For those of you who don’t know Natasha Minoso (aka Book Baristas), let me just say one thing: she is living proof that one’s dreams really can come true. No matter how unattainable it may seem, or how many people might doubt you, anything is possible with perseverance and optimism. Before moving to NYC, Natasha was just a regular post-college graduate, spending her days in her childhood home in Miami. She created her blog, Book Baristas, in June of 2014 and while at home, she took the time to create meaningful content. Since then, BB has reached 129K followers and counting and has traveled across the Atlantic to Europe. Book Baristas was one reason Natasha visited NYC in the Fall of 2015, and scored her dream job at Penguin Random House.
HBL: Natasha, you’re a self-described “Penguin employee by day and a book blogger by night” (I’m quoting your Insta bio here), but there must be some overlap between the two when it comes to your daily life, so what is an average (or not so average) day in your life?
Natasha: Okay, so an average day in my life starts off with a bagel…sometimes two…always coffee. I’ll wake up, get into a packed subway car, get out in the city and finally breathe fresh(?) air. After getting into the office and reacquainting myself with my desk, I’ll go to meetings, plan social postings, talk to friends about The Bachelorette episodes I just watched, and at some point, I’m going to go for a coffee break. I’ll sit down at a coffee shop I’ve been to a million times and obviously get weird looks because I have to take a photo of my coffee and book. Finally, I’ll pack up, get back on the subway and keep reading the book that I’ve been reading all day. I’ll immediately pull on some pajamas when I get home and decide whether I want to order Thai food or Peruvian food. A truly riveting day in the life of a 23-year-old book marketer!
So based on your daily routine, it definitively does not sound like you have a typical stay-at-your-desk, 9-5 job?
No, no. I’m constantly moving, constantly getting up and talking to people, going to meetings, getting out of the office, coming back, etc.
Do you find that your day job facilitates your blog at the same time because your activities in and out of the office sort of intertwine?
Yeah, I think it’s easy to kind-of coordinate blogging and social media posting for Penguin because it’s so similar, but then it’s also a bit difficult because it is so similar that you don’t want it to be identical postings. I definitely have to make sure I keep a line between business and blogging.
So how does a recent graduate land her ideal job not long after graduating?
Well, it all started in a coffee shop. I went to New York to attend a book launch and I decided to make this trip a more career-focused one, so I made it a point to visit publishers and people in publishing, just to get my name in people’s ears and to say, “Hey, I want a job, this is what I want to do.” I ended up getting coffee with a former Penguin employee and we talked for almost two hours. I kept telling her: “I am looking to do anything and everything in publishing, I will make your coffee. I will do whatever it takes to get through the door,” but I wanted it to be known that I couldn’t move to New York until I got the job. She made it known that there was a job position in her team available and was nice enough to pass along my name to HR. I immediately started interviewing for that position within a week and…two weeks later, I got the job!
Totally insane! From what I hear, you essentially had no academic experience in marketing, outside of your blog, before you got hired?
It was meant to be! So what do you think was the most challenging element in getting to where you are right now professionally?
I think, the biggest challenge was… keeping my eye on the final goal, if that makes sense. I think it was being persistent. You know, I had a lot of people telling me “get a job in Miami, save money, and then you can go to New York,” but that’s just not how my brain works and I just couldn’t put everything on pause to then eventually think I’ll be in New York. I wasn’t going to be happy in any other job and I felt like that was a big thing. I wasn’t ready to sacrifice being happy to just be “comfortable.” So being patient was undoubtedly a big challenge, even if it was only 7 months of awful limbo, and me defending my stubbornness of wanting to move to New York.
You currently have upwards of 129K followers on your Instagram, what do you think is the next step as far as your blog and your career?
I don’t really know. Social media is constantly changing and sometimes I’m unsure of how to keep up with it. I think the next step is maybe getting more out of my blog than what I’m doing now. I’m excited to reach out to do more partnerships with brands and companies that I love and support — I guess the goal is basically to travel (and live off) of Book Baristas. *fingers crossed*
You recently took a trip across the pond (to Europe) for the first time! What was that experience like (not that I don’t already know 😉 ) ?
Yes! I’ve said this a lot but it was completely surreal – I can’t even tell you the amount of times I just stood in the middle of a sidewalk in Dublin or Paris or London and thought “this can’t actually be happening right now.” Everything about being abroad was amazing, partly because the wine was so delicious and the accents were so enticing.
Do you feel like you owe a lot of your personal and professional success to Book Baristas and where do you think you would be without BB?
It’s crazy because I was recently talking to a friend of mine about how my blog was the reason for all of the great life achievements I’ve experienced, but I realized I was giving credit to my blog, to this platform, when I should have been giving myself more credit for the amount of hard work, effort and time I put into creating and establishing myself in the book world. Yes, I definitely have my blog to thank for gaining access to all kinds of book people, readers, publishers, etc. but I also have myself to thank for doing something that was a little bit terrifying and a whole lot of fun.
Now for my final question: what do you think is your biggest accomplishment thus far?
I think my biggest accomplishment thus far is my friendships that came from it [Book Baristas]. It is unreal to me the amount of people that I have met from Instagram, from my blog, that are just… the most amazing human beings. It’s so strange that I’m allowed to have these people in my life and so many of them. I think New York itself is maybe a huge accomplishment for me; just being in the City has given me a lot more freedom to do a lot more than just have a job. It’s the freedom of living in a different way than I would’ve had I still been in Miami, and I absolutely have my blog to thank for that.
And they tell people not to talk to strangers on the Internet, but here you are!
[Laughing] Yeah, screw not talking to strangers! Like, if you can, talk to strangers! If you have WIFI, if you have internet access, talk to a person on the internet; you will be a better person for it!
[Laughing hysterically] Thank you so much for letting me interview you Natasha! It has been a blast!
Make sure to keep up with Natasha at www.bookbaristas.org. Chances are if you message her, you will hear back from her!