Connecting with Toronto Influencer, Rebecca Felgate

Meet one of our favourite Toronto-based media personalities – Rebecca Felgate, better known as @missrebeccaj on Instagram. She’s a UK-born and Toronto-based content creator with more than 100K followers on Instagram and 127K Subscribers on YouTube. Her quirky and relatable content focuses largely on cocktails, food, travel and Toronto’s expansive food and bar scene.  For an insightful glance into her world, check out our Q & A below! 

How did you become a professional content creator? 

Sometimes I feel like I just “fell into” this by magic (and unhealthy amounts of screen time!) but when I look back, I can see that this was something that has been developing for the past ten years. Professionally, I started out as a very young theatre critic and blogger for a London-based e-commerce website, where my reviews gained a lot of attention for a newcomer. I used this opportunity to forge a network of bloggers in the city and hosted regular (gin-fueled) meetups where we would discuss quality and accountability in content creation.  

Throughout the early stages of my career, I had an Instagram account and would upload pictures of my life in London, which focused on theatre, food and cocktails – my three favourite things!  

I’ve always been an avid reader and writer. I started writing “novels” (hard quotations on novels haha) in my spare time when I was 10 and by the time I was in university, I had a side hustle editing papers for other students. Journalism seemed like a natural choice. 

You work with beverage alcohol and cocktails a lot! How did this become your area of expertise? 

I have always been VERY passionate about the imbibing culture and consider food and drink the best way to explore a city. Toronto was brand new to me and I was excited to taste what “The 6ix” had to offer. I was offered a space to write about my experiences on the Toronto Guardian website, so found myself on the receiving end of delicious media invites. I was always naturally enthusiastic about sharing my experiences on social media, which I continued to do outside of the website and kept this up as a sort of informal side hustle for years. Eventually, I started gaining a following and met a lot of great people in the hospitality industry, which meant that in 2019 I was able to make “drinkstagramming” my career! Ha, what a world! I love it! 

Is there another space you would love to work in outside of beverage alcohol? 

I still really love theatre, and I am very into music, art, fashion and travel. Culture is my jam; I love showcasing what makes a city vibrant. That has been tough during the pandemic era as our beautiful city has been so hard hit and we have had to find new and creative ways to have fun and share stories, but I am right here and ready to help with the recovery. Right now, I have a lot of fun pairing my cocktail and dinners with my outfits and getting dressed up for my reels, so cocktail hour apparel and dinner fashion are something I feel would be natural next step! 

What makes a brand partnership attractive to you? 

I love working with brands who have researched my style before approaching me and like my way of storytelling through media. I am always attracted to brands that will allow me to work within their parameters but add my own creative flair. For example, if an alcohol brand approached me, I would love to be able to create my own cocktail or a riff on their signature serve. If a food brand approached me, I would hope that they will love the fact that I am not a pristine, cookie cutter chef and that things might get a little messy…but in a good way! Brands that encourage me to have fun and aren’t too rigid in their approach always get the best from me. At the end of the day, I am not an advertorial robot. If I was, who on earth would want to follow me? I am a human who loves sharing the exciting parts of my life to others also looking for a little joy! 

How did COVID-19 impact the content creator landscape? 

My content focus is geared toward the hospitality industry, which has come close to decimation in the past 18 months. Prior to the pandemic, I created almost all my content at restaurants, bars and pop-up spaces across the city. Like a lot of people, my business looked on the brink of collapse when Toronto was shut down.  

After a few weeks of crying down the phone to my mum and screaming into all my throw pillows on a rotational basis, I realized that imbibers and culture-lovers like me didn’t stop existing just because we could no longer go out and play with others. I, like so many others, had to find a way to make the four walls of my small Toronto apartment a place of fun and curiosity. I worked to bring everything I loved about the “before” times into my home or safely incorporate them into my outdoor experiences. This shifted the nature of storytelling for me; I became more open and honest with my mental health struggles, especially on my Instagram story. Also, conversely, this allowed me to get more outlandish on my feed. I have found a lot of creators producing far more open and honest pieces of content but have also enjoyed seeing increased themes of DIY escapism. I guess, in short, it challenged us all to get pretty damn resourceful! I loathe to admit it because I would love my old life back but playing with my imagination has been fun! 

What have been your favourite ‘pivots’ during the pandemic? For example, virtual events, experiential kits, etc. 

I am a major extrovert, so at the onset of the pandemic I was not only scared but completely devastated at the collapse of all things social. The digital sphere is the space best geared toward on-mass storytelling, but I’m very much an “in real life” kinda gal and at first didn’t see the appeal in virtual events.  

Virtual events took a bit of getting used to, but now I love having a special package turn up at my door before an event and getting set up before going live with a bunch of fun people. Virtual events are way more hands-on. For example, food events now encourage me to create recipes and plate dishes for myself, and drink events allow me to be my own bartender as well as see how others have crafted their cocktails. Yes, I miss being handed something tasty as I sashay around a room, (haha, way to make myself sound like the worst kind of human, but let’s be real; we all love a good sashay, even if it’s around our house in our bathrobes these days) but it is great to work with a product with my own hands! 

Where do you see the future of content creation? 

Everyone is all about short-form video these days. Personally, I bloody love an Instagram reel! I love the challenge of telling a story in 15 seconds and find moving image more compelling for my content than static posts. It is actually kind of interesting because in some ways on my feed I feel like I have taken inspiration from the golden era of silent movies. I use moving images, close up shots, facial expressions and gestures to get my point across. 

On the whole, I feel like people want short-form, easily consumable content that is engaging and not too wordy…she says knowing full well she has rambled on in this interview! Haha! Next time I’ll make you an Instagram reel using interpretive dance to express where my career is at and how much I love a martini. I’d say I was joking, but after the past 18 months, I’d say anything could happen!  

You can follow Rebecca on Instagram @missrebeccaj and Rebecca Felgate on YouTube.  

*Editor’s Note: Bottle Shops are independent liquor store run out of Toronto bars and restaurants that offer unique selections that cannot be found at local liquor stores.