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@lil.foodie__’s dream to introduce Nepali food and culture to global audience

Kathmandu: At just the age of 20, she has had a big influence on Nepal’s culinary industry. Her journey started five years ago, and in that time, she has gained 183K Instagram followers. Her passion is simple yet effective: helping small businesses grow. She not only keeps her audience interested with her culinary vlogs, but she also helps local restaurants succeed and become more visible.

Sarika Neupane, an undergraduate student at NATHM in Kathmandu studying hotel management, discovered her passion for food vlogging in 2019. 

Neupane, also known as @lil.foodie__ on Instagram, is committed to discovering the unexplored places, and hopes to use her platform to support eateries in growing. 

Neupane draws deep inspiration from Nepali culture and food, and her goal is to inspire others by showcasing the rich culinary heritage of Nepal. The villages of Nepal, with their diverse cultures, festivals, and unique food offerings, gives inspiration to her. She thoroughly enjoys going into these unexplored places and discovering their hidden culinary gems.

However, the path to becoming a successful influencer is not without its challenges. The pressure to meet the expectations of clients and brands can be overwhelming. Also, the demand to consistently produce engaging content requires immense creativity and dedication. Neupane never gets bored to post reels and updates daily to keep her audience engaged. “This is my job. I love this, and I earn from this,” she smiles. 

Despite these obstacles, she finds solace in the freedom her career provides. Unlike a traditional job where one works under someone else’s direction, content creation allows her to fully unleash her creativity. “As a content creator, I can use my creativity, make content that I like, and travel for content, which I love to do,” she explains. This independence enables her to explore new places, learn, and constantly grow, further pushing her to do better.

Neupane’s journey into food vlogging began with posting pictures of food on her Instagram. Surprisingly, her friends started asking about the prices of dishes, and locations of the eateries. Realizing the potential of this interest, she saw vlogging as a career option. 

The Covid-19 pandemic provided her with the time and opportunity to engage more into TikTok and Instagram, where she maximized her content creation efforts.

The key to being a successful influencer lies in originality and authenticity, she says. It’s about how one presents themselves and connects with their audience. Neupane’s journey in food vlogging has been remarkable, earning her the third-highest number of followers in the niche. While growth may sometimes be slow, she sees both the positive and negative aspects of her career. “People still consider content creation as not a legitimate job. Breaking this taboo in Nepali society is challenging, but I’m up for it,” she said.

Among the challenges she encounters, dealing with late-night messages and unnecessary calls, sometimes used merely to bluff her, stands out. “While some calls appear professional, others are clearly attempts at bluffing,” she says. “Because my profile is public, I receive an abundance of unnecessary messages as well. However, I’ve been tackling these issues,”

Looking forward, Neupane has ambitions to expand her influence globally, as she says, there is immense potential in the international market. She has already received several offers from Nepali-owned international restaurants, but has been unable to travel due to time constraints as she is pursuing her undergraduate degree.
Once she graduates, she plans to travel abroad and grow her presence on a global scale. She firmly believes that there is ample opportunity to become a global influencer. However, she advises newcomers to avoid copying others, as it is not a sustainable long-term strategy. “In Nepal, what’s happening is that there are many influencers, and more are still entering the market. However, they often end up copying each other, which hampers their growth and business development.”

Over the course of five years, Neupane’s journey has evolved from working alone to leading a small team of three, including her college mates who help with scripting, editing, and voiceovers. This collaboration has not only eased her workload, but also brought diverse perspectives to her content.

Through her vlogging, Neupane aims to showcase the rich tapestry of Nepali culture and cuisine to the world. “@lil.foodie__ will introduce Nepali food and culture to global audience one day,” she smiled and concluded.