Who are Tampa’s top Instagram influencers?Meet 13 with thousands of followers

All around the world, social media influencers offer up images and ideas that showcase their own individual talents and passions and sometimes lead to new and exciting trends.

With COVID-19 still upon us, many have turned even more local to document their personal existence and immediate experiences while they're not able to travel abroad or across the country.

83 Degrees thought it would be insightful to take a look at where the crowds are gathering online to watch and live vicariously through some of the Tampa Bay Area’s top Insta influencers as they show us their diverse and unique lifestyles through glimpses in social media. Here is a list that might lead you to find and follow your own peeps.

 
Lifestyle influencers 

Tracy Alves
Handle: @sunnychichome
Followers: 108K
Contact: [email protected]

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Tracy Alves moved to Tampa in 2008, fell in love with the city, and never left. As a décor stylist and lifestyle blogger/influencer, her profile shows her talented work in interior design, brand partnerships, and a look into her everyday life. 

She attributes the continual growth of her page to the attainable home décor style and affordable designs, giving followers motivation to restyle instead of just wishing for their dream home. She uses her Instagram story as a way to directly communicate with her followers daily, showing her life/events and gratitude for them. 

“I’ve enjoyed working more exclusively with some of my favorite brands. I think it shows the followers/readers that you genuinely believe in the companies you promote and share,” Alves says. She doesn’t want her page to become a feed of advertisements, but with the right companies, she knows she can gain long-lasting partnerships.

“My Instagram began as a place where I wanted to share my décor and interior styling,” Alves says. “I started it solely for my love of design and had no idea it would one day become a source of income and give me a wonderful platform to share everything!”

Diana Blinkhorn
Handle: @mrsblinks
Followers: 42.3K
Contact: [email protected]

37-year-old Diana Blinkhorn is a stay-at-home mom turned full-time content creator. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she moved to Tampa with her husband and her three girls. Her content resembles what you would call a “Pinterest Mom,” who loves going over the top on holidays and birthday parties. She also shares her insight on the real side of motherhood and the struggles she goes through. 

“I never intended to be an influencer and to this day I wonder how I got here. I started by sharing our day-to-day life on Instagram six years ago. Things grew from there and about two years ago this transitioned into a full-time job for me,” Blinkhorn says. “I still pinch myself that I get to call this my job.”

Her goal and plans for the year are to focus on TikTok (account handle the same as IG) and work on her website called The Gray Ruby Diaries.

Her passion stems from her own motherhood journey with hopes to create a sense of community with passionate like-minded mothers. She dives into the loneliness she felt as a first-time mom and shows others that they’re not alone in their hardships.

“This has always been about community to me,” Blinkhorn says. 

Lauren Schwec
Handle: @LAURENSCHWEC
Followers: 43.3K
Contact: [email protected]

Young entrepreneur Lauren Schwec works with Instagram Agency Social Curation. In working with this agency, she helps other influencers maintain their own unique stylish, high-profile social media presence. 

"Social Curation is a Social Studio specializing in social media, content curation + local influencer collaborations,'' says Schwec. "Our goal is to help clients create a remarkable social media presence through branding, consistency + spice."

In describing her account, Schwec describes the content she posts as “authentic, relatable, and with a pinch of luxury,” she says. She uses “Carefully crafted content” as well as her authenticity. “Being a women entrepreneur/business owner and blogger. I am always on the move and I think that inspires people to reach for the stars.”

Growing up, she always loved creating.

“I would cut out clips from magazines and make collages and save my favorite inspirational images, designs, and styles,” Schwec says. “I think all along a part of me knew I would find my place creating in some way and expressing myself through an art form.” On her website, she has a large variety of posts featuring topics of travel,  work tips, beauty and wellness, and everyday lifestyle topics. 

“Wear black, be gold -- blush often,” Schwec says.

Madison Masterson
Handle: @madisonmmusic
Followers: 27.2K
Contact: DM Instagram

A USF graduate, 24-year-old Madison Masterson has a very touching story about why she got into showing her true self on social media. She describes her content as positivity, lifestyle, and creativity with her singing and social justice posts showing a deeper, more emotional side of her.

