Lafayette alumnae take passions for food to Instagram

Food blog founders Gillian Presto ’18 (@new_fork_city, left) and Cameron Rogers ’13 (@freckledfoodie, right) share how they found success doing what they love. (Photos courtesy of Gillian Presto ’18 and Cameron Rogers ’13)

Two Lafayette alumna have established careers in the delicious world of food blogging. Gillian Presto ’18 and Cameron Rogers ’13 have successfully established themselves as foodies on their Instagram accounts and blogs.

While seniors in high school, Presto and her friends Natalie Landsberg and Emily Morse noticed that their personal Instagram feeds were flooded with photos from other food accounts. That is when they realized that they also wanted to share their passion for food online.

Presto said that while growing up, her family would always explore new places to eat, and eventually this became something she did with her friends on the weekends. Growing up in New York City, it wasn’t hard for the three to find new places to go.

“[The account] was a great opportunity for all of us to bring all of our information together and put it in one space,” she said. 

As of this publication, @new_fork_city currently has 943,000 followers on Instagram.

In August 2014, New Fork City gained its first 50,000 followers in under a year, and that November it reached 100,000 followers. Two years after the account’s launch, it reached 500,000 followers.

According to Presto, the account’s following has been growing at a rate of 1,000 to 2,000 followers per week.

“So, I think we’re hoping that maybe in the summer we’ll hit that million mark,” she said.

After leaving New York City for college, the co-founders mostly relied on posting photos from friends and followers who submitted them.

Presto said that being over 7o miles away from New York City made it difficult to work with brands and restaurants, which forced them to be more selective in the long run and work with only the brands they “believed in” instead of “working with people just to work with them.”

Presto said she owes a lot of New Fork City’s success to being “really early on into the food scene on Instagram,” as well as “being organic, [and] consistent.”

“You don’t want to just seem like you’re an unreachable account… we think interacting with our followers has been a great part of it.”

Presto said that the co-founders “by no means have the credentials to be food critics. We’re not criticizing a lot of these restaurants, we’re more saying ‘if you go here, this is what you should get.'”

When working with brands, the New Fork City co-founders make sure to work with brands that also give them some creative freedom.

Presto largely credits her Lafayette education for teaching her not only about economics, but also about certain life skills and street smarts, such as speaking to clients and being able to handle legal contracts, which she says is “almost more important than being book smart because it teaches you how to be negotiate, how to speak well in meetings, [and] how to speak well in public.”

Not far from Presto in New York City, Cameron Rogers ’13 runs a nutrition-based company called Freckled Foodie. Through her company, Rogers does private chef work, health coaching, recipe development, cooking classes, as well as runs her blog and Instagram account, @freckledfoodie. 

After graduating from Lafayette with a degree in economics and an interest in finance as well as a minor in psychology, Rogers had a full-time job aligned with JP Morgan in sales and trading. She worked at JP Morgan for five years before starting her own company in May 2018.

Rogers’ decision, however, was not an easy one. After getting hit by a car in March 2018 and suffering a severe concussion “put things into perspective” for her, Rogers quit her job.

“It made me realize there were other things that I wanted to do than sell municipal bonds… that’s when I started my company,” Rogers said. 

She added that although she was nervous, starting a food-based company was an idea she has been considering for a long time, and she felt it was a “non-negotiable” to finally start it.

“I think every human is nervous about a decision like that, but in a weird way I felt like I had to, it was really pulling me. And I considered the idea…before the accident but was too afraid to pull the trigger.”

While working at JP Morgan in a job she was fond of, Rogers noticed she was having health issues, which caused her to “take note on what I was eating. And the more I focused on what I was eating and started cooking for myself, the better I felt,” she said.

At the same time that she was working full-time at JP Morgan, Rogers was also meal prepping for friends and her husband, while also taking online classes to be a health coach. Through these things, she fell more and more in love with the realm of wellness.

Rogers said that getting an education at Lafayette helped her get the job that “shaped [her] as an individual and as a business woman.”

“It brings a different realm to the ball game… when talking to clients or corporations or potential clients because I do have a very business focused mind,” Rogers said. “But I was also a psychology minor and I think it helped with my health coaching, it totally puts a different spin on things.”

Rogers credits her success to making “every effort possible to stay true to myself and maintain [a very organic page]… because I want to make healthy living as non-intimidating and as approachable as possible.

Rogers’ Freckled Foodie Instagram account currently has 17,300 followers. When she initially left her job in finance, Rogers had between 2,000 and 3,000 followers.

Rogers said that although her business plans change often, she knows that she wants to continue to create video content and eventually try to publish a cooking book.

Correction 02/01/19: This article originally incorrectly stated that New Fork City gained 50,000 followers In Nov., 2014. New Fork City gained 100,000 in Nov., 2014. 

About Mario Sanchez

Mario Sanchez '21 is the Arts & Culture Editor for The Lafayette. He double majors in English and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

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