Umami Girl: The Art of Cooking
By Brian Laurito
In this series we're highlighting the businesses that form the foundation of Monmouth Arts' creative community, touching base to see how they're faring during the COVID-19 health crisis. As a member of the Monmouth Civic Chorus, Carolyn Gratzer Cope — owner of Umami Girl — has been involved with Monmouth Arts for years, and recently became one of our business members. We checked in with Carolyn to see how Umami Girl has been adapting to life during the pandemic.
For those who don't know you yet, how would you describe your business?
Umami Girl is a food and lifestyle brand for curious and thoughtful people. It's really a natural extension of my passion for the arts — for writing, photography, videography, graphic design, and (of course) cooking — and has evolved into a space that also highlights other artists and creators. We're your guide to a life well-lived, with a focus on family, food, home, and adventure — and more than 500 original recipes!
What’s been your biggest business challenge during COVID-19?
Feeding people is mission-critical for Umami Girl, and one challenge has been navigating the best ways to step up and expand what that means for us at this moment when food security is a challenge for so many. We are always looking for creative ways to partner with local organizations to help feed the community.
So much has changed since last year.... How are you operating right now?
We're extremely fortunate that working from home and helping people find joy and inspiration in daily life are the norm for us. If anything, there's more need for that right now than ever before. If you want to learn more about what we offer (and what umami is and why we're called Umami Girl!), you can check us out on Instagram at @umamigirl or go to our website umamigirl.com.
Can you share an interesting anecdote about your business or something that might surprise people?
One thing that surprises people about a content-driven business like Umami Girl is how much work goes on behind the scenes. From finding the best recipe keywords to rank for on Google — "We're eating keywords tonight!" is a thing I say to my family on a regular basis — to the technical aspects of maintaining a website in an ever-changing environment, at least 50 percent of the work isn't something you can see. You might also be surprised by how many of our family dinners I cook in my office/studio rather than in the kitchen, so that they can become videos and photos for the website and social media. Some weeks it's more days than not — especially now that we're home all the time.
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Getting inspiration from travel and dining out used to be a regular part of business and a totally joyful one at that. I don't know how much of that will return in 2021, but we can hardly wait until it does!
Monmouth Arts has a great network of arts supporters. How can our members and readers support your business right now?
Our business is publishing-based, so by reading the website, watching our videos, cooking the recipes, and following and commenting on Instagram when the mood strikes, you're supporting our business while hopefully enjoying yourself too. The more you tell us about what you like and would like to see from us, the better we can help!
Do you have any upcoming events or promotions you’d like people to know about?
Our business is all virtual so as long as you follow us on Instagram and check out our website, you'll be totally up to date on what we're up to!
Where can folks find you?
Facebook: Umami Girl
Interested in becoming a member like Umami Girl? We welcome all businesses to our network! Become a member of Monmouth Arts today!