This is a bittersweet post as it is my last at Mental for the moment but it’s my first interview for the magazine. I hope to stay a part of the Mental family and would love to be back sometime soon once I get through some of my other commitments.
Now for the interesting stuff! I got to virtually interview foodie and absolute sweetheart, Noko Hengari, from London, who goes by @itspoastiie and we talked about social media, mental health and Veganuary!
As we know, the hospitality industry has been heavily affected by the pandemic and this meant that Noko, unfortunately, lost her job. Not one to be dismayed, Noko said: “I’m currently unemployed but I’m working on starting up a VA business; something to keep me busy this lockdown.”
When speaking about how she started her page, Noko didn’t have plans to be a foodie influencer. “I would put food pictures on my personal account but then one day I thought why not just make a separate account for my food pics instead of bombarding everyone with a lot of food pics on their feed. When I did, I started getting foodie followers and I didn’t realise there was a whole foodie community out there so I kind of just fell into it. I love it. I’m glad I did it and I got to connect with amazing foodies from different places. No hate - just pure love and support.”
“Food makes me feel very happy”
As well as developing as a business, Noko’s foodie page has been a source of support for her during this time. “During this pandemic, the foodie community got closer, people started engaging more - especially from the first lockdown. We got to know more about each other, supported each other - from time to time even with non-foodie related things too. A lot of food bloggers have said the foodie community helped them get through the first lockdown for sure. I even got the opportunity to collaborate with some businesses which boosted up my confidence and made me take my food page even more seriously. I think that’s when it started to fully kick in that I’m actually a food influencer.”
When asked if she would do anything differently, Noko said: “No not really... Maybe just post what I love and not think about posting what others would love to see.” And some advice for anybody wanting to start a page: “my advice would be post what you love, be consistent, engage with your followers, be kind always and don’t worry too much about the amount of followers you have. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t get them up - it’s good to have the numbers - but the important thing is their engagement with your posts and just have fun with it.”
Despite her love of ALL food - especially chicken and eggs - Noko is taking part in Veganuary this year. For her, it’s a challenge: “I just wanted to see if it’s something I’m able to do and would also like to see if I’m going to notice a change in my health by the end of this. I’m so excited - still can’t believe I’m doing it” When asked if she thought she would make it to the end she said: “I didn’t think so. At first, I was ready to quit on day two but my mum and partner have been encouraging me to keep it going so I feel motivated to do so. It’s funny because a couple of days ago my mum decided to not cook chicken for dinner because she didn’t want me to smell it and get tempted so sweet really.” SOOO SWEET!
Since starting, Noko realised that she could actually live WITHOUT chicken or eggs! (I’m sure I’ve told you guys it’s quite easy to go veg or vegan…)
For Noko, food has a big impact on her mood: "I can be very moody when I’m hungry so let's just say food makes me feel very happy." Social media might not be for everyone and it can sometimes have a negative impact on its users so it’s important to use it correctly and also maintain a balance. To keep a healthy mind, (besides food), Noko practices yoga, meditation and drinks lots of water!
I asked Noko if there was something - anything she would do differently and her answer really resonated with me, especially in light of these times, and I think it would resonate with a lot of you too: “I would not waste my time and energy on anything or anyone who does not deserve it and I would focus my energy on those who truly matter.”
Remember to follow and support Noko @itspoastiie