What got you into starting an internet blog? Did you do anything before this?
Michelle: I’m originally from rural Virginia. Going into town was a big deal and family event while I was growing up. Now living in the Milk District in Orlando, Florida allows me the opportunity to walk around and enjoy restaurants as we have so many in a small geographic area. Have always been a foodie and moving to my area of Central Florida, I got the idea that I wanted to try all the restaurants in the area near me. With so many around and many opening all the time, I got me wanting to try them all. At first, I was only taking photos and not posting, sharing, or doing anything with them until my husband talked me into putting them online. Once I started to put them up, I started the MadeinOrlando website. It really started to come together after my first organized event. I enjoy putting on events in my local events for local small businesses, one of my early favorite events was in a local Lucky’s Supermarket. I have always had marketing ideas that I could share with local small businesses. That event was one where I invited all of the Orlando based companies that were currently being actually sold on in my local Lucky’s store to have a sampling day. It was hard work, but made me very proud that I could organize and manage my own event.
Did you get past any fears or obstacles for you to start this adventure/blog?
Michelle: I had to overcome a fear of failure. Fear to reach out and have people trust me, fear of doing things on my own. When events were being planned and managed, I had to step up and become a director and manager of the events, which took me out of my comfort zone. I had to learn how to adjust for events on the fly and that tested me and helped in my growth.
What would you say is something that is misunderstood or not known about your industry?
Michelle: I would say it has to come down to the amount of time that it takes. For me, it’s about the experience as I don’t get paid. I would prefer to do these things with my friends, a lot of times It’s more of a one on one situation. Being just me alone and talking to a room full of people it was a bit stressful the first few times, so being alone and the amount of time that I have to dedicate to my blog.
Do you consider yourself a marketer or promoter, or are you a foodie who wants to share the joys of
the restaurant world?
Michelle: Definitely a foodie! Until the blog I wrote about what I like and what I like to do, now I like to write about my area and the great food that it has to offer. It’s more about exploring the area where I live and the amazing restaurants and people that run them.
Do you set up your postings or are they impromptu and off the cuff?
Michelle: I just have a list of places where I want to try. Sometimes I just want a certain thing or place. For me is about areas and traveling around. It could just be a chef that I would check out or those favorite items that I like around the corner.
What is your favorite Pizza Restaurant? Who has your favorite pizza?
Michelle: Can I say three? 1803 Pizza Factory due to closeness and it’s great California style pizza, Pizza Bruno, and Pizzeria Del-Dio.
Most areas have a food that they are known for, what would you say is Orlando’s signature item is?
Michelle: No Orlando does not really have one, just Micky Mouse ice cream bars if I had to give an answer.
What experience has your blog offered you that you would not have had if you were a normal patron of a restaurant?
Michelle: I think of my self as a normal patron, I have however been given the opportunity to meet people and learn their stories on a one to one level. Getting to know people personally has been the greatest thing above being a regular customer. The story and that relationship with that Chef or Owner that I got the pleasure meet make want me to support them and their brand even more. I get that experience to learn their story which is priceless. That relationship drives me to share their story.
If you were to open your own restaurant up what category would it be in? What would your signature dish be?
Michelle: Ice Cream Store for Sure! My Signature would be a cookie butter ice cream with something crunchy!
Best quote from our talk:
“I didn’t make money from my events; I was happy to support local businesses and grow from the experience.”