Dietetic Career Spotlight on Amari Thomsen, FoodMinds, Freelance Writer, Recipe Developer
By STACEY DUNN-EMKE, MS, RD on DECEMBER 18, 2017
Meet Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN, an incredible self-starter, go-getter, and positive nutrition entrepreneur and PR maven. Amari has two incredible jobs and has found out how to manage both remotely as often as possible. Juggling multiple hats is possible when you have a dream, a will, and a plan. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I was a traditional biology major/pre-med student in undergrad. I loved science and knew I wanted to be in healthcare one day. But I wasn’t totally sold on medical school – something about another decade of school, blood and guts, and working full time in a hospital did not appeal to me at all. I always had a hobby interest in nutrition – eager to learn about my mom’s Weight Watchers program as a kid, hoarding Shape and Cooking Light magazines in high school and determined to like salad in college when I finally had my own kitchen and learned how to cook. When I was in college my dad had bypass heart survey. I remember the inpatient dietitian handing him a 10-pound binder about the DASH diet, and it finally all clicked. I needed to be a nutrition educator – a registered dietitian. The prevalence of heart disease and the commonplace of bypass surgery in our country, along with my personal family connection to heart disease led me straight to heart health as my passion.
Your Job Title?
Nutrition Communications Consultant / Freelance Writer/ Recipe Developer
Company you are with now?
I work as the Director of nutrition influencer marketing at FoodMinds, a communications and public relations agency. I am also a freelance writer, recipe developer, and speaker via my private practice, Eat Chic Chicago (www.eatchicchicago) – a nutrition coaching and communications platform focused on heart health.
– Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amarithomsen
– Twitter: https://twitter.com/EatChicChicago
– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EatChicChicago/
– Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/EatChicChicago
– LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amarithomsen/
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
No two days are exactly the same, but during the week I am up before the sun with a cup of coffee in hand around 6am to do Eat Chic Chicago work. By 9am I’m switching gears to my FoodMinds clients (either from home or from the office). I manage nutrition influencer programs – informing brand nutrition messaging, developing RD education efforts, planning live events, and fostering relationships with fellow RDs in media, retail and more. Later in the afternoon I’ll switch back over to my Eat Chic Chicago projects before hitting the gym, cooking dinner and taking a walk around the neighborhood with my husband. On the weekends I spend time doing administrative work, behind the scenes upkeep for the Eat Chic Chicago website, recipe testing, and any food photography that needs to get done.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
From the moment I graduated, I knew I wanted to be a business owner and do freelance/contract work as a part of my long-term career. I started my private practice straight out of graduate school in 2012 and never looked back. I’m preaching to the choir when I say life is expensive, but my business has always been a “side hustle” as a result of this – I have big dreams of turning to it full time some day!
Before I dove into nutrition communications and PR, I actually worked for Whole Foods Market. I was one of six dietitians in the Chicago-land area and we developed in-store nutrition education and marketing efforts across the region. It was here, as part of the marketing team, that I realized the power of influence that health professionals can have on consumer basket size and ultimately the store’s bottom line.
During my two years with Whole Foods Market, I was hustling big time to make something happen with my practice. I was working weekends at Whole Foods to free up my week days to see clients in an office space I had rented downtown, I took client calls on my lunch break, and I listened religiously to business podcasts every minute of my commute.
One day, a PR agency (FleishmanHillard) reached out to me with an opportunity to work with Naked Juice. They needed an RD to write healthy tips for a promotional holiday piece they were working on. One project turned into the next and before I knew it, I was informed about a job opening at the FleishmanHIllard Chicago office. It was a no-brainer. I had to get on the other side of the fence and better understand how nutrition influencer programs worked.
I took the job and worked with clients like Gatorade, Propel, Quaker and Tropicana. During this time, I continued to keep my business alive – hiring extra help to service client requests and even writing my first cookbook, Idiot’s Guides: Autoimmune Cookbook, in 2015 on my nights and weekends.
After two years with FleishmanHIllard I was recruited by FoodMinds with an opportunity to join their team. Impressed by their client portfolio, I jumped in head first. I worked in their Chicago office for a year before moving out to the San Francisco office in April 2017 due to a change in my husband’s job.
My professional strategy has always been to say yes to new opportunities – I am eager to learn and grow in any way that I possibly can.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born a self-starter. If there was something I wanted to learn how to do, I found ways to teach myself. I taught myself how to knit, scrapbook, unicycle (seriously!), sew, cook, run a half marathon and ultimately build a business. Curiosity propels me through life and my love for learning keeps me motivated.
I also have a natural sense of resilience. I always see the glass half full and find the positives in my failures. I pride myself on being resourceful, not taking no for an answer, committing to the long haul and never taking myself too seriously!
What skills have I learned along the way? ALL OF THEM! I have never taken a business or communications class, built my site in 2008 when you had to know HTML to use WordPress, and am still perfecting my food photography and editing skills with my 10-year old DSLR camera. It’s a never-ending journey and I embrace every second of it!
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you? Identify your goal and ensure that every step you take (no matter how big or small) is in a direction to get you there. When I was a student, our professor handed us an insights report about annual RD salaries. I took one look at the report, saw that private practice soared above any other field of work, and decided that day that I was going to build a business. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life regardless of how many long hours, late nights, and never-ending to-do lists it takes to get you there. Always surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and learn from them. And embrace the fact that there is no finish line – the journey of building a business you love is constantly evolving.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Cookbooks! I have an unhealthy obsession with healthy cookbooks. I love reading them, learning from them, and drooling over their beautiful food photography. I am constantly blown away by the innovative ideas that come from the creative minds of healthy food bloggers and chefs and have countless cookbook roundups and reviews on my blog (if you’re interested in seeing some of my favorites!).