Carnegie Mellon University

Getting Baked in the Kitchen with Nicole DiMascio

Dope Kitchen Creator Shares Her Secret Ingredient to Success

written by
Cally Jamis Vennare

Nicole DiMascio (MEIM 2015) is the epitome of a savvy social media entrepreneur — one who is willing to take risks, who remains true to her vision and who isn’t afraid to share her personal journey with an audience of almost 1 million TikTok followers.

She’s also a cannabis user who, since launching Dope Kitchen in April 2020, has strategically grown her TikTok followers and garnered more than 20 million likes on the social media platform for being "unapologetically baked" while cooking in the kitchen.

What’s her secret ingredient to success?

"People really like my content because it’s very imperfect. Initially, I went through a phase where I felt that I needed to be like other food content creators, presenting beautiful plates of food that were perfectly styled," DiMascio said. "But then I realized what people like about my content is that it’s very approachable. It’s genuine and authentic. It’s real and chaotic. It’s all those adjectives that makes them come back and watch. And it’s nice to hear that feedback because it reminds me that I don’t have to try and be someone that I’m not. I can continue to be myself … and be a little messy in my content … and people love it."

DiMascio has not only shared recipes, but also much about her life in Dope Kitchen. By doing so, she has motivated many of her followers, especially women. "I’ve revealed a lot about my mental health struggles and my fitness journey (as a former competitive power lifter)," she explained.

"Some of the most touching comments have come from women who watch me cook, have fun and finish a plate of delicious, healthy food … and are then inspired to rethink their relationship with food and exercise and to work on improving both."

Nicole DiMascio

As she builds her Dope Kitchen brand to include a website, food blog, more social presence and perhaps even a cookbook, DiMascio reflects on her graduate work at Carnegie Mellon and the important entrepreneurial lessons learned. "Through the MEIM program, I was exposed to so many angles of entertainment: how to build a brand, creative production and its costs, and how to tell a story and monetize content. The confidence that CMU gave me to try something and see if it sticks — and figure it out as I go — really helped me build the Dope Kitchen brand. I’m thankful for this happy accident and excited for journey ahead."