Years before influencers took over the web, Kavita Favelle was taking the blogging world by storm. From home cooking to restaurant reviews, her blog, Kavey Eats, was making an impression and working with brands and organizations all across London.
It wasn’t too long before she began expanding her horizons, and by 2011, she’d been invited on her first press trip.
Despite her success as a blogger, Kavita isn’t interested in blogging full time. She is constantly juggling multiple gigs – and she loves it!
In everything she does, she’s giving her readers honest information, knowing her reviews help them decide how to spend their hard-earned money!
The Perlu Influencer Marketing Podcast team sat down with Kavita to learn how she juggles everything – from a pottery shop and a full time job as a business analyst to her blog and an online cookbook, “Mamta’s Kitchen.” She also shares how essential networking and collaborating with other influencers has been to her career.
You don’t have to be a foodie or world traveler to learn from Kavita! Her story is sure to inspire influencers of all kinds. So curl up on the couch or start your morning commute and hit “play” to get insight on juggling multiple gigs and connecting with influencers.
Interview with Kavita Favelle from Kavey Eats
Perlu: Welcome to the Perlu Podcast. My name is Alexis, on behalf of Perlu. I’m speaking with Kavita Favelle. Kavita, thank you so much for joining us today.
Kavita Favelle: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
P: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how came to be an influencer.
K: Oh, interesting. I’ve actually never really used that term for myself, I have to admit. I tend call myself as a blogger, a writer, a photographer. But I know it’s the new terminology so I think it’s something I should get used to doing. I would say, until now, I’ve always introduced myself as a London-based food and travel blogger. But actually right as we speak, my husband and I are in the process of buying a new house and we’re going to be moving to a little village in Wales, which is a huge change. So I’m going to really have to rethink the way I introduce myself after that.
In terms of how I came to be here, I’ve always loved good food, traveling, writing, photography. I actually begged my parents for my first DSLR when I was 13. So I think, when blogs became a thing, it was really only natural for me to start one myself, and I launched Kavey Eats back in 2009, so almost 10 years ago.
Funnily enough, it was actually my second blog. I did a very short-lived travel one which fell by the wayside. And so when I launched Kavey Eats, I focused on food. At the start I used to write about home cooking, restaurant reviews, reviews of kitchen appliances, cookery classes and books. And I still do all that, but before too long I started introducing the travel content as well.
So my site has been a combined food and travel blog for several years now. On the travel side, I really like to write about culture, cuisine, history. So as well as the usual what to see, what to do, where to stay. I really like to put it into context, so that’s my interest in the travel side. For the new year I’m actually working on a redesign to make the travel aspect more obvious. I think right now the first appearance is geared to food, and I really want my new visitors to see straight away what we offer.
When I started back in 2009, there actually weren’t that many of us writing blogs. And I was very fortunate to become part of a small community of bloggers that were approached by the food and drink and restaurant PRs in our area in London on a regular basis. It probably took a little more time for my travel content to become known.
My first press trip invitation I think was around 2011. I’m actually very grateful to be considered an influencer. My first focus is on the readers. I want to deliver content that they like, they enjoy, and lot I enjoy creating. But second to that, I’m also grateful for the opportunities to work with brands and organizations. That obviously gives me more to write about.
So I guess being an influencer is something that I’m very grateful for.
P: Wow, that’s really awesome. You have been so accomplished as an influencer so far, as well. So you have an online pottery shop with your husband, an online cookbook with your mom – “Mamta’s Kitchen” – a food and a travel blog, and then you’re also a business analyst, and you travel, of course. So tell us a little bit about all of these gigs and how you manage your time.
K: How I manage my time. There’s an old proverb I think that says, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” I think that’s definitely true. I don’t exactly know how it works. I think if you really want something, you just work harder to make it happen. The thing about me is I’m as stubborn as a mule, so I absolutely refuse to give up on any of the things that I enjoy doing. So I kind of find a way to juggle everything. It does mean I can’t dedicate as much time to everything as I might like, but so far at least the balls are still in the air.
In terms of those different things, the pottery is actually the newest one. It was actually down to one of our holidays. We went to Japan a few years – we’ve been a few times – and on our latest Japan trip, one of the things I really wanted to do was to visit one of the traditional potteries that they have around the country. And I ended up doing a one-to-one throwing class with one of their resident potters. And as soon as I got back, that was it. I was like, “I have to find a pottery class.” And then as I really got into it, somehow I managed to get my husband interested as well. So now we both really enjoy it.
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So that’s the most recent one. The cookbook with my mum, “Mamta’s Kitchen,” we launched that website in 2001. It’s actually probably one of the most long-established recipe websites out there, which is wonderful. And it was always intended to just be kind of a family cookbook on the web, and I think it’s been an incredible revelation to us to see how many people around the world have visited and they’ve enjoyed it and they write to us. It’s been a really lovely thing.
