When it comes to Nairobi’s food scene, food enthusiast and vlogger, Mandi Sarro is always on top of what’s hot. The dynamic foodie, is known for sharing meals through videos that she has popularized through posts on social media.
After moving from Canada to her home country, Kenya, Sarro dived into media work. But taking on a role at a Nairobi radio station was not enough for the creative. She soon went into her kitchen and began sharing her love of food and cooking with the world, through “Miss Mandi Throwdown,” a series of videos that show her cooking global dishes, including delicious Kenyan cuisines.
We sat down with Sarro over food and drinks at one of her favorite restaurants in Nairobi, Nyama Mama, for a discussion on food and the business of food on social media. She shared the lessons she’s learned on building her brand. Here are a few takeaways from our conversation:
1. “It's not just about the food”
When it comes to food vlogging, Sarro said “it's not just about the food.” This is because people watch videos not only to learn about different cuisines, but to also connect with the cook. Getting people to connect with her didn’t come easy she explained, “when I moved back to Kenya, I had an accent and got attacked for it, so I made sure the food on my plate looked great.” Unapologetic about her Canadian accent and cultural influence, Sarro used words she brought from Canada, including “throwdown,” which has undeniably become a differentiator of her brand from other food vloggers.
2. Change purposefully
Sarro is always working on innovating both the foods she cooks and her vlogs. She often collaborates with photographer Sannie Sanford, as the two feed off of each other’s creativity.
“My purpose is to consistently change the course of the culinary space,” Sarro shared. But changing for change sake, is not what she’s about. She prefers change that is tied to learning and iterating. She added, “ change comes with learning because people react to it. Then, you gain feedback, which is important.” Sarro uses this feedback to improve her vlogs and overall social media presence.
3. Advice for building a successful food social media
Building Miss Mandi Throwdown took a lot of hard work. Sarro shared three tips for anyone looking to use social media to share and promote their love of cooking.
- Just start
“You don’t know what you can do if you don’t start. Once you start, it's important not to focus on money, because you will not succeed if you do,” Sarro said.
- Don’t just stay in your own lane. Be obsessed with it
“Don’t try to copy others” said Sarro. “Find out what your thing is, rather than looking at what other people are doing and copying it” She added.
“You need help. You can’t win alone. If you work with others, you will gain so much - you are going to teach them and will also be able to learn” Sarro shared.
Sarro has more in store for foodies. Living by her own advice, she’s working on new collaborations and making changes to her brand that she is keen on learning from.
Images courtesy of Miss Mandi Throwdown