Nicole Modic of Kalejunkie is an ex-lawyer and wellness obsessed mama of two beautiful boys, on a mission to share my passion for a healthy lifestyle with others. Nicole's work on Instagram has become super popular lately and it's no surprise why. She brings a refreshing realness to the wellness community and is all about keeping it real in life, food, and beauty. I'm tremendously excited to share her thoughts on wellness with you and know you'll enjoy this read!
You've built Kale Junkie into an amazing blog and community - how you start it and how did it begin to gain traction?
I started Kalejunkie a couple of years ago after my son Gavyn (3) was born. At the time, it was just an outlet for me to share my meals, and I had zero intention of turning it into anything more than just a hobby. My photo skills sucked and I had no idea what I was doing. I was just using the platform as a tool to keep me accountable at making healthy food choices, and perhaps connect with one person who needed extra inspo for healthy meals.
After about a year, I started becoming more and more interested in photography, recipe development, and more open about my struggles with food. My struggle with food (bulimia and binge eating disorder) quite literally stole 15+ years of my life, robbed me of happiness, and prevented me from living life. Looking back, it’s a miracle I was able to keep any relationships in my life, whether that be with friends, as a girlfriend/wife, daughter, etc. At the same time, I was practicing employment law in a big firm, and I felt like life was sucked out of me. I was absolutely miserable. So I took matters in my own hands and started making some changes to change the path I was on. No one was going to hand me anything or create the path for me, only I could do that.
I started trying new things and listening to my interests, to find my passions. I enrolled in a yoga teacher training, I started going to therapy to have a non-family member/objective person to speak to. I started opening up to my husband and friends about my struggles. I started creating recipes and started becoming more consistent with my postings on Instagram and using the platform to share my life with others (the good, the bad, the ugly, the real). And slowly the account started to grow…
My account was built on authenticity and a desire to connect with others, and that remains true to this day. Now that I am able to monetize of my content, it’s still as authentic as day 1. I never sell out or work with brands if I don’t use the product in my daily life. It’s really important to me that my followers trust my recommendations.
Your photos are gorgeous and have a very distinct look. What are some food styling tips you would give to beginners?
I would say to invest in the best camera/equipment you can afford and feel comfortable using. I do EVERYTHING on my Iphone 8 Plus. That includes my posts on Instagram and the photograpy on my blog. When I first started, I didn’t have the latest iphone and you can definitely tell the difference. That said, you don’t need a DLR or any other fancy camera to grow your brand and take quality pictures, unless you really want to! Maybe one day I’ll do that, but to be honest, I’m kind of technology challenged, and if it’s too complicated, it’s not something I would stick with.
Also, find your favorite photo editing apps and learn to use them well. One of my favorites is Snapseed, which helps a lot when you don’t have optimal lighting.
Last, PRACTICE. Sometimes I like to look back at the early photos on my feed and see the evolution and how far I’m come, and how I’ve developed my “style” over time. I went from poorly lit, boring photos with no life to them, to vibrant photos infused with my own personal style! So I’d just say to practice, don’t be afraid to try new things, and stop caring so much about what you post. Sometimes I’m super critical of my photos and don’t want to post, then I do it anyway and those posts actually perform the best! And even if a photo “bombs,” who really cares? It’s just a photo and not a measure of your self-worth. I like to keep that in perspective.
Walk us through your favorite morning routine including any foods you love?
Okay, so in the Kalejunkie household, no two mornings are ever the same, and that’s because I have two little kiddos who always need something from their mama! So first things first, I tend to them. Once I’ve gotten them situated with milk, I brew a pot of coffee or make coffee in my Chemex. While that’s happening, I drink a warm cup of water mixed with ½ lemon and 1 tb apple cider vinegar. I actually hate the taste, but it’s so good for your digestion, complexion, etc. Hold your nose and just drink it J
Then I typically make myself a green smoothie or something small to fuel a morning workout. I am currently loving the new ready-to-blend smoothies from Project Juice, especially the coffee-collagen one! If I could afford to have one every single morning, I definitely would. When I make my own smoothies, I typically add ½ frozen banana, handful organic spinach, almond milk, maca powder, collagen, and almond butter (my personal favorite right now is one from Georgia Grinders). Sometimes I add some cacao if I am in the mood for something chocolately, and sometimes I add avocado for a little extra PHATS (fat is not the enemy, it’s your friend!)
