Wednesday, February 2, 2022

A Talk with Angie Dumas about her Blog "Da’Stylish Foodie" - Interview

Angie Dumas - Da'Stylish Foodie

"...I love cooking and throwing down in my kitchen..." (Virginia Billeaud Anderson - interviewed Angie Dumas about her lifestyle blog Da'Stylish Foodie. Dumas discusses content creation, authenticity and monetization.)

A Talk with Angie Dumas about her Blog Da’Stylish Foodie - Interview

Can’t remember if it was the Fried Shrimp Po-boy with Remoulade Sauce or the Pork Chops covered with a Cherry Glaze that caused me to start gawking at Angie Dumas’ blog Da’Stylish Foodie. I do remember her image goosed my nostalgia for south Loos-iana cooking.

Dumas shares recipes with blog readers. One day I watched a video of her spooning creamy seafood fettucine into a bread loaf shaped like a bowl, its inside smeared with garlic butter, and had to laugh because as decadent as it was, the combination of flavors was right on. A great deal of Dumas’ food content are meals she spoons-out to her family, such as the Osso Bucco-style Lamb Shanks with homemade butter parsley-mashed potatoes and mushrooms she made her hubby Brian on Father’s Day writing, “Ohhh it was sooo good!!” Or the Bar-B-Q Rib Sandwich she concocted for NFL playoffs, “Fingers crossed that our New Orleans Saints can make it in.”

I agree, Angie! Time for the Saints to kick some butt and win another Super Bowl.

Restaurant reviews are an important component of Da’Stylish Foodie. Dumas reviewed Acme Oyster House, for instance, not long after the famed New Orleans establishment dipped its toe into Montrose neighborhood in Houston. When I contacted her to ask for an interview, I learned she had written about one of my brother Billy’s restaurants, Billeaud’s No. 3, and her post attracted many readers. “Go and check out Billeaud’s No. 3 and be sure to tell them that Da’Stylish Foodie sent you.” Thanks honey child.

Da'Stylish Foodie’s Shrimp Po-Boy
with Remoulade Sauce
Da'Stylish Foodie - Steak Night

Angie Dumas - Da'Stylish Foodie
wearing Slap Ya Mama

Food permeates Da’Stylish Foodie. 
Look again though and you see Dumas hunkered down in pajamas patterned with avocados, or her hounds wearing doggie bandanas. Content of this type makes up the “lifestyle” portion of her blog. Here Dumas is sharing her daily activities, the clothes she wears and the products she uses. It isn’t necessary to be a hot-shot internet celebrity with millions of social media followers for brands to want to collaborate. Blog readers want content that feels genuine and attainable and "relatable," and brands and marketers want to partner with lifestyle bloggers and influencers who share a wide variety of content related to their everyday lives and interests. Dumas aces relatable content. A large amount of it centers on her kitchen, and her outside grill in the Houston burbs, and when she leaves the 25% off label on the package of Wagyu Beef in a chili-making video, it’s totally genuine. And on family, hubby Brian is “her Boo,” daughter Jaeda is “Baby Girl,” and son Zach is “Little Man.” A photo of Dumas and Brian in athletic clothes was captioned, “My boo and I rocking our Adidas gear.”

Hoping to learn more about Angie Dumas and Da’Stylish Foodie, I contacted her to ask a few questions.

Virginia Billeaud Anderson: The photography you’re unleashing onto the website and across social media is eye-catching. What equipment do you use and are you rejiggering images with photoshop or other software?

Angie Dumas: I use my iphone for most shots. But there are times I use my Sony camera for sponsored work. Just depends on what I am shooting. I use photoshop and lightroom to edit my photos. Honestly, I don’t spend a lot of time on editing. If you do the shot right the first time, you don’t have to. Photography and video are things I took interest in as a teenager. It came natural for me. I always had a great eye for it. I wish now that I would have gone to school for it. But I continue to learn on my own. And, I am teaching my kids, because I know photography and video aren’t going anywhere. They need to be aware of this so they can be ready, plus to be able to help me out.

