It’s impossible not to get pulled in by 21 year old Naomi Mederos Instagram. Gorgeously staged food shots are paired with an uplifting tone and recipes that are simple to recreate. Mederos’ playful profile photo and big smile belie the grit and determination that drive her ability to successfully balance a rapidly growing food blogging business and full-time study to become a registered dietician.
We “met” Naomi last fall when she featured a Redd bar in an Instagram story, and since then have incorporated her creative and delicious into our own meal planning. Fueling Mederos (and other entrepreneurs like her) is why we made Redd bar; to drive the spread of positive energy, pursuit of wellness, and unwavering dedication to big dreams.
Mederos shared key insights on finding balance, growing a social-media based business, and tackling misinformation about veganism.
Why did you choose the handle @naomithesweetestpotato?
Naomi: My handle was originally @agirlnamednaomi. I changed my name to @naomithesweetestpotato about 2 years ago, after one of my lovely followers messaged me suggesting that I should include sweet potatoes in my name, since I love them so much. I mentioned it to my mom and we spent the whole day brainstorming different names until we came up with this one; I thought it was a little cheesy but loved it anyways!
Can you share a rough timeline of your business?
Naomi: I started out as just taking pictures of my food of my personal instagram in 2013. I had such a great feedback from my family and friends, I decided to dedicate an entire instagram to my daily meals. It was my hobby! Unbeknownst to me at the time, people love looking at food! Last summer I grew from about 10k followers to 20, then 30, and now I’m almost at 60k. I never would have thought back then that I’d be where I am today, but I am so grateful every day here and I can’t wait to see what’s to come!
How do you differentiate yourself from a sea of foodie Instagram?
Naomi: I think being a vegan is one of the first things that sets me apart from several other foodies! Also being a vegan who eats REAL food. I don’t eat a lot of processed or fake foods. I eat predominantly whole foods every day and I feature meals that my followers could easily create themselves. I live a busy and active life, so I like to make food that is quick, simple and easy, but that is still nutrient dense to keep me fueled and nourished. I want to show everyone that being vegan doesn’t need to be hard or expensive.
What’s the biggest challenge you face on a day-to- day basis, and what do you do to overcome it?
The biggest challenge I face is managing my stress. I’m a student, small business owner, nanny, daughter, sister, friend (the list goes on and on). As you can imagine, I easily get stressed. To add to that, I’m a perfectionist! so I always want everything I do to be perfect and timely! But, I’m learning how to manage it! Whenever I get stressed out, I take 5 minutes to breathe and pray. If you haven’t tried prayer, I highly recommend it!
Which influencer have you learned the most from?
I’ve been inspired by so many other amazing instagramers and bloggers, how can I pick just one?! I look to Jasmine from Sweet Simple Vegan, Dana from Minimalist Baker, Brandi from The Vegan 8 (just to name a few) for inspiration and tips on food styling and recipe creating, and then I try to add my own personal touch to what I put out.
What are three actionable items your fans can do that helped you achieve success in school and work?
- Write your game plan down.
- Set actual dates for your goals.
- Hustle till you make it!
How did you go about learning all the skills necessary to run your business? (photography, graphic design, SEO, et al)
Trial and error! Lots of research! And my amazing brother who spent many hours training me!
As a dietetic student, what are some common misunderstandings you see in nutrition fads on Instagram?
As a dietetic student, and also a vegan, there’s so many misconceptions about whether or not a vegan diet is actually healthy. Most commonly I get asked “how do you get enough protein?” We’ve all been taught that we get our protein from animal products and that’s why we must eat them. But i think Society has overlooked the fact that plants have protein as well. I’ve found that it’s very easy to achieve the recommended daily amount of protein just by simply including a variety of grains, beans, and nuts/seeds in my everyday diet.
What does your time-spend look like for your business, school, and other activities?
I dedicate roughly 4 to 8 hours a day to my business; this includes recipe testing, food styling, taking pictures, filming recipe videos, editing pictures/videos, and answering emails. Luckily for me, my family is really supportive & understands that managing my instagram is my job! It’s not just social media. The rest of my time is spent studying, exercising and hanging out with my sweet little pup Maisie & my family. I also nanny from time to time. Life is busy — but it’s truly a dream come true!
What time of day do you usually eat a Redd bar?
On most days I'll have my Redd bar at around 3 as a mid afternoon study snack. Some days if I'm in a hurry and didn't have time to make breakfast, I'll have a R.E.D.D. bar along with a piece of fruit for breakfast. Other days I may even warm one up, for about 20 seconds in the microwave, and have it as my dessert!
What's your favorite flavor?
Oh that's such a hard question, they are all so delicious! If I have to choose I'll have to go with the mint chocolate, it reminds me of a peppermint brownie - AMAZING!
If you could tell every single person in the world one thing, what would it be?
Life is too short to not follow your dreams. Don’t let the “norm” or society try to tell you what it is you must do, listen to your heart and follow YOUR dreams. You might just change the world.