Not all Food Jobs are in the Kitchen

February 1, 2016

It began with ice cream.

An ad for the Dryden Dairy Day’s 25 cent ice cream cones caught the eye of Cornell students Taylor Cocalis Suarez and Dorothy Neagle and they knew they must attend this important cultural happening.

During the course of the road trip, these two campus tour guides realized they also shared a passion for reshaping our food system. While Dorothy had yet to turn her love of all things culinary into a career, Taylor had educated herself fully in the world of food, but still felt pigeon-holed. While studying Hospitality Management at Cornell University and then a Masters in Food Culture at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Parma, Italy, she was constantly questioned with, “Oh, so you want to own a restaurant or be a chef?”

Searching for a means to work in food, but not necessarily growing or preparing it, the two floated possibilities back and forth.

In 2010, Dorothy Neagle and Taylor Cocalis Suarez founded to help people create sustainable lifestyles for themselves, with a secondary goal of educating people about the myriad ways to work in food – not just in the kitchen. Like many great ideas, GFJ was born of the pair’s fruitless search for viable resources. After urging others to create a website where likeminded employers and employees, as well as advice-giving experts and information-hungry novices could find one another, the two realized they had found their calling. Good Food Jobs has taken off and grown into a successful two-woman venture currently bringing in over 20,000 unique visitors each month.

The demand is clear. With over 70,000 registered users, 27,000 job posts, and close to 50,000 loyal newsletter subscribers, GFJ is succeeding thanks to the astuteness of its founders and their continued sincere efforts in providing a much-needed service.

Creating a Sustainable Business While Remaining True to the Mission

“It was never our goal to grow it to a certain point and sell it, or to have offices in multiple cities.”

The ad-free Good Food Jobs embodies Dorothy’s dream of a platform for “sharing the struggles and the joys and the triumphs of choosing meaningful work and making a living, instead of making a killing.” With income de-prioritized, “Brick and mortar ideas were more prohibitive because they required so much overhead.” Thus, the idea of a website was born. Preferring transparency and openness about their path to success, Dorothy shares that, “reaching out to as many other mentors who had started small businesses themselves or worked with small businesses” was key to their success.

The vision of Good Food Jobs contains two major components: creating a website that serves as an effective tool both for job posters and job seekers, and connecting like-minded individuals. Dorothy explains that starting up with two twenty-somethings’ nest-eggs was attainable, as “the biggest expense was the website itself… And once that was up and running, there was not a lot of monthly overhead.”

Website maintenance and costs associated with job posts remain the biggest business expenses to this day. Foregoing advertising income, GFJ relies solely on job posts make up its entire revenue stream. A one-time job post lasting 60 days costs $60, while packages include 5 posts for $200, 15 for $450, and 30 for $600. The other major component of the project is offline. Dorothy and Taylor will launch an interactive feature in 2016 that enables users to find and connect with folks nearby who understand the unique job search underway, thereby strengthening local good food job networks. Not a source of income, the project is another step toward bringing about a revolution in our food system and another way in which the team brings their passion into their work.

Bringing it All Together

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Taylor (left) Dorothy (right)’s founders have cultivated a loyal following and generate steady growth through sticking to their passion and principles. Dorothy is the first to admit that it did take GFJ some years to get “here.” With no advertising campaign, GFJ relies heavily on word of mouth. The upshot?

“Because we are a pretty unique business and because the people that use us are so loyal, that has been really successful,” said Dorothy.

The two-woman team splits duties at GFJ, with Taylor approving job postings during the week and Dorothy reviewing job posts purchased over weekends. Dorothy answers e-mails, which range between technical difficulties and feedback regarding the site to pitches for new business ideas. Taylor writes GFJ’s newsletter, while Dorothy puts the blog together and edits the newsletter before mailing it out.

While the blog and newsletter are secondary to the website, they embody the core values of GFJ’s mission. The blog interviews one person each week who works a Good Food Job. Blog posts are meant to help illustrate that there are a lot of people out there doing this type of work and also to provide inspiration and information. The team at GFJ began their project with the intent to revolutionize the food system.

“Doing that through education and support of businesses and individuals who share that vision is spectacular,” says Dorothy.

The newsletter began prior to the site’s launch as a way to start gaining some momentum and gaining followers. Once the site launched, Dorothy says, it underwent a major transformation. Neither Dorothy nor Taylor anticipated just how many people would connect with their newsletter. They now have a loyal readership and consider the newsletter an essential element of the business.

GFJ enjoys consistent growth. In December 2015 alone, the site amassed 200,000 page views with over 22,000 unique visitors (72% of which were returning, while 27% were new). Though the team notices dips around holidays, the slow and steady growth they aim for is realized each and every month. Dorothy genuinely feels her business is a “Dream come true. We decided we wanted to work together and we made it happen.”

GregoryHailing from both Los Angeles and the rolling farmland of the Midwest, Greg Heilers enjoys city living, yet is drawn to sustainable agriculture. A lover of cultural differences, life abroad inspires his writings on culture, news, language, history, and more.

Article Type: Industry Insights