Name: Sandra Matsukawa Hu, a.k.a. Sandy Hu
Age: A baby boomer working in the online/social media space
Job Title and Description: Co-Founder and VP of Communications and Content for Special Fork
Special Fork is a mobile recipe website for smartphones designed to solve the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! You can access recipe solutions whenever you want them, wherever you happen to be. All the recipes take no more than 30 minutes to prep (cooking time is extra, although some recipes can be prepped and cooked in 30 minutes total). In this position, I am in charge of the content development – blogs, cooking education pieces, recipes, etc., and I am in charge of PR and outreach.
College/Major: University of Hawaii, Fashion Design
Twitter Handle: @specialforksndy
Her Campus: What is a typical day like for you?
Sandy Hu: Every day is different, and in a start-up company, there’s plenty to do. I’m usually awake by 6:30 a.m. My iPad is at my bedside so before I even get out of bed in the morning, I check my email to see if anything needs immediate attention. Then, I check Flipboard to see what people are saying on my Twitter feed and on my personal Facebook account. If there’s anything of interest in food or tech as it relates to smartphones, I retweet or post.
Once I fully start my day, I am editing blogs from our bloggers. We post a new blog every day on Special Fork. By midday, I might be evaluating and testing recipes for my blog or reviewing the work of our eight food editors, who have held senior positions in major magazines including Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Sunset, Ebonyand Southern Living.
Around 3 p.m., I‘m on Twitter, responding to questions such as, “Idk what to cook tonight…” I tweet answers like: “Scramble eggs in butter. Micro flour tortillas to warm. Wrap eggs + green chiles + shredded Cheddar + salsa in tortilla; roll up.”
I’m on Twitter at least an hour a day, answering what-to-cook-for-dinner questions and engaging with others in general conversations. At Special Fork, we know that 70 percent of consumers don’t know what to cook for dinner at 4 p.m., so if I’m on Twitter around 3 p.m. PST, I’m in the middle of the dinnertime planning for most of the country.
HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
SH: I was a food editor of Co-Ed, a Scholastic teen magazine in New York City. I was 25 years old when I got the job, and I got it because of radish roses, which were going to be the monthly feature by the magazine’s new food editor.
At the time, I worked on a teacher publication at Scholastic as clothing and textiles editor. I thought radish roses would be a boring story for the teen audience, so I spoke up and found myself getting the food editor job. I didn’t have any food experience or any interest in food at the time, but I understood and could still identify with the audience. I got to hire an assistant with a food background, and I learned more about food on the job.
HC: Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
SH: I worked at Ketchum, one of the largest PR agencies in the world, for about 25 years. Betsy Gullickson, who was Director of Ketchum’s San Francisco office at the time, tapped me to be VP/Director of the Ketchum Food Center.
That position gave me the opportunity to build culinary connections to food influencers, who have been invaluable throughout my career, and to build a reputation that I tap into for Special Fork. It was also the reason I was invited to join Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a selective organization of women leaders in the food, beverage and hospitality industries, whose mission is education, advocacy and philanthropy. I am currently its president.
HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
SH: A work-life balance is important, and in all those years in PR, work often came before family because of travel, client needs and the demanding nature of the business. In the days when my kids were young, if you were a working mother, you had to demonstrate that you were going to be able to be as committed as single women, working the same hours, doing the same travel and so forth. There weren’t a lot of young mothers in PR at the time. Fortunately, my husband, who also held demanding jobs, was equally involved and felt equally responsible for raising the kids so I think it worked out because he was there if I wasn’t.
And, there is a trade-off. If we weren’t a two-income household, the kids wouldn’t have had the advantages of private school educations, the opportunity to sing in the San Francisco Boys Chorus, join an ice hockey club or vacation in Europe. Also, after the kids grow up and leave the nest, as a mom, you have to have a life, which I do precisely because I’ve always had a career.