I had the pleasure of interviewing John Kanell, founder of the digital brand, Preppy Kitchen. Preppy Kitchen is a digital food- and family-focused brand that empowers home cooks of all skill levels with inspiration for all of their cooking and hosting needs. John’s goal with Preppy Kitchen is to make cooking at home more approachable, ensuring his audience can spend more time with loved ones. He believes that by providing his followers with the right techniques and a few basic tools, he can help them discover how easy and enjoyable it can be to put together a meal worth sharing. With his cooking, John makes it a priority to use seasonal and readily-available ingredients that will not only make his dishes look delicious, but taste great too. While he loves to scour local farmers markets for the best produce, he also cultivates his own home garden, ensuring readily availability of seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs. A husband to Brian and father to eighteen-month-old twins, Lachlan and George, John is a Los Angeles native who divides his time between Los Angeles and Connecticut. When he’s not in the kitchen, he can be found renovating his new home and its adjacent farm with Brian.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I had been a middle school math and science teacher for over a decade, but have always loved cooking, baking, and entertaining. After my husband and I decided to start a family, I wanted a job that allowed me to work from home so I could spend more time with my (future) children. Now that our sons are 19-months-old, I’m so happy I took the plunge as it has allowed me to be with them every day. Family time is incredibly important to me.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I’ve grown Preppy Kitchen from zero to over a million followers across various social media platforms in 3 years by constantly adapting to changing audience habits and platform best practices. Almost from day 1 of starting Preppy Kitchen on instagram, video has been my primary medium which helped me stand apart early on. Many culinary bloggers are still only publishing still imagery.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Having been an art major in college and painted for many years beyond that, I started Preppy Kitchen with recipes I loved but none of the aesthetic from my artwork. After sharing some of my somewhat homely recipes my husband gently reminded me that people can’t taste my creations online so they have to be visually engaging too to stop people in their scrolls and gain their attention. I started applying my artistic sensibility to everything I made and luckily people’s interest was piqued enough to cluck through, learn more about the recipe, and try it for themselves! The amount of user generated content from my recipes has been very gratifying.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ve had some cakes just fall over and collapse when I had finally finished decorating them. I ended up sharing the fails with my audience and learned that they want to see what really happens behind the camera, not just the polished end product. Honesty and relatability are crucial factors in developing an authentic relationship with your audience.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

Brands right now are incredibly focused on Instagram. Brands will always follow audience engagement and right now the lifestyle audience is most engaged on Instagram.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want many more people to make their own food and eat together with family and friends. Gathering around the dinner table and sharing your thoughts and experiences with loved ones while you enjoy a good meal is so important for staying connected. Food brings people together and it’s been fun to see how Preppy Kitchen has become a dinner table where people from all over the world gather to celebrate their love of good food.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I admire entrepreneurs like Jeffrey Katzenberg, Katherine Power, and Brian Lee for building incredible businesses that touch people on a daily basis.

Thank you so much for joining us!

Using Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business, with John Kanell and Candice Georgiadis was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.