Oh, the joy of the internet. How nice is it to just type in (or even say to your smart speaker), “baked doughnuts recipe” — and voila, an easy-to-follow recipe appears.
Today’s TikTok cooking videos embrace a quick, no-frills approach. Gone are the days of scrolling a long, ad-riddled recipe with artful photos, only to finally (fingers crossed the page doesn’t crash, freeze or reload a million times) find the recipe. There are more TikTok food influencers than you could ever count, and most of them make us wonder how did they get there? And do they actually know what they’re doing?
We thought we’d look into one TikToker in particular who’s caught the eye of her 2.9 million followers with her famous line, “Should look like this!”
Dana Hasson, a 25-year-old New York City-based social media personality, adds a quick photo of her batter, dough or icing with her signature line.
We tracked down Hasson to learn more about what it’s really like to work as a social media personality, how she got there, and her plans for what’s next.
How it all started
Hasson was born and raised in Israel, but moved to Long Island at the age of 13 with no ability to speak English. She had always enjoyed baking, but she really cranked it up when she moved to the U.S., finding it a therapeutic way to zone out.
“In general, being the new person was not the best feeling,” she said. “But after I learned English (it only took her six months), I told myself anything is possible.” She does not, however, have any professional experience in the food industry.
Hasson eventually went to college and did a case study on influencer Chiara Ferragni, who was a beauty and makeup blogger at the time. Hasson felt that moment of “This is a job?” and started playing around with the idea of becoming a professional social media personality.
“When I joined Instagram, it was not easy to grow,” she said. “So I told myself and everyone around me, ‘Whenever you see and hear about new platforms, tell me, because I want to be the first one on it and really master it.’”
This approach paid off. While Instagram wasn’t her immediate fit, she quickly found the space where she would blow up, thanks to her brother, who was 11 at the time.
“I see him and his friends recording videos, like weird videos, on this app named TikTok,” Hasson said. “I was so confused. My parents were so confused, but basically, my parents pulled me aside and they encouraged me to download the app.”
At the start, Hasson was focused on beauty and fashion, but her parents encouraged her to switch to the food arena. The rest is history.
It was her TikTok for baked donuts that got her noticed in 2019, when she was 22.
“You couldn’t upload videos to TikTok” at the time, Hasson said. “You had to film on the app, so I would just film and then post ― I wouldn’t even look back — and apparently after every step of the way I said, ‘Should look like this, should look like this.’ I posted and it got 4 million views.”
Hasson’s dessert posts seemed to hit a sweet spot with her audience, and people started calling her the “should look like this girl.”
“At first I was like, ‘Oh? Is this what I want to be known for?’ But I was kind of like, ‘Wait a second, like this is so cool that something was born here.’”
How’s she get that dough?
Running her TikTok page is a full-time job for Hasson, and the money doesn’t come easily.
“I think probably the most important advice I can give anyone: You cannot do this because of the money,” she said. “It’s very hard and you have to really commit your whole life to it. Creating content is not just, ‘Oh, OK, I’m done for the day!’ You’re really sharing all of the time.”
And Hasson is quick to admit that most of the money she makes comes from sponsorships and brands with which she has formed relationships.
“I definitely think I’m lucky to have sponsorships with brands that I truly love to work with, and they want me to talk about their products, and it’s an organic way to kind of insert it with my videos,” she said. (Market research from 2017 shows that 71% of social media influencers’ income is from sponsorship deals.)
Hasson has also trademarked Should Look Like This and offers a bakeware line featuring itemss she uses in her videos, including edible glitter.
What do TikTok fans consider “expertise?”
Hasson’s professional experience lies in the fashion industry, despite her success in the TokTok food space. She’s self-taught in the kitchen, and plans to take some classes at the Institute of Culinary Education.
“I want to grow my skills because I always like to master skills, be better,” she said. “It’s important.”
Hasson previously interned for clothing brands Alice & Olivia and Jimmy Choo, and said she translated visual merchandising skills into making desserts on TikTok.
“To me, it ties into beauty,” she said. “It’s almost like I’m creating a glittery canvas, like a base. I like putting glitter on my face when I put my makeup on. And even with clothes. Creating it through desserts is really fun and also I also really haven’t seen anyone doing this. Glitter is my domain. It’s my love language.”
The challenges of being a social media personality
Hasson has, of course, come into contact with trolls, and she is well aware of the drain they can have on mental health. But she does encourage people to pick up the camera and create content, if that’s what they want to do.
“Mentally I was super aware when I joined social media,” she said. “I was like, ‘OK, some people are going to love it but some people are just not going to.’ But I think I’m very lucky to say that my followers are just so supportive and really excited.”
Hasson credits a lot of this to open communication. “I listen to what they have to say all the time. Do they have a recipe idea? It’s just a very communicative place. And I love it.”
She also recognizes that there are always changes, and she plans to keep rolling with them as she continues her journey. Whatever the next app is, she’ll be on it, showing up for people who are there and bringing her current audience with her.