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Conversations with the Inspiring Johanna Mirpuri

Today we’d like to introduce you to Johanna Mirpuri.

Johanna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started Momma Cuisine in 2009 when social media and blogging was fairly new. I realized quickly that I had the opportunity to share my love for cooking, my experiences as a young mother and businesswoman while building a brand.

My cooking show “In The Kitch with Momma Cuisine” has given me so many opportunities to share all the great things about cooking with celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Duff Goldman, Daniel Boulud and more. Some of them like Fabio Viviani, Wolfgang Puck, and Duff Goldman have been on the show twice! Food and cooking truly bring some of the most interesting people together and being Momma Cuisine have afforded me to have doors opened to me at a time when I had to really explain to TV producers, magazines and other media outlets what it was I was doing. In The Kitch with Momma Cuisine is the original Chicago online cooking show since 2009!

Because of the power of connecting to so many people on social media, being Momma Cuisine gave me a professional outlet to be a Creative Director and professional marketer creating and executing national campaigns like national cooking tours, contests, promotional video content and even car campaigns for big brands. I would’ve never gotten that kind of executive level experience working for an ad agency. But as Momma Cuisine, I had all the opportunities for success which I am so grateful for.

Today, after almost 10 years in the cooking show, I have added on to my businesses becoming a life insurance agent. YES! At first is sounds like it has nothing to do with Momma Cuisine. However, it is in total alignment with my mission to help everyday families and empowering them, this time with their finances and protecting their income. Growing my flagship agency in Oakbrook, Illinois with PHP Agency, I have found a new found passion that has challenged me in the most amazing ways. Not only do I get to help families become more financially secure, but I FINALLY have the opportunity to help people with their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs in an industry that is growing exponentially!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s only a smooth road on social media. Although I share a lot of my personal and professional challenges as well because, at the end of the day, we are all human. And we all experience challenges. Just as the best love songs come from pain because we can all relate, I believe the same goes with sharing your real struggles in public when you’re in any way shape or form a “public figure.”

Much of the struggles is that media, especially social media is fairly new. It’s the wild wild west out here and it’s anyone’s game. It’s been especially hard in the last three years or so when I believe that there is too much of the same out there. Social media has become one big ad space and commercials. Brands use “influencers” to flood their streams with ads and there’s a lot of lost authenticity.

I’ve always wanted to have a business and that means making money. But as an “influencer” or “media personality”, me and my team were intent in building our business on supporting and being a spokesperson for only a handful of brands per year. We never wanted Momma Cuisine to be pushing a new product every day. Plus, it doesn’t give much value to the brands you represent.

Our business model was simple (yet hard). Represent a handful of major brands exclusively and create the best year-long campaigns to give them the highest return while giving value to your followers. It was the best plan we made a lot of money. Everyone was happy and I had the freedom to be creative, inventive, fun and really do things that were unique. The brands loved it and so did our followers!!

It’s not the case anymore today.

To women who are starting their journey in any kind of business or niche — be yourself. You don’t need a professional photographer to have compelling posts. You don’t need to post every single aspect of your life for people to engage with you. Let your business shine for the really great services and/or products you offer. Yes, play the game, buy ads, post fun things — but it is not the end all be all. At the end of the day, your work will speak volumes and social media will always change on you.

What should we know about Momma Cuisine? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am cooking show host known as Momma Cuisine. Momma Cuisine is about making great everyday meals affordable and elegantly with simple ingredients and basic cooking techniques.

I am most proud of the fact that the brand I created in a little townhouse was able to grow over almost 10 years in business. That is ages in the digital world. I believe that people and brands were drawn to Momma Cuisine because it was never pretentious, “I am a perfect mom” kind of vibe.

I always wanted people to feel that they were Momma Cuisine. We all were! We’re all moms who are doing our best to live our best lives using food as a way to connect with others. These days, it’s harder to set yourself apart from others when there is so much of the same. But I hope that people who love Momma Cuisine do so because they can relate to me and we can relate to each other.

I rarely post curated photos of myself. I don’t pose like I’m in a magazine ad. Honestly, I have tried and I feel so silly doing it. It’s just not real! I’m actually quite irritated with social media at the moment. I’m not sure if I’m just jaded now being in a business this long or if I’m just bored with it. But I do know that change is always good and the women who have followed my journey from the beginning how to have kids on their way to college when in the beginning we were all whining about making kid-friendly meals!

What an incredible journey.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
I feel that the biggest barriers are still much of what it’s always been. Women and mothers, in particular, are always faced with having to decide between career and motherhood. This is why so many moms are bloggers and figuring out how to make money, have a meaningful career while serving their families.

In my new business with PHP Agency, I have the chance to help Mommas have integration between career and motherhood. Entrepreneurship has given me the most freedom with my time and finances. It has empowered me the most more than any 9-5 job ever will and I am adding to my crusade with empowering everyday moms with great everyday meals and now with entrepreneurship.

This is the most exciting year yet!

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Image Credit:
mommacuisine

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