Meet Diana Egnatz.
She is just like you and me. Her favorite cheat treats are elephant ears (a midwest thang), negroni’s, cinnamon rolls, pizza, rosé, Oreos and chocolate ice cream. She’s the director of photography at the School of Visual Arts Yearbook in New York City and a budding entrepreneur and owner of Hot Spoon Preserves.
My sister and business partner, Michaela was the first to meet the fabulous Diana, a fellow maker, at the FAD Market in Brooklyn, New York this summer. It was an immediate connection. Diana was there with her good friend Laura B, a fellow foodie who we also had the opportunity to interview (stay tuned). The three were fast friends who after the market bonded even more over great food and drinks.
Later in the summer, I got to meet these two wonderful women myself at the Phoenicia Flea in Asbury Park. We got along immediately. We bonded over food and our views on life. During our stay in Asbury, Michaela and I asked Diana and Laura to be a part of our 10 questions with Yummiewear, our new project which focuses on food, goals, and self-love. They quickly agreed.
The following week, on a lovely Sunday afternoon, all four of us met up in Fort Greene Park for a good ol’ fashioned picnic. After noshing on some delicious charcuterie and desserts, we all sat together to discuss food, goals and self-love.
Check out Diana’s interview below!
They say you are what you eat, so which one of your cheat day foods would you want to be and why?
I'd be an elephant ear. The elephant ear is a Midwest thing where I grew up. It's basically a pizza dough that’s fried and covered in cinnamon sugar. We would have it at the county fair every year.
If you were stranded on an island and you could bring just one cheat food with you, which would it be?
What is the best junk food experience your taste buds ever had and you've never forgotten about?
I had the best meringue pie a few weeks ago when Laura and I were in Toronto. It was really tart and lemony on the bottom and it had the lightest meringue that was pipped all over the top. The top was then bruleed to perfection. That was really great.
What was a meal you looked so forward to and it turned out to be a total bust?
This is actually one of my first meals with Laura at Metta. It was one of my new eating out experiences with my new gal pals who also love food. I was so excited about this restaurant. They had a nice open fire going too. I ordered a beautiful salad but I think I just wasn’t in the right mental state to go out to eat. It was right after one of my markets and I guess I was so full from eating things at the event that when I got a salad I realized that it wasn't what I wanted. I guess sometimes it's an expectation thing.
If you could design your own Yummiewear shirt what would you want on it? Go crazy!
“I am a recovering picky eater, but I have always loved cinnamon buns.”
I would want cinnamon buns on my shirt. I love cinnamon buns. I am a recovering picky eater, but I have always loved cinnamon buns!
How do you stay mentally and physically happy?
Beauty sleep and creating a wonderful place that I love to be in is really important to me. I feel the home that I created is important to my whole being. It’s definitely an extension of myself and it’s a place that I want to come home to that’s wonderful, comfortable and looks great. I am a creative person and I need that. I have artwork on the walls. I have books on my shelves. I have plants in my sunlight.
I am a person who has moved around a lot in my life and I was always a nester from day one. I have always created a nice space for myself. I think it’s just really important for mental health to come to a space that makes you relax and take a deep breath. Plus, in the city, you need a retreat.
What is a goal that you have that you would like to achieve in the next two years?
“My father is also an entrepreneur and probably the best advice he ever gave me is that you have to believe that it’s going to succeed.”
There are a lot of things that I want to do in the next two years. My 25th birthday was right at the beginning of when I decided I was going to start my own food business, and I have accomplished a lot in the past two years. However, there is still so much in that realm that I want to do. I just really want to go for it. I don’t know if I can do it in two years, but I would really love to have a national brand by then. I think big!
I would also love to be financially secure. I think women need to be financially sustainable on their own. I don’t have that quite yet. I still get help from people and I appreciate that. That’s the only way that I’m doing what I’m doing.
My father is also an entrepreneur and the best advice he ever gave me is that you have to believe that you are going to succeed. The moment you don’t, you won’t. I just keep believing in myself and that it’s going to happen. So yeah, Hots Spoon international!
