Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast with a passion for storytelling and licking the plate. She won Rachael Ray’s Great American Cookbook Competition and her cookbook Orange, Lavender & Figs hit stores March 1st, 2016. Her company Fanfare specializes in recipe development, food writing, and sassy social media eats.
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- Fanfare – Fanny’s business
- Orange Lavender & Figs – Fanny’s cookbook
- Unraveling the Mysteries of Marketing – Fanny’s Best Business Book
- Animoto – Fanny’s Small Business Resource
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- Only by falling do we learn to get back up.
- Don’t underestimate your skills.
- Be resilient in the belief of your self-worth.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:52] – John introduces Fanny
- [01:27] – Fanny’s personal life
- [01:36] – Born into a “brownie legacy” with her mom and dad
- [04:31] – How Fanny generates revenue today
- [07:14] – Worst Entrepreneur Moment –I had no idea what I was doing. I said to myself, I’m just going to wing it.
- [10:38] – Don’t take your own skills for granted
- [11:39] – Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- [13:10] – The moment they sat down and started eating, I remember seeing these collective smiles spread across the room
- [13:46] – I want to share myself with the world
- [15:03] – Know what it is that you want to do, and make sure to put that first and share that with people in a way that is exactly true to who you are
- [15:13] – Fanny’s biggest weakness as an entrepreneur –I tend to cram too much into a small amount of time
- [15:43] – Fanny’s biggest strength – The fact that I am able to believe in myself
- [16:35] – What has Fanny most fired up today? –My cookbook hitting the shelves!
- [18:31] – The book symbolizes me… it’s me on a plate
- [20:43] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?—Not knowing exactly how I could combine everything I wanted to do into one profession
- What is the best advice you have ever received?—I am the one who’s guiding my life; I’m the one who’s in charge, not anyone, not anything, not outside circumstances.
- What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?—OCD-like organization
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation— Animoto
- One book to recommend – Unraveling the Mysteries of Marketing
- Imagine you awoke in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all your experience and knowledge. All you have is $500 and a laptop. What would you do in the next 7 days? –Use the laptop for a planet-wide invitation for cooking demonstration. Spend $300 for the groceries and beer, $150 on marketing and the $50 for a sweet plad shirt
Fanny Slater: Light me up, John.
Interviewer: Yes. Fanny is a home-taught food enthusiast with a passion for story-telling and licking the plate. She won Rachel Ray's Great American Cookbook Competition. In her cookbook Orange, Lavender & Figs hit stores March 1, 2016. Her company, Fanfare, specializes in recipe development, food writing, and sassy social media eats. Yummy! Fanny, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Fanny Slater: Okay, well you nailed it. You got all the details down. That's the summary but what I'd really like to kind of start off by saying is I'm part of a brownie legacy. John, you actually know this because I don't know how many father/daughter interviews you've done but you actually had my dad on a while back – Jeff Slater. You know, my mom actually started Rachel's Brownies. It's a very successful brownie business and they teamed up together and really just kind of soared to the moon with these wonderful brownies. So I kind of come from a famous brownie legacy.
But I'd like to say that food is in my genes but I also just grew up to eat, loving to cook, loving to be around food, and equally as much I loved to just be in front of people to share my stories and share my personality. Luckily I had two parents that just encouraged the hell out of that. I was so lucky to have a family that said be exactly who you are. I think because of that I thought maybe I'm going to be an actress, maybe I’m going to do improve and instead I found that really instead of being an actress and being somebody else, it really was all about being myself.
So when I kind of connected those dots for myself – food, being on stage, cooking improve, all of those things just kind of came together for me and like you mentioned I won the Rachel Ray Cookbook competition. It was almost two years ago at this point. The minute I stepped onto that stage, all of the puzzle pieces of my life, all the things that I wanted to do just really fell into place and has gotten me to talking to you right now, right here.
