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

Hi Toby, how do you think about risk?
Risk… the road less traveled. My story of going face-to-face with risk might have begun when I auditioned for a high school play. I was quiet and shy but there was something that drew me to the stage. Something that over came the fear of rejection to ‘take a risk.’ I think it was telling a story from a different point of view. I got the part. Following that passion led to a theatre arts major. I took another risk and then I stopped. I told myself life got in the way. A boyfriend. A ‘real job’ to pay the bills. In retrospect I got scared. Lack of confidence raised its ugly head. The risk froze me in a world that was less than I had imagined. The opportunities I might have taken were swept aside. Eventually I started a boutique marketing company. Perhaps it was because people asked for my help that made the venture feel less awkward and not much of a risk. It coincided with the early days of blogs and digital marketing. I launched one of the first marketing blogs and branded it Diva Marketing. It was definitely a risk to put my ideas and true self into the blogosphere. If you’ve ever dropped a post on social media you know you are vulnerable to ‘feedback’ from the world. It’s one of the biggest risks a businessperson can take because it’s interwoven with your reputation. It’s like being on stage with a million critics reviewing your work. What was different about the risk I took that time? I believed (and still do) passionately that blogs, and now social media marketing, could be used to build stronger relationships between brands and customers. It was important to me to help traditional marketers understand this new, exciting way of conducting business. From way back to those theatre days I’ve been fascinated by people’s stories and wanted to find a way to highlight them. A bog would give me a platform to do just that. With a little prayer to the Internet goddess I hit published. Was it worth the risk? Hell yes! That one little website led to friendships, learnings, and experiences I could never have imagined. From speaking engagements to being highlighted in best selling books to working with amazing clients it’s been a thrill. I was even called “the marketing diva.” How cool is that? Recently I took an “intentional” risk to focus on all things culinary. The funny thing is I’ve discovered what was always in my heart – a love for the culture of food. There is a new website/blog called Diva Foodies where I tell the stories often through interviews of talented people who are passionate about what my chef friend Juan Montier calls their “love language.” Stepping into this world has led to opportunities from judging food contests (hard work believe it or not!) to restaurant, whisky, wine, and of course craft food tastings complete with blog posts. I’ve also discovered something called food tourism which combines my love of food and culture. Who knew? What’s next? I’ve been thinking about of a podcast or perhaps a book that highlights small, craft food makers through their stories. Maybe it’s diving into the newest social media channel Clubhouse where I can shine a light to increase awareness. Who will win this time? The ugly confidence grabber and the risk whisperer still in my head that say, “Do you believe in you? “Or will it be… ‘the road less traveled?’

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
“Intentional.” A friend gave me the gift of a word that changed the focus of my career and gave me permission to follow a dream. As my story goes… I was downsized from what was suppose to be my perfect job. It was during a blizzard in Atlanta when we were huddled at home. I found myself watching too much food TV, cooking and baking. I was at odds with what would come next in career. My experience was loaded with years of digital and social media marketing but how to leverage my skills and figure out ‘the next’ was a true dilemma. After interviewing with agencies and organizations that were not a match I was frustrated and a little unnerved of where I could go. Taking my friend’s words to heart I realized I had never done anything “intentional” in my career journey. I had floated from opportunity to opportunity. To be “intentional” sounded both frightening and exciting? The Big Question was – “What?” As for so many of us the answer was right in front of me. Those food TV shows held the secret. Food was a passion from the time I baked little challahs with my grandma. I knew I wanted to continue as a digital marketer. Could I combine both? Researching the market I saw there were lost marketing opportunities on many culinary websites and social media pages along with mushy branding. I created a website and a company I called Diva Foodies. My friend Marianne came on-board as co-founder. No matter how delicious a dish is unless there are paying customers there is no business. Diva Foodies was created to support foodpreneurs, aka craft food makers, chefs, catering companies, cookbook authors, digital food networks, food publishers in using digital and social media marketing to grow business. I jumped on social media channels to begin to build relationship and to listen to chefs and food makers. Still watching food TV I began searching Twitter for conversations around shows. Fascinating to me was the extent of live tweeting focused on these shows. Intentionally I joining those conversations, consistency interacting over time, I ‘met’ chefs and contestants from shows like Gordon Ramsey’s Master Chef and Master Chef Junior, Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped and more. Those relationships led to developing a unique series of tweet chats – #FoodTVChat. For the first time chef contestants and their audiences/fans were brought together in fast-paced, real-time exchanges. It was exciting to see fans interact with their favorite reality TV chefs. We then created several digital cookbooks based on recipes graciously shared by the chefs. “Celebrate Love” is a free coloring book with recipes from food TV Chefs. In all candor building this business has been slow going. In the culinary the world margins are thin but need is great. As a marketing consultant walking that fine line is a challenge. How to bring value while not breaking the bank for clients but still earning a living? It’s a step-by-step, day-by-day process. The work we do is rewarding and needed. In concert with the talented people behind the pots and pans Diva Foodies builds unique brand positioning and supporting content direction, DIY coaching, customized workshops along with execution of tactics from content creation, social media reviews/audits, competition analysis, newsletters to LinkedIn Profiles are some of our offerings. Checkout the “Small Bites” packages on www.divafoodies.com developed just for small businesses. We love partnering with Commercial Kitchens, Farmers Markets, Economic Development Agencies, and Departments of Agriculture to support their culinary clients’ growth. We see what we do is not only a way to help our clients but the local economy which is built on small businesses. Lessons Learned: Putting you vision into play is never an overnight success… it takes time, consistency, and intention. However, if you work with clients and an industry you fall in love with it can be a delicious adventure.

