From full time students to dream-chasing hearts, three Texas State students turned their aspirations into a reality when they opened the doors of Bad Habits Hookah Lounge
Texas State seniors Taylor Henry (exploratory professional), Ericksen Stewart (management) and Ryan Castillo (management) met each other in high school, and are now owners of the newly developed hookah lounge in San Marcos.
Bad Habits Hookah Lounge opened Feb. 22, but its development was a journey which required hard work for these undergraduate students.
Henry said their business started when they entered the 3 Day Startup program. 3DS is an event where students team up to pitch ideas, choose which idea they wanted to pursue and present their business plan.
“This is what fueled us, what absolutely 100 percent made (Bad Habits) happen,” Henry said.
Nobody ended up joining their team, but they did not let that stop them from working toward their goal.
CEO of Limestone Networks, Inc. Gary Kendall mentored them during this time by asking challenging questions. Stewart said Kendall’s advice motivated them to test the waters which led to the idea of catering hookah.
Once the three entrepreneurs received advice from mentors, they presented Bad Habits to San Marcos for the first time at a pool party at The Avenue. From that moment, new doors began to open for the business as the students began networking.
Henry, Stewart and Castillo created a GoFundMe page to raise money to grow their business. With little knowledge of where to begin, their courage in stepping out and talking to banks began to make business progress. The day they received funding, the building which formerly housed Los Cucos opened up.
“Our dream turned really quick into a reality and our vision is to give that to anyone who wants it,” Henry said.
They used the school resources to make personal experiences in the business world.
Henry said the comaraderie at Bad Habits makes his team unique. Growing up playing sports, Henry knew the kind of atmosphere he wanted to provide in his business and team values were at the top.
“We can ask each other for anything in this world and we know that in one way or another it is going to get done,” Henry said. “We are a team—inside of work, outside of work. There is nothing we wouldn’t do for each other which is bottom line for our culture here.”
As businesses grow, it’s easy to lose track of communication. The Bad Habits team is actively making an effort not to become a part of that trend.
“Your opinion matters,” Stewart said. “Your happiness matters. We learned from our other jobs of what not to do. Our past has taught us how to treat employees and how to effectively communicate.”
Henry had a goal to design the architecture in a way that localizes the community. Everything in the lounge was designed by a local artist one of the owners knows personally.
“We welcome people to come and drop off their work so their talents can be exposed,” Henry said.
He said the team has a love for getting to know their customers, and are always wanting to help them out in any way possible.
Students should take every opportunity they come across at Texas State to get them where they want to be in life, Stewart said. He said these opportunities often come from professors.
Business management associate professor Robert Konopaske inspired Stewart and Henry to achieve their dreams.
“It’s amazing how a professor can light a fire so quick,” Henry said. “Don’t let intimidation keep you from talking to professors.”
To Stewart and Henry, the college experience means taking the tools and knowledge you learn from your professors in class and putting them to use outside of the classroom.
Henry hopes his story will build awareness among high school students to realize they already have what it takes to pursue their dreams.
“My advice to high school students is to take that leap,” Henry said. The last thing you want to do is make the decision of ‘maybe this isn’t for me.’ You never want to get that feeling of regret of what if. There’s always doubt that will creep up behind you.”
The owners said they hope to promote growth in the San Marcos community by expanding their business. Their story is still being written, and their dreams continue to grow.
“As far as having what it takes, you don’t need much,” Henry said. “All you need is a drive to do what you want and if you can find that passion, there isn’t a thing in this world that can stop you.”