This woman was one of the first people to use Instagram for business - now she's cutting huge deals with Starbucks and Kraft

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The First Family of Instagram



Sarah Phillips, 61, was one of the first people to start using Instagram for business, according to a Financial Times interview with Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom.

Food does well on Instagram, and Phillips is just one of many food-focused Instagrammers making a living on the site. The baking expert also runs Craftybanking.com, formerly Baking911, which provides online tutorials and recipes to people who want to improve their baking skills.

Her daughter, Liz Eswein, discovered the app in 2011, and signed up for the handle @newyorkcity. The account, as its name suggests, is dedicated to picturesque snaps of New York City. Now Eswein gets paid up to $15,000 for a single shot, according to Digiday, and has 1.2 million followers on her Instagram account.

My favorite view 😍. Tag someone you'd love to visit the city with!

A photo posted by Liz Eswein (@newyorkcity) on


While it was her daughter who suggested her mother and brother sign up for the app too, it didn't take Phillips long to realise that the apps potential. In a move reminiscent of domain squatting — registering for basic website addresses in the hopes they'll be useful at a later date — Phillips grabbed @food and @baking. She already had a successful online baking business, which she continues to run.

Now, thanks to the 380,000 people following her on @food and the 30,000 people watching for posts on @baking, Phillips makes thousand-dollar deals with companies like Kraft, Unilever, and Starbucks, who all want to be featured on her feed.

"People say a picture is worth a thousand words but I think it is worth billions," she told The Financial Times. "It is technology plus art merged together, hence its popularity."

A 2014 New York Times article dubbed Phillips' family "The First Family of Instagram." Her son Tom Eswein used to work with Phillips on @food, and started out having to pitch the merits of Instagram to food brands and restaurant owners when the family first started doing business on the site. After deciding to strike out on his own, he can now be found at @realestate. Even the family dogs, @dukeandcoco, are getting in on the action.


As you can imagine, dinner rarely starts without at least one family member taking a picture of their food, unless, of course, they've posted to Instagram twice already that day. This is one of the rules Phillips sticks by, to keep her followers wanting more.

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