Being a lifestyle features writer and the founder of The Lifestyle Portal it has opened up several avenues for us. Owing to our job profile, we started traveling, exploring new cuisines and meeting new people. In all our adventures and unravelling all the good things that life has to offer, we met Saloni Mirchandani Malkani and Sameer Malkani the founders of the Food Blogger’s Association of India (FBAI).
Saloni is one incredible woman who along with her husband Sameer runs this super successful venture the FBAI.
The Lifestyle Portal caught up with Saloni over her love for work, food, travel and more. How they launched FBAI which first began as a passion and a hobby three years ago and since the last year how they’ve have dedicated all their time and efforts to make FBAI an entrepreneurship model.
How did it all begin?
She shares, “Being a Co-Founder of the Food Bloggers Association, India is totally different from what I have been doing all these years. Being a free but a practical thinker, I completed my Masters in Commerce to realise that learning is an evolving process. My education opened many avenues to apply my constant need for movement. From teaching little children, to being a professor in a Senior College, working with an Interior Decoration firm to the business of a luxury brand.”
After a sabbatical of eight years to spend time with her son, Saloni is now focusing entirely on taking FBAI to its full potential. Her vision for FBAI is to be able to hone and showcase the vast knowledge and talent that is there in the foodie world.
The love for food
“FBAI is a passion for my husband. He being a complete foodie couldn’t get enough of reading about food, and he noticed that some of the blogs were just extremely informative, some were well written while some were just visually very appealing. So he put together a Facebook page that had bloggers posting their posts to the page regularly. He felt that these bloggers needed to be promoted, recognized and be given more opportunities. Thus came about Food Bloggers Association India,” shares Saloni.
Saloni feels that they’ve been really fortunate in this regard. The brands they have dealt with have trusted their venture blindly. All the influential and established foodies, chefs and media have supported FBAI wholeheartedly and the bloggers that they have invested their brand in have really progressed. “So as far as challenges are concerned we have such a beautiful team surrounding us that it obviously didn’t matter,” smiles Saloni.
The team at FBAI
Currently the FBAI are a lean core committee comprising of Saloni and her husband Sameer, their employees, bloggers and foodies who are a part of FBAI as and when required.
The balancing act
She’s a mother, a wife and an entrepreneur, we ask her how she manages it all and she says, “I tend to compartmentalize my time. I want to do it all and so sometimes bite more than I can chew. But generally I keep a schedule for myself and stick with it. With time I’ve realized that the earlier you begin your day the more you can accomplish. So that’s my mantra.”
What makes FBAI unique?
This work she does through the FBAI gives Saloni the opportunity to be limitless. She says, “You meet so many young effervescent people every day and you learn so much from them. This opens up so many possibilities and makes my mind wander and travel with every encounter.”
FBAI is and was always about promoting the foodie community. FBAI takes pride in possessing high integrity and so they only derive that from all the work and initiatives they do.
They totally believe that if they cannot add value to an initiative then it’s of no use; and that is their USP. It is the team, and all the people they associate with.
How FBAI works
It’s always about understanding the brand and its ideology for the initiative. This helps to work out a win-win situation for the brand as well as the bloggers or influencers. It’s a lot of long working hours for the team at FBAI.
Saloni further explains, “We go through the blogs and understand the blogger’s writing style which helps us bring the two together in the manner it’s beneficial for both. Just like every brand is different and caters to different profiles, every blogger also as their unique quality and readers. It’s our job to identify and synergise.”
How do foodies & food bloggers benefit from FBAI
On being a member of the FBAI a blogger gets an opportunity to be invited to the blogger led initiatives that are organised by FBAI.
In return, FBAI promotes their blogs on their official Facebook page, and they get preference and discounts at the events organised. Foodies are constantly invited to the open events that FBAI conducts; in fact, they also get discounts at their paid events, and get to have an experience in being a food reviewer as well.
“We have had at least 250 blogger outreach programs and are everyday tying up with the food industry on some initiative or the other,” smiles Saloni.
Memorable experiences with FBAI
Saloni recalls, “Each trip and interaction has had something we have taken home. I have made some lasting friendships from this community; I have particularly been immensely impressed by the passion, commitment and integrity that some bloggers and brands display. The most interesting initiative is our Indian Food Blogger Awards, the energy leading up to the awards is electric, and the brands that associate with us, the bloggers, our team … we are all on a high. That is incomparable for me.”
She further shares a memorable experience where the FBAI was a part of the Saffola Masala Oats challenge, “I didn’t think I had it in me to be cooking for that long and for so many people. Another memorable trip for me was a trip to Aamby Valley, it was three days of power, luxury and harmony. And recently I also got to meet up for a chat with Gary Mehigan, and that was such a wonderful afternoon.
Future plans with FBAI
The FBAI is already attending events, holding bloggers’ meets and is active in cities in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Pune.
“We are looking to expand our reach in those cities and also expand to the other cities and mini metros in India. Currently FBAI is one of the leading organisations In the Social Media ad online space in fFood, drink and hospitality,” mentions Saloni.
And we know that the journey has just begun…
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