“I started on social media because I was bullied in high school and I have epilepsy, I was having upwards of 15 seizures a day,” Masterson says. “I started my page to show people that they’re not alone when it comes to mental health issues, bullying, and how to stop it.” Masterson uses her page to also spread awareness about epilepsy. 

Her account showcases her modeling pictures which she explains has helped her gain more confidence about herself. Starting her social media was all about sharing her story, she didn’t even know what an influencer was when she started and never in a million years pictured herself to be where she is today.

“I’ve never felt so much love and support in my life,” Masterson says about her followers. 

The downside of social media, she says, is comparing yourself to these perfect, photoshopped images and feeling insignificant. Masterson emphasizes the point that there’s more to people than the happy photos they post.

No one’s life is as perfect as they make it seem on social media, she says. Her definition of success is simply doing what you love and with that finding success. 

Foodie influencers

Chalermvut Apanukul (Tony)
Handle: @tonycuisine  
Followers: 26K
Contact: [email protected] or Instagram DM

Born and raised in Thailand, Tony Apanukul moved to the States to get his bachelor’s degree, settled in the Tampa Bay Area, and “the rest is history.”

Growing up, he majored in physical education but found his true passion in being a chef. Peeking at his Instagram page, you’ll see his page is full of exquisite food dishes in which he combines eastern and western culture. He attributes his success to this combination which he feels represents him as a person. 

“My posts reflect my definition of art that I portray through the food I make,” Apanukul says. “I use colors to describe the mood of the photo as well as the use of placements, so pieces stand out.” He plans to keep building his platform with consistency and by continuing to communicate with chefs from all over, learning from them as they learn from him.

In looking forward to the future, Apanukal says that he wants to open his own restaurant within a few years featuring “a unique concept of sushi that Tampa has not seen before; a new contemporary mix with traditional.”

Jessica Stollenmaier 
Handle: @tampafoodgirl
Followers: 12.3K
Contact: IG DM or email ([email protected])

On her mission to eat, drink, travel, and repeat, Jessica Stollenmaier uses her account to showcase the amazing things our city has to offer through some of her favorite dishes. Being in the restaurant industry for over 10 years, she’s gained a substantial amount of knowledge on what makes an exemplary dish. 

“Food isn’t just about nourishment; there’s a whole experience around the enjoyment of food. From great ingredients to the skillful creation of a recipe, to the way it’s presented on a plate or in a wrapper, to the experience you have at the location, and ultimately the way it tastes,” Stollenmaier says. “My goal is that you get a sense of that experience through my page.”

She believes her account continually grows its audience is a result of not only her artistic aesthetic display of places she dines but also how focused it is on the food and drink itself. Every photo on her feed isn’t posted just because it’s a good shot, but because the dish itself is delicious. 

As a kid, Stollenmaier was always a picky eater until, at 15, she started working in a gourmet restaurant where she had to try all the dishes in order to describe them to customers.

“Some things were challenging to try, but I was amazed that there was a whole other world of flavors out there! I still love my chicken tendies, but I crave experiencing new flavors and textures,” Stollenmaier says. “I’m amazed by the creativity and artistry that chefs display when they take a handful of ingredients and come up with infinite combinations.”

Moving forward, she plans on continuing her journey of trying and sharing all the unique food options the Tampa Bay Area has to offer as well as taking her adventures and passion around the world. She wants to dive deeper, not only into various dishes, but also the stories behind these local chefs.

“I love knowing that I’m not even close to having tried all the ingredients that exist on this earth,” Stollenmaier says. 

Art influencers

Cam Parker
Handle: @painkillercamisyourdaddy
Followers: 18.4K
Contact: [email protected] or Instagram DM

As a “creator, artist, empath, and life-changer,” Cam Parker reflects on his life. He shares that his intersectionality makes him unique; black, man, queer, creator, millennial. 

