New York Women's Culinary Alliance

MY STORY & ADVICE: AN EVENING WITH KAREN TACK

Alan Richardson, Terry Frishman and Karen Tack. Photo, Mimi Hill

MY STORY & ADVICE: AN EVENING WITH KAREN TACK

By Dana Jacobi / 07-Mar-2016

Attended by 75 members and guests, the event featured food stylist, Karen Tack, and photographer, Alan Richardson, who both created Hello Cupcake!, along with other cookbooks, a calendar, and the Hello Cupcake app. Their books have cumulatively sold over 2 million copies.

The evening began with networking and attendees trying their hand at food styling by decorating cupcakes.

Interviewed by Terry Frishman, Karen described her early days working at a Chinese restaurant when she was in high school, attending the CIA, and working as a pastry chef. She went on to work in magazine test kitchens, where she learned food styling.

Karen was generous with her advice on developing and maintaining a freelance career. She and Alan described in detail what has made their twenty-year partnership successful -- how they create and sell their ideas, as well as what it takes to maintain a healthy business relationship.

Refreshments were provided by Nahmias et Fils Moroccan spirits, Silk Road Teas, Bruce Cost ginger ales, and ICE.

The evening concluded with raffles and goodie bags. Some of the raffled items were gifts baskets and signed books. The Grand Prize being a Manhattan Cupcake Adventure -- a two hour bakery and cupcake tour with Karen, Alan and co-chairs Terry Frishman & Betty Comerford, along with four personally signed cookbooks by Karen & Alan:

Hello Cupcake!

What’s New, Cupcake?

Cupcakes, Cookies and Pie, Oh My!

Cake My Day!

Thank you to co-chairs Terry Frishman and Betty Comerford for organizing this event and to Dori Greenspan for donating and signing copies of her cookbooks.

Advice Shared by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson 

To Get Exposure and Build a Freelance Business Food Styling and Writing

  • Be collegial, do mutual referrals
  • Work with a photographer – they can recommend you to other clients
  • Get to know a publication’s editorial calendar
  • Keep several balls in the air at all times.
  • Be proactive: Use email, phone calls and attend events to stay in touch with your contacts
  • Know what’s hot – editors are constantly keeping up with the latest trends.  
  • Companies seek-out bloggers who know how to effectively promote their product

To Attract Readers

  • Make your work feel approachable giving the reader an “I can do this” feel.
  • Think frugally to help others see how to do things affordably
  • Test your recipes multiple times. It’s imperative that you’re known for recipes that work

About Being Creative

  • Make a rolodex catalogue of the tools and ingredients you use. Draw on it when looking for inspiration.
  • Make time and space to be playful
  • Use magazine pieces and blog posts to “test market” material that you might later use in a book
  • Writing a second book is not any easier
  • When developing recipes, think how the recipe will look visually. Brown is not a friendly color for the camera

On Partnership

  • A good partnership is both complimentary and competitive in a good way
  • Establish clearly defined areas and responsibilities for you and your partner
  • Set accountability and make the effort to have good communication

Regarding Agents and Publishers

  • A good agent is tough, knows the business, and is your best advocate
  • Find an editor who shares your vision
  • Know that with your publisher’s publicist, you have two to three weeks of their attention. Work to keep them excited.

Do not settle. Do your best for your own satisfaction.

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