Q: Why did you choose your craft?
A: I really just fell into it as a high-schooler with no thought whatsoever. That being said, when I started by food blog some 8 years after that, I started shooting and styling food because I wanted the recipes to look as good as they actually tasted.
Q: How hard was it to become profitable at it?
A: It took me about 4 years before I made the transition to blogging full-time. I was supporting myself as an assistant in the television industry in LA and living in a little apartment in Studio City, and taking that leap was a really big deal since I didn't have any back-up plans. Working what was essentially 2 full-time jobs for that 4 year period was pretty insane, but it allowed me to really hone my craft and establish my blog before making the big leap to leaving my day job. I recommend *not* rushing into blogging full-time if you're on your own and supporting yourself financially. Try balancing both for at *least* a year and be smart about it, start saving up a certain amount each month and setting it aside to give yourself some padding for the first year of freelancing as a blogger. If you have enough saved to pay your rent and groceries for 6 months, you won't feel as much anxiety about the whole thing and you'll be able to focus more on getting freelance work and doing a quality job with all of it.
Q: Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?
A: Make friends! Seriously, all my food blogger friends are the best people I know, and we all help each other out. It makes a world of difference being able to ask someone with experience about any issues you come across. Like something that's in a client contract that you're not sure is normal, or what is an ok amount to charge for a sponsored IG post based on your following, etc. I actually started a First We Eat Facebook group where all of us could share this info super openly with each other and it's been so fun watching it take off and seeing everyone giving really helpful and awesome advice to each other. Anyone is welcome to request to join!
Q: If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?
A: Man. Well it'd probably be either one of three things—if I stuck with the entertainment industry I'd probably be doing something documentary-related because that was my ultimate goal when I started in that career path years ago, and I still do love documentaries. The second option would be something with plants. Maybe an herbalist? Just a job where I could be surrounded by plants all the time haha. And the last option is teaching. I loooooove teaching people, and my mom and my sister were/are both teachers so it's kind of a familial trait haha.
Q: Any favorite moments of your career so far?
A: I have a few! One of my favorite moments was getting my new cookbook, First We Eat, in the mail and opening the first copy of it. It's the book I've always wanted to write, and it felt so crazy just holding it there in my hands after having it in my head for so many years.
Another favorite moment is the last supper of every one of my First We Eat photography workshops. We've spent several days shooting and eating and exploring together at that point and we've all become so close. Everyone is having the literal time of their lives. Sometimes I mentally step away for a second in that moment and just feel really humbled and amazed that all these incredibly talented people came together to learn from me. I get kind of emotional during those moments haha, gotta reign it in before the waterworks start!!
And my last favorite moment is probably the 'Wintertide' Secret Supper I co-hosted with my friends Danielle, Mona, and Jaret (we all host seasonal Secret Supper pop-up dinners together). We have an awesome group of kickass women volunteers who help us with each supper, and for that particular supper we all spent hours and hours digging a giant trench out of 3 feet of snow so that we had somewhere for the table and chairs for our guests to sit for the meal. Everyone just had the best attitudes and it was such a crazy and wild adventure. The guests absolutely loved it, the food was amazing, and afterwards we were able to clean up really fast and then just hung out in the main room of Suttle Lodge and had hot drinks and relaxed by the fire. It was the best.
Q: What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?
A: I'd have taken it seriously earlier haha. When I first started blogging, it wasn't really a career option like it is now, and I was just doing it for fun to share recipes. I didn't have any strategy or plan or anything like folks do now who start blogs. I think if I had even had like 1 or 2 goals set each year for the first couple years (like 'start a mailing list' or 'start a Facebook page') it would have sped up my career/blog growth.
Q: Is there a defining moment in your career so far?
A: When I opened sales for my online photography course I met my 6-month sales goal in the first 4 weeks. My husband and I had worked SOOOOO hard on it for months, and at the end of a long project like that I always wonder "will anyone even use this?" You know you start to get a little nervous and doubtful closer to the release date. But the response was HUGE, and all the feedback has been so insanely positive. There wasn't really anything of that caliber out there for people who wanted to learn about food photography and styling but couldn't afford a travel-based workshop, and being able to provide that for folks and hearing from them and actually seeing the improvement in their work through their instagram accounts and their blogs has been really moving. It felt so good to be able to teach and help so many people at one time.
Q: Is there anything you really enjoy in your craft vs another line of work?
A: I really like that I can travel a lot. I love learning about other cultures, especially when it comes to how they interact with and prepare food, and hosting the photography workshops helps me be able to go to many different places and then also share that food culture with the attendees while we're there. I also like that I'm able to work from home, because when I'm not traveling I'm kind of a hermit and really really really love being in my house and in my garden.
Q: Biggest pet peeve about the industry?
A: I think like any large public platform, it gives some folks the ability to be publicly disingenuous and then be rewarded for it. Which basically means that sometimes people are phonies and don't practice what they preach, which is a bummer. But those are few and far between in the food blogging realm, honestly. It's a pretty fantastic community and I am so happy to be a part of it!
Q: Is flannel really always appropriate?
A: F*CK YES IT IS.