We love that you turned your passion into a career. What inspired you to start your blog, Chekmark Eats?
I started Chekmark Eats 8 years ago when I was 24 and living in New York City. I was working at a PR firm on the food, wine, and spirits team, and outside of work I was eating at every restaurant and bakery that I could get to. Most of my clients were based outside of New York at the time and I felt an itch to get involved in the local food and beverage community. I launched my blog by reviewing 4-5 restaurants each week and included pointers on when to go, who to bring, and what to order.
How did you end up in Austin?
After 8 years in New York working at restaurant-focused PR firms, I needed a change. I started looking for in-house positions to see a new side of the industry. When I couldn’t find a New York-based job that matched my interests, I decided to look in Austin and Houston, since I’m originally from Texas. McGuire Moorman Hospitality, an Austin based restaurant group, didn’t have a Communications Director when I reached out, so the stars aligned and in just a few weeks, I got my job and moved back to Texas!
In 2018 you launched your own PR and consulting company for food and beverage brands. What made you take the leap and what types of projects do you work on?
Starting my company, Chekmark Consulting, was a big risk and something I had never really wanted to do. I have to thank my friends and peers for encouraging me and telling me I should have started my own company years ago. I specialize in traditional PR, marketing, and partnerships for restaurants such as New Waterloo hospitality group’s Il Brutto and Le Politique and the new Vixen’s Wedding, Lefty’s Brick Bar, and Gin Bar at ARRIVE East Austin hotel. I’ve helped companies, like Richard’s Rainwater, with social media and influencer relations as well as getting them into restaurants and at every event in town. One of my favorite short term projects to-date is when I connected South Congress Hotel with Christina Tosi’s team at Milk Bar to do an ice cream truck pop up. It’s always fun when my New York and Austin worlds collide.
What are the best parts about working for yourself? And the most challenging?
It’s extremely rewarding when you see how your work directly benefits a client. I love helping restaurant owners gain a space in the spotlight and hear how my work has helped their business grow. The hard part is shutting off my brain and creating space for myself because my job and hobby overlap.
Do you work from home or coffee shops?
I don’t drink coffee so I never go to coffee shops! I work from home at my kitchen counter or in my living room. I’m always on the go so it’s nice to have a home base.
Best part about working in Austin?
I love seeing how supportive, helpful and collaborative the community is. Austin is growing so fast, which is exciting to see. I’ve also helped some New York based businesses that are not food launch here and join in the community seamlessly like Best Made Co.’s apparel and outdoors store on South Congress during SXSW.
Favorite Austin takeout spots?
Malibu Poké, Swedish Hill, Thai Kun, and Koriente.
When you feel like cooking, what are your go-to at-home meals?
Scrambled eggs, curry soups, sweet potatoes with a jalapeño yogurt, or Josh McFadden’s date and celery salad.
Breakfast bowls in mint and grey.
ALWAYS ice cream from Thai Fresh or sea salt dark chocolate from Theo’s
Favorite TV show and podcast:
Podcast: How I Built This and Second Life
TV Show: A Million Little Things and The Bold Type…because NYC!
Favorite thing about your Austin apartment?
The sunset view over Town Lake
Favorite Rigby piece?
Thank you for being in our first Real Talk interview, Alex! We had so much fun getting to know you.
Stay tuned for more exciting interviews, and in the meantime, share your everyday life with us on Instagram. @rigbyhome #rigbyourself