Angie Dumas Da'Stylish Foodie
wearing Mt. Olive Pickels

You love “cooking and throwing down in your kitchen,” readers are told. And stuffed your Thanksgiving roast “just like Grandma taught me,” which made me curious about family influence. Let’s face it, when it comes to cooks, south Louisiana has some doozies. Did talented cooks in the family inspire you?

AD: As a young person, I really didn’t have any interest in cooking. A lot of people find that hard to believe, but I did enjoy eating. I have fond memories of my grandma and her boyfriend cooking all sorts of home cooked meals. From killing and cleaning a chicken then creating a chicken stew. Homemade boudin and cracklin were some of my favorite items to eat that they made. Rabbit stew as well, he would hunt the rabbit, clean it and turn it into a stew. My grandma is the one who taught me how to cook. But this was way later, years later. I didn’t learn to cook until I was in my 20’s.

VBA: Angie, if your grandma and her boyfriend killed chickens to make stew, they plucked feathers, to fess up to that indicates complete lack of pretentiousness, which supports the fact that many blog followers prefer a person they can relate to and trust rather than a high-flying type who prances around with a $28,000 piece of Louis Vuitton luggage. Comment on authenticity.

AD: Since I started, it has always been my goal to stay true to myself. I don’t want to be a duplicate of anyone else. I have found my success has come by being true to me. 

VBA: You said in a 2017 interview you began Da’Stylish Foodie because you and your husband dined out a lot, and a friend suggested you start blogging to document your food journey. Discuss the blog’s beginning.

AD: The blog started from my husband and I’s dining experiences. Lafayette Louisiana, where I grew up, is known for delicious food, and the festivals. My blog shared all about the hottest, most happening restaurants in Lafayette then eventually branched out to surrounding areas. We moved to Houston about 3 ½ years ago, for my husband’s job. After a lot of prayer, thoughts, discussions and visits to Houston, we decided to take the leap. It wasn’t an easy decision for me because my blog at the time focused on Louisiana restaurants. Just before the move, I began transitioning into a Lifestyle blog, which looking at it now, was all God, and was the right decision. But it was a tough transition for me.

VBA: Bloggers who transition from a niche like restaurant reviews, or mom blog, or fitness blog to a lifestyle blog reach a wider more diverse audience.

AD: Turning my blog into a lifestyle blog was the right idea because for at least a year or two, I really didn’t have time to do much dining out. Relocating to a big city with two kids and a husband, my priority was making sure that the transition was smooth for them. We had left everyone we knew and were starting over. I wanted home to be familiar and comfortable. I started creating recipes at home, sharing what I was wearing, products I was using, etc.

VBA: Your lifestyle blog’s mission is to share content based on food, fashion, family and faith.

AD: Fashion and faith have been a large part of my life since I was a teenager. I am a very religious person. God is #1 in every area including my business. I love fashion, so much, and it’s been fun incorporating fashion into my food shots. Many people aren’t aware, but I owned an online store years ago. I eventually dissolved it about two years before I moved, so fashion has always been a big part of my life. I love my family, family is my world, my priority.

Da'Stylish Foodie’s Acme Oyster
House restaurant review
Dumas Family - Angie, Brian, Jaeda,
Zach at Acme Oyster House

VBA: Did you build the website?

AD: My husband is my web designer. He handles all things tech for the website, but I create all my own content from photos to writing to videos, all done by me, I’m a one woman show. Content creation is fun to me. I try to remain original and unique and true to myself. But I do realize I am getting to a point as my business is growing that I may have to hire someone to help me with the social media side of things. That’s my least favorite thing.

VBA: Besides restaurant reviews in Louisiana mags, was there anything in your education or professional background that brought you to this, like journalism, or marketing or restaurant work? A particular day job?

AD: No. I didn’t have any interest in food, blogging, marketing etc. I graduated in Child and Family Studies. I spent a few years as a teacher and Youth director at a local church. I later went back to school for my Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Graduated then had a child. I was a stay at home mom until our daughter went to school. After she went to school. I started an online business selling Fashion products for a few years, then started Da’Stylish Foodie before we moved to Texas.

