On Valentine’s Day, An Entrepreneur is Born.

by Emily on February 14, 2011 · 16 comments

in Uncategorized

Today is bittersweet. As I mark four years with my company today, I'm also announcing here that I'm leaving the company in June to focus on building my career in food and beverage writing and consulting, as well as in digital media. Before we talk about the future, it will be fun to finally answer a question that I never talk about online: "So, what is it you do, Emily?" [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="263" caption="Emceeing our CMO Leadership Forum on Jan. 13, 2011."]Emceeing our CMO Leadership Forum on Jan. 13, 2011.[/caption] There's a reason why I haven't written about my work life on this site. I love my company and colleagues, and have a great deal of belief in this team. At the same time, I've been careful to maintain a separation between the work I do for my company and the work I do for myself via Mouth of the Border. It's important for me to publicly recognize that I could not have found a more supportive boss and mentor than in our company's president. I actually gave my notice at the end of 2009, but agreed to stay on board for another year to continue learning from him and to train additional members of our sales team. Here's the backstory: I joined the company in January 2007 quite by accident. I moved to New York in December of 2006 with no job lined up and every intention of staying in journalism, but focusing on food writing. I gave myself a month to find a new job, and when it didn't happen, I took some temp work in order to make rent. When I walked into the office at Argyle that day in January 2007, I was struck by the sight of a bunch of really hard working, but fun-loving people. When I went to the first event they produced after I started temping there, I was amazed at the caliber of speakers. It was our Chief Marketing Officer leadership event, and they had the CMOs of IBM, Yahoo!, Barnes & Noble and several other major brands as keynote speakers. I thought to myself, "Who is this company, and how do they pull off such high-class forums?" Although I'd never worked for a start up and had no sales experience, I signed my employment contract on February 14, 2007 and became the company's 10th employee. A few months later, I took over the major sponsorship sales effort for our CMO forums, which went on to be some of the highest-grossing properties we produced. I researched, pitched and executed major corporate sponsorships of our events for clients including Microsoft, Facebook and IBM. As of last year, I began work building out our project management team and also began formal training efforts for our business development team. In a nutshell, these have been my responsibilities at my "day job" as the role has grown and evolved over the past four years:
  • Find, pitch and close major sponsorship deals, thereby helping best-in-class vendors to marketing executives get in front of their best potential clients via our exclusive, boutique business forums.
  • Act as a project manager to create and execute integrated business development campaigns over the course of several months or years with select major clients. This requires the ability to suss out a client's major, overarching goals and then requires me to get creative in helping them solve those business challenges.
  • Interview, train and nurture business development professionals.
  • Draft and develop client-facing branded collateral and other materials.
At the same time, over the past four years, I've been hard at work building a food and beverage consulting business using the unofficial MBA I've earned working for a start-up. Here are some notable projects I've executed under Mouth of the Border's consulting arm.
  • In 2009, I consulted with a national cooking contest producer to secure a five-figure sponsorship for his events across the country.
  • Last year, I coordinated a major digital brand initiative in my consulting project for Condé Nast's Gourmet Live.
  • This year, I recently worked with an awesome duo of friends to produce the Eats + Apps Social Media Week Event, which allowed eight major food and beverage mobile apps to get in front of 200 of their most passionate users.
As I look towards the second half of the year, I'll be looking for more and more brands to work with on similar projects. Here are the other things I excel at:
  • Food and beverage writing. I'm an award-winning journalist and, through this site, you can see I obviously love the food world. My current content projects include trend writing for Scoutmob NYC and working as a brand ambassador for Gourmet Live.
  • Helping major brands get in front of a specific target audience via live events and digital media outreach.
  • Helping event producers, preferably for food and beverage events, secure major corporate sponsors (so long as they don't compete with my current employer's).
  • On my own, I'm launching a supper club and, later this year, I'll also be producing food walking tours of NYC's ethnic neighborhoods.
Leaving the company to do my own thing is simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. I wake up and go to sleep thinking about food, about inspiring connections between people and about sharing knowledge about this city's ethnic neighborhoods. What I have learned is easily condensed though: When you are deeply, emotionally invested in doing work you love, it doesn't feel like work anymore. Here's to deep, emotional investment in launching this new adventure. Have projects/connections/thoughts for me? Please feel free to reach out.
  • Email me at Emily {at} MouthOfTheBorder.com.
  • Connect with me on LinkedIn.


I love sharing details about upcoming tasty trips and adventures, so you won't want to miss a bite. As always, please feel free to chat with me on Twitter, join our group on Facebook and keep up with new posts here by subscribing.


  • http://www.notafoodie.com Tom Miale

    I’ve been following your blog and tweets for a while and all I have to say is “congratulations”! As someone who has been on both sides (working for a large company and starting a business), I am excited for you. nothing beats the exhilaration (and fear) that comes along with making the leap. Best wishes and if you need any help from a food writer / PR professional, let me know!

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Tom, that is very sweet of you. Thank you for your sweet comment, and for
      reading what I’m putting out there. When I need help with my social media
      monitoring, I’ll surely remember your comment here. :)

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations Emily! I wish you the best of luck and it may not mean much but I’m very proud of you to see how you’ve “done the damn thing” in this short time that I’ve known you. :)

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Tameeka – it means a ton! Thank you so much. We never get to spend time
      together, but the times we have hung out have always been a blast. I’m
      looking forward to doing MORE of the damn thing, and to hanging out at SXSW!

  • Nadia

    Emily, this is amazing news! I know I haven’t been the best at keeping in touch since that fateful day at Roger Smith Hotel, but I know you’re going to be larger than life. Cheers!

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      That you still show up to read and respond means the most to me. So happy we
      met in the first place. Thank you so much, Nadia!

  • Anonymous

    I am so very, very excited for you, and for all of your new adventures.

    You’re a pretty big deal.


    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Darling, leaving *me* a comment on *your* bday makes me feel very special.
      Happy birthday, gorgeous and thank you for the sweet note.

  • http://twitter.com/BradySadler Brady

    Congrats, Emily! Looking forward to watching your projects develop and collaborating in the future.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thank you so much, Brady! Can’t wait to see how this takes off. See you in
      Austin for sxsw!

  • Jaden

    Congrats girlfriend!!! ::hugs::

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Jaden – you have been a CONSTANT inspiration. I appreciate you so much.
      Thank you for blazing the path and setting an example for me.

  • http://brian23.com Brian

    Congrats and good luck!

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Very sweet of you to swing by and comment. Thank you, Brian!

  • http://twitter.com/freshyearoflife Shannon S

    Congrats girl! This post was beyond impressive. Best of luck with everything!

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thank you!

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