We had the good fortune of connecting with Essence Collins and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Essence, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m from a small town called Wilson, NC and it has made me EVERTYTHING I am today. Growing up the majority of my family grew up, worked, started families and stayed in Wilson. It’s a cute town to work and live with so many creative people. Black creatives have a strong presence where I’m from, so it made me want to be apart of the elite. Everyone knows everyone or knows of your “people” when they see you in the grocery store. I knew I wasn’t going to live there forever, but I love going back to visit and be with family. My family taught me how to treat people with compassion and kindness. Those values help me with my full-time job and my side hustles.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
By day I am a educator/mentor/advocate. I work in higher education in a multicultural achievement department. I have been working in university settings for about 10 years and I love the impact I have on the life of college students. My senior year in college I became a Resident Advisor in the dorms. My supervisor at the time became my mentor, and that’s when I knew I wanted to work in higher education. I can honestly say I have been fulfilled in my career choice since day one.

By night and passion I’m a creative. I love to cook so I am a food content creator and I go by the name of A Dash of Essence. I post all things food-related on my IG (@adashofessence). I also bake as a side hustle. My specialty is bundt cakes. I love coming up with different varieties of them (Crown Apple Cake, Banana Pudding Cake, etc.). I also launched a digital cookbook during the pandemic.

I started cooking out of love and a need for peace. I have suffered from anxiety in the past and cooking has a way of calming my spirit and mind. Chopping veggies and mixing spices has a soothing rhythm. Cooking was never hard for me, but sharing something I consider my gift with the world can bring stress. Any job that is customer service related can take some of the enjoyment out of it. What if people hate my food? What if I’m having an off day in the kitchen? What if I can’t live up to the hype? All those questions have hindered me from doing more with A Dash of Essence. Right now I consider myself a neighborhood baker/cook but I’m ready to branch out with a few things. I want to be a lifestyle brand that creates a dinner party experience right from the comfort of home. I want to provide people with the tools and confidence to make a great meal.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am very much of a homebody, so my list my be a little short lol. I would take my bestie to Fin and Feathers (I love the one in Douglasville), Poor Calvin’s, HobNob, and Boogalou. I love good food and a vibe, so that’s how I pick where I want to take my friends.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My favorite quote is by Lalah Delia: “She remembered who she was and the game changed.” I say this to myself to remind me that I come from greatness. That greatness comes from God and family.

My mom was the first hustler I ever meet. She still inspires me to this day. When I was growing up she was a beautician and worked full time at a pharmaceutical plant. She is also an amazing baker. During holiday season she had the house sounding off with yeast rolls, cheesecakes, honeybun cakes, 7-Up cakes, and more! I inherited her cooking skills, and embody her hustlers mentality. She was the first person to teach me the importance of multiple streams of income. That’s wisdom that people charge for, so I’m forever grateful for her. Love you Mama!

Website: https://adashofessence.company.site

Instagram: @adashofessence

Twitter: @theessenceofme

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adashofessence

Image Credits
All food photos by Essence. A Dash of Essence and graduation photos by DJ Brinson Photography.

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.