Interviewer: We're chatting away and I will say, Fanny, that one of my many goals of EOFire and these daily interviews with inspiring and successful entrepreneurs like yourself and like your father is to inspire the next generation. I want people that are listening that have kids right now to be saying to themselves, man don't I want my kid to do what lights them up inside because isn't that going to best represent them in this world and really maximize the value that they're going to give to this world. And future parents like myself, it's going to give inspiration to these people and really say, hey when I'm having my kid grow up and they are excited about it. Like why not just fan those flames instead of saying well, is that really practical? Like what are you going to get when you graduate with that degree?
You know, something that we always got when I grew up like I was an American History major and everybody was like what are you going to do with that degree? I'm like does it matter? Do I have to do something with this degree? I mean, I'm in college to have fun right now. So, let's just be honest with that, so that's my hope, Fanny, and I really love your mentality and attitude about that. Fire Nation, I really hope you're absorbing this and taking it in because why would we want to be doing something that doesn't just fire us up to that "nth" degree inside? I mean that's where the magic lies.
But, Fanny, we need to be practical at the same time. You know this. I know this. An entrepreneur needs to create viable businesses and viable business generates revenue. So how do you, Fanny Slater, generate the dollars today?
Fanny Slater: You know, it's been all about food, all things food, and in every way I can get it really. Growing up I knew that food was going to be important to me. I just didn't know how. And you know what you were just saying about inspiring future generations. One of the things that I really hope folks out there listening take away today is that it took me a long time to really figure out what it was that I wanted to do and I certainly felt lost and confused and didn't do great in school and wasn't the No. 1 student that people should have probably looked up to.
I think all of those pieces of figuring out who I was and all of those stumbles led me to finding who I am and really being bold in starting this business, so FanFare is all things food for me and the way that I generate revenue is through all the different avenues. So there's catering, which is cooking. I get to do cooking classes, which means I get to be in front of people. I get to put on my Fanny show and then the other big thing that's really come my way is recipe development. The reason I find that so much fun is because instead of just catering where it's local, it's kind of limited to Wilmington where I live, going recipe development has been all about reaching out to companies all over the country and connecting with them and finding ways that I can help them promote their brand, make it fun and make it interesting, put a little Fanny flare. It's not limited. It's North Carolina. That's what I love, so you know, and there's food writing of course, which has always been a big piece of who I am. So I basically said I love food. Now, how can I do that in every single form possible? But all of those forms have to be done my way. They have to be out of the box and they have to be fun.
Interviewer: There is a lot of different areas that I want to go down here and things that I really want to highlight about what Fanny just said, Fire Nation. But the key thing here is like what's fun? What's fun for you? Why not spend your days, your one life, your one existence here on this Earth doing things that are fun. I'm not going to lie to you, Fanny, I don't know if you're having fund for sure but I want you to know that I'm having fun right now. Like, this is my version fun. Having great conversations with inspiring people who are doing what excites them and, again, this is what excites me.
So I'm doing what excites me and taking about what other people are excited about. Like this, I love, so Fire Nation, what is your thing? Now, Fanny, you have a father who is a great storyteller and, Fire Nation, if you want to go back and listen to a great episode, it's 1213 and you can get some great stories from Fanny's father but what I would love for you to share with us right now is a story of your life, of your entrepreneurial experience and what you would consider your worst entrepreneurial moment.
So, Fanny, don't pull any punches. Take us there to that moment in time, to your worst entrepreneurial moment and tell us that story.
Fanny Slater: Okay, well I'm ready for it, so here it is. There's a story in my book about my first catering business and that actually is not FanFare. That was when I was I'd say 8 years old we would come to Reitzel Beach every summer. It actually is where I live now in Wilmington. We come here from Raleigh and, you know, just stay in a condo for two weeks. My family would just make dinners and enjoy each other and go to the beach and I decided that I wanted to start my own small food business. What I had done is where the condos that we were in, these rental condos, had a little four-wheel roller that you put your suitcases on. So I took a big piece of poster board and I scribbled on there – I called it EFG (extra frigging good) and I made a smoothie menu. I put a blender on this rental cart and me as this awkward 8 year old kid went door to door knocking and offering people custom-made smoothies. It's funny because as far as my worst entrepreneurial moment goes, that kind of goes in a different direction.
