DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?
Johnna French is a Harlem NY native with deep roots in Washington, DC and North Carolina. All three places have heavily influenced her life and the foods she loves today. After graduating Howard University School of Law and beginning her life as a young professional in the city she was led to start Johnna Knows Good Food in November 2007 to keep family, friends and colleagues updated on where to go and what to eat while dining in the nation’s capitol. French, who still practices law, leads a team of three writers to cover the ever expanding Washington, DC food scene. French has been featured in print and television, appearing in Washingtonian Magazine and is a regular contributor to various local TV affiliates including WUSA 9 and WJLA’s News Channel 8.
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
JF: Funemployed means doing a “job” where you want to pinch yourself to see if it’s real. Is this really how you get some or all of your income?! My path to becoming a funemployed food blogger/writer was driven by my desire to share my nights out on the town and time spent in the kitchen with family and friends. People would often ask me about the new hot spots, the best recipes to cook for date night and/or other miscellaneous food questions. I figured a blog would be the best platform to share this information.
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
JF: Many of my friends from law school were my biggest cheerleaders. One of them gave me the idea to get five friends to share my blog link with five more friends to get the word out. Another friend gave me good feedback on the defects with my blog link and views from third parties. They saw the impact that the blog could have and encouraged me to go full swing with it.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
JF: School. School is probably the closest format to what has prepared me for and kept me focused on what to do each week with the site. Not the part of school that I loathed i.e. chemistry and biology class but more like the “fun” school, Art class and Home Economics (I loved these classes!). The “fun” school required me to get there on time, exercise my creative energies and do homework that I enjoyed. This is much like my life as a food blogger/writer where I set deadlines, creatively express myself each week and set aside specific days/times to produce content for the site.
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
JF: Everywhere! I pick up ideas for the site from walking to the metro to watching terrible etiquette on my favorite reality shows (my weekly post “Etiquette Tuesday” is my claim to fame). I am motivated every time I see a Retweet, “Like”, invitation to learn about something new in this food scene and the best is when I google something and my site pops up on the first page. Somebody is reading MY stuff!
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
JF: Downtime, downtime, downtime. I work a regular day job and food is my second job, so it is imperative that I find balance in between those two worlds. I have a tech shutdown policy every night at about 9 pm allowing me recharge and focus on my present space. I also cut out time for social time and weekend brunch, it is an absolute must in this town.
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
JF: Above I mentioned how school was probably the best model for what prepared me for the blogging world. The same sacrifices apply as far as I have to cut out time to get the grade and the grade in blogging being the mention in another outlet, the RT, the “Like” on the fan page and/or simply the comments left under a good post.
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
JF: Women in the food industry in D.C. rock. We help each other and support each other. I would say the struggles in general have been more based on building the brand, gaining the respect and garnering the attention.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
To branch out. I am a creature of habit and that can debilitate your growth in this industry. You have to keep moving, growing, building and forging a way to the next step. I finally caught on to the changing trends and have not looked back.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
Not speaking up or asking the right questions. There have been plenty of missed opportunities because I did not ask or speak up about how much I wanted the opportunity.
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
There have been so many! I would say my fave was having Joey Fatone (former member of boyband N’Sync) cook in my kitchen for his show My Family Recipe Rocks on the Live Well Network. He liked it so much he ended up taking my Slow Cooked BBQ ribs to The Talk.
DCF: What’s next??
JF: Working on the second installment of my book series “So You Want to Be a Food Blogger”. This one will be titled “So You Want a Wedding”. Etiquette Tuesday is still growing and I am working on the third installment to the series with this one. Other than that, the site celebrates its eighth birthday this year and I’m looking forward to bringing it in with a bang!