Spotlight: Food Stylist

Born to create and make a difference to those around her, Beth Hawkins shares her inspiring story about how her food styling business has flourished in the mile high city.

by Kerrie Lee Brown

Photo by Paul Miller

Beth Hawkins grew up in Strawberry Point, Iowa, with its small town claim to fame of being home of the world’s largest strawberry (we befittingly photographed her styling a cake with a delicious mound of fresh strawberries). Her inspiring story of struggle and strength proves that no matter what you go through personally or professionally, you should never give up on your dreams, or better yet, never give up on yourself.

How did you end up in Denver?
“I was introduced to Denver through a college internship, so after receiving my business and marketing degree it made sense to make the move permanent. I have two amazing boys and have learned a ton of lessons along the way to put it lightly. After college, I got a job, worked in advertising, got married young, had kids, became a stay-at-home mom, lost myself a little along the way, then accidentally started a business that became a game changer for myself and my family. All of these life experiences have led me to where I am today—and I am grateful for them all, the good and the bad parts. I am living proof that when one door closes another opens.”

You believe in women supporting women. Tell us more.
“I hear about a lot of women in transition right now, and I can relate. My life is a fortunate series of transitions. It was during my time of staying at home with the kids that I felt pretty lost. I was pretty lonely while my then-husband was busy launching his business. In addition to raising my boys, I started reading too many Martha Stewart magazines and kept busy by learning how to garden, sew, cook— anything creative. There’s an idea I’ve grown fond of called ‘liminal space,’ which is the time where you feel like not much is happening, but that seemingly empty space is really preparing you for the next stage in your life. For me, this meant I was learning the skills to move from marketing and advertising to working with my hands and something I’ve always loved: food. Eventually, a photographer friend noticed my styling talents, and I even dabbled in props and wardrobe creation at the time, so my newfound passion was seemingly being formulated very organically without me even realizing. I believe it was a gift. It was my time to start to shine outside my home and explore the things I was already doing naturally.”

Who was instrumental in your career?
“The game changer was that there were very few food stylists in Denver at the time. I was also fortunate that a very established LAbased food stylist took me under her wing. Kimberly Huson exposed me to the food styling world and was extremely generous. She wasn’t afraid to teach and share her knowledge, and I will always be grateful to her for giving me my start. This is where the power of women supporting women started to become a constant for me. I finally learned to trust my gut.”

Why is your business model so unique?
“My business model is untraditional for food stylists; it’s very collaborative. At first, I would work with clients and book jobs on my own—and do all of them myself. Today, I have an incredible team of women who help fulfill my clients’ needs with me. They are extremely talented and dedicated to their craft and their families, and I am happy to give them the opportunity to grow their business so they can lead the lives they want. We are a team. Everyone (except me) comes equipped with a culinary degree. I have a nutritionist on board and we can all develop recipes, so this helps when my clients need these types of services. I back everyone up with my 20-plus years of experience. Together, we’re trying to offer a diverse set of options to a rapidly changing industry.”

What is an important message you want to leave with readers?
“It’s all about relationships. Women are the best when they support each other and can be the worst when they don’t. But this is a positive message. As cliché as it sounds, don’t let anyone or anything deter you from going after your passion and following your dreams. Everything will fall into place. Just look for the opportunities and say yes to them.”

BETH HAWKINS
beth@bhawkins.com