I don’t care how many food accounts you follow on Instagram, there is a drool-shaped hole burning in your feed if you’re not a Hippie Lane follower. After being diagnosed with food intolerances, Taline Gabrielian began experimenting with creative ways to make treats that she could still eat (yeah girl). A successful social media following led to the Hippie Lane app, which became a No. 1 seller shortly after launch. Taline is the mother of two beautiful kids, calls Australia home, and knows that recreating Twix, Snickers and Mars bars is some for-real business: “When you have the responsibility of offering inspiration to a huge health community, you have to take that shit seriously—haha. True story.”
“Prior to Hippie Lane, I was searching for something but couldn’t really pinpoint what I wanted to do. After completing a postgrad in counseling, I worked as a course coordinator, assisting counseling undergrad students. During my pregnancy and for the first few years of motherhood, I completed my master’s in teaching. In between my years of studying I worked plenty of jobs, including waitressing, barista work, retail, office work and event ticketing. I also helped my husband in the launch phase of his coffee roasting business and cafés. About 4 years ago, I found out that I had intolerances to gluten, eggs and dairy. Being a sweet tooth, the first thing that came to mind was how I was going to enjoy a sweet fix. It got me thinking about how I could use alternative flours, nuts and whole foods to make sweets that were free of eggs, butter, wheat and refined sugar. I started experimenting and came up with some delicious alternatives. That’s how Hippie Lane came about. Before this, I had never thought of myself as entrepreneurial. It wasn’t until I really found my true passion for recipe development that I realized I had that potential.
I received a warm welcome on Instagram. Initially when I started my account, I was posting pictures of treats and offering recipes without any deliberate intention. As I began to notice a strong interest and demand for my recipes, I realized that I was in a fabulous position of influence. From there I saw huge potential for building my brand. I couldn’t really ignore the signs, especially considering it had developed so naturally on its own accord. With each post I was getting bombarded with comments for more info and advice, and it just felt right to take it to the next level. I probably felt this about six to nine months into the social media journey. In that time, I had reached over 60,000 followers. My followers led the way, and I just followed suit. This led to the development of the Hippie Lane app. I had a modest target set for the number of downloads that the app would hopefully receive within a year. We reached this figure within less than three months after the launch. I have been totally overwhelmed with the positive feedback and am blown away by the amount of downloads. I put a lot of heart and soul into it, but even so, I still feel humbled and grateful for such a loving and encouraging response.
I make treats most days, and have a small treat after lunch. What you see on Instagram is obviously not portion controlled… but that’s the fun part. People love to get caught up in the fantasy of it. I’ve never really used Instagram as a platform to openly discuss my food philosophy or put forward a particular diet or lifestyle. I’m not an expert in nutrition and am not in a position to advise others on their choices. Instead, I choose to promote a balanced approach and encourage a healthy, positive and achievable attitude towards natural whole foods.
When it comes to connecting with my audience, authenticity is everything.
I live and breathe my work and I think it shows. Blogging does bring me a lot of joy—I can’t hide that. I love the bond I have with the thousands of people who I connect with every day over our shared passion for food. It’s so awesome. Having said that, there are challenges. I find that I am preoccupied with my phone much more than I ever was. It’s actually funny, because prior to Instagram I was notoriously known by my close friends and family for being disconnected from my phone and social media. I joined Facebook then deleted it, and would rarely have my phone on me. I would often rack up an impressive list of missed calls. Food blogging and Instagramming has definitely changed that—my phone is much more valuable to me now. I also tend to overwork myself. I’ve always been a driven and focused person, but the blogging gig has taken that to a whole new level. When you have the responsibility of offering inspiration to a huge health community, you have to take that shit seriously—haha. True story.
I’ve always stuck by the advice that good things take time. To have patience and persist, to put in the hard work. To always remember that the sky’s the limit. I also feel that now that I’m in my 30s, things are falling into place. I know myself better, I’m confident in my direction and am clear about what I want in life. I feel a huge sense of fulfillment and contentment with where I am right now, and I’m grateful for the journey.”
As told to Amy Woodside, May 2015
Photography courtesy of Hippie Lane