May 3, 2018

What Is It Like To Be Instagram-Famous In The Washington Region?

By Dayana Mustak

Most of us use Instagram for purely social reasons. It’s fun to see what your college friend had for brunch last Sunday and what your cousin is doing on her trip to Germany. But for some people, posting on Instagram is more than a hobby –it’s a job. With thousands of followers, these Instagram users have been called “influencers” because they often work with brands to promote products and trends to their sizable audience.

While many of the most popular social media influencers are based in cities like New York and L.A., there is no shortage of them right here in the Washington region. I reached out to some local influencers to ask them how they got started using social media professionally and what they like about being based in the D.C. area.

Barnette Holston of @dcfashionfool

How I got started: I started my blog several years ago but it wasn’t until a picture I posted was picked up by Saks that made me want to move towards being an influencer. I found that I like showing off my style as well as the brands that inspire me or events I enjoy. What I found was that other people seem to like that and want to know more or ask questions about my picks.

What I like about being in the D.C. region: D.C. has a lot going on besides being the center of the political world. I love showing that Washingtonians do have a great sense of style and highlighting some of the best aspects of the city. It’s my hope that my tips and adventures inspire others to find their own sense of style, learn a bit about new and emerging brands, explore this great city and best of all grab life and have fun.

Justin Schuble of @dcfoodporn

Perfect way to start the weekend @bethesdabagels // TAG A CHEESE LOVER

A post shared by Justin Schuble (@dcfoodporn) on

How I got started: When I started, I had no expectations for the account. I was a freshman at Georgetown and needed a creative outlet. I’ve always been obsessed with food and art, so naturally I gravitated towards food photography. I started the account, only told my closest friends and family about it and started to post. This was back when #foodporn was still an inappropriate word and before restaurants thought about Instagram when creating new menu items and decorating their interiors. Before long, people started to follow and the account grew.

What I like about being in the D.C. region: I think the D.C. food scene went from being grossly underrated to one of the hottest dining destinations in the world. I was fortunate enough to experience this firsthand. I grew up in Potomac, Md. As a kid, we would go into the city for special occasions, but I never really got a chance to explore the city. Once I got to college and realized I couldn’t eat another meal at the on-campus dining hall, I decided to break the “Georgetown Bubble” and started to venture out into the city. It wasn’t long before I realized the D.C. food scene is extremely diverse and and D.C. is an exciting city, but one that’s not so big that it’s overwhelming.


Danny Kim of @dannygrubs

Lamb Karahi with a side of BOGO. It’s a new 🌊🌊🌊 #GrubNation

A post shared by DANNY KIM (@dannygrubs) on

How I got started: Danny Grubs started as a curating account where I would repost viral food videos. After the viral videos helped me gain a large following, I transitioned the page to start posting my own content. From viral food videos to D.C. food to becoming my own personal diary for my food journey, the content of the page has been dynamic.

What I like about being in the D.C. region: As a content creator, I hope to provide value in people’s lives by providing stunning visuals and bringing more exposure to the D.C. food scene.

Kimberly Kong of @sensiblestylista

How I got started: I started Sensible Stylista in 2011 while I was finishing up my Master’s at Juilliard. Thanks to the fashionable women around me, I constantly felt inspired so I decided to start my own personal style blog. I’ve always been a creative–I’ve been playing classical piano since I was five–so this was yet another fun project for me. I’ve always been passionate about shopping smart, so I decided to create content about glam living on a budget. Although it’s not my full-time job, I enjoy treating it like one.

What I like about being in the D.C. region: My favorite part about blogging is connecting with fellow creatives who enjoy making great content and having an outlet to connect with people and hopefully make a difference in some way, shape or form.

Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga of @diegodowntown

How I got started: I have a strong corporate marketing background, having worked in marketing for almost seven years now. It all started when I created my Instagram account and website. I learned about photography and social media strategy while working those jobs that I implemented it within my own personal channels and eventually grew my social media following.

What I like about being in the D.C. region: What I love most about being an influencer in the D.C. area is the experiences and opportunities to meet so many creative people in the community. It also gives the ability to share my personal story, experiences, and show my readers and followers aspects of D.C. that they would have never known about.

Jennifer Jean-Pierre of @jenjeanpierre

How I got started: I was always getting complimented on my outfits and always wanted to work in the fashion industry. I was reading my favorite blog at the time and it dawned on me that I also could blog and show off my outfits. So, I made a site and started shooting my own outfit posts secretly while my roommates were asleep. One day, my blog started getting all sorts of followers and comments and I realized that a renowned fashion site, Fashion Bomb Daily had featured me as the Bombshell of the Day for style and I gained recognition from there. I still do not work in fashion for my 9-to-5, but I am still working in the digital space as the social media manager at a health association. Having a voice in the fashion social media world is important to me because since day one I have always been authentic and transparent. It is really important to gain a loyal and true following and the best way to do so is to not “fake it for the gram” too much.

What I like about being in the D.C. region: Depending on where you are, it can feel like a big ole city or it can give you small city vibes. D.C. is far more than conservative politicians in power suits. It’s a city chock full of creative spirits as well.  I love that it’s a transient town but its residents still keep it essence alive and well. There is an event or a place for every single one no matter your interests. D.C. can easily be home to anyone because there is something for everyone.

Laurie Collins of @dccitygirl

How I got started: I started taking pictures with my iPhone as I was out and about in D.C. and I think that I take photos that are not your stock D.C. postcard shots. I look at D.C. as my hometown and I want everyone to see it from my personal perspective. It is a beautiful city.

What I like about being in the D.C. region: As a native Washingtonian, I appreciate the opportunity to showcase the absolute beauty of our city, its architectural sites, its city dwellers going about their daily lives, its new museum shows and much more. Dialogue begins with each posting—between my followers and me—and often these initial conversations lead to an extended and back-and-forth about the city and other fabulous places they should be sure to see. I haven’t even scratched the surface of my city and I’ve been doing this for 6 years!

Kara Ferguson of @politicsofprettyblog

How I got started:  I was working as an assistant editor for a local D.C. magazine for a couple of years when I was unceremoniously laid off in 2012. I was unemployed for about eight months and during that time, I focused my efforts on blogging, expanding my network in the beauty and fashion industry, and connecting with my followers on social media. Had I not been unemployed for that period of time, I’m not sure my side hustle would’ve blossomed the way it did in the years that followed.

What I like about being in the D.C. region: What I like about being an influencer in this region is being “in the know” of the latest store openings and events and being able to connect with other influencers.


What are your favorite local Instagram accounts? Have you discovered more of the Washington region by following local “Instagrammers”? What do you think about sponsored Instagram posts?

Tell us on our show about local social media influencers which will air on Thursday, May 3rd.