But I like to bring that up to say that I've always been somebody who has wanted to be an entrepreneur and be my own boss. That's where it all started, so had the ambition for it as a kid but when I really tried to start this catering business, I didn't really have the smarts for it yet. When I was living in Los Angeles – it was 2011. I lived there for about a year and a half. Right before I decided to move home, I got it in my mind that food is it for me. This is it. This is what is igniting my passion every day. This is what is firing me up. This is what I want to do.
I got the opportunity for the very first time to cater an event and I had no idea what I was doing. I think instead of organizing, instead of planning, instead of telling myself to be realistic, to set realistic goals, I thought I'll just figure it out. I'm just going to wing it and I remember going home that night. You know, having to cater an event the next morning for 30 people and I went to work the next day. You know, I didn't do my shopping until 7:00 p.m. at night. I did the prep all throughout the night – everything myself.
I mean, it was just like a wild goose chase around the grocery store. You know, I was having to put things back because I didn't figure out my budget and it was sort of like an opportunity was given to me and instead of really taking the time to plan and organize, I said I'll just figure it out. I'll just see if I can wing it. I realized after that one evening of being up until 4:00 in the morning making homemade Tzatziki Sauce that if I didn't really take this as a lesson of just being organized. You know, if you're the one who is in charge of your business, you're everything.
You're the marketer, you're the secretary, you're the errand runner, you're the organizer and if you take that for granted and you think I'll just figure it out, it's not going to work and you will be up until 4:00 in the morning making homemade Tzatziki Sauce.
Interviewer: That is a great way to end the worst entrepreneurial moment you've experienced but, Fanny, just in one sentence let's break it down for Fire Nation. What do you want to make sure that we get from that story – in a quick, concise sentence?
Fanny Slater: Sure. I would say, "Don’t take your own skills for granted just because you believe in yourself and you're passionate about what you do because it takes a hell of a lot of hard work planning and goal setting."
Interviewer: Fire Nation, you're only going to get so far on your own skills, on your own knowledge, on the value you can bring to the world. Every single day there should be some consumption of knowledge in your world. I just actually went on a Snap Chat about this, Fanny, about the consuming versus producing. We all need to really be focusing on the producing side of our business but there always has to be this piece every day where we're consuming some knowledge, some skill that's going to bring us forward in some way, shape, or form.
Fire Nation, I do it every day. Fanny does it every day. You need to be doing this every single day. Now, Fanny, I want to shift and I want you to tell another story. This still in your entrepreneurial journey but an aha moment, an epiphany, a lightbulb that went off inside that head of yours. So take us to one of your greatest aha moments and tell us that story.
Fanny Slater: Well, interestingly enough from my worst entrepreneurial moment came my aha moment.
Interviewer: It's kind of funny how that happens sometimes.
Fanny Slater: Isn't it? It's really bizarre. It is. I mean, it's so true when people say you've got to stumble before you can get back up and you've got to fail before you can win. I think having that experience of just craziness and chaos and putting too much on my plate (pun intended), I think that is what led me to the aha moment. To mention my dad again – my dad is really good about reminding me to just kind of take in every moment of life. There was one time when my dad had said to me, "Fanny, what do you think was the moment for you that made you love food so much and really want to just do this forever?"
I thought about it and I remembered that after that horrible experience of just staying up all night and all the kitchen chaos. I delivered the food. I got everything there on time. I set it all up. I was on maybe two hours of sleep. I remember sitting in that room watching everyone pile in and get a plate, go through the line, take their food, and sit down and I'm holding my breath the entire time. And as everyone sits down it occurs to me this the first time in life that I have ever prepared my food for a group of strangers, not for my family, not for the boyfriend, not for someone who is going to give me a pat on the back and eat it anyway but real life strangers.
The moment that they sat down and started eating, I remember just seeing these collective smiles spread across the room. In that moment, I realized this is what I want to do because I think that everyone wants to make people happy. Everyone wants to share themselves with everyone in whatever way that is. For me it was putting my food on that plate, seeing people take it in, and smile – genuinely appreciate what I had done. It felt like my way of giving something back to the world and giving a little piece of myself. It was the aha moment of I want to share myself with the world.
