Nikki Tingson could do anything she wants: with a joint degree in Cell and Molecular Biology and Health and Disease, an impressive resume in the fashion world, and a promising sales career, her talents are less about what she’s doing, and much more about the passion and dedication she puts into everything she does.
Nikki has applied these skills to social media with her Instagram account @thestylishfoodie – a combination of her experience with food (warning: there’s a lot of ice cream), fashion, and a place for her to express herself, collaborate with some of the biggest brands in North America, and document her ever-evolving life. I had the chance to sit down with Nikki and chat @thestylishfoodie, the ups and downs of social media, and, of course, ice cream.
@thestylishfoodie actually started as ‘thehealthyfoodie’ – when Nikki started out on this journey about five years ago, the account was a way to document her new-found love of delicious and healthy recipes.
Just before starting the account, she had been attending a bootcamp almost religiously – going 6 times a week, twice a day. This dedication didn’t go unnoticed by the other participants, who invited her into their homes to teach her how to cook healthy food.
“I was so inspired by the way they had transformed their lifestyle – and a lot of that was diet.”
“Growing up I didn’t get the opportunities to get my hands dirty in the kitchen that most people do with their parents – I was always busy with sports and friends – so I never really learned how to cook!”
As her confidence in the kitchen grew, she started posting pictures of the meals she made to Facebook – and soon had growing interest from people both inside and outside her network looking for more recipes and inspiration. So, she took to Instagram and created ‘thehealthyfoodie’.
Around the same time, Nikki also took a part-time job at J-Crew while she was in school – and started discovering fashion and styling, learning about colour and texture pairing, and body-type-specific dressing.
She took her natural eye for fashion and ran with it, soon taking personal styling appointments.
“I was inspired by how fashion and personal style could transform someone’s confidence.”
She started adding the occasional picture of her outfits to Instagram as well:
“I started posting what I would wear on a daily basis – and I noticed that content tended to get more engagement – so I started to combine the new fashion component with the existing food component.”
Nikki experienced first hand how both food and style could change people’s lives – and so was born @thestylishfoodie.
She took her project seriously for the following two years: creating a website and blog that she updated daily. Her focus has since changed, but the dedication she poured into it initially has paid off in spades – she now works with brands like McDonalds and Daniel Wellington….and it’s also how she met her fiancé!
Nikki was invited to a media event for the restaurant Platito, known for their use of Ube – a Filipino ingredient that turns food purple!
“I don’t think I would have been invited had I not been a food blogger-slash-influencer.”
Derek, her now fiance, was the charming owner…they met and immediately clicked. Before leaving, she asked for his number;
“When you know what you want, you go get it!”
This motto seems to echo throughout Nikki’s life, and is especially apparent when it comes to ice cream. Yes, ice cream…
“I always loved ice cream – I feel like a lot of people can relate to that! It’s one of those things that just makes me so happy – there was a time in my life when I used to eat a mini tub of vanilla swiss almond Haagen Daz a day!”
The childhood treat that stuck became her go-to – and provided inspiration for both her social media brand and her only tattoo!
“A few years ago, I was telling my now-fiancé I want a tattoo of a little ice cream cone – and I wanted to go do it, but I was too scared. And then for my birthday he picked me up from work and surprised me by bringing me to a tattoo shop! Which could have gone so poorly – but I did it and it’s my one and only tattoo.”
Nikki was name People Maven’s “Best Ice Cream Influencer of 2018”, and while neither of us was sure exactly what that meant, we both agreed it was pretty fantastic!
The Ups and Downs of Social Media
With such an incredibly engaged following, and half a decade’s worth of experience on social media, Nikki had a lot to say about the benefits of social media.
“I’ve met so many amazing people throughout the city, experienced events, and worked with incredible brands. It can be a real community.”
While she now primarily uses Instagram to document her own journey and life (working with amazing brands along the way), she has seen a darker side of social media.
“Social media is something I have just to enjoy, keep up with people who I’m inspired by and the people who are following my adventures. But I don’t think I’d want to make it my only focus.
Eventually I came to realize, though it took some time, that with social media as an influencer, it’s always about the numbers, and I think that makes people really anxious – especially with the platform able to change algorithms at any time.
What if Instagram disappeared tomorrow? Life is so much more than how many people liked your post.”
While Nikki’s never had a terrible experience or interaction, she’s seen first hand the way different generations interact with the medium – and how it’s changing the entire makeup of our society.
“Millennials tend to know there’s a line and recognize when it’s too much – but the younger generations, who have grown up with it, don’t necessarily have the ability to separate what real life is, what their real identity is, outside of social media.”
“My goals in life have changed – it’s not my main focus anymore. I love doing it on the side, and there are some amazing brands I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with.”
Nikki’s goal, both with @thesylishfoodie and her (admittedly awesome) day job, is to work with and for companies that have both amazing products and amazing cultures.
The two years she spent committed to her brand were well spent – and while her priorities and goals have changed, the connections, experiences, and memories will last forever.
You can follow Nikki’s food and fashion (and adorable dog) adventures on Instagram at @thestylishfoodie.