“I’m forever trying to navigate my Wishlist of projects to work on and things I want to put into the world. Sometimes depending on current world events or pop culture moments, some of those things get shuffled,” Parker says. “But I can say for sure I haven’t been bored in like 30 years, and with all the ideas swimming in my head, I never will be again.”

He makes things with the hope that his creations will resonate with someone else. Since preschool, Parker knew his passion stemmed from making things; painting, creating, etc. Setting goals -- no matter how big or small -- keeps him on track.

"It’s either, I’m going to finish this or that commission for a client, or I’m going to get this painting of Steve Aoki to him while he’s in town,” Parker says. 

With humility and spirituality, he finds that it’s important for us to remember how small we are in this world and that we’re all here together. In following your dreams, “the limit doesn’t exist,” Parker says.

Shadow
Handle: @shadow1188
Followers: 9K
Contact: Instagram DM

Originally from Tampa, Shadow uses his Instagram to showcase his photography. He posts everything from street photography, travel, lifestyle, portraits, to landscape photography and more. Starting his account back in 2012, he’s gained his following from collaborating with local creatives and engaging with his followers while connecting with new people. 

“Tampa has so many talented people that are into photography, art, music, fashion, modeling, and more,” Shadow says. “We have such a great creative community in Tampa that supports, and lifts up one another.” He is hoping that soon, later this year, traveling will become an option again and he can do one of his favorite things: traveling solo with camera in hand. 

Shadow will continue to grow his platform, organically, through meeting new people on Instagram and while he’s out shooting.

“There is something special about capturing a moment that can never be recreated again,” Shadow says. “Hopefully my photos can inspire people to get out and explore for themselves. There is so much to see and do in our area!”

John Vitale, Paul Vitale, Joey Vitale
Handle: @vitalebros
Followers: 9K
Contact: Vitale Brothers or Instagram DM

Growing up in Orlando, the Vitale brothers developed a passion for art from their parents and grandparents. The brothers moved to Tampa, bringing with them their love and talent for creating murals. Their posts focus around creative projects from their mural painting company, showing the process and end results (from either new businesses opening up that want a pop of color to draw in customers, to walls a customer requests, to whatever they want that showcases their passion) as well as any unique finds the brothers stumble across. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s pretty much what our career is,” John says. 

They attribute their success to their consistency in keeping up their account, posting daily or every other day to show what they're working on.

“There are a lot of people that end up hashtagging themselves next to our content so it kind of perpetuates itself,” John says. 

Their most recent project was the work they did for the Buccaneers, which even made an appearance on the TV news.

“We do experiment a lot, but I would say our style is probably kind of like a pop art, like pop culture, a pop art collage because we use different elements in the same painting. … We usually include different types of backgrounds and patterns.”

Fans can expect more videos/reels, podcasts, and TikToks promoting their work and brand in the future. 

Beauty influencers

Tiffany Paskas
Handle: @trvbeauty
Followers: 17.9K
Contact: Instagram DM

Tiffany Paskas, a 26-year-old originally from New York, found her appreciation for makeup just four years ago and has since built up her account through her dedication.

“It came out of boredom of the work-to-home routine and I just wanted to do something different with my time,” Paskas says. Before discovering her passion, she says she didn’t even own a single tube of lipstick. Now she helps followers get started with the basics of makeup while showing off her unique, colorful, and creative looks. 

She built up her following by posting a ton and tagging as many brands as she possibly could. “I wouldn’t give up until the brands I was obsessed with noticed me,” Paskas says.

Moving forward she plans on expanding her work to more social media platforms.

“The only way to truly grow is to go with the flow of change,” Paskas says.

Additionally, through the unknown times of COVID, she hopes to start one-on-one virtual makeup lessons. She tells followers to stay tuned for Halloween time, her favorite season for makeup!

Courtney Nawara
Handle: @phyrra
Followers: 25.2K
Contact: her Facebook group, or [email protected]

Nawara’s feed mainly focuses on posts and videos about cruelty-free beauty, gothic fashion and makeup, hooded eyes makeup, as well as skincare. She also posts about mental health, pets, tattoos, wearable tech, video games, and anything else that piques her interest. 

