Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Forte.
Sara, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I did not grow up in a cooking focused family, but we do love to eat. It was a generation of convenience foods and I don’t fault my parents for not knowing as much about health and food as we do now. It’s a different time! Anyway, I became interested in food in college, I worked at the organic farm on campus at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, worked for a caterer, and basically just watched and tried and listened and read and taught myself to cook. I traveled to Italy after school and worked at a Bed and Breakfast and learned a lot about hospitality and food there, as well.
I worked a few “career-ish” jobs when I returned, but felt uninspired by the cubicle office life. My then-boyfriend, now husband, Hugh, is a talented photographer and was pursuing a career in that himself. He built me/us a food blog, as a hobby we could pursue together, and we’ve run Sprouted Kitchen, the food blog, cookbooks and now meal planning subscription service since 2009. Hugh took photos, I did the recipes and writing. It was very successful, even though we never quite understood the business of blogging, so we always did it alongside a handful of other jobs.
It was/is a really neat way to connect with people, and that always inspired me. I received an offer to write a cookbook a few years in and we published two cookbooks Sprouted Kitchen and Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon. All this seemed to happen quite quickly. We started a family and bought a house that needed a lot of work and derailed a little bit in those crazy first years. In those first years with kids, I would continue to hear from other parents how difficult it was to be working and parenting and trying to get a healthy-ish dinner on the table with so much going on. We developed SK Cooking Club as a weekly resource for people to offer them dinner recipes, photos, tips and time savers, and a community of other members sharing ideas.
Blogging has changed, and this program has allowed me to help and connect with people over food, by way of the internet of course, currently. It is the fastest pace I’ve ever worked on writing recipes, and equally the most rewarding due to the feedback I hear from people using the program. So to date, most of my time is spent writing that program and doing all the communication and organization that comes with that. We have a five and three-year-old and work at home and love being with our friends and going to the beach.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think this may depend on who you ask. I think for my personality, it has had a fair set of challenges. I like consistency and something to depend on, and the careers my husband and I have are neither of those things. Things have worked out, and we’ve been creative in jumping the lilypads to remain self-employed and make a living, but no, “easy” is not the word I would use at all. Working for yourself is thinking about work around the clock. Working with your spouse can be trying, as well.
We are better for it, but figuring out how to be lovers and parents and business partners has come by way of hard work. I started to write a third cookbook at a time where it was difficult to sell a cookbook without a very specific point of view, and reinventing our business into something new, was tough and a big risk. I still think it is tough! Making a living off your creativity and passion is tangled – in some sense, you’re lead to believe it’s the “dream,” but it can often be tough to stay motivated and excited about your own work.
Please tell us more about your work.
I suppose my business, in general, is all things Sprouted Kitchen, but it is most specifically Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club right now. I specialize in sharing healthy-ish recipes and break these recipes down to work for couples and families in their day to day lives. Parents love my kid-focused recipes, and I’m working on a small ebook with a collection of those. Hopefully available at end of October! I think I am known for good salads and bowl foods – lots of color. Good sauces.
I am proud of getting a James Beard nomination on my first cookbook, which I did not think I was even qualified enough to write in the first place. I am proud of the honesty in the work we do – that I have stayed true to my voice and values, even when larger paychecks were offered to help advertise certain products. I am proud of the work we do with cooking club – that I truly believe it is helping families eat together, eat healthier, get excited about making a meal. I believe food is an important pillar of wellness, and that word can be intimidating for people. I think we are set apart because while I am a big vegetable proponent and eat “healthy,” I break it down in a way that is not intimidating or elitist. I love both salads and brownies a la mode equally and I think I calm people down around the hype food can hold.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have hired help wayyyyyyy earlier. I wish we’d learned more about the business of blogging, earlier on. We did it for fun for too long – we could have made an income on it far earlier than we did, but we didn’t really know-how.
When I first had my babies, I felt really anxious about keeping up with work, even though I truly did not have the bandwidth (or help, see above) to do it well. In retrospect, I should have given myself a maternity leave, and trusted that my work would still be there when I returned. It likely would have made me a better worker and a better mom, but I struggled to be both at the same time for awhile before realizing that I needed to give myself some new permissions and a lot more grace.
- SKCC is $8.99/mo. with no long term obligation
- Website: www.sproutedkitchen.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @sproutedkitchen
- Twitter: @sproutedkitchen