How did you get started in blogging?
It all started during optometry school actually! I needed a creative outlet to keep me sane from all the stress and intensity of being a grad student. I was always that annoying person photographing their food at restaurants and posting them to Facebook and my personal Instagram account, until one day my friend suggested to create a separate Instagram account just for my food posts! And so, @thesweetlifeoflina was born.
You’re a successful blogger, an eye doctor and you travel. How do you juggle all of that?
It’s definitely a challenge sometimes! I work full-time as an optometrist (including some Saturdays). The way I’m able to keep up on Instagram is because I have a flexible work schedule. I work 8-4 half the week and 12-8 the other half of the week and so it gives me the perfect balance of having some mornings free to shoot breakfast/brunch content and some evenings free for dinner content.
Do you have a system to organise and curate your posts?
Yes, definitely. There are a few different apps out there that let you preview your feed before your photo goes live. This is super important if you are OCD like I am about your photos cohesively working together on your Instagram feed. Since I started incorporating a bit of lifestyle and travel into my feed, I also try to break that up in between my food posts.
Tell us about your first experience working with a restaurant client. How did you start reaching out to restaurants?
The first restaurant invite I ever got was to an Ethiopian restaurant in Brooklyn called Ghenet. I remember how excited I was. The dinner was so good and I ran into one of my favorite models from America’s Next Top Model at the restaurant: Yaya Dacosta. Fangirled a bit when I saw her!
From the very beginning though, I never really reached out to restaurants. The invites just came in and before I knew it, I was working with many different hospitality groups and PR firms managing many of NYC’s best restaurants.
Has that approach changed today? How do you go about finding new clients- or do they find you?
Still the same!
Tell us about your favorite restaurant experience. Where was it? What was the dish and who was the chef?
I would say my favorite restaurant experience was just a few months ago when I got invited to go to an exclusive lunch at Eataly Flatiron hosted by the incredible Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, aka the number one restaurant on World’s 50 Best. He prepared us a dish he calls “Rice Between Duck,” which essentially was a delicious peking duck risotto. It was such an honor to be there in his presence. If you’ve watched him on Chef’s Table, you already know how awesome he is!
Horror story time. Have you had any disaster shoots?
Of course! It happens to the best of us. Usually most of my disaster shoots revolve around poor lighting in restaurants, white tablecloths (no joke, they are so hard to work with!), plates clashing together on the table, or overhead SPOTLIGHTS that you can’t turn off easily. Just to name a few.