I met the lovely, gorgeous Emily of Epicurean Emily at a TriFabb Event hosted by our dear friend and fellow blogger, Still Being Molly. At the time, Emily was a fashion and beauty blogger. However, in the time since I've been following her though, Emily's life, health, and blog have undergone some intense growth and change (for the better!).
Because of the all of the turmoil and development in my own life, I have really resonated with Emily's journey. She is a major advocate and voice for change both in health and beauty--something that is desperately needed in our culture today. Through her story, she continues to inspire countless others and myself, which is why I wanted to feature her on my 'Women Who Inspire' series.
Take the time to read through this interview with a cup of tea, coffee, or matcha, I promise you that it will be eye opening and incredibly worthwhile. You'll also want to follow Emily's journey with stunning photography, food, beauty, and pictures of her cute pup on all relevant platforms.
(Links are listed at the bottom of this post.)
J: You’ve had a lot of transition in the past year, but before we talk about all of that, I want to hear where the idea of Epicurean Emily came from.
E: Epicurean Emily began as a personal outlet for me to explore several different passions, and at the time, industries that I had an interest in pursuing a career in. I had just graduated with a photography degree when I began the blog, and at the time, I was interested in commercial photography and wanted a creative project where I could begin to build my professional portfolio. Epicurean Emily got it's name after the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who was a “patron” of the finer things in life, believing that one should often indulge in things that bring them pleasure and since my blog content was originally a bit “frivolous”, I thought this philosophy was the perfect description of not only the content I was creating, but also of myself--I’ve always been a bit “extra”.
J: Your blog started out as a fashion, beauty, and travel blog, but then you began to focus on living a healthier, cleaner lifestyle all around. Tell me a little bit about that.
E: About two years into starting the blog, my health plummeted. A lot of changes were happening in my life--I had just moved away from home for the first time and was living in a new state with my boyfriend, Luke, who I was accompanying while he completed grad school. I’d never really experienced anxiety or depression before in the past, but they both became real struggles for me during this time. I’d also had a lot of ongoing physical ailments that I was tired of dealing with- chronic sinusitis even after an invasive sinus surgery a year prior, adult acne, severe seasonal allergies, lack of energy, etc. About a month after I’d moved, I went to a TriFabb event where I met April of Be Pure Beauty and I learned about all the toxins and chemicals in cosmetics for the first time. After I began to clean up my beauty routine, I wondered if I could approach my health problems holistically, too. I found a local naturopathic doctor (Jack Weber of Carolina Clinic of Natural Medicine) and scheduled my first appointment. Instead of writing out a handful of prescriptions and recommending I see specialists, Dr. Weber “prescribed” a plan of action which included removing dairy and gluten from my pseudo-vegetarian diet, meditating, working out, and keeping in closer contact with my family. I loved cheese, so these recommendations were not what I wanted to hear, but I had nothing to lose and stuck with the plan which ended up changing my life forever. This experience made me realize just how vital a healthy diet is to overall health and well-being and I knew that I had to use Epicurean Emily to share this truth.
J: It’s amazing to me that you have made such radical changes in your life. I think a lot of women struggle with managing a healthy work-life flow. Typically, we find ourselves with everything overtaking our days and stop caring for our own well-being. At what point did you know it was time to make a change in your life?
E: I think this is a constant learning curve for all women- we are nurturers by nature and many of us put others’ well-being before our own without even realizing it. I don’t have it all figured out and I often have days where I fail to post on Instagram because I worked all day, then came home, ate dinner, and cleaned the house from top to bottom (I’m a major clean freak!). And since I’m a self-diagnosed clean freak, I think it’s important to make the mundane tasks more enjoyable. I love listening to podcasts while cooking, turning on some upbeat music while cleaning, enjoying my favorite TV show (Parks & Rec, in case you wanted to know) while folding laundry, or catching up on emails/blog posts with a cup of tea and a candle in the evenings. In my opinion, the secret to self-care is to find ways to nurture yourself in every little thing you do throughout the day. And obviously, baths and face masks are nice every once in awhile! ☺
J: This blog focuses primarily on inspiring and encouraging women. What would you say has been the biggest change in your lifestyle to date? And why?
