(photos by Shelby Brakken Photography)
Funnily enough, I first met Monika when she came in to see me for a facial. I was a little star-struck when she told me she was a fellow entrepreneur and that she owned Hipcooks (a very cool school I had longed to take classes at!) Then she told me she ran 7 of them and I was like “Dang girl! Let’s get you relaxed!”
Monika is smart, talented and we are so happy that she has chosen our NE Portland studio as her home base for regular self-care. Keep reading to meet Monika!
She is a single mother, thrasher of breast cancer, owner and founder of Hipcooks Cooking Schools. Meet Monika!
What kind of a “Portland Girl” are you?
I’m a “Portland Girl” with one foot on the boat, one foot on the dock!
I run a business called Hipcooks (a fun adult cooking school) and all 7 Hipcooks schools are spread along the West Coast (from San Diego to Seattle), so I’m traveling a lot. Family trips are across the country (to Florida) or across the continent (to Uruguay). And, my 8-year-old daughter is at the best age to travel — we were in Kenya last summer and are gunning for India this summer.
So, I often feel like I’m not really a Portlander at all. However, this is where home is, and where I come to recharge. It is where I have continuity. I suppose that technically makes Portland the “dock!”
Favorite quote or motto?
I frequently find myself saying 3 “Monika Quotes”, which coincide with my personal life philosophy: When faced with a challenge or a problem, Start with the Optimal! Often, you can adopt the optimal solution and be done. If not, take little steps backward from the optimal until you have the next best thing. Remember that there is always an elegant solution to every problem, go for that. And if you try and try and do not succeed, It is what it is!
What is your biggest outlet for your creative expression?
Ha! You thought that would be a throwaway question, didn’t you? I’d tell you, “The kitchen, of course!” and describe a scrumptious dish I’m trying to perfect. Nope! While I love cooking, obsess about it, plan meals at any free moment — the biggest outlet for my creative expression is … my company! I’m a true entrepreneur at heart. I’m happiest when I’m tinkering in the company, be it writing copy for the newsletter, figuring out a sleeker/easier/faster way to get our tasks done, designing a layout for a new school, or, yep, even generating profit and loss statements and reconciling credit card statements. I love it all. My favorite thing is to manifest, to see things flourish. To create something awesome where there wasn’t something before.
What 1 food and 1 beverage could you not live without?
Sorry to be boring, but my favorite food is my desert island dish — salad. I’ll never tire of greens. I dress them simply, with the Hipcooks Trinity: Maldon salt, olive oil, and lemon. Beverage? My fridge will predictably have some bubbly stashed on a shelf. Always be prepared to celebrate! Even a lousy day could be worth raising a glass to, as in “I’m glad that’s over.”
What is your current self-care routine, and why is it important to you?
Here is the how the totem pole looks, from top to bottom: my daughter, my company, my house, me. I go to the gym 3 times a week because I have a standing appointment that I pay for. It’s the only way I’ll go! My current self-care routine (ha ha ha) is to get myself down to The Portland Girl once a month for a delightful hour of bliss. Sometimes my esthetician gives me homework. like “Moisturize your face, girl! Use this!” and I’ll do it, because I’m an on-task type. Anything else is bonus!
It’s important to me because it’s the one time each month where I can enjoy something relaxing, delightful, and beautiful as a sure thing. I count on it! After each appointment, I lock in the next one. It’s inked in the calendar, so I have to make the time! That’s why the membership works so well for me.
If you have a business or want to be reached, how can our readers get in touch?
I’d love that! www.hipcooks.com. We’re available for drop-in cooking classes. Enjoy a night out with a cooking class that ends as a dinner party. Or, bring your work group (or play group) and book a private class just for yourselves. Choose the date and time, menu, and leave the rest to us!