1. What is your greatest memory from your days at Villa? One of my many…
A Love of Food Inspires Entrepreneurship:
Lauren Carroll, Class of 2008
Food Instagrammer and Business Management
(as seen in Villa Connections Magazine 2020)
I attended Villa from Kindergarten through high school (2000 – 2012). I went on to Saint Joseph’s University and majored in Communications and after college began working in the digital media industry. I am currently a Social Analyst at CMI Media, a Pharmaceutical Marketing Agency. I handle all paid social strategy and implementation for my brands, along with social listening. The foundation and experience Villa have provided me have been pivotal in shaping me into who I am today.
I run a food Instagram called @love_phillyfood that I started in October 2014, during my junior year of college. After taking a class that required me to create a blog focused on something I was passionate about (I chose cookies), I realized that I enjoyed food photography. At the same time, my friends urged me to stop posting pictures of food on my personal Instagram, so I made a separate account for fun. Fast forward five years, and I have almost 40K followers on Instagram! (P.S. – all photos are from my iPhone!).
Running this account has been such a fun experience and has been a creative outlet for me to have, in addition to my full-time job, which is more analytical. Not only have I met amazing people within the restaurant industry and ‘Instagrammer scene,’ it has allowed me to partner with incredible brands such as American Express, Marriott Hotels, and Saladworks. It’s introduced me to the great restaurants Philadelphia has to offer.
During my first job out of college at Harmelin Media, I met Mollie, who runs another food Instagram, @phillyfoodies. We quickly became friends and were able to connect on our passion for restaurant social media marketing. As we attended different food events and became more familiar with the restaurant industry in Philadelphia, we noticed that there was a space missing in the market for social media services. When we would talk to small restaurant owners, we realized they did not have the time or energy to devote to social but comprehended how important it was.
We decided to create City Chew, LLC, which is an Instagram Management and Content Creation business in March of 2017. We had support from our first few clients that allowed us to learn everything it takes to run a business, from all the busy work (becoming an LLC, contracts, taxes, invoicing) to building meaningful relationships and connections.
We work with restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia Area, developing their social content and posting consistently on their brand pages to ensure that current and future customers can use their page as a reliable resource. We use our page’s followings to promote the same content to drive users to their profile and generate buzz. Mollie and I always say when we are looking for places to eat, we automatically go to Instagram, as many people now do. If the page isn’t updated or not appealing, we are less likely to go, and we wanted to change that. We’ve managed this company for three years, in addition to our full-time jobs, and it has been such a rewarding experience. As I grow my career, I aspire to merge my two passions into a successful business.
I always get asked about my favorite restaurants in the city, and it is such a hard question because there are so many fantastic options. My go-to is Continental Midtown, where I always order (and if you follow my page, you know) the Deep Dish Cookie. It is my favorite dessert of all time. I also love Metropolitan Bakery’s pizza, The Bakeshop on 20th, and Talula’s Garden. In the suburbs, my first choices are Anthony’s in Malvern (they’re a City Chew client too!) and the Classic Diner for brunch.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it makes you step back and realize that all your favorite restaurants and businesses are at risk and struggling. I am lucky to have a platform that allows me to spread the word about restaurants doing curbside pickup along with different resources that will enable consumers to support businesses, donate, and give back.
My time at Villa Maria Lower allowed me to gain confidence and learn the skills needed to be an entrepreneur while also managing a full-time job. The foundation to write well and communicate effectively were essential parts of Villa’s education that have allowed me to be where I currently am. The girls I went to school with were also an instrumental part of the foundation I have built. When I had a sports injury in sixth grade, it allowed me to focus more on creative thinking. I was also a part of the Yearbook and TechKnow Staff, which led to my interest in digital media and photography. It is the culmination of my experiences at Villa that helped to influence the entrepreneurial spirit I have today.