S1E20 | Slice of Jess Food Blogger Jess Bentley

SEASON 1: EPISODE NUMBER: 20

EPISODE GUEST: Jess Bentley

Jess Bentley’s foodie empire, Slice of Jess, spawned from requests from friends to send them recipes.  What started as a simple website now boasts partnerships with some of the food industry’s biggest brands.

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“Food blogger” isn’t a title that does Jess Bentley’s work justice. Sure, she blogs about food, but she’s really a self-taught brand champion, marketing whiz and stellar at-home cook.

What began as requests from her friends to send her recipes has turned into the Slice of Jess empire and a freezer stuffed with 120lbs of Tater Cakes to help develop recipes for restaurants. The requests from friends and family came so frequently, her husband urged, “Jess, put it on a website so you don’t need to keep typing it out.”

Bentley learned WordPress and slowly started putting all her recipes on her site. Then she taught herself SEO and began focusing on nicer photography and adding a bit of detail to her recipe posts. Soon, local media began reaching out, offering to pay Bentley to review restaurants and write for their sites.

Her first gig was at a local sushi spot which rolled out hundreds of dollars of their best rolls. The secret? “I don’t eat sushi!” Bentley laughed. So she and her husband tackled the rolls and the review.

Originally from San Francisco, Bentley now says the Queen City feels like home. “Being a ‘foodie’ here in Charlotte made it feel like home. Charlotte is such a big city but the food community is so tight-knit and you don’t see that in other cities.”

Bentley continued to hustle building her Slice of Jess brand while working a 9-5 marketing job. She invested in herself by attending food shows, handing out her business cards to booth after booth, being sure to write down a specific fact from their conversation, and following up with an email. She’s a strong networker and knows the importance of forming relationships with brands and asking to work together.

“Relationships matter. They really do. And it doesn’t hurt to be kind because you never know what opportunities will arise.”

After years of working early mornings before her kids would wake, and staying up late working in her tiny ‘office below her staircase,’ Bentley quit her 9-5 and is now fully employed by her Slice of Jess work. But she continues to hustle, forming new partnerships, investing in her brand through video works, visiting food shows and continuing to learn.

“I still learning things every day. Invest in yourself. Teach yourself something new every day. Before you know it that place you were uncomfortable before now you’re thriving.”

Just before COVID halted everything, she had a call to appear on the Rachel Ray show, an early inspiration for her recipe work. And her work with brands continues. “Now I’m at the point where I don’t really have to reach out to me. Brands that wouldn’t return my email at first now reach out to me.”

Her advice to anyone in any industry starting out creating their brand: “It’s all about networking, be a nice person. follow up with the people that you meet. Follow up with brands you want to work with. Be persistent. Keep going. Get up at 5 am if you have to.”

“Relationships matter. They really do. And it doesn’t hurt to be kind because you never know what opportunities will arise.”

– Jess Bentley, Slice of Jess

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