At 42, she’s older than most bloggers out there, but since starting in 2008, she’s gained so much support from her followers.

“They’ve supported me through all of my changes,” Nawara says. “In 2012 I went cruelty-free and it was a huge change for my audience. But rather than shaming people about cruelty-free, my tactic has always been to show how easy it is to go cruelty-free.” 

She started the blog because she couldn’t find any foundation that matched her fair skin in department store makeup lines, so she turned to mineral makeup. After turning to mineral makeup, she realized the lack of reviews that existed out there about the products and decided she wanted to help others by sharing her feedback.

“If I can help someone save money and find their perfect foundation match, I’m happy,” Nawara says. 

With the ample amount of support from her audience, her followers have asked her to write a book offering tips and tricks, brush recommendations, and tutorials for hooded eyes. Check out her published book, “Hooded Eyes Makeup Manual.”

Fitness influencers

CJ Chestnut 111
Handle: @CNut3 (regular) @kingofresults (fitness) 
Followers: @CNut (15.4K) @kingofresults (4K)
Contact: Instagram DM 

Standing out from other fitness influencers, CJ Chestnut steers away from stereotypical fitness pages showing that life involves more than just dumbbells and broccoli.

“I post an entertaining mix of fitness, fun, and success/growth mentality,” Chestnut says. 

He believes his success is fueled by the support from his followers.

“A lot of entrepreneurs claim to be ‘self-made,’ but when you analyze everything, it’s the followers, consumers, and supporters who drive success,” Chestnut says. 

His passion for fitness started when he was young. He went into high school being one of the slowest, weakest athletes in his school. His dad began researching and teaching him everything about training; strength training, speed training, flexibility training, etc.

“Within two years, I had transformed into a top-ranked Florida athlete in both football and track,” Chestnut says. “My teammates and other athletes around town started asking to train with me on the weekends and do what I do.” The same thing happened in college. 

From a pastime to a career, Chestnut turned his passion into a lifestyle. In looking forward, Chestnut plans on continuing to expand his Instagram operation to other forms of social media and thus increasing the number of lives he impacts on a daily basis. 

Local Travel influencers

Kelly Bauer
Handle: @whenintampa
Followers: 56.5K
Contact: Instagram DM or [email protected]

Moving to Tampa over five years ago after falling in love with the city, Kelly Bauer started using her Instagram as a way to showcase Tampa Bay Area. She posts everything from restaurants, things to do, events, local businesses, and new places opening up. Her hopes for her account are to continue being a resource for followers in exploring the area. 

Bauer wanted a place to share all the new places that she and her fiancé were discovering.

“I started realizing how much people were using When in Tampa as a resource for things -- date nights, new places to hang out with friends, where to bring visitors, and new local businesses to support,” Bauer says. “I’ve always loved exploring new places and cities. When I moved here, I realized how much Tampa had to offer and how many amazing places there were in my own city!”

In addition to regularly engaging with her audience and creating content that she believes they’ll like; she also attributes her growing account to her weekly giveaways. Every Friday she does giveaways with local brands allowing her to create a sense of consistency and excitement around her account while also giving back to these businesses and keeping followers up to date on exciting new things in Tampa. 

Later this year, Bauer plans on announcing a little something she’s been working on recently.

“The platform will hopefully continue to build itself over time, but as long as I’m keeping my audience as the top priority, it should happen pretty naturally,” Bauer says. “I love living in Tampa, and I feel like @whenintampa is my small way of giving back to the people and to the businesses.”
 

Read more articles by Lauren Wong.

Lauren Wong is a graduate of the University of Tampa with a degree in journalism who is freelancing while she looks for a full-time job. Originally from the Chicago area, she enjoys travel and aspires to be a travel photojournalist. During the summer of 2019, she worked for Premier Travel Media in Chicago and as a correspondent for Input Fort Wayne, another Issue Media group online magazine based in Indiana. She loves spending time outdoors camping, kayaking, and taking pictures.
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