Interviewer: I want to share myself with the world. Fire Nation, when you get to that moment and you have that realization that you want to share yourself with the world, that's a great moment. Then when you realize that you are sharing yourself with the world, the true essence, the true voice, the true message and mission that you want to share with this world, you know, you've truly arrived as a successful entrepreneur. You know, money or no money coming in – you've arrived at that point. Now it's just getting that nose to the grindstone and working until you make it work.
I realize as you were talking that I actually misspoke earlier. Jeff Slater, Fire Nation, was actually Episode 463, which is almost 800 episodes ago, so pretty crazy but, you know, that's not too long ago in the daily world of EOFire. But I just want to make sure, Fire Nation, you go back and listen to that great episode – Episode 463 with Jeff Slater. I love that aha moment. I think you summed it up so beautifully at the end there with that sentence, which I reiterated but just again break it down for us, Fanny, in just one or two sentences. Like, what is the one thing that you want to make sure our listeners get from that aha moment?
Fanny Slater: I think a lot of it is about just the idea of really – if you do want to share yourself with the world, know what it is that you want to do and make sure that you put that first and share that with people in a way that is exactly true to who you are.
Interviewer: Fanny, what's your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Fanny Slater: You know, it's funny – I would say my biggest weakness is that because my product is myself, I think that kind of leads me to – I wouldn't say overdo it but I have a tendency to cram too much into a small amount of time. It's because I feel like I want to be able to do everything in the world. So my biggest weakness is reminding myself that I don't have to do everything. It's okay to keep it simple sometimes.
Interviewer: Fanny, what's your biggest strength as an entrepreneur?
Fanny Slater: I would say my biggest strength ironically is very similar to being my biggest weakness. It's again the fact that my product is myself and I think I’m someone who – because I was so supported by my parents and my big sister and so loved and so encouraged for being myself, I think as an entrepreneur promoting myself is a product that I'm so proud to share with people. So a lot of it is about just knowing who I am and, you know, it's taken a really long time to get there and now that I'm there I would say that my biggest strength is the fact that I'm able to believe in myself and my product and my business because I know it's what I'm meant to do and I know it's why I'm here.
Interviewer: Fanny, what is the one thing amongst all the awesomeness in your life that has you most fired up today?
Fanny Slater: Oh, man, well today I would say – you know, my cookbook hits shelves tomorrow and this has been an almost two-year journey for me. It's unbelievable because I don't think I have ever put so much work into something and had such a buildup over – two years for me – I mean usually when you 're a caterer you spend a week preparing for something, people eat the food and then it’s over. So something like the cookbook that is going to be just a timeless piece of my life sitting on shelves all around the country is amazing to me.
I couldn't be more fired up about the fact that my book is going to be in the hands of the world and I'm just so proud of what I've done that I try to set my sights not too high and tell myself this is going to be the greatest book in the world. I tell myself look, if you sell one copy, you've done a good job.
Interviewer: Well, I can guarantee that's going to happen because Fire Nation loves cookbooks and Fire Nation, this is live. This book is available as we speak when you're hearing these words. It went live on March 1st and, again, the name of the book is Orange, Lavender & Figs. Fanny, without going into too much detail, how did you come up with the name of the book?
Fanny Slater: Well, I'd love to say that I was the one that came up with it but I will say that it came from, really the epitome of the book – the heart of the book is all about taking my childhood memories, sharing them, taking the ingredients, the meals, the dishes that inspired them and putting my own spin on them. The recipe that got me into the competition when I first submitted my video and the recipe that won me the competition, which I also submitted in the finale. The way that I made it my own was it's a breakfast sandwich.
We call it the Tin Foil Surprise and my version had an orange, lavender and fig jam. It turns out that those three ingredients are the three that changed my life so it really sums up exactly what the book symbolizes and it's me on a plate.
Interviewer: Yeah, and my mouth is full of saliva, Fire Nation. We’re going to drive on because we're professionals here and don't go anywhere, Fire Nation, because we're about to enter the Lightning Round. Let's take a quick minute to thank our sponsors. Fanny, are you prepared for the Lightning Rounds?
