Greg Remmey hovers over a platter of pizza, angling his cracked iPhone to capture the green pickled chilis and curled pepperoni slices. His wife and business partner, Rebecca Leigh West, shines a flashlight from her phone on the production, turning a small table at the New York City pizza joint Speedy Romeo into a makeshift photoshoot. Greg snaps the pic, which later will be uploaded to their joint Instagram account, Devour Power , where more than 450,000 followers can see it.
At first glance, Remmey, 28, and West, 31, may look like your average food-obsessed couple, but Devour Power is actually their full-time job: They oversee not only the Instagram account but also Devour Media, a content-creation studio that runs social-media accounts and produces original content for more than 25 restaurants across the U.S. It started in 2012 as Meals and Reels, a blog and Instagram handle where the couple, who were modeling at the time, shared short movie reviews on the Web site and drool-worthy food photos on Instagram.
They quickly realized the Instagram account was growing faster than the site, due to their ultra close-up shots of tacos, burgers, and cheesy delights, and by 2015 they’d amassed 75,000 followers and changed their name to Devour Power. The following year, Remmey and West began charging brands for content, realized they could turn their foodie hobby into a business, and quit their day jobs to plot the groundwork for Devour Media. Here, the couple explains how they leveraged their hobby into a successful business.
Greg Remmey and Rebecca Leigh West launched an Instagram account, Meals and Reels, in 2012 but decided to focus only on food when they noticed more users engaging with those types of photos.
Amy Lombard Your Instagram account started as a hobby, but you must have been dining out all the time. How did you afford it? West: When we started Meals and Reels, we were probably going out to eat for lunch and dinner every day.
It’s still the same now. Even if you just get tacos for a few dollars, it all adds up.
Remmey: But we saw it as an investment.
We could tell there was some form of benefit to it and maybe you could build a business off posting pictures of food.
How much money did you spend on food in the first year of Meals and Reels? Remmey: Around $30,000.
West: A lot of the meals started to get comped by restaurants, too, once we reached about 15,000 followers. That was within the first year.
Remmey and West spent about $30,000 on food in the first year they launched their Instagram account.
Amy Lombard How would people know who you were when you came in? West: We’re pretty adamant about not walking into a place and being like, “Oh, this is who we are” with that attitude. You see that nowadays a lot of times [with] Instagram influencers. If you can’t afford it yourself, don’t be there. But chefs and managers began to know who we were from social media, from going to events.
Our faces are on Instagram and Snapchat every day. And in the early days we carried business cards everywhere and just left them in checks we’d paid for. Or we’d grab cards from the restaurants’ managers or chefs and e-mail them links to Instagrams we posted after eating there just to say, “Hey! We exist!”
Cheezus take the wheel! 😜 The Essex Street Burger from @l.e.
s.kitchen! 🍔💥 Medium rare beef, thinly sliced rib eye, crumbed tots & signature cheddar sauce.
👌🏼 #DEVOURPOWER 👉🏼 Follow @devour_burgers for more BURGERS! 👻 Snapchat: DevourPower 📷: @devourpower 📍: @l.e.
s.kitchen 🏙: Lower East Side, NYC 👇🏼 TAG YOUR FRIENDS! 👇🏼
A post shared by #DEVOURPOWER (@devourpower) on Nov 16, 2017 at 6:48am PST
And now, you sometimes travel for free, too. West: The first big trip we got offered was to go to Hilton Head.
Remmey: That happened when we had 300,000 followers, well after we became Devour Power.
West: A resort or hotel will reach out and offer to pay for your airfare, your hotel, and pay you for posts. But we tag all those photos as #ad.
Getty | Abby Silverman Same deal with a restaurant, too, right? Rebecca: Yes. We’d rather be safe than sorry.
How did you decide to launch your business, Devour Media? Remmey: We both wanted to do food Instagram full-time. We wanted to quit our day jobs.
West: And work together.
Remmey: [But] we needed to still make that consistent money that was coming in from our paychecks, and we couldn’t just rely on one-off partnerships with a random hotel here and there.
With Devour Media, we partner with brands and restaurants to create content for them.
Remmey and West promoted themselves by leaving their business cards at restaurants and e-mailing managers and chefs links to the photos they posted to Instagram. Amy Lombard What does that mean? Remmey: We go in and take pictures and make videos for them. We either give them the content to use on their own social accounts or, for an extra charge, we run their entire social media.
One of the [other] things we offer is posts on our Insta accounts — @DevourPower, @Devour_theworld, @Devour_cheese, or @Devour_tacos, etc.
What are you offering restaurants that they can’t do themselves? West: We take the same kind of close-up, food porn photos featured on our account.
Lots of natural lighting. But they’d rather work with us than a traditional PR or marketing firm, because we can offer what they can’t — a post on our account, which can reach more than a million people if it’s cross-posted on our other sister accounts. Our accounts make 10 million impressions a week.
Remmey and West made about $40,000 in the first year of monetizing Devour Power, but now the company is on track to bring in $250,000 by the end of the year. Amy Lombard What are you raking in now? Remmey: When we first started monetizing Devour Power in 2015, and it wasn’t full-time, we were making about $40,000 together.
West: Devour Media is on track to make more than a quarter of a million by the end of this year.
Not bad for the first year being full-time! And now we’re growing rapidly. We have clients all over the world and we recently got our own digital series on the Food Network called Much Rush.
A lot of people would argue that there’s no way they could get into this business — who has all that money to spend on food? West: I grew up as the only child to a single father who passed away two years ago. We were lower-middle class.
You know what it takes to stay in New York City? Hustle. We work 24/7 and never say no to clients.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Shot on location at Cheese Grille in New York City.
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