In terms of the business analysis, that’s my day job, as you said. I have a lot of time to people saying, “Oh, you know, why don’t you give it up and blog full time?” But the reality is I actually really love it; I’m good at it. I enjoy doing it, so it’s that thing I said: I’m kind of stubborn. I don’t want to give up any of the things that I do. And I think that the issue I always have is that there’s always a hundred other things I want to do, too.
So I really want to try and learn Japanese again. I tried in the past. I’d really like to do more of that. Always, it’s a given, that I’d like to travel more. I think that’s a constant in my entire life. And of course I always want to spend time with family and friends.
So I’m not entirely sure how I manage my time. I guess I’m just stubborn and I want to do everything.
P: Well that’s a great way to live! So you wrote on your About page in Kavey Eats that you come from a travel-loving family and that your husband has been traveling with you for the past 25 years. What do your friends and family think of your success?
K: Oh, that’s a hard question. All my friends and family are successful in their own ways. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t achieved something that I admire – I mean everybody. So I hope they respect what I’ve done and what I do. In terms of the blog, it’s been going for almost 10 years, so I think everybody knows it’s one of my things. I don’t know how many of my friends read it, and I hope those that are interested in food and travel do. I don’t know that it’s something that I really talked about to my friends in terms of other than they know that I do it and I share it. I’ve never really asked them what they think, to be honest. I hope good things, I hope good things.
P: I’m sure great things! During your career, what have you found to be the keys to growing your audience and becoming a successful influencer?
K: Oh, that’s another good question. I would say there’s a few things that were important. The first one is to be genuine. What I mean by that is just to be true to yourself. You learn from others, you get influenced by others, but I think it’s really important to not be a copycat. You need to find your own path, do it your own way. I would say also strive to do things as well as you can. If you’re half-hearted about something yourself, it shows. So the best way to earn respect, I think, is just to give the best you can.
Another one that’s actually something I’ve ranted about before I have to say, to be honest: don’t write a gushingly positive review of an experience just to make the PR or the brand happy if that’s not how you genuinely felt. All it does is it cheats your readers. I’m very conscious when I write that people spend real, hard-earned money based on recommendations from influencers, so while not all of us have the same taste, I think it’s really important to keep it real.
And in exactly the same way, as well as not gushing positively, don’t exaggerate the negatives for shock effect, you know. Be truthful about what didn’t work or what you didn’t like. But I’m not a fan of people that kind of inflate or caricature that just to be more entertaining. You have to remember you’re writing about someone’s business, so being honest is a really big one.
I would say that people who do talk to me about what they think about the blog and the ones that come back have said that one of the things they appreciate is that it’s honest and objective. So I will try to give the positives and the negatives so they get a feeling – a real feeling – for what the meal or the experience or the place was like.
And then the last thing I would add to this is, Will Wheaton – I’m a big fan of his – and as he says, “Don’t be a dick,” which means, essentially, just be nice to people, whether you’re turning something down, whether it’s an offer or an invitation. There’s really no excuse not to be courteous. I think it’s really important to build long-lasting, real relationships, whether that’s with your fellow influencers, with PRs, with marketing agencies, with brands. It’s really just about treating people as you want to be treated yourself, I think, to put it simply.
P: Absolutely, absolutely. So, how do you go about picking the right people to collaborate with?
K: I’m actually active in several food and travel blogger communities. Currently, those are on Facebook, but I’m really hoping for more of that to come onto Perlu as the community here expands. And these communities are really where we get to know each other, know our blogs, and it’s a great place to put the call out for contributions to collaborative articles. So to give you some examples, I’ve been creating a series of posts recently on the best souvenirs to buy from different countries, and I’ve had some absolutely great contributions from travel bloggers. Many of them are the kinds of things that I might not have thought to buy, so it’s really nice to have wider contributions.
I also did a series of posts this summer with food bloggers, rather than travel ones. That was a round-up of some fantastic recipes for summer picnics. So I kind of try and keep it quite varied in terms of the kinds of collaborations. I think the most important thing for me when looking for people to collaborate with and to work with is reliability and quality.
It doesn’t matter how great the content is when it’s sent so long after the deadline that I can’t use it. And that’s happened a couple of times. It’s also not great when people just rush off this perfunctory, very poorly-written collaboration. They send me a blurred photograph, and you kind of know that they’re just doing it to get their name or a link into the post. So I think reliability and quality is really important.
I think, for me, I’m a very firm believer that your reputation is everything. So when I’m creating content for other people’s collaborations, I focus on delivering what I promise – more, if I can. I focus on getting it in on time, I want to nail the brief, I want to deliver high quality material, but I also try and remain consistent with how I write on my own blog as well. So I think that’s the same as what I look for in other people.
