HSC Influencer Series: Arts and Food NYC
Recently we chatted with Dayna and Brian of @artsandfood_nyc and got the inside scoop on their day-to-day and where it all began. Read more about how they met, got started and what comes next for the dynamic duo below!
How did you get started blogging/social media world? What was your inspiration for @artsandfood_nyc?
We started @artsandfood_nyc shortly after we moved to NYC from Boston. Having just moved to the Big Apple, we were obsessed with finding the best food to eat around the city. We have always been avid food enthusiasts and food has always been such a huge part of our lives. We believe that food brings people together and there is nothing better than great conversation over a delicious meal. One day we decided we wanted to share all the places we had discovered and were discovering with other people. That’s how @artsandfood_nyc was born.
Tell the story of how Dayna & Brian met. You come from a music background, how did you switch gears into the food world?
We both come from an entertainment background, way before we even met in college. Brian started at non-for-profit theater company in Toronto when he was just 16 years old and Dayna has been singing, dancing and acting since she was young. We both met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston where our love of art, food and culture collided into one. We find that people who love culinary adventures tend to love the arts, live entertainment and people who love the arts tend to love food. It feels as if the two worlds are intersecting all of the time. Switching gears into the food world felt like a natural transition as food is such an artistic expression.
How do you balance your time with the blog and your personal lives?
That’s a tough question. The true answer is… We’ve incorporated our blog to be a part of our lives. We chronicle our day-to-day life on our stories and have interwoven our personal life into @artsandfood_nyc. While we try to take time to “turn off” and “unplug” we really love sharing our life and relationship with our followers. Over time, our blog has become a facet of our everyday life.
What rules do you follow when curating your posts?
Keep it fun, keep it bright, keep it real. We always post things that we genuinely have tried, enjoyed and recommend. We won’t post something that doesn’t fit in the overall aesthetic of our page. We like to incorporate a lot of color and texture in our photographs. In our videos of food, we like to get up close and personal with the food and show every detail of the dish. In our IGTV videos and any content featuring ourselves, we like to show our personality and not take ourselves too seriously while always trying to be our most authentic selves.
Tell us about the early days of @artsandfood_nyc. How did you build a following?
Engagement. We started the page about 4 years ago and at the beginning just tried to engage with as many users as possible. It was a bit of trial and error in the early days, finding our audience and community. I think it’s about consistency, finding your aesthetic and being authentic. There is so much content and noise online and you have to just be yourself.
Tell us about your first experience working with a restaurant client. How did you start reaching out to restaurants? Do you reach out to restaurants mostly or do they reach out to you?
We got invited to our first “influencer event” after we hit 10,000 followers. We were so excited to go and had no idea what to expect. After that event, we started being approached by restaurants over Instagram, through their PR companies and/or through another food blogger/influencer. The transition happened pretty organically and over time you develop close relationships with different major players in the industry.
Tell us about your favourite restaurant experience. Where was it? What was the dish and who was the chef?
Oh that’s a tough one. We got engaged in Paris and after Brian proposed he took me to this beautiful French restaurant called “Lasserre” to celebrate. We had the most gorgeous French food paired with the best cheese we have ever had in our lives. They opened up the roof in the center of the restaurant for us to reveal the moon during our meal. It was simply perfection and wildly romantic.
Horror story time. Have you had any disaster shoots/media visits?
We would be lying if we said we haven’t run into a few hiccups along the way. We were once at a Mexican food restaurant shooting at night time and brought our external light source with us to photograph the food. We asked the manager if we could sit in the back as to not disturb any of the patrons eating during our meal. They insisted we sit in the middle of the restaurant to get the full vibe, ambiance and overall experience. When the food came to our table and we took out our mini light source to photograph some tacos, two gentleman next to us started aggressively yelling at us to “live in reality and get off our phones and technology” they said a host of other verbally accusatory things that we will not repeat but we will tell you, it was not pretty. While we politely tried to defuse the situation and explain we were invited in by the restaurant and would only be a few minutes, things escalated pretty quickly and got out of hand. We ended up approaching the manager and leaving the restaurant as a result. Moral of the story, try and shoot during the day with natural light whenever you can!
Instagram has undergone a lot of changes in the last couple of years. New algorithms, advertising, etc. Has this had an impact on your work at all, for better or worse?
Absolutely. I think it is much tougher to grow your following and stand out amongst the noise. We are constantly discussing what makes us different from other food bloggers and NYC based influencers. We constantly have conversations with our followers as to why they follow us, what content they want to see more or less of and what they want to know about our personal lives. The truth is, there is little we as users and content creators can do about the changes happening at Instagram. With that being said, it has made us more aware and conscious to stay true to our brand and not be anybody but ourselves.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and how has it helped @artsandfood_nyc?
“Stay in your lane and be true to yourself and real with your followers” - People can sniff out the BS online and we believe it’s important to be honest and open with your followers. People are looking for real human connection and to follow someone they can relate to. If you are “perfect” all the time and trying to create the ultimate Instagram personality, we believe that makes people feel isolated and not included. It’s important to remember Instagram is a community of people sharing experiences. We try to never forget that.
Where do you see @artsandfood_nyc in the next 5 years?
Our hope is to grow @artsandfood_nyc in different facets of media on and offline. We want to work with more brands who align with our brand message and help create content that is unique and exciting for the digital media space. We are also very interested in “hosting” and sharing more of our life, family and relationship with our current and future followers.
Any advice for budding bloggers?
Figure out your unique voice and don’t try and be anybody but yourself. We believe there are so many exciting opportunities budding within the social media space and believe that this is just the beginning. There is room for all of us especially if we work together to support each other as bloggers, influencers and people.