Angie Dumas - Da'Stylish Foodie

Unapologetically, you discuss your faith, mostly in the form of inspirational messages. I believe the blog’s spiritual content helps to drive its growth. To inspire and encourage women, is admittedly your goal, and you pray for the gift of speaking impactfully. Be assured, you were impactful the day you wrote about feeling sad on Father’s Day. Your words were quite moving. Elaborate on the spiritual theme.

AD: Christianity has been a part of my life since I was a teenager. I really heard the call of God around that age. God began speaking to me in ways I can’t even begin to share. He has remained the centerpiece of my life. I love sharing God’s love and positivity with others via the blog or social media, although I refrained from sharing as much in the past because of censorship on some social media during the election drama. But I do share a lot on my instagram stories. Faith is a big part of who Da’Stylish Foodie is and is becoming. My father and I have always had a complicated relationship. He has some demons that have haunted him and prevented him from being a good father. I have forgiven him, and I pray for him. Maybe one day I will write a book about this, many are affected by being fatherless.

VBA: Looks like you’re grinding it with the monetizing. Collaborations, ads, paid partnerships and sponsored posts on the blog and across social media make you look real savvy about that stuff. Do you personally approach the product manufacturers, Slap Ya Mama, Kary’s Roux, all those others, to rope in collaborations? Same question about the fashion, did you lasso the paid partnerships and ambassadorships from Nike and the other clothing manufacturers? Want to disclose income?

AD: I would rather not disclose any financial information. But I am paid from collabs, sponsored post, paid partnerships. When I started years ago, I used to reach out to brands. I don’t anymore. I have been blessed to have people contact me for collaborations. I’m actually turning people away if it doesn’t fit my brand. Most of my fashion opportunities came from companies emailing me about collabs and ambassador opportunities. I am still learning about monetization. Affiliate links are a great way to make money. I love RewardStyle because I can link all my favorite things there and people can shop there.

I am incorporating something new, Branding photo content. Which means if I work with a brand they will have to pay for the photos I take. I get a lot of brands who love my content and want to reuse it over and over again which is amazing but it’s time to get paid for my work.

Ads on a website are also a great way to make money. I don’t have all the answers but I am learning as I go.

VBA: Blog success brought opportunities such as expense-paid international travel, media trips, product testing opportunities, meeting Food Network celebrities and the opportunity to judge an international TV food show. Yet you posted “some opportunities came more slowly for a black woman,” then added inspiration, “delayed doesn’t mean denied and everything happens in God’s own timing.” Give me an example of an opportunity that took longer because you are a black woman.

AD: If you speak to black influencers, you’ll learn we are paid way less than other influencers/bloggers. Some brands who might be interested won’t use a black woman as first choice, but eventually circle back because the talent is there. Only recently have black influencers become popular. The “black lives matter” movement exposed a lot of this. Black influencers spoke up and shared their experiences with brands. Brands that never worked with black influencers gave us a chance.

VBA: I see some cookbooks in the future. What’s coming?

AD: Great question, I have a lot of big dreams that I am hoping for. More travel content for sure, media travel events, custom Lifestyle items that I create myself to expand my brand, a cookbook, a devotional, more video content on my youtube channel and who knows what else, more family content, fashion expansion and much more. My goal is to be known worldwide, not just in Texas and Louisiana. I want to impact the world by sharing what I love. I pray daily for the right timing on everything. At the top of the year, I plan and set goals in place. I let God be my guide and I pray for the right doors to open when the time is right.

VBA: Quick question about the blog’s title. Stylish and foodie are straight-forward, but a few readers might not get the “Da.” I’m guessing this phrase came out of hip-hop culture, because musicians use it in their names and lyrics. Regardless, an expression that used to be a sorry excuse for the English language is now totally mainstream. Does “Da" have personal meaning?

AD: “Da'” is simply slang for “The.” I wanted something different, so I added it in front, instead of just The Stylish Foodie.

Da'Stylish Foodie’s Fried Pork Chop Sandwich
Angie Dumas Da'Stylish Foodie

Angie Dumas Da'Stylish Foodie

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Unraveling Mint Juleps, Pat O’Brien’s Patio, Julep Bar, Anvil Bar and Refuge

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