Barbara Costello is proof that you’re never too old to learn something new.
When her daughter, Liz Ariola of the popular mom blog ‘Mrs. Nipple,’ found out she was pregnant with her third child at the beginning of the pandemic, Costello moved in.
“She was quite sick with morning sickness,” the 72 year-old Connecticut-based grandma told TODAY Parents. “I have always helped Liz with the kids so I relocated during quarantine.”
Despite morning sickness, Ariola was determined to break into TikTok and recruited her mom.
“With Liz trying to launch her TikTok channel and feeling lousy, I agreed reluctantly to film only three recipes since we were stuck inside with two toddlers for days on end,” Costello said. “Really, I actually agreed because my daughter wouldn’t take no for an answer. I assumed that I was on the hook for a few videos and that would be that.”
No one could have predicted what happened after Costello posted her first video, an old family recipe for Greek chicken and potatoes.
“When it received over 100,000 views, my daughter kept telling me I was so charismatic and had a lot to offer,” Costello shared. “I still wasn’t so sure.”
Together, the mother-daughter duo decided to tackle more videos, including everything from New England lobster rolls to an easy sticky bun hack.
“Liz knew a little, [but] I knew nothing,” Costello said. “So we started — just the two of us in her kitchen - during nap time.”
Costello, known affectionately as ‘Brunch with Babs,’ quickly amassed a following.
“She’s almost at 200,000 followers on TikTok and has an amazing community there,” Ariola told TODAY of her mom’s virality. “She went from 2,000 Instagram followers to 18,000 in one week when we started posting her videos [there]."
Costello, who can now edit and post her own videos, starts each post with an enthusiastic introduction and hops into her most recent recipe or tip.
“We began with family recipes from my personal recipe box,” the former middle school teacher explained. “I’ve always loved cookbooks and now food blogs. I also like to read all the comments for every recipe I make and I love to try new things. So now I research recipes, try them and the super winners I share.”
Costello said she feels that the social platform allows her to fill a gap for some people.
“I never realized how you can connect with so many people you have never met but now have a relationship with,” Costello said. “I would read in the comments, ‘I lost my mom and you are teaching me how to cook’ or ‘you remind me of the Grandma I never had’.”
The TikTok sensation said she plans to keep going as long as she’s helping people.
“It never fails to amaze me [that] I am tasked with teaching people the most complex recipes in 15 to 60 seconds,” she said. “I have always loved meeting new people and now I do it virtually. We are one big TikTok family.”