It’s not every day that I get to sit in a room full of my peers and role models in the social media world who inspire me! But just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of getting to meet some of these influencers and it could not have been more exciting! More on that later…but first…
Veteran’s Day weekend, Daniel and I headed to NY for the Jewish Food Media conference. We arrived on Sunday and my dear friend (of 20 years!) Nissania Hazghia not only picked us up at LaGuardia airport, but drove us into the city where we had a fabulous brunch at Sunflower Cafe on the Upper West Side! Granted, we were spending about 30 minutes looking for parking, but hey, that’s what we get for driving into Manhattan! I got the Israeli breakfast – 2 eggs (one perfectly cooked; the other not so much), tuna, avocado, Israeli salad and feta. Perfectly filling and perfectly Rachel-friendly! It was so fantastic catching up with an old friend who I haven’t seen since her wedding, 12 years ago! She then drove us to my sister Melissa’s place in Hell’s Kitchen where we dropped our stuff and headed downtown to the 9/11 Memorial.
Wow, if you haven’t been down to Ground Zero – you must. They did such an amazing job not only telling the history and the story behind the building of the World Trade Center towers, but of course preserving the memories and showing dignity and respect for those who lost their lives in the 1993 bombing and of course on September 11th. It was raw, emotional, moving, yet beautiful and humbling.
After the museum, we made our way back uptown and Daniel headed to a dinner that night, while I stayed in with my sister and ordered in from Noi Due. I have to say, we were shocked that they charged for delivery (it seems to be standard that every restaurant in NYC has free delivery, but not this time). While the food was pretty good, it was very expensive and relatively little food for the price (also, they forgot the tartar sauce for the salmon burger). I’m sure the food and portions are much better in the restaurant, but my sister had just traveled back home from Thailand and Bali, so we were definitely staying in that night. Couldn’t muster up the energy to go out. #tired.
The next day, Daniel and I met up at Port Authority to head to Passaic, New Jersey for the conference. And of course, we met a fellow bus-rider heading to the conference as well! It was great meeting you Talia (@ron_appetit)! Love meeting new friends already!
We finally made it! The space was beautiful. Factory220 is a cool warehouse-type event space that was great for this conference (except for the giant beams in the middle of the room which made it difficult to see the speakers, but oh well). When Melinda Strauss (from @kitchentested) started this conference 7 years ago, they had no more than 50 people attend. But this year was sold out at 150!
The day started off with a walk down the “red carpet” courtesy of Chaim from @trippingkosher and our good friend Yosef Silver! Check out the Facebook live here (fast forward to 16:50 to see Daniel and me)!
First up on the agenda, we heard presentations from sponsors FocusCamerca.com and Kosher.Com, “What Brands are Looking for From Influencers” – some insightful information about contacting brands and standing out in the crowed to do a collaboration with them. Why you? What’s your pitch? How is this going to benefit both of us? Good food for thought…
Next, we heard from 16-year-old popular food and lifestyle blogger, Eitan Bernath about creating your personal brand. And yes, even though he’s young, he has a plethora of knowledge especially on social media (that some of us older farts may need some refreshers on)! But he did have some good points about making your photos consistent as part of your overall aesthetic. Great chatting with you, Eitan!
Lunch is served (yay for some Rachel-friendly salads)! This is really the time to start networking, chatting away and soaking in as much info from as many people as possible! And boy did I soak up! Definitely some exciting collabs in the works, so stay tuned!
Okay, back to the presentations. Next up, we have Miriam Pascal (@overtimecook.com), Food Blogger and Cookbook author. With the help of our fearless conference leader Melinda, Miriam gave us a great insight into food photography, showing us the use of artificial lights, since not all of us have the option to use natural light (especially when it gets dark so early in the winter!), and of course, promoted the sale with Focus Camera that was happening that day to get the exact lights she was using! How fantastic!
Sam Adler was next. She’s a food blogger (@frostingandfettuccine.com) AND the Saveur Blog 2018 Award Finalist!! Her presentation, “Finding Your Unique Photography Mood and Style” was fantastic. Really got into the depths of looking closely at your blog, your Instagram feed and figuring out your theme, your aesthetic – similar to what Eitan was talking about earlier in the day. You know exactly how to identify her photos – light colors, pinks, bright and cheery photos, so it was a good reminder for anyone on Instagram!
Next up was Malkie Scholnick, founder of Power Your Edge, about “Building a Business Beyond Instagram”, but unfortunately, I was out in the lobby chatting with some new friends! I’m sure it would be been super beneficial for me to hear her thoughts!
And last but not least, the #dreamteam. Blogging Q&A Unplugged with: Danielle Renov (peaslovencarrots.com), Naomi Nachman (naominachman.com), Eitan Bernath (eitanbernath.com), Melinda Strauss (kitchen-tested.com), and Chanie Apfelbaum (busyinbrooklyn.com). I mean, I DID get a photo of them doing their session, BUT sadly, I had to jet out and head for the airport!
Just being able to meet some people who share similar passions about food, lifestyle blogging, and just navigating the crazy world of social media, I made some great friends almost immediately (looking at you Alexa @sustainablepantry, Racheli @decadencebyRachaeli and Alyssa @aglassofgoldwater)! And how funny that I ended up meeting a slew of people from Chicago, some of us living just blocks away from each other and we had to come all the way to Passaic to meet?! #smallworld. But that was the beauty of this conference! Being able to meet some people who are genuine and want to share their tips and insights about growing your brand and your business. So isn’t this the perfect opportunity to chat (especially with the local Chicagoans I met) to discuss collaborations? What better way to help each other out and grow our brands?
So there ya have it, folks. A great conference meeting great people. What more could I ask for?
Check out some more photos from the weekend/event!
PS – HUGE thank you to all of the incredible sponsors and the amazing SWAG BAG!