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 would of course create an exciting food experience taking my friends from farm to fork. The metro Atlanta area is home to farms and ranches that welcome visitors. If it happens to be berry season we’d begin at one of the farms where you can pick your own sweet, juicy produce. Southern Belle Farm in McDonough is a working farm less than an hour south of the city. We’d then visit the farmers markets where we could buy food from local farmers and ranchers to take home to cook a meal together. Craft food makers’ sauces, spices, and even delicious chocolates are also for sale at these markets. Artisian foods make the very best gifts and memories of your travels. The farmers markets are located in many urban and suburban neighborhoods including Grant Park and Piedmont Park. I’d definitely want to show them the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market where I had my first (and only) taste of red Georgia clay! Then off we’d go for a visit to the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market. In this indoor one-company owned market you can find foods from the Far East, Middle East and so much more. I always feel I’ve been on a little trip to distance lands. While we were in that part of town, which is in Atlanta’s Asian community, we’d grab lunch at the Korean Woo Nam Jeong – Stone Bowl House restaurant famous for its sizzling dolsots (blazing hot stone bowls) bibimbap. Be careful! The bowls are very hot to ensure the rice at the bottom is enjoyed in the traditional crispy style. So good. If we were very lucky we might even get to take a photo with the chef and owner, affectionally known as Grandma Ha. One day we’d go to West Atlanta to dine at Chef Deborah VanTrece’s award winning Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours. My friends would enjoy amazing modern Southern food. We’d find time to stop by an authentic Italian deli and restaurant in the quaint Virginia Highland neighborhood. Chef Luigi D’Arienzo, the owner and executive chef of Tuscany At Your Table, brings a delicious touch of the Italy to Atlanta. If Chef is not too busy he might even tell us the best way to purchase Parmigiana. Atlanta is home to a wide range of food festivals beginning in the spring going into the fall. A couple of favorites are Taste of Atlanta, Taste of Conyers, and Les Dames Escoffier’s Afternoon in the Country. Festivals are a wonderful, easy way to experience foods from many local chefs and restaurants all in one location. Folks might be surprised to learn there are craft beer and wine distilleries in and around metro Atlanta that not only offer tours but tastings. We would definitely explore a few like Old Fourth Distillery, ASW Distillery, and the husband wife founded gin factory Hope Springs. It seems appropriate to end our Atlanta food experience at The Alden which means old friend in Old English. Chef Jared Hucks’ food is inspired from his years of international travel and cooking at some of the world’s finest restaurants. We, of course, would request places at the seating counter overlooking the open kitchen. My friends would definitely leave understanding Atlanta’s food scene is diverse and delicious. 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 heartfelt Shout Out is for my dad – Louis Bloomberg. He took a risk when he opened his marketing research business at a time when it was called a ‘kitchen table’ business. He was my confident, my mentor, my friend. He was my champion who never told me I couldn’t do it no matter what “it” might be. He taught me that actions have consequences but if you believe in something it is your responsibility to weigh the situation and then do what is in your heart.

Website: www.divafoodies.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/tobydiva

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tobybloomberg

Twitter: twitter.com/DivaFoodies

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

Other: www,bloombergmarketing.com twitter.com/tobydiva Clubhouse Toby Bloomberg @tobydiva

Image Credits
Bonnie M. Morét https://www.bonniemoret.com

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