Valencia Collins-George, Owner of Refuge HTX Catering and Events. Picture courtesy of Daniel T Davis Photography.

“This was seven years in the making,” a nervous Valencia Collins-George said as she announced the soft launch of her new catering business, Refuge HTX. Dedicated to serving the Houston, TX area Caribbean creole soul, Refuge serves up twists on old favorites, such as crawfish deviled eggs and “Tipsy Sauces” on wings—and new surprises, like dirty south egg rolls. Her business starts now, as the Super Bowl hits Houston. She is currently taking orders for Super Bowl parties until Thursday, February second on her website.

And honestly, she should have started her business seven years ago.

I reconnected with Val seven years ago and in the midst of connecting the dots of life between junior high and adulthood, I was a frequent attendee of her house parties. From the libations to the main course, every taste, sip, and morsel was delectable. And her friends (me included) have called for her to get Refuge going for years.

And here, in 2017, Val has started her business, and partnered with The Obodo Project with the intentions of becoming fully operational in the spring. Our first meeting to prepare for her soft launch was in December, and while I peppered her with business questions, she utilized my skills as a sous chef for a new item she plans to share in her spring rollout.

My first question was, what took you so long? Val answered, “The planning was the thing that got in my way the most. I’ve always had this vision for Refuge, but taking the time to build my plan was overwhelming.”

Her story is the story of many. Ultimately, the business plan and strategy is the key for a start up to survive. More than 50% of startups fail within the first five years, and 18 out of the 20 biggest reasons why they fail is because of the business plan, strategy, and just getting along with business partners-not the money.

But preparing a business plan can also be a double-edged sword. Randy D. Williams, the president of Talley and Twine Watch Company suggests that getting bogged in the details can also be a business killer. “I had become so overwhelmed with the details that I would procrastinate instead of following through…entrepreneurs overwhelm themselves with details which prevents them from following through.”

Hopefully, we at The Obodo Project are helping Val to move to the next level by helping her balance planning and executing her vision. While she works like a mad scientist for her next great culinary concoction, we are finding ways to develop her strategy. In the summer, Val will be participating in our internship and case study projects. She hopes that some TOP Students will be able to help her with her marketing and strategic needs.“I just want people to be full and happy,” is what Val continues to tell me when we converse about what Refuge means to her.

And she will–one dirty south egg roll at a time.

If you’re in the Houston area and want to surprise your friends with an amazing spread, go to and order today. Not convinced? Look at some of her culinary endeavors on her Instagram page.

Check us out in two weeks when we catch back up with Val and Refuge HTX to see how her first catering run went.

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