From Food to Fame: The Rise of Internet Sensation James Kavanagh

Sadhbh Sullivan

Dublin-based social media star James Kavanagh has quickly earned his place at the top table of Ireland’s leading influencers within the past two years. In an era saturated by bloggers and social media users eager to rise to the top, the Snapchat sensation’s path to fame has been both unique and unexpected. Having followed James for the past year, I was eager to find out where his reign as Ireland’s social media King began.

Credit: James Kavanagh

“It all began maybe a year and a half ago… I was snapchatting my boyfriend William being scared, and so I’d kind of jump out from behind corners and rooms to scare him. People just found it really funny. Bizarrely I had a couple thousand followers in the first week and then it just kept snowballing. Out of routine I would just snap other things in my life which people found interesting too. RudeTube heard about this happening; they flew over and interviewed us and then that went out on Channel 4, and it really took off!”

With such a large following, James Kavanagh has become a household name through his use of snapchat to document his stripped back but far from normal everyday life. A day in the life of James can only be described as unique, which I have learnt for myself in the past year, ever since I began following the sensation. From setting up his own food business “Currabinny” alongside partner William, featuring in the final of The Taste Of Ireland, to attending some of Ireland’s most glamorous events, I was excited to ask James to walk me through his average day.

“First thing, me and William go for breakfast together, like always, and we catch up with stuff: Currabinny, what we’re both up to and what we both need to do. I’d usually have a couple of meetings with different brands I work with and then I usually would go to an event or something in the evening. It sounds so cliché to say, but they’re just never the same!”

I was surprised to hear that much of James’ daily life revolves around the expansion of the food brand Currabinny, for which he used his following as a “springboard” to launch the brand into the competitive Irish food industry. James’ future goals were clear; to “start selling at markets and start planning on opening the café, which we’re doing next Summer. That’s what we’re aiming towards fully, the brand Currabinny.” Whilst William appears to be the chef of the two, I was intrigued to hear more about James’ food background.

Credit: dmx17

“I’ve always been obsessed [with food]. I worked in PR for about 6 years and the brands I worked on were like KerryGold, Barry’s Tea – they were all food brands, so I was always involved in it somehow. William did the Ballymaloe cookery course and he grew his love for food even more, so then we just operated together and made Currabinny happen.”

In a social media-obsessed era, I was eager to hear James’ tips on finding a voice online, how to build your snapchat brand from scratch, and how to make a positive contribution to society through your brand.

“The main thing is to be completely and 100% you and make it your own. You can’t hide who you are [on Snapchat], it’s not like Instagram which is kind of prestigious in a way. It’s hard to try to be someone else on snapchat, just be you. That’s all the people want.

I think if you have a following you should aim to do one positive thing that’s not for you whenever you can, so that’s what I do.”

And indeed James does just that. Last April, Autism Awareness month, James took to snapchat to interview his autistic nephew Seán. The interview went viral. James described it as showcasing “what autism is from his perspective and how people that don’t have autism can accommodate people with autism and make their life a little bit easier. I learned loads from just hearing this ten year old talk about his experience. If anything, I think it’s important to just listen to people who have a disability.”

In a generation that is constantly under fire for spending too much time online, it seems as though there is so much more behind our social media sensations that meets the eye, and influencer James Kavanagh proves just that.