P: Wonderful. So what has been your favorite or most successful collaboration?
K: Oh, that’s another great question. I love working with brands and trust boards and organizations on bespoke content. So other than the examples I mentioned before about the souvenir posts and recipe posts I’ve done with other bloggers, in terms of content with brands, I did a full day last year with a representative from the Macau Tourist Board. And I worked with him before the trip to put together an itinerary that was based on my specific interests, on the things that I love to write about.
And so when I got home, I was able to create this comprehensive guide – a travel guide to Macau. Because we worked the itinerary out in advance, it was really easy for me to do my focus on culture, history and food.
I’ve also had some great group press trips, which is a wonderful experience in terms of seeing the best of that place. And then I get lots of material to create content, so that’s always great fun. On the food side, I do sometimes get approached by food brands, and one of my most popular recipes at this time of year is actually a cheese board and chutney quiche. And I developed that for a commission for a British chutney and pickle brand, and I love that kind of commission because it allows me to be creative in thinking of the idea. I get to use my own photography. I write up a new idea, but it’s in my own style. But at the same time, I can showcase that brand’s product, so that’s always great fun.
And I also love doing restaurant reviews at home and in traveling, and those are often collaborations with the restaurant owners as well.
P: Wow, wow, what a great life. I would love to do those kind of collaborations!
K: It’s good fun, it’s good fun. I’m very lucky.
P: Could you share with us some of the ways that you’re using Perlu for such kinds of collaborations?
K: Mm-hmm, absolutely. So far, I have been focusing on connecting with other influencers and building up packs of like-minded influencers. So right now, I have packs of food and travel bloggers in Europe, food and travel bloggers worldwide. And I’m also trying to build some more specific packs for those who do specific things like hotel reviews and recipe creations. And I’ve also been exploring and joining relevant packs set up by some of the other members in the community. In terms of collaborations, I’ve just started dipping my toes in the water, but I’ve actually been writing notes about some of the things I’m planning for the new year, and I’ll be loading a bunch of new collaboration requests over coming weeks.
What I would like to do more of on Perlu is to be able to network within the platforms, so I would love discussion forums with impact, so that we can get conversations going. One of the things I find the most helpful in terms of community for fellow bloggers is you learn so much. So everything from improving website design, suggestions about handy WordPress plug-ins, advice on photography, suggestions for media packs, how to pitch to tourist boards. So much advice.
And the exact the same way, I love being able to share things that have worked for me. If someone asks for something and I can help, it’s great to be able to return the favor. So I’m hoping to get more of that kind of collaboration in Perlu as well going forward.
P: Okay. So Kavita, tell me about some of your favorite places that you’ve visited.
K: Oh, I love this question. This is one of my favorites. I would say my top three places are: Antarctica, Japan and the third one is tricky, because then there’s lots of places, but I’ll go with Botswana.
Antarctica is the most incredible place. It really is a trip-of-a-lifetime type of a place. We’ve actually been very fortunate that we’ve done that trip twice. And it’s a combination of the fact that it’s so remote.; the scenery, the icebergs and the landscapes are so stunningly beautiful; and then you have the wildlife and going ashore and sitting on a beach where there are literally half a million penguins. There is nothing like it that I’ve ever experienced anywhere else. It’s utterly magical. And if you’re into photography, it’s magic. I’m saying the word “magical” a lot, but Antarctica really is.
I’m slightly obsessed with Japan, and I think some of my friends make fun of me a little bit because pretty much at any given time of day, if you ask me what I’m thinking about, it’s probably a good chance of it being a future trip to Japan. We’ve been three times so far. The last time we went was for a month, and I feel like we’ve just touched the surface.
Both my husband and I absolutely love it. There’s a fascinating culture – the history, the landscape, the architecture and the food. Above all, the food – oh my God. So I would happily go to Japan every single year for the rest of my life, and I don’t think I’d ever get bored. So that’s a big one.
And then I said Botswana as my third choice, I think. Safari is another thing we absolutely love. So we’ve done safaris in Botswana, in Kenya, in Tanzania, in South Africa. Botswana stands out because the camps are quite smaller and isolated, so you have this wonderful opportunity to see the wildlife incredibly close up – knowing that there’s not so many of you there that you’re going to disturb the wildlife – and you get these just fantastic encounters. It’s such a privilege to see wildlife in its native habitat. I don’t think it will ever get old. I just absolutely love it.
P: Sounds beautiful, wow. Yes, those are three places that I’ve been dying to visit myself.
K: Oh, I hope you get there!
P: Well thank you so much for your time today. We really loved hearing from you, Kavita.
K: Oh, no, it’s been my absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
P: Okay, thank you so much!