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Meet Caitlin Sakdalan of befatbehappy in West LA and Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caitlin Sakdalan.

Caitlin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My parents unknowingly primed me for a career in food and travel at a very young age. As a five-year-old, I had an eclectic and adventurous palette, consuming anything from Spam with Garlic Rice and Eggs to Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi. I was blessed to be able to learn about the world through experiencing all these different foods. Eating, being in the kitchen or sitting around the table quickly became sources of joy.

When I lived in NYC full-time three years ago, I started this page on Instagram as a personal archive of sorts. I called it @befatbehappy because to be frank, I was a chubby child that was blissfully unaware (at that time) and relishing every bite. My page, and now business, represents that idea that we are meant to enjoy and savor food for all its worth: as an art, as an experience, and as a connector of all people and cultures. While I still believe @befatbehappy at its core stands for that belief, I have expanded for it to be about fully living a well-balanced life. FAT has come to mean Food and Travel and I’ve found that these two things jointly engender a unique sense of happiness and fulfillment in life. Now that I’m based in both Southern California and NYC, as well as traveling everywhere from the Philippines to Portland, I expose my followers to much more and have evolved from the crappy, overly VSCO filtered, iPhone 5 photos.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’d say it started as a relatively smooth road, but the journey has intensified. As I progress, I have to be more intentional about my actions and mindful about the digital footprint and impact I’m making. The stakes are higher and my metrics and the value of what I pursue are more important. That can be a lot of pressure at times, especially since the nature of social media is complex and can be precarious.

Being a freelancer also means constantly pitching myself and my capabilities. It can be demanding to put yourself out there and be 100% confident in your value and work 100% of the time. It’s also difficult when a lot of “no’s” come in for brands I really want to work with, but the rejections are motivating and the successes are even more gratifying. Competition is fierce as well in a very saturated market, and I try not to compare myself to others; I think anyone who says they never do that is a liar. Everyone looks to others to see what they’re doing right and wrong, but the problem is when you let it consume you. THAT, I do not do. I have to remember the specific value I bring to the table and block out the noise. I also remind myself that the above struggles are what Payal Kadakia Pujji, Founder and Chairman of Classpass, refers to as “champagne problems”. I love what I do and must keep moving forward, work hard, and remain adaptable in this ever-evolving landscape. I’m also super grateful to have the most supportive and loyal family and friends to guide me and prop me up.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I’ve branded myself as a content creator and most of my work revolves around exploring and experiencing different cuisines and destinations. For example, I write articles, take photos, create videos, and weave that all into social media to tell a cohesive story for a destination marketing organization. I’d say this is my specialization: I’m a clear communicator and storyteller with a fun yet polished voice across different mediums, whether it’s through my writing or personality onscreen. I also pursue sponsored collaborations with brands, manage social media for various clients in the restaurant industry, and consult.

I honestly don’t have a “proudest” moment. Every little win is important for my journey, just as is every failure. If anything, I’m proudest of my mission and purpose for what I do. As I said earlier, I’m truly invested in living a full life. To do so, I 100% believe you need to feed your appetite, feed your soul, and feed others. Not only do we need to satiate our appetite out of necessity, but we should savor and care about what we put into our bodies. Past our physical need for nutrients, we should be people of purpose. For me, I find that nourishment through my faith, and it is by grace through faith in God that I am saved and have worth. Food and travel also distinctively feed my soul and open up my perspective and deepen my understanding of the world we live in. Lastly, we must feed others. Just as people have fed into my life and mentored me, I think it’s important to do the same and love on the people around me. It’s equally crucial to give back and serve those that struggle to help themselves. I was fortunate enough to never worry about my next meal, but I am conscious and burdened by the fact that is not a luxury everyone has. These are the driving forces of my life, and that sets me apart from others.

What were you like growing up?
I’d say I was a pretty outgoing and confidence kid. I had no problems asking for what I wanted, especially when it came to food; and I owe it to my extraordinary parents for unconditionally loving me and empowering me to be my own individual. Interest wise, aside from food, I was always invested in the arts. I ended up attending a performing arts high school as a dance and theater major, and those years were crucial in shaping and nurturing my passions, creativity, and ability to be bold. Originally, I wanted to be a star on the Disney Channel, and while that is no longer in the cards for me, I’d still love to be on TV – maybe exploring and the world and devouring delicious meals along the way. 😉

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Jesse Hsu Photography, Youka Nagase, Jen Balisi

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Donna Hunt

    June 10, 2018 at 10:57

    I love this!! So inspiring. I wish you all the best. You beautiful in and out.

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