Whether someone is just starting out or has been building an online audience for years, there are so many intriguing social media accounts based in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and the Bay Area.
Below are a few who have created a name for themselves by sharing their lives and interests on Instagram.
Take a look and who knows? You may even be inspired to start your own or at least discover a new passion for yourself.
Contact: IG DM or visit her website
Born in Iran, raised in Canada, Shokofeh Sora now resides in St. Petersburg and uses her Instagram to showcase her graphic art and photography skills. “I tell stories Instagram: @ssoraphotography
and evoke emotions through my photographs,” Sora says. It’s not a matter of focusing on how to get more and more followers, her account is simply a way to show her genuine love and passion for what she does. She’s realized that she’s happier putting her effort into her own growth as an artist and trying new creative routes.
When she had her first child, she purchased a Nikon DSLR camera to freeze and capture as many moments as she could. With her main subject being her daughter, her followers have gotten the chance to watch her journey of growing up.
“My pictures go beyond snapshots and incorporate a lot of post-processing. I really try to create art,” Sora says.
Currently working on a couple of photography projects, she plans on also putting time into editing videos, tutorials, or coming out with a course for her followers. Visit her website
to check out her blog or schedule a photoshoot!
Contact: IG DM or email at [email protected]
Over the summer of 2020, Ayana Lage published a couple of videos talking about the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, which ended up catching the public’s attention. Instagram: @ayanagabriellelage
Her posts went viral, flooding her account with new followers after she was featured on multiple publications including BuzzFeed and CBS News.
A journalism graduate from the University of Florida, Lage worked in that field until she transitioned into more PR work. Then she got into what she does now, freelancing and running her lifestyle blog.
“I started sharing because I felt so emotional and so unsure what to do, and just talking to a camera is something that comes naturally to me,” Lage says. “I think that it’s really admirable that people become activists and dedicate their lives to a cause.”
Although she doesn’t consider herself to necessarily be an “activist,” she uses her account to share her authentic self and thoughts by posting about her family, everyday life, racial injustice, and mental health topics.
When she first started trying to bring attention to her account, she struggled a lot, often feeling stagnant even though she was doing everything right.
“If anything, it’s a testament to how messed up the system, or the culture is that people are not inclined to engage with people who don’t look like them,” Lage says. “The biggest roadblock was me wanting to quit.”
“There are so many black influencers locally, but when you look at events, we are very underrepresented,” Lage says. “I don’t know how I would change that, but when I think about being a local blogger, it’s something that I’m very aware of and want to see done differently.”
Give her podcast a listen, Asked by Ayana
, to hear other’s stories about their journeys and the hurdles they’ve overcome to get to where they are today.
Here is a video of Ayana Lage
explaining why she does what she does.
Contact: IG DM or email [email protected]
Originally from New York, Patrick D’Amico brings his “NYC rock ‘n’ roll flava” to all of his Instagram posts, showcasing men’s fashion and lifestyle. Some of his posts are a Instagram: @gospelofpatrick
part of his different curated photo series, each with its own theme such as Eras of Fashion, Gospel of Oz, and his personal favorite, a Chromatic series where he styled a look based on each song on Lady GaGa’s album.
“I have loved fashion since I came out of the womb, and it has been a dream of mine to have my own clothing line one day,” D’Amico says. “I was tired of being rejected by design schools and so I taught myself to sew, and I have a Bachelor’s in business, so I said, ‘I’ll just do it myself!’ ” Over time, he’s built his own brand through his Instagram, set a business plan, and has begun working on his own pieces, with his next goal being to create his dream clothing line.
Although starting out with the goal of being an influencer was far from easy, D’Amico says he has never been one to shy away from hard work. He credits that work ethic and his passion for fashion to his account’s growing success. Starting back in 2017, with no idea where to begin, he’s now gained the attention of bigger brands, such as Express and Dior.
“I’m all about being yourself and that’s the main message I want to bring to people with my Instagram,” D’Amico says. “Gospel is my alter ego so you’ll find Gospel on my feed with the fashion and Patrick in my stories with the wackiness and my love for pop culture!”
Contact: IG DM, work email in IG bio for companies or creators interested in collaborating
The best way to describe Erick Cordova’s account is an artistic lifestyle blog covering all of skincare, makeup, fashion, along with showing off his main passion: art, posting Instagram: @ierickcordova
original artwork, and his own commissions and sticker creations.
Cordova, 25, is a 1st
generation Latinx/e Mexican from Tampa who started his Instagram as a hobby at age 16 to share his photography.
“As I gained confidence, I started posting myself, my outfits of the day, etc. and people really took a liking to it. I kept posting and sharing things I was interested in and it snowballed and blew up!”
Cordova continues: “I’ve been able to work with so many amazing brands and have been offered opportunities I couldn’t have dreamt of without social media.” His passion is evident through every individual post.
One of his proudest moments to date was being featured by Fenty Beauty for a makeup look he achieved using their skin and base products. Currently his biggest project is turning his double lofted barn style cabin he had custom built into a tiny home for himself. You can follow his progress on his account. If you like his content, check out his TikTok.
Contact: IG DM
A full-time social media marketing professional, Jenn Thai uses her free time to maintain her blog featuring all her favorite places to Instagram: @thisjenngirl
eat and things to do in the Tampa Bay Area. Focusing mainly on bringing the community together with the love of food, Thai also occasionally posts about beauty, style, and lifestyle.