Fanny Slater: I am always ready for a Lightning Round?
Interviewer: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Fanny Slater: Not knowing exactly how I could combine everything I wanted to do into one profession?
Interviewer: What is the best advice you've ever received?
Fanny Slater: So much great advice from my parents but I would say there's something my sister said to me recently that was really just about the fact that I am the one who is guiding my life. I am the one who is in charge – not anyone, not anything, not outside circumstances, and that has just made me feel invincible.
Interviewer: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Fanny Slater: OCD-like organization, to do lists, lists everywhere.
Interviewer: Oh, I love it. I'm like, "Kate, why are your shoes left and right? It should be right and left- like this is crazy." She's like, "John, relax."
Fanny Slater: Doesn’t it make you feel better when things are in place?
Interviewer: Share your internet resource like Evernotes with Fire Nation.
Fanny Slater: Okay, so there's a video program that I like to use online. It's called Animoto. It's a video creator and they just make it so simple that for someone who has no editing experience whatsoever you could come up with a really professional video and it's what I use for my cooking videos. It's what I use for my recipe development videos and it's what I'm going to use for my cookbook trailer. So I would say for those who are looking to make a great video without a lot of experience go for Animoto.
Interviewer: If you could recommend one book for our listeners to join Orange, Lavender & Figs on our bookshelf, what would it be and why?
Fanny Slater: Well, and no he did not pay me to say this – but my dad wrote a book called Untangling the Mysteries of Marketing and the reason that I want to recommend his book to everyone is because I have been lucky enough to have a marketing guru at my fingertips for 30 years because he's my dad. So the fact that he's put his expertise out there into the world, I would tell people to jump on it and take advantage of it because it's gotten me here. So I've gotten this far with his help and now anyone else can too.
Interviewer: She was not paid, Fire Nation. She was just told that she might not be welcome home for Christmas.
Fanny Slater: Exactly!
Interviewer: Well, Fire Nation, I know you love audio so I teamed up with Audible and if you haven't already you can get an amazing audiobook for free at EOFirebook.com. Fanny, this is the last question of the Lightning Rounds but it is a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to Earth but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter is taken care of but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Fanny Slater: That's a good one. First thing I would do is I would ask around for this new planet's best resource of social media because I assume they have that and it's the best way to spread the word. I'd use the laptop for that. I would probably use that social media to put out a planet-wide invitation for a cooking demonstration as a way to kind of just share what I do with all these people, so I would spend about $300.00 for the groceries and you know, obviously, maybe this new world equivalent of beer because nothing goes better with food than drinks.
Probably about $150.00 on marketing, maybe some new business cards, some posters, some shirts, some flyers, and then I'd probably spend the last bit of money, about $50.00, probably on a sweet plaid shirt so that I could show up looking like a rock star.
Interviewer: Got to love plaid. Fanny, let's end today OnFire with a parting piece of guidance the best way that we can connect with you and then we'll say bye-bye.
Fanny Slater: The best way you can connect with me is check out my website. It's Fannyslater.com but really it's all about social media for me. I love to do everything on Instagram and share my food, share my life, so check me out at @fannyslater on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and in the new planet hopefully I'll see you all there.
Interviewer: I'll be there. A parting piece of guidance?
Fanny Slater: Parting piece of guidance? You know, it's really just to kind of spread on the message that my parents have instilled in my whole life, which is just that they've always said nobody else can be Fanny. I want everyone to believe in themselves that nobody else can be you and that's what you've got to do is just believe in who you are and know that you can be unstoppable. So I would say be yourself and who knows how you can change the world.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You've been hanging out with Fanny and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Just type Fanny (F-A-N-N-Y) in the search bar. Her show notes page will pop up with everything that we've been talking about today. Of course, you can go over to Fannyslater.com or follow her on social media @fannyslater. Her book Orange, Lavender & Figs is currently available, so go snag it because that jam is delectable and I'm saying that without tasting it – just an innate knowledge. Thank you, Fanny, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Fanny Slater: Cheers, John. Thank you.
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