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Conversations with Arianna Negri

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arianna Negri.

Hi Arianna, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in June 2018 with my Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration. After doing my senior project on culinary tourism in San Diego, I was able to land an internship working for the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival. After the internship, I worked for a small home improvement company for a year as their marketing specialist. Unfortunately, the company closed their doors, and one month later, COVID-19 hit.

During this time, I began freelancing as a marketing specialist. Soon, I saw there was an opportunity to help businesses stay afloat during COVID-19 and opened Sunflower Creative Co. in June 2020. What started as primarily a social media company quickly shifted to bring my passion for food to the center stage. I’ve always loved to cook and also run a food blog, The Bottomless Pit, as a side hustle. I decided to use my knowledge of the food scene in San Diego and my experience working as a food photographer in college to jump into the food and wine industry as a creative agency. So, nine months into my first year of business, I pivoted Sunflower Creative Co. to focus on all things food. Now, my company specializes in food photography, food styling, recipe development, and creating SEO-driven content for snack brands, restaurants, specialized products, magazines, and food & wine companies.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
A year after opening Sunflower Creative Co, so much has changed. I was lucky enough to experience a somewhat easy transition from operating as a social media agency to becoming a food photography and recipe creation company. However, there’s no such thing as smooth sailing.

From the start of Sunflower Creative Co., I knew that I would eventually want to transition the services offered to focus on food. I just didn’t know that I would be making that transition a year in. I think when you’re working for yourself and own your business, your priorities become increasingly obvious. While I loved my time working in the social media field, I always found myself enjoying my food projects much more than the work I did for social media. Hours cooking or fussing over creating the perfect recipe were not only fun, but something that I woke up each morning excited about doing.

As my company progressed, I began picking up more food projects. By January 2021, I limited myself to working with the social media clients I currently had and stopped accepting new clients. I then switched from pitching clients for social media to looking for my next food photography or recipe creation job. This transition wasn’t easy, and at times I often felt divided, as if I wasn’t giving my full 100% to either social media or my food projects. Eventually, things slowly began to pick up. As I got more food + wine clients, I transitioned my website to fit my current services and work. A year later and I’m doing exactly what I want and couldn’t be happier!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients such as snack brands, beverage companies, and more. Each project that I work on is so different, whether it be working with a local restaurant like Harney Sushi, or working with a magazine. No project is ever the same and that’s one of the things that I love about my work.

I’ve mentioned that Sunflower Creative Co. offers a variety of services, from recipe development to food photography. It’s amazing when I’m able to tie all my services together for a project to really see it come to fruition. While I adapt to fit the needs of each individual client, the typical process of a project starts with pitching a variety of recipes, then creating and bringing to life that recipe. There are times that recipes comes together without a hitch and very seamlessly. Other times, you can find me in the kitchen all night trying to find that one spice that will take the recipe to the next level. To me, it’s like a puzzle. All the ingredients- or pieces- are there, you just have to find the right piece for that spot to give you a beautiful end result.

Once the recipe has been tested, it’s time to capture the dish. I like to create a mood or vision board before I start styling and shooting a recipe. It helps me see the final result and gives me inspiration or ideas for layouts that will best showcase the dish. We then move on to editing and usually typing up an article to go along with the recipe card. Content writing is one of the services that I offer and I love being able to express the beauty of a recipe in words. My work truly is the thing that I’m most passionate about, so I feel very lucky that I’m able to do this day in and day out.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
By far the biggest risk that I’ve ever taken was starting Sunflower Creative Co., especially during a pandemic. Unlike some, I never dreamed of being an entrepreneur or owning my own business. While my parents have owned a commercial real estate business for the entirety of my life, owning a business was just something that I didn’t see in the cards for me.

That being said, I’m a true believer that everything happens for a reason. When I lost my job and then COVID-19 hit a month later, which made it impossible to find a new job, I was an anxious mess. As a Type A perfectionist, I’ve always had a plan. Obviously, a global pandemic wasn’t in anyone’s plans, but I’m actually very thankful for the time that the pandemic gave me. Without a job or many prospects, I was left to decide what I really wanted to do. I realized that the happiest I had been was working as a food photographer in college and then freelancing as a marketing specialist.

Deciding to open Sunflower Creative Co. was no easy task that I took lightly. The idea was thrown out by family and boyfriend about two months into COVID-19. Only being 24 at the time, the thought of owning my own business was daunting. There were times I doubted myself and didn’t think that I had enough experience to run my own company. However, the idea stayed with me and I finally decided to act on it in June 2020.

Taking that risk is by far the best thing that I’ve ever done for myself. Not only am I the happiest that I’ve ever been, but I’m proud of myself for just going for it. It’s so easy to sit around and wait until the timing is perfect, but there’s no such thing. At some point, you just have to jump and trust that everything is going to work out.

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