Name: Lizzie Staiano
Job title: narketing manager
Company: Real Handful, London
Education: English Literature, University of Exeter.
Why did you decide to go for a career in food?
Buying the likes of Innocent and Oatly introduced me to this weird idea that brands can talk and have something worthwhile and often funny to say
Being half Italian I was brought up on a diet of delicious pasta and parmigiana, so being a foodie was basically a prerequisite to existence in our house. Only after shopping for myself did I realise I was harbouring a love for the brands behind the food products too. Buying the likes of Innocent and Oatly introduced me to this weird idea that brands can talk and have something worthwhile and often funny to say. I would genuinely check smoothie packs for dinner party conversation topics and became obsessed with the fact that a liquid oat could influence my world view. Companies communicating in this type of way, and of course the aforementioned food obsession, made me want to work in our industry.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two):
In our team, my job is to look after anything and everything to do with the Real Handful brand and what we put into the world, but of course it’s a startup so this really means a bit of whatever needs to be done. In short, I can be found doing anything from preparing a deck for a customer, plotting our latest display proposal, meeting with our talented agencies, lugging our huge fist lightbox around samplings or agonising over which emojis to use in our Instagram captions.
What does a typical day look like for you?
After about 20 whacks of the snooze button, I’ll usually start my day by posting something on our social media channels and checking what our online communities are snacking on.
We rebranded at the end of April, so at the moment a typical day will be focused on jobs to do with this, whether that be writing copy for our new website, putting together a mailer or video campaign, documenting the reception of our new look or brainstorming ways to dazzle our next potential customer, each day has different challenges. Despite the variation, every few hours is likely to be punctuated by hot black coffee and Theo and I sampling the latest offerings from our selectively sourced snack drawer.
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. What was the process like?
I applied for it on Escape the City, which is a cool platform for anyone looking for a more untraditional career. Joe (our co-founder) put me through my paces with a phone interview, a face-to-face meeting and a presentation task.
What’s the best part about working for a food company?
Everyone eats food and pretty much everyone goes to the supermarket, which means there are endless opportunities for people to interact with your brand. Having the chance to communicate on this kind of scale is an incredibly rewarding prospect for me.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink?
I think people aren’t aware of how many barriers to entry there are for startups looking to make their mark on the industry, I know I certainly wasn’t. Even after you’ve got funding, it’s super tough to get meetings with the big retailers, accessing data to prove your worth is costly and even entering competitions or handing out samples comes with its own hurdles to jump through.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry?
If you’re feeling really bold ask someone you admire for coffee – even if they say no, you have literally nothing to lose.
Engage with the brands you want to work for as much as possible. Whether that be connecting with them on LinkedIn, going to hear the founders speak or saying hi at live events. If you’re feeling really bold ask someone you admire for coffee – even if they say no, you have literally nothing to lose. This will prove you’re genuinely excited by the food and drink world, plus it’s a good way to keep yourself front of mind if and when jobs do come up.
This is something I learnt to do with the help of a mentor, so my other piece of advice would be get yourself one of those!
What’s your ultimate career dream?
To work on ridiculously exciting projects that will someday form the part of someone else’s dinner party conversations.