supply Co, Modern Market, and Flower Child
Nightime Family Fun: Coyote Drive In, Bishop Arts exploring, and Klyde Warren Park Concerts
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Success is accomplishing one’s goals while knowing who you are and whose you are. Everything I am able to do is because I am a daughter of God and knowing He has a plan for me. I want everything I do to honor and serve God which has led to the success of my brand.
My family is my fuel in everything I do. I can always count on my grandma to be there for me. My dad has always pushed me to keep learning as he says, “Education is the greatest equalizer”. My mom has taught me to be an independent woman and encouraged me to be my own person. Lastly, having little siblings pushes me to be the best role model I can be.
Lisa Dean Inc.’s team of coaches like Rebekah Wheeler have taught me so much through pageantry. I have gained so much confidence in my public speaking skills, stage performance, and who I am as a person. They are more than my pageant coaches, they are my mentors. Other mentors and teachers over the years have been instrumental in supporting and encouraging me to go above and beyond in everything I do.
Katie Hoang Photography Jen Bertrand Photography