E: I’m really proud of recently adopting a vegan lifestyle because it’s such a freeing way to live. To know that with every meal I eat, I’m not only saving the lives of animals, but also safeguarding my health, minimizing the impact of climate change, ocean devastation, and deforestation, and refusing the support of companies whose bottom line is more important than the welfare of their commodities AND their employees- that realization is just really indescribable and empowering. I think so often we underestimate the impact that we as consumers (primarily women) can have on real, meaningful change, so it’s been really encouraging to see all of the recent interest and innovation in plant-based nutrition and I’m excited to be associated with this new, more compassionate way of living.
J: Blogging, as we all know, is an oversaturated market. Even with all of your new content and lifestyle changes, how do you keep yourself separate from the rest?
E: Blogging has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done- I would argue even more frustrating than changing my diet 180 degrees- haha! I’ve dealt with many periods of discouragement and still struggle with this. Something that I constantly have to remind myself is to remember why I started. And I know that people say this all the time, but if you truly have a passion for helping others, I think that just comes through in your content. I’ve also recently started unfollowing A LOT of people, especially fashion bloggers because it got to the point where I didn’t even recognize the people showing up on my feed anymore and I realized that I wanted my platforms to be a true community. I want to recognize and interact with people who inspire me by who they are as a person, not because they’re wearing the season’s “it” bag. Without realizing it, I let Instagram hinder my own creativity for a long time because honestly, mindlessly scrolling through perfectly staged and photo-shopped pictures all day does something to your brain on a chemical level. I still find a lot of inspiration in print magazines, probably because of my interest in editorial and commercial photography. I think it’s always nice to see things from new perspectives and since so many consumers are using social media platforms to consume fashion content these days, you could try recreating something you’ve seen recently in the pages of Vogue instead of recreating a shot that you’ve seen every other blogger post. Wherever you draw inspiration, I can’t stress how important it is to look for it offline- in nature, in an art museum, etc.
J: Is there a specific individual who has been monumental to your success? If so, who? And in what way?
E: As the kid who ate Pop-Tarts for lunch in high-school, I never would have thought I’d be influencing people to make healthy choices, but here I am and I owe it mostly to April Kensington, who was the catalyst for all of this change because she first inspired me to clean up my beauty routine. April is one of the most genuinely kind humans I’ve ever known. She’s a mom, business-owner, girl-boss, and an amazing friend. I feel like we have been each other’s cheerleaders throughout the process of building our own brands and I can’t imagine going down this path without April’s friendship, guidance, and encouragement. She is truly the real deal and I’m so excited to watch her store, Be Pure Beauty, grow and flourish.
J: We all have one book, blog, or podcast that we’d recommend to others as a “must” check out. What is that for you?
E: “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger has been my nutrition bible and is now why I lean on the plant-based side of veganism. The book is very dense and I recommend the audio book if you’re a slow reader like me. I love following Dr. Greger’s work in the book and also on nutritionfacts.org and his podcast because he only covers “evidence based nutrition”, i.e. he and his team pour over every nutrition study and present the findings to you in an unbiased and easy to understand way. This book will change how you think about food and nutrition when you learn the ways in which your diet can prevent AND reverse ALL fifteen of the top causes of premature death in the U.S. He also has a great cookbook based on his findings in “How Not to Die”.
There are a handful of green beauty bloggers out there right now, but I really resonate with Amanda of The Organic Bunny. She began with just her blog, but now has an amazing online store filled with her favorite products, which are all clean, high-performing, and glamorous. Her mission is to show that green beauty can still be glamorous, which I love, because I’m never givin’ up all the glam no matter how crunchy I become, haha!
I go through phases with podcasts, listening to five old episodes the day I find a new one I love, then forgetting all about it a month later. Haha! I always listen to the Nutrition Facts Podcast, but I’ve recently discovered the Rich Roll Podcast and while the episodes are a little lengthy, the guests are amazing and Rich has great, meaningful responses and questions. Also, the Goop Podcast recently launched and they’re only two episodes in, but I’m already loving it. Gwenyth (Paltrow, the founder of Goop) interviewed Oprah for the first episode and it was so full of gold.
J: I find most people have a mantra or words that resonate with them. Do you have a motto you repeat to yourself daily?
E: “Be the change you wish to see in the world” has always been an encouraging quote that reminds me of my “why” whenever I feel overwhelmed or discouraged.
And I'm excited to share the newest phase of her journey--Emily is moving with her beau and pup to NYC in May! I'm so happy to have met up with her again and was able to interview her before she moves. Keep an eye out for what's up next with this lovely lady, because big things are sure to be on the horizon.
Want to keep up with Emily online?
You can read Emily's blog and learn more about her at her website. Emily is also on Facebook and Instagram.