creative biz series: Sally O’Neil, founder of The Fit Foodie
I first met Sally O’Neil (aka The Fit Foodie) at a workshop all about creating your own cookbook with Sneh Roy. It was a brilliant day and it’s pretty cool to look back now and see that we have both gone on to produce cookbooks of our own! Sally is actually on book no. 2 now and she is such a huge inspiration to me, her photography is STUNNING. Not only that, but Sally has got to be one of the most driven and hard working ladies I have ever met. She has not one but three businesses and is also studying nutrition and a qualifies yoga teacher. She is a self-taught photographer and it seems there is absolutely nothing this lady cannot do. She has a wealth of business knowledge and I love catching up and talking strategies every time we meet. So I aim incredibly excited for you to read Sallys pearls of wisdom, what a bloody legend!
Hey Sally or should I say The Fit Foodie! Tell us what you are up to today?
Well it’s Saturday, but I don’t really have structured weekends – I just take time to do the things I love whenever I feel like it, so today I’m doing some recipe development and a shoot for Woolworths Supermarkets – promoting their Macro Organic range. Then I’m shooting a campaign for Bumble regarding online bullying and trolling. After that i’m helping a fellow girl boss bump-in at the Tea Festival, and then onto the city to hiking boots for an impromptu solo trip I booked last night to NewZealand. Never a dull moment!
What do you LOVE about your business?
It feels like I’m paid to do my hobby (Note from Kady: Check out the fit foodie website
to see why!). It’s still an insane concept to me that people will pay me to do what I love. I was always told that creative jobs were not really ‘careers’ and were impossible to live comfortably on. I’ve 100% proved that notion incorrect to myself (and my non-believers). I now have the complete freedom work when I like, travel when I like, and create beautiful content as my ‘art’. After 4 years of this, it still feels like a dream every damn day.
What are your daily habits to keep you on track for world domination?
Reading business books or self-improvement books for inspiration comes high on this list. I’m currently reading Winging It by Business Chicks Founder Emma Issacs – it’s a goodie! Reading before bed also helps me sleep – which i’m really trying to tackle because most nights I survive on 6 hours and a lot of caffeine the next morning. Sleep is imperative to nature my creative brain and productivity, so i’m making that my propriety at the moment. Exercise also keeps me mentally sharp – so I move my body every single morning.
What has been your biggest business challenge to date and how have you overcome it?
Learning food photography. It’s an evolving process for sure. I was asked to shoot my own cookbook and had no idea what I was doing. I had zero training – just a passion for making things looks beautiful. I took advice on which camera lens and body I would need from my publishers and just ran with it. I had to trust them. I then spent 3 hours with a pro photographer and stylist, watching how they worked, and then I was left my own devices to develop, cook, style and shoot 80 recipes on my own. Cue a HEAP of YouTube tutorials on how to style and photograph food. Since then, i’ve practised almost every day for 2 years, and have since set up another business off the back of it. I now work as a commercial food photographer and stylist for the likes of MenuLog, Soul Origin, Sun Rice, HaloTop and more. There is NOTHING like throwing yourself in the deep end for a fast education. Say yes to everything your gut tells you.
If you could pick just one thing that has contributed to your success to date, what has it been?
There’s so many things I could list here, but I would have to say its more the people I have surrounded myself with, rather than a specific ‘thing’. You are the product of the five people you spend the most time with. I spend my moments with incredible mentors and entrepreneurs, along with people who are totally winging it, but whom are all incredibly passionate and driven. It keeps me inspired, accountable and humble.
If you could only work 2 hours per week ‘on’ your business (ie growing the business, not client work) what would you do to get the most results?
I’d spend time really working on getting a portfolio of my most beautiful imagery together to pitch to my favourite food magazines and book publishers. I think that’s where life will take me after Instagram and it’s my absolute passion – right now. As it stands, work comes to me via word of mouth, but I would like to be more proactive in seeking out my dream clients. Donna Hay, if you’re reading this, you know where I am! 😉
What is your go-to for getting a dose of inspiration?
Travel. I try to plan a getaway at least every 6 weeks – even if it’s just a staycation somewhere in Sydney. It gives me headspace and removes me from my routine, so I can think strategically about my next business moves.
What is your favourite quote that gets you fired up?
Every tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again, fail again, fail better. – Samuel Beckett
If you could give budding entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?
Start now. Done is so much better than perfect! There’s never going to be the ‘right’ time to start – you just have to do it and tweak and learn as you go.
Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on the fit foodie blog. She also writes for national health magazines, has launched a range of protein ball mixes: fit mixes, and is the author of love move eat (bauer media, 2017).