Welcome to the February 2018 edition of the Sarah Ellis Coaching Career Inspo Blog!
This is a monthly interview with someone who has followed their passion, dreamed big and now has a successful and exciting career. Whether you are searching for your passion or looking for guidance and insight from those in your chosen industry, the Career Inspo blog will have something for everyone. From Chief Executives, to inventors, from property moguls to artistic entrepreneurs, the 2018 line up is certainly set to provide plenty of inspiration and motivation!
This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Natalie Thomson – Food Stylist and Cookery Writer. Natalie set up her own business, Natalie Thomson Food, five years ago and cooks and styles food for clients such as advertisers and publishers, working closely with specialist food photographers and prop stylists. Alongside this, Natalie also writes and tests delicious and creative recipes from home.
Sarah Ellis: Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed for the February Career Inspo Blog! Would you like to start by telling our readers why you chose to pursue this career in particular?
Natalie Thomson: I chose this career because it has fantastic creative output, I feel like I am achieving something and expressing myself. I am a very expressive person and this seemed to fit perfectly. Working freelance was also a huge pull, I liked and still do like managing myself, despite piles of extra admin!
SE: What was your route into this career? Please can you share a summary of your career history with us?
NT: I had interned over the summer at Good Housekeeping magazine after graduating with an English Literature degree. I knew I wanted to work in a creative field but had struggled to put my finger on it. I worked with the various departments there and my favourite by far was the cookery team. They introduced me to Leith’s Cookery School and the wonders of Food Styling. I worked in the city for a couple of years to save and attended the school in 2011/2012. I had worked hard to attend and therefore was very dedicated to getting as much as I could out of the course and continuing on to food styling. Once graduated, I worked for free for a while, to find my feet in the industry and then gradually I started to receive paid assisting work and a couple of years on I began styling for myself.
SE: What makes you jump out of bed in the morning and go to work?
NT: I love my job – and that is a rare thing to hear, which is such a shame. Luckily, the majority of people I work with are happy, enthusiastic and are good at their jobs. I think that’s a great combo; working with people who are as passionate and hardworking as you is really motivating. I get the chance to make delicious food and be creative every day. I’m not saving the world but I am happy every day.
SE: What have been your biggest challenges and learning curves? And what reignites your passion on the tough days?
NT: The biggest challenge is being self employed; it has the best perks but also you have to be completely self-motivated. No one is going to get you that job if you don’t go and get it! One of the biggest learning curves is realising that people won’t always like your work. My work and style is highly subjective so you are always going to come across someone who doesn’t agree with you. It’s very important to have conviction and just keep showing up. If people see that you really care and you’re reliable, they will work with you again.
SE: What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
NT: I’ve worked with some fantastically talented people which is always very inspiring but my favourite experience was working on the Great British Bake Off. It is such a whirlwind experience, you work 16 hour days without a break, 7 days a week but it is such a strong team and everyone mucks in together and supports each other, it is a really wonderful show to work on.
SE: What key strengths do you have that make you great at what you do?
NT: My key strength I would say, is that I always try and remain chipper. No one likes to be around someone who complains and moans a lot. In the freelance world even if you’re the best, if you’re miserable, people will think twice about working with you. At the end of the day, everyone wants to get through a day the best they can and if you work with happy people, it makes everything so much easier.
SE: Do you have a role model or mentor? If so, what have you learnt from them that has helped you in your career?
NT: Not really. When you’re self employed, everyone is in it for themselves, not in a horrid way, they just need to prioritise their work and income. As I work in a creative field, the advice can be really subjective so you just pick and chose the advice you’re given along the way and try and carve your own path.
SE: What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
NT: Go ALL IN. I’ve learnt the hard way that if you don’t give 100%, there is no point, but if you work hard and really go for it, the results will be so satisfying and the sense of achievement is brilliant!
SE: What would you say are the top 3 things to consider when choosing and pursuing a meaningful and exciting career?
NT: 1. What do you want to get from that job; is it that one tiny part of the job you look forward to every Wednesday afternoon? You should look forward to the whole job regardless of the difficulties. 2. Be prepared to work hard. I agree with having a work life balance but you have to be 100% dedicated, regardless of what form that comes in. 3. Ask for help, even if you only get a small bit of advice from one person, you’re better off than you were before. I don’t think you can learn without just going for it and asking for help along the way.
To learn more about Natalie’s work please visit www.nataliethomsonfood.com. You can also visit The Feasting Feeder Blog or follow The Feasting Feeder on Instagram to try out some of Natalie’s mouthwatering recipes!