#HowIMadeIt 2017

Allison Day, Food Blogger and Cookbook Author

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Allison has? Here’s how she did it

A portrait of Allison Day in a denim shirt

(Photography: Geoff Woodley)

Allison Day; Hamilton, Ont.;  @yummybeet

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe what you do?

I’m a cookbook author, food writer, food stylist and photographer, and the blogger of Yummy Beet. Anything under the umbrella of food media, I’m either doing it, aiming to do it, or have done it.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I studied sociology at the University of Guelph before completing a post-graduate program in nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

It was a magazine article on desserts with avocados. When the issue came out, I saw my name and work in print for the first time. This was the first brick in my portfolio.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

Signing with my literary agent, Carly Watters, at P.S. Literary Agency, was at the heart of my big break. I sent Carly my proposal for Whole Bowls (my first cookbook) a few years ago, and she’s worked with me ever since. This eventually led me to my big break and what feels like the “launch” of my career: signing with Appetite/Penguin Random House Canada for my forthcoming cookbook, Modern Lunch, which will be out early 2019.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out.

When I stopped spending entire days pitching and began getting approached consistently for content and advice.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

I know this sounds contradictory, but my biggest failure has been not taking time for life outside of work. My business is creative, and when you’re working from home, one can only cull so much inspiration from books and the Internet. A big setback happened almost two years ago. I was working every day, all day, which led to me questioning my career, not socializing and feeling overwhelmed by even the smallest work-related project. It was unsustainable.

I bounced back by working smarter. For me, this meant a set schedule Monday to Friday and taking care of my personal life–going out for dinner, seeing friends, being there for my family, exercising, travelling, etc. I’m now more focused, my ideas no longer feel stale and my work anxiety is almost non-existent. I’ve become more successful in terms of my career, financial state, and relationships because I take time outside of work. Weekend and evening hustling still happens, but with much less frequency now.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Start a blog/website. A professional online profile isn’t your business, but it’s at the core of it.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

“You can just work later tomorrow.” Procrastination is my enemy.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

Trying to build a business around home cooking as woman without reinforcing gender stereotypes has been a challenge. Making beautiful, healthy food appealing to every gender has been another barrier. And having to being the face of my brand involves a lot of questioning about how I look, which I know will be an ongoing, internal conversation that I’m getting better and better at having with myself. But overall, the team I work with on a regular basis is 90 percent women, so I feel tremendous support.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

Moneywise, for the time I put into my work, which usually involves working long days, every day of the week, no. But the freedom it affords me in terms of my mobility, opportunity, personal growth, networking and fun, yes. I love my job!

I have two side hustles: The first, outside of cookbooks and blogging, I’m a freelance food stylist, writer and recipe developer. The second, is running a creative company with my boyfriend called Emerald Street Studios.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

It’s the conflicting stereotypes of millennial entrepreneurs versus millennial employees. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re too focused on yourself because you’re building a business. If you’re an employee of a large corporation, you’re too focused on yourself because you want a life outside of work.

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