Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jenna Passaro, Food Blogger of Sip Bite Go, located in Dallas, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm Jenna Passaro, a recipe developer, food photographer, and the creator of a food blog called Sip Bite Go. My community is full of foodies who love to eat out at restaurants and who want to cook very tasty recipes at home. Many people I help don't know where to start to make their favorite restaurant meals, like how to grill ribeye or make their own hamburger patties or homemade pizza, for example.
Others are new to using modern kitchen appliances. So I help them figure out the best foods to cook in air fryers, Traeger pellet smokers, BBQ grills, sous vide machines, etc., and give them the kitchen confidence they need to pull it off. Being a millennial mom of a toddler, I also have a lot of readers who cook only on the weekends or for BBQ or game day parties, and that's why Sip Bite Go has become a place they can turn to when they want to make a dish right, the very first time they try it.
Tell us about yourself
The journey to becoming a food blogger wasn't a short one… I did all the things you're supposed to do according to my community growing up… The first step was to go to college (I majored in Graphic Design and studied at the University of Hartford and RISD). Once I realized there were a bunch of classes I didn't want to take and that art school was a kind of crazy creative experience, my goal was to get out of there as soon as possible… especially after failing art school (with a B- on my portfolio review!), which really felt like a disappointing dead end in life. They were telling me I had to pay another year of tuition and do it over, and I was like, HELL NO.
The funny thing is, I quickly applied to RISD, a better art school, and was accepted the next semester. My mindset at the time was like, to give me my diploma and let me get to the real world and see what I could really contribute. I got A's at RISD, and that's when I realized that other people aren't always good judges of your work. Get different teachers or audiences, and they might feel differently about your work. And that's how I saved thousands of dollars in my college education… by changing direction! Then I moved to Baltimore and entered the working world in my 20s. I found some dead ends there too, in between graphic design and event planning jobs. But inspiration hit a bit harder in the cooking department when I met my husband, Patrick (@handmodelpatrick on Instagram).
With only six months of (blissful!) dating months under our belts, I had the opportunity to work for a tech startup and accepted a job that moved me across the country to San Francisco. It basically wasn't even a discussion. My then BF Patrick said he wanted to come, so we moved and moved in together all at the same time. San Francisco was fun, but again I hit a dead end there when the startup I was working for closed. Thank goodness I had haphazardly started a blog that connected me with my creativity through photography and writing because it was really there for me when my career was going nowhere. I didn't find another job quickly in SF, and feeling kind of burnt out, Patrick and I decided to move to Portland, Oregon. We knew it was a great place for foodies and wanted to explore PNW.
Okay, so fast forward to today, a few years later, and my days are full of recipe testing and photography and creating what some might call "influencer content" in my new home of Dallas, TX. We decided to move to Texas with our toddler to have more time to develop BBQ smoker recipes and be in an area that had better weather and more to do. Along the way, I wrote sous vide cookbook, shared some recipes on the PDX news show, was featured in Oregon Home magazine, started the Sip Bite Go podcast, and shared hundreds of recipes on Sip Bite Go.
Each and every day, I'm highly motivated by readers - foodies and home cooks - who make my recipes and radiate with delight after they go so well. For example, if a mom says that they made my pepperoni pizza recipe or tri-tip for her family and they loved it, that warms my heart and fuels me to think of something new and creative she'll love to make next. I'm also motivated by the idea of "creating your dream career" and achieving some sort of work-life balance where work is creative time and fulfilling, as well. Along my journey of being what you might consider an online entrepreneur, I've helped small businesses, like restaurants, by running their social media and helping them get the word out to their communities.
Today I love to support Dallas area restaurants with Instagram reels, YouTube features, and TikTok. And on Sip Bite Go, I have a list of the best restaurants in Plano and top Allen restaurants, for example.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
People often ask HOW I became a food blogger... There was definitely not a clear path, but there were a bunch of little steps and milestones to work towards along the way to make this a "full-time job." When you're self-employed, you need to be self-motivated as well. So even when not much was going on, and before brands started reaching out regularly to collaborate, I always had a long list of things to work on, website updates to make, and new recipes for development. Things that would keep my work "regular."
Some projects you can plan for, but others are just the right timing and your ability to scramble to participate in them. One of my biggest accomplishments, or a moment that really felt like a turning point in how I viewed Sip Bite Go as a business, was when I met a publisher and began working on my own cookbook, The Home Chef's Sous Vide Cookbook. It was my reentry into really working hard and hustling to get a project done - there are 100 sous vide recipes in it. It was the first big thing I did after having my son, and was a really fulfilling project. Tackling this cookbook was a huge endeavor, and I'm extremely proud of the outcome!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Time management, for sure. I mean, isn't that one of the biggest things in life: managing your time well? Who does it? Who actually feels like they're rocking it in that department? As a solopreneur, there are a ton of tasks that I have to handle all the time. To-do lists on my desk, in my head, on my phone, it is freakin 'nutty sometimes when the creativity starts flowing. Learning to EDIT my goals, tasks of the day, etc., as projects begin has been crucial. You can't do everything at once, especially as a mom and friend and in all my other roles in life, so rolling with the work and life punches has been a skill that comes in handy. Finding the right balance is extremely important, and no two days are alike. So there is a lot of self-forgiveness that goes on, letting go of projects, reprioritizing, etc., that helps with time management.
Something that ties into this topic is learning new skills. Learn to be faster, make your workflow more organized… etc. My husband and I did take a time management course 1:1 with an instructor during the time everyone was inside in 2020, and that really helped me realize I'll NEVER manage time well, and life is so much more fluid than we think it is! Go with the flow, but focus on the right things. But at the end of the day, push send and get your creative work out the door.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be agile. Being able to move quickly and adjust when required is really important. Things may not always go as planned, but learn, adjust, and move forward.
- Take action. Do things. Hit post. Nothing will happen in your business if you do not act on your ideas and motivations. Throw out what you are going to do for the day and do what feels right at the moment. I've done that and had Facebook videos reach 3 million views out of nowhere. Growing a business does not happen overnight, so it's the continual creation process that will move you along.
- Be comfortably confident. Gosh, the older I get, the more I realize WHO CARES!! This mindset is extremely important for my line of work. If you have to put yourself out there as I do, you need to be confident in your ideas and what you create. It actually takes longer for me to edit out all my silly faces, quirkiness, and randomness from recipe videos on YouTube and Instagram posts. So ya know what, I leave it all in, and for some reason, people enjoy it even if it makes me cringe a little to hit post!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Starting, building, and growing my own food blog business is something that has been years in the making. I truly enjoy the recipes I share with the world and the people that I impact. I hope that you check out SipBiteGo and make something delicious for your family & friends!
Where can people find you and your business?
Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/3ALetHo
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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