Food, Leadership, Uncategorized

A Food Love Story

April 29, 2012

This week I am kicking off a new blog series called “Follow Your Passion.” I am going to profile people who really embrace their own authenticity in their career or in other facets of their lives. My goal is to inspire others to spend more time doing work they love. I think our world could be an amazing place if more people spent time listening to their own voice about what they wanted to do in life.

When I thought about doing this blog series, the first person that came to mind was my good friend Nikki Moore. Nikki is one of my most favorite people in the world, and she and her husband were two of the first people who really encouraged me to start this blog and follow my own passion. I just love her story about starting her own company called Food Love, and she continues to inspire me. Nikki is one of the happiest people I know, and she is an absolute joy to be around. And one reason I think this happens is she is in a career that empowers her best self to come alive and allows her to positively affect all the people around her. And she does all of this just by being herself. Isn’t that amazing? So let’s hear Nikki’s story.

Nikki for Blog

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Hey Nikki, thanks so much for doing my first interview on my new series called “Follow your Passion.”  So tell us all a little bit more about what you do at Food Love. How did you identify this as a potential career path?  What were you doing before you started your own company and why did you make the change?

What surprises a lot of people was that I really enjoyed the job I had before I switched career paths. As the Associate Director of Alumni Relations at Davidson College, I had a great gig with fabulous co-workers working for a place I love.  However, I couldn’t see myself doing it for the long-term and after several years at the college was at an impasse as to what I should do next.

Cooking had increasingly become a passion of mine and I spent a lot of time thinking about what was for dinner, trying new recipes, and shopping for meals.  It was a source of relaxation and I loved the feeling of satisfaction that came from creating something from scratch.  The idea of attending culinary school had bounced around in my head for a while, but it was for all purposes a dream that would take place in a very, very distant future.  Or so I thought.  As I wrestled with the idea of what to do next, I kept thinking how incredible it would be to go to culinary school.  I’ve got a wonderful husband who encouraged me to explore the idea and before I knew it I was enrolled at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.

The rest is history.  During and immediately after culinary school, I did jobs in the culinary industry that weren’t my dream job, but taught me skills and techniques that would be crucial when I struck out on my own.  I did my homework so to speak and worked hard.   I think the biggest hurdle for me in starting my own business was the fear that I didn’t know enough yet, but at a certain point you need to jump in.  There’s always going to be more to learn (that’s why it’s fun), but you’ve got to start somewhere.

I always hear people talking about the importance of not being afraid to fail.  The idea that sometimes when you follow your passion or make a big change, there is no way of knowing how it will turn out when you start.  How did you handle those thoughts?  Did you have to take some risks along the way and was it hard to make the change knowing you were leaving a secure job?

As I mentioned earlier, I think my biggest fear was concern that I wasn’t an expert yet.  It gnawed at my confidence and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to deliver the best to clients.  I think my fear could have been paralyzing, but I used it to motivate me to work harder.  Before I taught a cooking class or catered a dinner, I made sure that I had done my research, had tested my recipes, and that I had prepared for every possible question or occurrence.  It’s funny, but I still apply the same intensity to preparing for a class or event three years later.  I still get nervous before every class and I still do everything in my power to make sure I’m fully prepared.  Doing the work and research necessary to deliver a really outstanding class or dinner is tough, but the satisfaction that comes from delivering an awesome experience is definitely my favorite part of the job.

nikki berry for blog

Yes, please!

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How have you felt both personally and professionally about doing something you love since you started Food Love?How did it all turn out for you now that you have been in business for almost three years?

This September will mark 3 years for FOOD LOVE.  The past couple of years have flown by and I’m proud of what I’ve built, the new things I’ve tried, and all the little things I learned along the way.  Starting your own business or pursuing a totally different career path forces you to do things that you would never have dreamed of doing before.  It was terrifying at times,  but I also think it’s given me a confidence and a skill set that I would never have developed if I hadn’t taken the leap.

While I love my job, I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say that I spend a lot of time thinking about what’s next and how I’m going to grow from here.  I’ve got some ideas that make me feel excited about what lays ahead.  It’s a feeling that can probably best be described as empowered.  I’m steering my ship and that feels good.

Any advice to readers out there contemplating a career change?

Find your passion and then have faith in it.   It’s easy to talk yourself out of making a big change, but I think if you are lucky enough to have something in your life that makes you come alive then you should pursue it with all you’ve got.  Work as hard as you can and things will fall into place.

Well, thanks for sharing with us Nikki.  Your words and actions are incredibly refreshing and thanks for being the person you are. You continue to be such an influence on my life and many others. And I am ALWAYS available as a guinea pig recipe tester. Amazing how my schedule is always free when it comes to food.  Ha.  Have a great week everyone!

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