Ten days after her University of Florida graduation, 22-year-old Libby Andrews boarded a one-way flight to London. She had never planned on an ex-pat lifestyle, but when London’s ING MEDIA offered her a position in food PR, she jumped at the opportunity. Thrilled to be pursing her two passions – food and public relations – Libby then decided to share her insider’s take on all things food with the world with a blog. The blog, called Ravenous Libby, became so wildly popular that it was featured in Marie Claire UK and The Daily Mirror.
After a three year stint in London, Libby returned to the United States to work at Creative Edge Parties, one of New York’s hottest event planning and catering firms. There Libby plans and promotes catered events for such clients as BMW, Forever 21, Mashable, Diet Coke and Glamour Magazine. In her spare time, she also somehow manages to oversee her ever-popular blog. Read on for Libby’s advice on living abroad, growing a personal brand and why you should be eating more!
Q: You moved to London just ten days after you graduated to begin working at ING Media. How did you land such a great job in such a cool city?
A: It was sort of a mix of good timing, good luck and serious dedication. I had an unpaid two-month internship in college that connected me to ING MEDIA. I worked hard and showed how capable I was. Because of that I was offered a job after I graduated. Getting a work visa was really difficult. Big companies, like JP Morgan, will get them for you, but I was doing PR at a boutique firm. Instead of relying on ING to get my visa, I had to work hard and get it on my own.
Q: What advice do you have for other young women who are interested in working abroad?
A: Moving to London was a little bit scary, but it was more exciting. The job market in America wasn’t great, and the jobs I could find weren’t exciting. Being in PR, you want to be in London or New York. And in London, I would get to do exactly what I wanted. So, really, it was a no-brainer. The opportunity was there and I took it! You can’t even let doubt enter your thoughts if working abroad is what you really want. Remember: home will always be there. If you go abroad and it doesn’t work out, you can always come home. So don’t even question it. If you have the opportunity, just do it. Just remember to be open-minded about everything. A lot of people have the idea that going abroad will be fabulous – and easy. But it isn’t easy. When something go your way, just go with it! When things are frustrating, just remember that other places aren’t America, and that you just have to adjust to different ways of doing things.
Q: What did you gain from moving abroad?
A: You learn so much living in a different country. The experience is just above and beyond. Day-to-day work routines are different. In Europe, everyone gets five weeks of paid vacation. The work environment is so much more relaxed, which I learned to appreciate. Then there are all the little cultural differences that really teach you so much. And, even though I was in an English-speaking country, I learned so many new words! And you learn so much by just being away from everyone you know. Moving to a new state is one thing, but moving to a new country is another. You have to learn a completely new way of life. You have to learn to pay your bills in a different country!
Q:While you were in London, you started what has become a super-popular food blog, Ravenous Libby. Where did you get the idea for it?
A: I was working at ING MEDIA where many of my clients were restaurants. Part of my job was reaching out to food bloggers and trying to get them to write about my restaurant clients. At the time, food blogs were just becoming popular in London, so I thought, “Why don’t I just start my own?” I was on the inside, and had so much knowledge about restaurants that it seemed natural. Most other bloggers didn’t have that kind of insider knowledge. And, with a blog, I could be the one to promote my clients on a blog.
Q: Ravenous Libby, which has been featured in Marie Claire UK and The Daily Mirror, has become one of the most popular food blogs on the Internet. How has it achieved such incredible success?
A: Ravenous Libby became well-known because I’m a PR person. I knew from the outset it wouldn’t just be a blog – it would be a brand. That’s why I made a logo for and made a non-Blogspot URL. Because I was in PR, I knew a lot of people in the media, so I promoted the blog and myself. I knew journalists at Marie Claire and The Daily Mirror, so I promoted the blog to them, and they liked it.
Q: What advice to you have for young women who are interested in growing their blog audience, but don’t have such amazing connections?
A: If your goal is to make your blog more popular, put effort into it! Make sure you’re also on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn plugging your blog. Go to every social media event. Make business cards for your blog. If food blogging is your thing, go to restaurants! Talk to the chefs. Regardless of what kind of blogging you do, call yourself a blogger! People will believe what you say you are. If you don’t call yourself a blogger, why should anyone else? That’s how it is with anything – you have to be the first one to believe in yourself before anyone else will.
Q: How do you have time to hold down a full-time job and work on a successful blog?
A: It can be a challenge. I’m lucky that my job and my blog kind of overlap. And now that the blog has become successful, I can work on it from my job. But before it was a success, I really had to carve out time for it. I was spending nights and Sundays working on it. I spent my lunches working on it.
Q: You have now moved back to the U.S. to work at Creative Edge, one of New York’s hottest event planning and catering firms. What prompted you to leave London?
A: Because I was working in food PR at ING, I knew about Creative Edge just from paying attention to the event scene. It was one of the city’s top caterers. I knew its food was amazing – restaurant quality. And after three years in London, I was ready to come home. I still wanted to do PR and I still wanted to do something related to food, so I applied for a job with Creative Edge. I got it, so I moved to New York!
Q: What is your day-to-day like at Creative Edge?
A: Everyday is different. Some days, it’s about going out in new York and finding new clients. I promote the company to new clients, usually with food tastings or lunches. I also run the social media for Creative Edge, so I’m constantly Tweeting and posting pictures of events to our Facebook. I go to Creative Edge’s events every night and Tweet pictures of them. I make sure the media knows we’re hosting a given event. I also have my own events to produce, which I do with my team. I recently did the Mashable Media Summit, which involved planning breakfast, lunch and a cocktail party!
Q: A lot of young women are interested in food, but it can be an intimidating subject. Where should they go to learn more about it?
A: Just start reading! Read Food & Wine magazine. Read the New York Times Dining section on Wednesdays. Read food blogs – there are millions. Go out to eat, try new restaurants – that’s where dining trends are set. Sample new foods. Just eat! And talk to people about it. People who love food also love to talk about food. Don’t be afraid to talk to the waitress, the chef, the guy at the food cart.
Q: You’ve accomplished so much at such a young age. What goals do you have for yourself at this point?
A: My goals are all very vague and hard to put into words. Moving to London at 22 taught me you can’t really have any serious plans for the future, because plans change. If you had asked me four or five years ago if I would move to London after graduation, I would have thought you were crazy! My plan then was to find a job in Florida! So, I guess I just want to work really hard and be the best I can be. I want to gain as much experience as possible. I’m in my 20s – it’s time to learn, work hard, do a good job. I want my life, career and blog to be able to morph and grow as I do.
Want to know more? Find Libby on Twitter!