It’s terrifying but exciting.
What is one thing you do or is there a person that helps you stay focused on achieving your goals?
I will say I have this group of amazing women that I have connected with since I launched my business, Laura included. She’s so positive and she really believes in me. She tells it how it is. It’s been really wonderful and helpful that I’ve found this community of women that uplift one another.
I will also say, my mother and I are very close. We have always been since I was a teenager. She is my business partner. Whenever I am run down because I have been in the kitchen for a long time, I call her and I say ‘mom, I really need a pep talk for 5 minutes’. For example, last Thursday night, I didn’t want to be in the kitchen. I had 40 pounds of peaches that I needed to peel and I just didn't want to go in. I called my mom. She pep talked me and it was great after that.
I do really rely on her for moral support and she really believes in me. It’s a wonderful thing. She’s given me a lot of opportunities that she didn’t have. I was raised with a ‘yes and…’ mentality. This is a theater reference. In improv, you are taught to say “yes and...”. You say yes to the person you are on stage with and then you add on to it, and that’s how I have been raised. ‘Yes let’s do that, and what else can we do to make it more fabulous?’ I think that’s why at 24, I started my business saying yes to my ideas and creativity and working out a way to make it work.
What is one thing that you love about yourself and your body?
I love that I am confident.
As far as my body, I have really great hair. I used to hate my hair when I was younger because almost everyone had straight hair and I had this curly, hot mess. I have embraced as I have gotten older. It’s so funny; I have two lives. I have my professional life where I look fabulous all the time and then I have my kitchen life. When people I know run into me at work they don’t recognize me half the time with my hair covered. My hair is really my calling card now which is sort of funny.
I just love my body overall; at any shape or size or form. If I need bigger pants, I’ll buy bigger pants, but I always love myself.
I think bodies are very interesting. I love all bodies. I did burlesque for a few years and I love seeing women really embracing their objectivity and their sexiness. No matter what size or shape you have, just owning that as a woman is wonderful to watch. I think the first thing I notice about a sexy woman or a fabulous woman is her energy and confidence, not so much what she is wearing or how she looks. It’s really about the way that she presents herself. It’s a rare quality in women these days. To have that kind of confidence.
We are compared a lot in society and social media propels a lot of this. We are continually bombarded by before and after pictures, advice on how and what to eat, how we should be wearing our hair or putting on our makeup. There is a lot a pressure in that. So, my final question is, how does Diana tune that noise out?
“I really appreciate what people are doing on social media. It’s wonderful to look at this curated life that people are aspiring to, but it’s a curated life. Not a real life. ”
I am a student of photography and I am a huge history buff too. I know that photography is not the truth and that’s a huge thing that I've dealt with for four years while I was studying photography at the School of Visual Arts. Since photography’s invention, everyone would think - 'oh that’s reality', but really photography at it’s earliest birth was just mirroring fine arts, oil painting, and art history. It’s only a second of a moment that someone is curating within a frame. That’s the way I come at social media and any kind of visual arts.
Also, I have lost 30 pounds in the last three months. I have made that vow to myself. I really wanted to get fit again. I felt like I was not being my best self even though I am beautiful at any size and shape. I just didn't feel good in my skin on a sort of molecular level. It was a health stance. I have never done before-or-after pictures. For me, it’s about how I feel in my skin rather than how others perceive me at whatever size. So if you don’t feel great in your skin, think about what it really is. Is it the way your hair looks? Is it the way your pants fit or is it the color of your nail polish? It’s sort of smaller changes that you can make instead of larger ones like ‘oh my god! I need to be a size two!’. F*ck that! I have never been a size two and I never will be. It’s not a big deal. It’s not how I was built. It’s all about how you feel about yourself and carry yourself rather than about how you look to the world. I really appreciate what people are doing on social media. It’s wonderful to look at this curated life that people are aspiring to, but it’s a curated life. Not a real life.