September Member of the Month : Amanda Torres of The Curious Coconut
We're so thrilled to introduce you to our fourth Member-of-the-Month, Amanda Torres! Amanda is a renowned blogger, author, photographer, and neuroscientist and soon to be a certified Primal Health Coach. Her readers rave about her recipes that celebrate the heritage and culture of Latin America (and Southern US) but make them accessible to those with modified diets. Her recipes are fun, easy, gut-friendly AND delicious- what more could you want? As icing on the cake, her cookbook is currently blowing up as a #1 new release on Amazon!! She's a total boss and inspiration to us (Dorothy and Sarah) and we can't wait for you to meet Amanda!!
Rising Tide Society Memphis (RTS) : What is your favorite part of being a creative (or creative entrepreneur) in Memphis?
Amanda Torres (AM) : My favorite part about being a creative entrepreneur in Memphis is that I finally feel a strong and real connection to the place in which I live. My business has been 100% online for most of its existence. Since moving to Memphis I have been absolutely blown away by how incredibly supportive and nurturing Memphians are for one another, especially if you are a creative. Now that my book is out, I have people who want to buy it just because I am a local author here in Memphis - which is amazing! I can't say past cities would have been so warm and welcoming to me, and I also never felt that my community wanted me to be more involved with in-person events before I got to Memphis. I have a lot to offer and look forward to hosting things like cooking classes, informational workshops, and soon, one-on-one services as a Primal Health Coach. I never felt a strong pull to do local work in past cities.....there is something special about Memphis in that regard! Everyone is so supportive, people care about what is happening in their city, and we love to get out and do all sorts of things (not just hit up the bars like some cities). It has been an honor and a pleasure to be a part of our thriving creative community, especially through Rising Tide Society events!
RTS: What is your favorite part of your creative business?
AT: I think I would be crazy not to say my favorite part is getting to EAT my handiwork at the end of the day! Haha. But honestly, the part I love the most doesn't necessarily have to do with creativity per se: it's the connection with my readers. I founded my site as a way to reach people with my health & weight loss journey in an honest way, utilizing my background as a neuroscientist to legitimize it all. I was in an extremely dire situation and facing a lifetime of medications and chronic illnesses, and felt so hopeless - I wanted to be able to offer a glimmer of light to people in a similar situation to me. I never imagined I would eventually have millions of visitors to my site and would have people literally thanking God for me and telling me I saved their life on a weekly basis. That makes everything I do worth it, and is more fulfilling than I could have ever dreamed of! So that is absolutely my favorite part of my business, but I also really enjoy the process of food photography.
RTS: What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time to your first day of starting a business?
AT : I would tell myself to start treating it like a business MUCH sooner than I actually did. Even though I was earning income with my blog in the first year, I was still working a "real job" as a neuroscience researcher and so I played it down as just a hobby. I did have a very clear goal in mind to be able to quit my job and blog full time, but it was just really hard for me to take it seriously and have the appropriate mindset. Once I did, things grew very quickly and my income also increased. I also should have been writing an eBook as soon as I launched. So to anyone else looking to start a blog that will become a real source of part-time or full-time income, start to treat it like a real business from the get-go.
RTS : Your health story and journey really is so amazing and inspiring- what would you say to someone on the other side, just starting to get healthy and serious about food and exercise?
The body is capable of amazing things. It wants to heal and feel good if you give it the right conditions in which to thrive. I do know this: you won't be able to make sustainable changes until you really feel that fire inside that you HAVE to do something differently. You have to have a very clear goal in mind and be committed to making some sacrifices in order to achieve them. A diet overhaul like going Paleo is no joke. It takes lots of planning, education, and can make certain social situations a little tricky. Of course, given my success with it, I think that a Paleo template is a fantastic place to start, and for many people can be a way to notice improvements in many areas of your health in a very short time (I noticed improvements within the first week, and began losing weight immediately) - but it is not the right path for everyone. The #1 biggest change you can make to improve your health is to cook your food from scratch, and remove processed foods (anything that comes in a can, jar, box, bag, etc.) from your kitchen.
RTS: You've written 6 eCookbooks available on your website, and are about to release your first printed cookbook. So exciting! What made you want to go into print, and how was the experience of getting a book printed?
AT : As soon as I launched my blog I knew I wanted to have a print cookbook. And when I set my sights on a goal, I achieve it. The eBooks have done a lot to support me, and I am grateful for the income they have brought in. But I wanted to have a much larger impact with a nationally-distributed book. That's why I wanted to work with Page Street Publishing, who are distributed by Macmillan. They produce beautiful books and I have many friends who have also worked with them - they are one of the top 2 publishers for Paleo cookbooks. Writing a print book was in some ways easier than doing eBooks, because with eBooks you have to wear all of the hats or be in charge of hiring help. Working with a publisher, all I had to do was create the recipes and write them. Someone else edited, proofread, and designed it. They also work with an outside PR firm to take care of a lot of the publicity. It was a lot of work, don't get me wrong, but it was worth it and I hope to write another cookbook!
Thank you SO much, Amanda! Weren't her answers so inspiring?? Find Amanda on her website, instagram, facebook, twitter, snapchat, youtube, google +, and pinterest and buy her newly released cookbook on Amazon here.
Amanda also recently did an interview with our Rising Tide Memphis Co-Leader, Dorothy! Check it out here.