Exciting side-gigs keep TCC employees on their toes.
TCC employees are known for their dedication to students and the College. And the hard work doesn’t stop when they step off campus. Many staff have channeled their skills into entrepreneurial efforts.
From running a catering business that honors a family legacy to offering portrait photography, TCC employees are fulfilling passions while serving the local community. REACH connected with the following employees/entrepreneurs for insight into their worlds.
Business: Tom V Photography, specializing in portraiture, lifestyle, engagements and weddings
Coordinator of Special Projects
Business: Dirty Job Brewing, a small brew pub with craft beers and kitchen
Business: Fox Vinyl Designs, custom designs for apparel, household goods and more
TCC Trinity River
Business: Love, Sammy’s, a catering company working to continue the legacy of the original Sammy’s Restaurant
Construction Purchasing Manager
TCC Trinity River
Business: Darren’s Photo Art, photography of everything from nature and landscapes to people and buildings
Business: JK Keystone Crafts, custom leatherworking
Financial Aid Assistant
TCC Trinity River
Business: Common Good Charities Group, transition services to help veterans achieve college and career goals
How did you get started with your business?
Tom Vilaysack: I’ve always been immersed in the ever-expanding medium of art ever since I could remember, especially photography.
Lynda Fox-Arnold: Crazy idea, [I] was looking at ways to create a T-shirt and made my first shirt using paint to create “What does the fox say” on the front. The back was “See your advisor”—it was a play on words using my maiden name for an event for advisors at TCC. Then I took it to the next level: I purchased a vinyl cutter.
Michael Caceres: In May of 2021, I established the Common Good Charities Group. I am a Marine Corps veteran myself, having served as an active-duty Marine for nearly eight years and completing one combat tour overseas. As difficult as my time in service could be, I found it especially difficult to transition to the civilian work sector after having concluded my obligated service time with the Marines.
Kathena Joseph: On a whim, we purchased a leatherworking beginners kit and started watching YouTube videos. I started with tooling on leather as something fun to do, and it progressed to making myself bags, which led to friends and family wanting bags. I now take custom orders.
Darren King: I love photography and how [it makes you] see everything in a different perspective. Photography allows me to stop and see the beauty we have all around us. I became interested in creating something where I was in control of the entire supply chain, from [taking] the photo to editing, then printing and framing.
Derek Hubenak: My wife and I opened the brewery in 2017. I started home- brewing beer years before after a stint as a volunteer at Rahr & Sons Brewery in Fort Worth in the 2000s.
Angela Castillo: My grandparents ran a successful restaurant on the north side of Fort Worth for over 30 years—Sammy’s Restaurant. Sadly, they both passed from Alzheimer’s, and we had to close the restaurant. After a few years of being closed, my sister and I—with one of our best friends—started Love, Sammy’s. We follow some of their old recipes and introduce some of our own and desserts.
What do you enjoy about your business?
Fox-Arnold: That it is mine! That I did it from scratch, having to learn the ins and outs of the business. When I am done with a product, I get to see the enjoyment on my customer’s face.
Caceres: I enjoy meeting with other veterans. We have a certain connection. The fact that I can use my education and experience as a method for helping them achieve their goals is icing on the cake.
Joseph: It’s relaxing as well as rewarding. From punching stitching holes in the leather to actually stitching together pieces and watching the final product take shape, it’s all very rewarding to me.
Hubenak: We love the coziness and down-home feel. The brewery is family friendly, so it is awesome to watch families meet and become friends while their kiddos are playing one of our games. Our staff is completely like a second family, and that mentality is strong throughout.
Castillo: I enjoy working with my family and friends. It is still a family business, and with my mom’s help and teaching, we are learning all the famous recipes.
Has running your business helped you at TCC, and vice versa?
Joseph: My time management skills have helped me to better estimate how long to expect a project to take. I have been able to give a few leatherworking workshops at TCC for students and staff, which helped me interact with students and also get to know the staff in a “fun” environment.
Castillo: Yes, it has helped me more with my customer service and interacting with people. I have also been able to utilize the free tuition for employees [to] take a few business courses.
Vilaysack: Consultations with clients have definitely improved my one-on-one consultations as an instructional associate, guiding ESL and ESOL students to a successful academic path at TCC and beyond.
What’s a tip you’d give other small business owners or entrepreneurs?
Joseph: Don’t give up. If you choose something you truly enjoy, it doesn’t seem like work.
King: Reach out to others when you need help. In return, help others when they reach out to you.
Hubenak: There will be struggles. Find resources to overcome them. Small Business Development Centers are excellent resources. Most of all, stay involved with your community!
Castillo: Don’t give up! It is hard starting off and frustrating when you hardly have a sale at an event. Then you will get positive feedback on the quality of your food and the taste and make new customers and followers.
Vilaysack: Be true to yourself! Your business is an extension of who you are and a reflection of how passionate you are.