My morning workout is the MOST IMPORTANT part of my day, and sets the tone for the kind of day I am going to have. Without a sweat session, I just don’t feel great; my energy is low and I get snappy! And because I’m aware of that, I need to ensure that I get my sweat in. Luckily I am in charge of my own work schedule, so I can time block one hour for me to take a Barry’s bootcamp class, go to hot yoga, or just get out for a jog! I do it as early in the morning as possible, so I am back in time to get a full day’s work in.
You have such a gorgeous, healthy glow. Can you walk us through your green skincare routine and your current favorite products?
Girl, you are too kind to me, thank you! My mom taught me at a young age to take care of my skin. At the time I didn’t believe her, but I’m glad I listened. That said, my routine is BASIC and simple, but I use good products. My go-to cleanser is the Ocean Cleanser from Osea Malibu. I love this line of skincare in general, and although I dabble with trying other things, I always come back to this line. I also love Odacite matcha powder cleanser, and I use that 1-2/week if my skin is feeling oily. It looks like the matcha powder and when you add a few drops of water, it foams up so nicely! Next, I use the Osea Advanced Protection cream. It’s definitely on the heavier side, and they recommend it for night time use, but I love the luxurious feeling of it, and use it in the daytime too! I don’t do masks or scrubs as often as I’d like, but I fit it in when I can!
For my body, I no longer use lotions; I am obsessed with oils. I alternate between Frank & Whit Body Serum, regular coconut oil, and the Osea body oil. Oils keep my body hydrated much better than lotions do.
Also! Get a WET brush if you don’t have one of those already. It’s the best brush for using in the shower and out of the shower, which is so gentle on the hair and doesn’t cause breakage. I won’t use anything else!
I love the breadth of recipes you post and the advice you give out on a regular basis. Where do you get your inspiration?
Thank you! I get lots of ideas from Pinterest, and I create recipes based on what I’m craving in that moment. I also look to my favorite food bloggers for inspo! Lately I’ve done a ton of baking, but I’ll be focusing more on savory creations in the coming months.
What is your favorite Kale Junkie recipe?
Ahhhh that’s hard! I love my Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies the most, because they are so easy to make and taste even more amazing when you can find fresh raspberries! My second and third favs are my Fluffy Banana Muffins, and Carrot Cake Muffins.
What are your intentions for the year? What does the future of Kale Junkie look like?
My intentions for the year are actually simple. It’s to find a healthy balance between my jobs and my family life, and sticking to the boundaries around screen time that I set for myself. If I’m being totally honest, I could be on my phone ALL day, but I create boundaries around it so that it doesn’t consume my life. My life is my kids, my husband, my friends, and THEN my work.
The future of Kalejunkie, AHHHH! I’d like to do more speaking events this year on the topics of eating disorder recovery, career change, and holding workshops on how to build your own brand. I’ve also brought on a fabulous assistant/friend to help me execute on these things, because I just can’t do it alone!
Is there anything else you would like to highlight about your work or would like people to know about you?
I’d just like to remind people to look to others for inspiration and motivation, but don’t compare your life to anyone else’s. Your life, even if you are struggling (who isn’t, let’s be real) or not where you want to be, is just as valuable and wonderful as the person next to you. With the ease of social media these days, it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, and if you feel yourself doing that, take a few steps back. Admire others, but always strive to be the best version of YOU, don’t strive to be anyone else.
And also, keep perspective. What you see on social media isn’t always what’s going on behind the scenes. Instagram is a great tool for making it seem like everyone has it all together, but remember, it’s just an APP and there is life behind that screen. Keep it in perspective, and remember: IT’S JUST AN APP.
Last, but not least, be patient when trying to grow your own brand. Some accounts grow rapidly and I’m not sure why that is, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you take pride in your own work, focus on staying true to yourself, be authentic, and growth will come, even if it’s slower than others. Doesn’t matter when you get there. Just be patient, it will happen.
Love these interviews and looking for more? Check out my interviews with Sophie Jaffe, Remy Park of Veggiekins, and Sonja Dahlgren of Well and Vibrant.