I’m feeling so full of gratitude today, as Octofree officially turns one!
I first envisioned a blog like Octofree more than seven years ago, on a walk around my neighborhood with my newborn son. At the time, I had been working a full-time job, and knew I wanted to create a better work-life balance for myself and for my family.
My husband and I brainstormed a number of options, and the more practical business idea at the time – starting a media relations firm, for which my only up-front investment would be a laptop – ended up being the winner. My first company (which I still run), Elm Ink, came to be in 2014.
I had been running Elm Ink successfully for six years when the pandemic hit in 2020, and a number of my nonprofit arts clients were forced to cancel their contracts. I still had the idea for Octofree — a digital resource that would celebrate food allergies, intolerances and dietary restrictions with delicious recipes and positive, supportive messaging — in the back of my mind, and I decided that I’d use some of the money I’d saved from Elm Ink to get a website up and running.
I was hesitant at first – was there a market for this? Were there truly enough people who would be interested in allergen-free recipes to create the community I was envisioning? But the anecdotal evidence from friends and acquaintances with more than one food allergy in their household was piling up, and when I read the statistic that there are more than 32 million people with food allergies in the U.S. alone – one in 10 adults, and one in 13 children – I knew that I had knowledge that could truly help people.
I surrounded myself with a talented team, including graphic designer Randie Snow, web developer Rene Morozowich, digital strategists Katie Urich of Wildess Digital and Kim Shepardson of Lumarist Digital and countless other family members, friends and colleagues who encouraged and supported my vision. A website took shape, and then – I just started doing it!
I hadn’t been on social media in more than five years, but I secured an Instagram handle, and started cooking and photographing my favorite top-8-free recipes to share with you.
The Instagram followers and email subscribers started rolling in – I was happy to be able to celebrate 1K of each earlier this year – and continue to grow. I made my first reels, partnered with Gluten Free Goat and Adda Coffee and Tea on giveaways, was featured in a Q&A for The Incline, and secured a position as a regular contributor to TABLE Magazine.
And most importantly, I received countless messages and emails from you, telling me your stories of life with dietary restrictions, and thanking me for providing this content. Every like, follow, comment and encouragement fuels me to keep going. Thank you!
As you can see from this photo, my kitchen is undergoing a renovation and is just about complete! I’m already getting inspired to cook up new deliciousness as soon as I have working appliances. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings. I’m planning to launch an e-cookbook in early 2023 – and possibly a Thanksgiving Gathering Guide this fall, and hope to secure my first sponsor or paid partnership, so if that’s you, or if you know someone who would be interested, please get in touch!
And if you would like to help me celebrate this milestone, here are two gifts I would truly appreciate: sign up for my e-newsletter if you haven’t already (or share it with a friend if you have); or leave a review/comment on one of my recipes. Thank you in advance!
I can’t wait to see what we create together this year!
Here’s to you, and to loving life with food allergies –