Meet Three Girls Who Instagram Avocado Toast for a Living
Chatting with the teens behind New Fork City.
Gillian Presto, Natalie Landsberg, and Emily Morse were only seniors in high school when they started New Fork City, one of the most delicious—and dangerously hunger-inducing—food accounts on Instagram. Now, three years later, their hobby of photographing food has turned into a full-time job. Below, Gillian, Natalie and Emily share their advice on transforming a side hustle into a sustainable business.
What inspired you guys to start New Fork City?
In the fall of 2013, we all realized we were posting too many food photos to our personal Instagram accounts. So we decided to create a platform solely devoted to food, so that we could post endless photos from the different restaurants we were exploring. Our genuine love and passion for food and photography was our main inspiration to start New Fork City.
How did you transform your food Instagram into a full-fledged business venture with 681k followers?
We started our food Instagram before it was a trend, so we owe a huge amount of our success to that. People started noticing our account and tagging their friends in our photos, which drew more and more attention to what we were doing. Once we got to a certain number of followers, people started reaching out to us to partner with them. We had never imagined that our hobby could turn into a business. We were shocked!
What has it been like running New Fork City after you went away to different colleges?
The most challenging part is the fact that we can't go to the newest restaurants while we're away at school. However, when we are at school, we use the submissions from our followers to keep it going. We're always in constant contact with one another, whether it's personal or business-related. Having three of us definitely helps split up the work because when one of us is really busy, the other two might have a little more time and it always ends up balancing out.
How do you balance updating the Instagram with schoolwork, social stuff, and just life in general?
New Fork City takes up a large chunk of our day. It's hard to imagine that something we created out of our pure love of food could be so time consuming. However, we love doing it, so we don't mind at all. When we're at school, we have our classes and extracurriculars, but then we also make sure to devote time every day to New Fork City, whether it's for scrolling through our submissions, sending emails, or hopping on a phone call with a potential partner.
What have you guys learned about yourselves throughout this process?
We have learned so many skills through creating New Fork City, more than we could have ever imagined. We also learned that people value our opinions and voices, which is just so incredible to us. If you had told us three years ago that almost 700,000 people would listen to us about where or what to eat as much as they do, we would never have believed you.
What advice do you have for other teens who are trying to become Insta-famous?
When we started New Fork City, there were not many food accounts, so there was minimal competition. Now, it seems as though there are millions of food Instagrams out there, which makes becoming successful more difficult. Create something that sticks out from the others and stays true to yourself.
What do you think is the key to turning a hobby/interest into a full time job?
If you don't love doing it as a hobby, you aren't going to like it as a job. A major key in turning a hobby into a job is your motivation. If you find a hobby that you really enjoy and push yourself enough, you can find success. It's also important to stay true to your passion, and to never change what you do or how you do it based on what other people say.
So, what's the secret to the perfect food pic?
Lighting! Natural lighting makes the food in your photo look ten times better.
By Rachel Burns, 19