Inside the world of professional social media influencers: Stefani Pollack

Stefani Pollack, the founder of Cupcake Project (, is shown with her son, Myles.

By Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

Social media influencers are increasingly changing the media landscape by virtue of their popularity, with many having the power to affect purchasing among their many followers. Among the Jewish social media influencers with substantial audiences are five St. Louisans, three of whom still call the city home. Today, meet one of the five, Stefani Pollack, founder of Cupcake Project (, who has 1 million followers on Instagram.

Stefani Pollack

Founder of Cupcake Project (

1 million followers on Instagram

When Stefani Pollack started her blog in 2007, she had never baked a cupcake in her life. Since then, her recipes have been featured in Parade magazine, AllRecipes magazine and Fine Cooking magazine.

It began when Pollack, a former IT corporate trainer, offered to bake cupcakes for a friend’s wedding reception.

“I said to them, ‘I’ll make your cupcakes,’ but I was not a baker and I didn’t know anything about baking,” said Pollack, 44. “I took it very seriously. I really wanted to make good cupcakes. So I baked cupcakes every week for the nine months leading up to their wedding.”

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Pollack started a blog to document her experiments, fittingly called Cupcake Project. Eventually, she expanded her repertoire to other desserts. Her audience grew steadily.

“At first only my friends were reading it, and my mom,” Pollack said. “Then all these people started reading it and following the journey, and it just sort of blew up. Some wild things happened, like when I was featured on the front page of and I was like, ‘What!’ I didn’t even go to baking school, and there I was developing recipes for Paula Deen.”

As her audience grew, Pollack continued to develop creative takes on desserts and baked goods. She added breakfast dishes, savory foods, ice cream and craft projects. Her step-by-step instructions include high quality photos or videos that are handled by her husband, Jonathan Pollack. When he’s not documenting her cooking skills, Jonathan is a sought-after simcha photographer in St. Louis.

Like the other Jewish social media influencers featured here, Pollack described her occupation as a full-time job that requires dedication and an aptitude for marketing. The result for an influencer with a large following is good income.

“It took me a while to even realize I could make money from my blog,” Pollack said. “I make money from advertising on my blog, like the sidebar ads. Then I make money from doing sponsorships where brands will pay me to promote their products in a post. And I have a company where we help people to grow on Instagram, and I manage Instagram pages.”

She has become so adept at the business side of food-centric social media influencers that Pollack is developing a conference in May called Bake Fest (, a virtual event where other online bakers can exchange ideas and learn best practices.

Mostly, she likes what she does because it’s an opportunity to develop unique dishes and share her flair for cooking with thousands of her fans.

“A couple of years ago, I got down on the job because I was working so much, and I lost the joy in it,” Pollack said. “I’ve recently found it again and decided that the joy for me is really the creative process. It’s very satisfying.”