As a refresher, why did you start Epicurean Emily? In what ways have you achieved your goals in the past two years? In what ways have you not?
I began Epicurean Emily initially as a creative outlet and wanted to use it as the foundation for building a creative career. I had just graduated college with a photography degree but was unsure if I even wanted to pursue photography full-time, partly because I was interested in so many industries of the field- product/food, fashion, and travel and felt torn between all three. Epicurean Emily was a way for me to test the waters of working within these markets and also a good excuse to keep me shooting on a regular basis.
Being a blogger has been nothing short of a trying (yet amazing) time of personal growth. Not saying that I have it all together, but it takes a lot of willpower, motivation, & hard work to create new content every week and present it on the internet! When you don’t have to answer to anyone else is when you really see what you’re made of! The best thing I’ve learned about myself during my blogging journey, though, is that I really thrive in environments where I’m surrounded by fellow creatives. I want to structure my career to allow me to work with passionate creatives every day, whether as a blogger or in another position.
I’m a firm believer that every chapter of your life is necessary to prepare you for the next. I’ll never regret starting a blog, but one of the hardest facts of growing an online presence that I’ve had to accept is that I can’t do it all, at least while I’m trying to grow an audience. I think one reason that my blog really struggled to grow is the fact that I had too many interests. This was a frustrating truth for me to accept because as I said before, the exciting part of blogging for me was to not have to choose just one area of interest. And while I loved putting together outfits to shoot and my audience responded well to them, I wasn’t behind the camera building my own portfolio of work.
What do you think is important in terms of providing content to readers and followers?
Now more than ever, it’s extremely important to be able to provide a tangible amount of value in whatever content you choose to put on the internet as there is so much already out there, vying for your audience’s attention. And a lot of people are already doing just that in the fashion space. I think that there is indeed a place for everyone but unless you have a very different angle or are covering a unique niche, a lot of your content will inevitably start to look similar to others, making it hard to stand out and therefore hard to grow. I loved sharing my attainable and affordable personal style but at the end of the day, that type of content was not enough for me to feel like I was providing something really useful and helpful to my readers. I made the decision that I wanted to start talking about non-toxic beauty and naturopathic medicine because 1. I’ve become ridiculously passionate about them over the past year 2. I wanted to create a resource that I personally would have liked to have had when I began my journey toward clean beauty and later, holistic health. 3. I truly believe that these under-regulated industries (food/health-care/cosmetics & personal care) are the root cause of the biggest nation-wide epidemics (obesity, heart problems, cancer, infertility) and it kills me to know that so many of us have absolutely no idea what’s actually going on in these industries. I want to change that.
What can we expect from Epicurean Emily in the future?
For now, my content will be focused on non-toxic and organic beauty, which usually happens to be cruelty-free and vegan, too! I’ll be sharing effective natural products that I truly love, in addition to video tutorials on how to use them via YouTube. As I’ve learned over the last year, diet plays a tremendous role in one’s overall health and although I’m no nutritionist, I’ll also be sharing recipes and actionable clean eating tips that I’ve picked up along the way on my own journey.
Will this be an end to the fashion-type content?
I’ll always have a love for fashion but as I’ve become more aware of the cruel world we live in, supporting fast fashion retailers on a regular basis is not something that I feel great about. However, with all of the changes in my personal life that have taken place over the last year, finding ethical fashion brands has not been a top priority for me (and I haven’t been shopping that much lately, anyway). I don’t think it’s realistic to only buy items from ethical brands (at least right now), but at the same time, I’ve never been a fan of the mindless wastefulness of trendy fast fashion (even though I love a good statement piece). If I buy something from a mainstream retailer, you can have confidence that it is a versatile piece that can be worn throughout the seasons and years. I hope to share my favorite ethical retailers and designers with you, too, as I discover them.
What spurred this change?
When I moved to North Carolina last year, I joined a blogging group who holds regular get-togethers and is just a good all-around support system. The first meet-up I attended with this group was held at Be Pure Beauty, a local natural beauty store. Just the week before, I had watched a fitness blogger’s Snapchat story on the danger of synthetic fragrances and now I was not only hearing about just how dirty these fake fragrances were, but also how health-harming a ton of other chemical ingredients were that my conventional make-up and skin-care products were loaded with. Having worked on the retail side of the beauty industry, I was skeptical at first. I thought to myself, “If these ingredients were really all that bad, why would the FDA allow them to hit shelves in the first place???”. Then I recalled watching “Food, Inc.” three years earlier and remembered all the examples of how the food industry was basically getting away with murder, all under the “watchful” eye of the FDA. I started doing my own research and discovered that many of these products and their ingredients have been linked to cancer, to infertility, to allergies, and to hormone disruptions which cause conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PSOS). I thought about how many people I personally knew who were suffering from these illnesses and came up with at least one person in my relatively small circle of friends and family that was fighting each condition. I then realized how scary these ingredients truly were and became passionate about sharing this information with everyone I knew.
How do you respond to people who may disagree with the things you will be discussing or those that refuse to acknowledge some of these topics?
My goal in this endeavor is not to point to point fingers at anyone. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, but I realize that using exclusively non-toxic beauty, or only eating only whole foods is not a realistic way to live for most people. My purpose in discussing these topics is to encourage you to start asking more questions. It’s incredulous to me how we can have so much information at our fingertips on our smartphones, and yet still “follow the herd” and not possess the urge to discover things for ourselves. We do this when choosing a political party or candidate. We do this when our doctor tells us that surgery and antibiotics are the only answer. We do this when the sales associate tells us a certain product will change our life. But we never consider the consequences of failing to find things out for ourselves until we’re in a predicament. Even if you think the science behind the claims that chemicals in personal care products cause cancer is phony, find out WHY you believe that. I’m not here to start arguments, I’m here to start conversations.