Erica Eckman is a blogger, a food lover, a mother and much more. This multitude of life roles has taken years to emerge into reality, however. Her success in the world of blogging—particularly food blogging—required a passion, a determination and the ability to attempt what seemed impossible.

The Beginning: Erica the Realty Expert 

Reflecting on her childhood, Eckman recalls her hometown, a small place outside of Boston where there are "more cows than people." Graduating form Utica College with a degree in marketing and a minor in theatre, Eckman began working for Hamilton College's fundraising and development.

Soon after, however, she had the thought that many college graduates have: "I loved what I did. I just knew that I wanted to do something different—bigger. I just wasn't sure exactly what yet," she said. Eckman then decided to leave her job at Hamilton in order to pursue an MBA and decide on her next career steps.

At Brandeis University, Eckman developed a passion for real estate. After graduating with her MBA, she moved to Chicago and took a job as the Director of Operations at a real estate firm.

Despite her great salary, Eckman soon realized that her passion for real estate wasn't as personally rewarding as she expected it to be.

"On paper, you would have thought it had been a dream," she said, "I just wasn't happy."

The Next Steps: Erica the Writer

Looking for her next step in life, Eckman decided to begin blogging. Asked what she found to be attractive in starting a blog, she replied, "I wanted to do something that made me feel a little bit more fulfilled."

Drawing upon her passion for cooking, dining out and exploring Eckman said, "Why not do something that I love?" 

Googling "How to start a blog," Eckman bought a $10 WordPress domain and named the blog Everything Erica.

While continuing to work full-time in real estate, Eckman began writing, taking photographs and posting the things she was passionate about, hoping to share with friends and family back in her small town what she was doing in the Windy City.

Nevertheless,  Eckman realized that it was going to be difficult to amass a substantial following.

In the beginning, she thought the journey from realtor to full-time blogger wouldn't be too difficult. "I could make a living off this, which is literally insane, but that was what I thought," she said.

After half a year, Eckman hit 100 followers on Instagram, and her dream began to take form. In an internet world with little more than a market for bloggers with celebrity endorsements, Eckman said, "I saw that there was a potential out there to create an account, be a regular girl, amass a following, and do the same things that celebrities were doing but doing it in a more attainable way, versus an aspirational way."

Realizing the potential of her brand, and unsatisfied with her cutthroat, competitive career that left little room for creativity, Eckman decided to submit her two weeks notice at work.

Vowing to be as relatable and attainable to her followers as possible, Eckman spent the next months meeting other bloggers, growing her brand and attracting new followers. 

Today, the Everything Erica Instagram page has 61,200 followers.

Everything Erica: the Blogger, the Mother, the Chef

Though Everything Erica features many articles on food and restaurants, Eckman is sure to point out that her blog is about everything.

From the beginning, Eckman knew that the blog was going to be "everything about me, what I was doing, and what was going on in my life." 

By not pigeon-holing herself into just food, just fashion, or just motherhood, Eckman assured herself that she would never run into writer's block: her daily life would be her constant inspiration.

Everything Erica, she explains, is "truly me."

Today, Everything Erica features not only pieces about food and restaurants, but also about her travels, health and fitness, beauty tips, and her daughter Elia. 

The Culinary Side: Erica the Foodie

When asked about her favorite places to eat in Chicago, Eckman's passion for food reveals itself.

Describing her ideal last meal, Eckman says the menu would be the following:

Starter: Sunda's Crispy Brussel Sprout Salad

First Course: Lou Malnati's "unbelievably delicious" Butter Crust Pizza (Eckman says that Giordano's is for tourists)

Second Course: Humble Park's Kai Zan Sushi, preferably the Orange Rush, which Eckman describes as the "most incredible bites of sushi you will ever have."

Dessert: Mastro's Butter Cake, "It's crack-- like absolutely crack," says Eckman.

Further demonstrating her love for Chicago cuisine, Eckman narrows her favorite restaurants down to Kai Zan, Coalfire Pizza and the Italian restaurant La Scarola. For a guilty pleasure, she suggests J.P. Graziano's "mind-blowing" cannoli.

Pieces of Advice: Dear Erica

Reflecting on her career as a blogger and the many positions she holds in her life, Erica has two pieces of advice for any woman, or really any person aspiring to do something.

First, she says, "Be true to who you are." 

Though she admits the piece of advice is something you hear all the time, she maintains that it is forever important. She says, "It's important to stick true to who you are... Sit down and find something you are truly, truly passionate about."

Despite this advice, however, Erica cautions about what she avoided herself when creating her blog: not isolating yourself with one single interest.

"Passions change over time," she says.

Eckman believes her second piece of advice is perhaps more pertinent to young women.

"By yourself, we're good. But together, we're great," she says, "Be supportive. I think the more supportive you are of other women, the overall better we're going to be as a whole."

Eckman will be speaking at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois on April 1, 2017 at the Sugar and Spice Summit, which will "bring influential female food industry professionals to Northwestern's campus for a day of panels, breakout sessions, career workshops, and of course, tastings." 

Tickets can be purchased at the following link: