Wendy Laybourn of EATEATREAD.COM

We’re doing work we love, work that inspires us, and we’re also pursuing our passions and making them priorities. In our latest Working Woman series, I chatted with my sorority sister, intellectual beauty, higher education professor and blogger Wendy Marie of EATEATREAD.COM. Meet Wendy….

Andrea Fenise Memphis Fashion Blogger features Wendy Layborn for Working Woman Feature

I have had the utmost pleasure of knowing Wendy for quite some time. I remember the first time I met her during her days of juggling graduate school and working in the event industry. There was this innate curiousity within me to get to know this gorgeous Korean sorority sister of mine who had a multidimensional life and story to tell. Wendy is undeniably smart, well read and educated with a quest to discover food and the life of those who she shares similar stories and life journeys with.

+ BRIEFLY INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO READERS.
Greetings! My name is Wendy Marie Laybourn, I am a native Memphian, who just returned home after 6 years in the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virignia) where I was pursuing my Phd in Sociology at the University of Maryland. I accepted a tenure-track faculty position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Memphis (my undergrad alma mater!). In addition to my academic pursuits, I also blog at EatEatRead.com, where I write reviews on local restaurants and books.

+DO YOU HAVE ANY UNEXPECTED SOURCES OF CREATIVE INSPIRATION, IF SO WHAT ARE THEY?
My community. Whether that’s my hometown community - the people, the art, the music, and of course the food - or my Korean adoptee community - our struggles and our triumphs. By absorbing sights, sounds, smells, and stories of those around me, I am able to take on different ways of thinking. 

Andrea Fenise Memphis Fashion Blogger features Wendy Layborn for Working Woman feature

+WHAT IS ONE QUESTION YOU WISH PEOPLE ASKED YOU MORE OF? 

“What are you excited about?”

People often get stuck in questions about what you “do” or where you’re from, but I’m much more interested in sharing what excites me and learning about what excites others! Asking “What are you excited about?” opens the door to learn about people’s passion and maybe even something you have never heard about before or thought of. 

Right now I’m excited about some upcoming travels - a few days in DC to support a friend as she defends her dissertation (showing up for friends is so important!) and then a few days in the Bay Area to present some of my work on Korean adoptees in the media (think the Netflix documentary Twinsters and NBC Asian America’s docs-series aka SEOUL)  and to enjoy some yummy food!

+ WHAT ARE 5 OF YOUR DAILY HABITS? 

Gratitude - each day when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to bed is giving thanks Water - drink your water! Everyday I strive to drink at least the recommended amount of water for my body weight.

To Do list - Each evening, I plan out the following day - what are the most important things I must get done and what are the tasks that I would like to accomplish.  Then, in the morning I review my daily schedule.

Healthy choices - This doesn’t just mean my physical health. Each day I do something that contributes to my well-being. It might be physical activity, eating healthfully, enforcing boundaries around how I spend my time or energy, or simply affirming my worth.

Being present - throughout the day I re-center, reminding myself to be fully present in the moment. I often do so by doing a few deep breathing exercises. My go-to is the 4-4-4 practice - inhale for a 4 count, hold the breath for a 4 count, and exhale for a 4 count. Repeat for a total of 4 intentional breaths.

Andrea Fenise Memphis Fashion Blogger features Wendy Laybourn for Working Woman feature

+  HOW DO YOU THINK WORKING IN BOTH A CREATIVE AND CORPORATE  INDUSTRY BY WAY OF MARKETING CONTRIBUTES TO SOME OF THE WORLD’S BIGGER CONVERSATIONS AND WHAT ROLE IS YOUR WORK PLAYING IN THIS SHIFT IN THINKING?

It’s expected that I bring my sociological training to the classroom, and through that, my goal is to help cultivate my students’ critical thinking. I don’t want my students to simply parrot back what I teach but rather I strive to equip them with the tools to be critical consumers of media, to ask questions about the world around them, and to understand their own personal power to make (hopefully positive) social change. 

+  HOW WOULD YOU ADVISE WOMEN WHO ARE MAKERS, CREATIVE/FASHION PROFESSIONALS OR PEOPLE, IN GENERAL, TO LEAVE IN AN IMPRINT IN THE DIGITAL WORLD JUST BY DOING WHAT THEY LOVE?

Two aspects must be present: Authenticity and Encouragement. In a digital world where people often only show a highly curated (and positive) self, it’s increasingly important to show your lows, vulnerabilities, and behind the scenes. This helps your audience connect with you on a deeper level and moves you to providing more substantive content. 

Encouragement because we need more people who uplift one another! Through encouragement, acknowledgement, and a kind word, we can show that we “see” each other, and being seen is such an important part of what we need as people, the understanding that we matter.

+HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE MEMPHIS CREATIVE SCENE AND HOW HAS IT SHAPED YOUR APPROACH TO WRITING ABOUT FOOD?

The key word I use to describe the Memphis food scene is GROWING! There are so many delicious, new, locally owned restaurants popping up throughout the city. I focus primarily on locally owned restaurants, whether in Memphis or other cities that I visit. What people eat and where people eat tells a story about who they are, their background, and their values. I’m always on the lookout for the next new restaurant or the changes in menu and approach of existing restaurants.

+ WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A BRAND, EAT EAT READ,  GOING INTO THE FUTURE?

Deep dives into local food history. I love reading about food history and the back stories behind restaurants and chefs. A longer term goal is to use my sociology background to tell stories about how certain restaurants or chefs came to be where they area - so not just their personal, individual story but how it relates to broader social, cultural, and historical circumstances.

Andrea Fenise Memphis Fashion Blogger features Wendy Laybourn for Working Woman feature

Connect with Wendy & follow her work and life as a higher education food loving professor—It’s pretty cool!


Andrea Fenise Memphis Fashion Blogger shares Working Woman newsletter signup for female entrepreneurs