You guys!! I am SO freaking thrilled to be starting a brand new content series on What The Fab today. It’s Woman Crush Wednesday, where I’ll be sharing Q&A-style interviews with bad-ass female entrepreneurs who are paving their own way, founding their own companies, and slaying the day.
I’ve actually been wanting to start this series for literal years, but just didn’t have the time while I was working full time at Google and the blog was my side hustle. Well, now that What The Fab is my all the time hustle, I’m excited to get this new series going!
Lindsay and I met at Taste the Nation SF, an event benefiting No Kid Hungry. Food La La had a table set up in the VIP section and as soon as I saw “macaron decorating” I knew I’d be spending some time there. I was blown away by the fun sprinkles, edible paints, and just general whimsy of her macaron decorating table. Lindsay had made unicorn macarons as inspiration, and while mine didn’t turn out quite like that, it’s pretty amazing how chic a pink macaron with a swipe of gold paint can look! Ooh, lala! (GET IT?? #FoodLaLa) Lindsay and I got to chatting and even though her area was really popular and busy we exchanged cards and got coffee shortly after, and I just fell in love with her story! Read on for more about Lindsay, queen of macarons.
Lindsay! We’re so excited to have you kicking off our Woman Crush Wednesday series. Please introduce yourself to What The Fab’s readers.
Hey everybody! I’m so excited to be here. I am the head chef and macaron expert at Food La La. I write and develop weekly recipes and instructional cooking videos to help teach people just like you how to cook! My cooking philosophy is simple: when you understand why a certain recipe, technique, or ingredient is important you can learn more broadly and much faster (and eventually be comfortable enough to cook without a recipe!).
I also employ a staff of hostesses and bakers and run the commercial kitchen operations for our signature event: Le Macaron Bar (a fun DIY experience where you get to bedazzle your own box of macarons!).
I believe in fancy—but never fussy—and cannot wait to share some of my favorite tricks with you.
Where were you working before starting Food La La? What prompted you to leave?
Oh my! I love this question. I graduated from college in 2009 just as the economy tanked and eagerly accepted my first job offer (a sales type role for a life and disability insurance company). After about four years selling insurance, I was one of two women nationally to be put through a management training program. I got to spend more time with my boss and learn about the problems she was solving, the meetings she was going on, and what her day-to-day looked like. The more I learned about this promotion, the less I was interested. I knew my five-year-old self would remind me that life is short and I should go find something that lights me up!
What did you do after leaving your corporate job?
Since I was young, I have had a fascination with the French: food, art, culture, design. I wanted to learn more about where great food comes from and what the French were doing with it that made it so special. So, I applied for a six month traveler’s visa, packed a 60 pound bright magenta suitcase, and bought a one way ticket to Paris. I spent a lot of time with farmers—exchanging labor for room and board. I worked for a vegetable farmer in Normandy, a foie gras farm in Perigord, an organic and biodynamic winery near Avignon, I attended pastry school near the Mediterranean, and received a Cuisine Certificate from Le Cordon Bleu Paris.
That sounds so damn dreamy! So what happened after that? How did you launch Food La La? What was the hardest part/any lessons learned?
When my French visa expired, I returned to San Francisco to build a new career as a private chef. Guests wanted to know my secrets—What spice went into that? How do you cook in such a small kitchen for twelve people? Can a beurre blanc be reheated? My hosted dinners for twelve (for which I shopped, prepped, cooked, served, and cleaned for single handedly) quickly evolved into classes and corporate team building for 125+ guests.
I formally launched the brand in 2016 and have grown so much since then! We now specialize in macaron-centric corporate events and team building experiences, and I get to create cooking content for my beloved subscribers!
And yes—so many lessons learned. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Just do something. There is so much clarity in action and experience. You can spend days, weeks, months making plans and estimations but you have no idea how something is going to look and feel until you just go out and do it. You will never feel fully “ready” for anything (and if you do, you probably waited too long). I never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d be hosting macaron-centric corporate events for companies like Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Pinterest, Williams-Sonoma, Google, and Facebook (I mean, how nichey is that?!), but after experimenting and seeing what didn’t work, and what I didn’t like, that’s where I am. You have to trust that all those little actions will add up and guide you. But you’re not going to get anywhere sitting at your computer, or saying “I’ll do this when…”
- Don’t worry about competition. YOU are your secret sauce. Yes, there are a million food bloggers, fashion consultants, dog walkers, and social media marketing companies out there—but—it’s going to be unique because it’s YOUR special expression and interpretation. There are people who will only hear the message because of the way YOU deliver it. Nobody can duplicate that. Similarly, support, lift up, and celebrate your peers because a win for them is a win for you, too. There’s room for us all! 🙂
What’s your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur? Least favorite?
The best part is undoubtedly being my own boss and the flexibility and autonomy that come with being an entrepreneur. Yes, I often work late into the evening, on weekends, and on holidays, but I also get to take a 10 am yoga class or book a last minute flight somewhere fun without feeling guilty. Creativity lights me up so it’s totally exhilarating to have a vision and get to execute it—I get to bet on myself every single day.
The hardest part though is being alone. It’s easy to feel like I’m on an island (hello marketing, customer service, accounting, operations #partyofone) and when any fear, anxiety, or self doubt creeps in I have to be the one to pull myself out of the hole. There’s nobody else around to do it. But, learning how to do that has made me grow immeasurably.
What are you most excited about these days?
Our savory macaron happy hour!! We’re going to be hosting a ton of them for corporate team building/retreats/client entertaining over the summer months. (I know—what the %$#@ is a savory macaron!? Think unique flavors like gorgonzola/dark chocolate/raspberry, or smoked salmon/goat cheese/citrus/dill, each paired with an amazing small batch wine). It’s SUCH a cool and different experience!
I’m also pretty jazzed about curating our spring/summer sprinkle collection. 🙂
What’s your favorite way to decompress?
I love reading a good book and drinking a glass of wine on Sunday afternoons, hiking up near Marin, or (don’t judge us…I know we’re lame) playing dominoes with my husband! We’re getting so into it lately…
Let’s do a few fill in the blanks!
If I weren’t an entrepreneur, I’d love to be an energy intuitive healer (I’m very into the universe/woo-woo ✨).
When I’m not hustling, you can find me talking to my family (they’re all up in Seattle and I miss them every day!), taking a fun workout class, or reading a business/self-help book (currently reading Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro).
My guilty pleasure is treats! I love love love ice cream, sour gummies, and can’t say no to anything involving sea salt and caramel.
If I had to eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be pasta (with a serious sprinkling of parmesan cheese and sea salt).
Ok, how much do we love Lindsay and her incredible story? I loved hearing about how she knew she had a passion and pursued it, and then figured out how to turn that passion into a business. ??
I’m also so excited to share that Lindsay is going to be What The Fab’s first guest-contributor! I’ve been wanting to bring on someone who is a rockstar in the food/entertaining space (because like, I can cook and it’ll be great, but photos from my tiny SF kitchen are not making their way on Martha Stewart any time soon), and Lindsay has some incredible content that I can’t wait to share on here!
Have a suggestion for the next boss babe I should interview for Woman Crush Wednesday (or hell, want to toss your own name into the ring?)? Shoot me an email at: [email protected].
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.