Influencers drive the influencer marketing industry. They have interesting stories about how they came to be influencers and why they choose to live their lives via social media.

Their first-hand experience working with brands and expertise in other areas is extremely valuable to other influencers. Our influencer AMA series is where top influencers share their stories, successes and learnings with their peers and aspiring influencers.


— Let’s start at the beginning. How did Cheat Day Eats come about? And how have you grown your following?

Two and a half years ago I started CheatDayEats as a hobby that allowed me to express my passion over what I was going to eat on my cheat day. I always loved photography and taking pictures of my food, so when I saw that there was a food community on Instagram, I knew I had to be part of it. My account picked up a lot of traction and I was excited to see people were curious about where I was eating next! Today, my account has evolved to be an extension of my life and I love sharing it with my audience. I have grown my following by staying true to myself and posting experiences, brands, and food that I want to share with my followers because I think they would love them too.

— What was your first brand collaboration? How is it similar to, or different from partnerships you participate in now?

My first brand collaboration was with Bai. Some level of creative control is what I prioritize highly throughout all the partnerships I’ve been part of. That’s something very important to me because it helps keep the bond between myself and my audience tight and authentic, which in return is part of the reason I have such strong engagement with my account and what helps my brand stick out.

As my account has evolved from just food and beverage postings and I now include more lifestyle and travel content, that’s where I would say the biggest differences are from my earlier campaigns.

— Speaking of food and beverage posting, what is the best meal you have eaten in New York?

This is probably one of the hardest questions that I get asked often. My favorite meal recently was 4 Charles Prime Rib. The burger, carbonara, prime rib, and ice cream sundae were all amazing!

It was also a very intimate and classy restaurant which was what I was looking for that evening since I had just gotten engaged earlier in the day!

— Congratulations! Now you have a honeymoon (and wedding!) to plan, tell us your favorite place to travel – both for the food and other experiences?

Italy! I have visited a few times and every time I go I fall in love again. The food there is so simple, yet remarkably stunning and delicious Even the complimentary bread and olive oil in the beginning blows me away. As far as the desserts go, I could eat gelato and Nutella every day and be the happiest girl in the world. When not hunting down my next food experience, I love to just enjoy strolling through the cobblestone roads and being part of all the great history and décor that Italy has to offer.

— You have partnered with a number of impressive brands like American Express, Budweiser and Shake Shack. What is the coolest brand you’ve partnered with and why?

The coolest brand I have partnered with is Cosmopolitan. Ever since I was a little girl and had ripped out pages from their magazine and put them on the walls and ceiling of my bedroom, it was always my favorite magazine. So naturally, I was nostalgic over the opportunity to work with them. I did an account takeover of their instagram to showcase the most indulgent foods in NYC and am proud to say that I’ve formed an ongoing relationship with the brand and continue to do collaborations with them. One of which was this article that they published earlier this year and featured me in.

— That is such a cool story! And I love to see traditional media cross over to work with influencers in such a cool and authentic way. I’m curious, do you have another job or are you a full time influencer? If you are a full time influencer, how long did it take to get to that point?

I have been a high school math teacher for the last 5 years. It is with great excitement that I announce I am leaving to be an influencer full time!! If you can’t feel my joy, I am jumping up and down. It is the biggest career move I have ever made but I am confident in myself and the brand I have built. This is my childhood dream to travel the world and experience great food and there is no way I can pass that up. I think this is just the beginning of influencer marketing and I think it will continue to grow and I am excited to be a part of it.

I couldn’t agree with you more that this is just the beginning for influencer marketing and the next few years are going to be very exciting. What’s the biggest challenge you and other influencers face today?

There are fake accounts that are saturating the market and diluting the perception of value of genuine engagement and real accounts.

— That is a really insightful and honest observation. Do you have any predictions for Influencer Marketing in 2017 and beyond?

I think Influencer Marketing will continue to expand overseas and pick up more steam in other countries and will continue to grow rapidly in USA. Advertisers are going to continue to see the value in marketing online through influencers and gradually shift their budgets from more traditional media outlets such as television, radio, and print ads.

— Thanks for being a part of our AMA series and sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!

Learn more about Jessica by visiting her profile.