“I really try to exemplify the idea of ‘what you see, is what you get;’ authenticity is really important to me, and that my audience feels like they’re coming to a place where they can be themselves and also see the most realistic version of me online,” Thai says. Her goal was never to be an influencer, and as her time and passion put into her account has gotten her there, she still doesn’t focus on that, avoiding the pressure and expectation of gaining followers. She considers it her “Passion Project,” attributing her success to her skills in photography/video, SEO, paid media, etc., and of course her dedicated followers and local brands and PR/marketing professionals she’s worked with.
In college she used to blog about nail art, but once she graduated 7-8 years ago, she decided to shift her brand and focus.
“I turned my focus towards topics that make up my day-to-day. You get up, get dressed, put on make-up and eat every day, and that’s the gist of what my platform is all about,” Thai says. “My mission is to simply keep this blog going and be a great resource for those who are planning their next adventure/meal.”
Contact: Email [email protected]
Alisa Golenko followed in her mom’s footsteps when it came to building her career (her mom was a chef at the Ministry of Commerce in Moscow, Russia.) Born and raised in Moscow, she grew up without a father, getting through all the tough post-Soviet Union times with her mom by her side. Seven years ago, she pursed her passion in becoming a private chef and food blogger.
“Choosing this career gave me the ability to travel the world and meet incredible people,” Golenko says. “From Sicily, to Paris, Barcelona to Qingdao and then Tampa to Los Angeles I have been very fortunate to work alongside and learn from very humble, driven, and talented people. I owe them every bit of gratitude for my development.”
She’s participated in a handful of different gastronomic exhibitions and events with TV hosts in culinary programs of Italy and Canada. Additionally, she’s worked and was the lead on production in writing video recipes for KENWOOD and Electrolux. In the past she personally catered for the Embassy of Italy in Moscow, Ambassador of Great Britain to Russia and the Kremlin, was named winner of Food Network TV Show (Supermarket Stakeout) in season two, episode 12, and was listed in Bon Appetit Magazine as one of the top 10 chefs.
In the future she plans on participating in more TV shows and other projects as well as opening up a YouTube channel. Her growth happened organically with Golenko posting her work and others loving it, bringing more and more attention to her account.
“I kept it simple, I stuck to the things that I cared for and was most passionate about. Those things turned into my content,” Golenko says. “When you love something, it’s easy to feel connected to it.”
Here is a video of Golenko at work
Contact: IG DM or email [email protected]
Originally from New Braunfels, TX, 26-year-old Cristian Davila works in marketing for Datz Restaurant Group.
“My passion has always been with food, and photography since I was a kid. I was always cooking, and I really wanted to get better at taking photos,” Davila says. In traveling, he realized that he relied heavily on accounts like the one he’s created to plan trips and figure out where the best spots are to visit. “I thought I should do that for Tampa, I was already going out a lot every week to try restaurants, why not make it more fun and a challenge? So, I started Tampa Noms and the rest is history.”
With his consistency and high-quality images, his following has continued to rise over the years taking this past time and turning it into a living portfolio, showcasing his work and tracking personal growth. His feed is full of his favorite local Tampa restaurant dishes that catch his eye, and meals that help build traffic for these businesses. After about eight months of running his account, restaurant owners and managers started to reach out to him, further emphasizing the importance he puts behind his posts, producing the best product possible, a strong work ethic, and consistency.
Followers can look forward to more upcoming content while he works toward expanding his content to feature reels and other video content. He also hopes to form more partnerships and work with more restaurants, encouraging any that want to collaborate to reach out! “I think success finds you when you’re really loving what you’re doing and all the good stuff follows,” Davila says.
Contact: IG DM, Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok (all same @)
Originally from Budapest, Hungary, 32-year-old Daniel Nyiri, a full-time streamer and best-selling author of Fitbiz: Secrets of a Seven-Figure Gym,
moved to Tampa 10 years ago. Originally a lot of his time and effort went into his company, 4U Fitness, which spanned from Florida to New York. The company had over 40 amazing workers with expansion plans in Manhattan and LA. However, as COVID took its toll, it put a dagger in his plans, forcing his business to be one of the first to close and last to get back up and running.
“It’s like putting money in a slot machine. You win some and lose some each month,” Nyiri says. “Then all the sudden, the owner of the machine (the government) comes by and says, ‘Hey, you can’t operate your machine until further notice.’ And they just unplug it and take all your money in there. Then about a year after, they plug it back in and say you can continue, but of course bring in new money.”
He posts all things entrepreneurship and business, hosting his own Podcast in which he interviews amazing business owners like Stefi Cohen and Jordan Belfort. In the midst of the pandemic, he ended up shifting his plans which, ultimately, put him on track to what he does now; streaming video games with a twist of filming and creating stories and characters.
After just nine months, he went from zero views to a million on YouTube, proving his own point that it is never too late to start. Nyiri has grown his platforms in popularity through testing, trying out new things, consistency, and showing his true self on social media. His advice to aspiring influencers is to research daily, hop onto new things/trends as soon as possible, and post content specifically made for each platform, adding variety and uniqueness to each of your accounts.
“Putting a smile on peoples face daily is my goal and I love seeing comments on my live stream about it,” Nyiri says. “If you are in need of daily entertainment and laughs, come hang out. I am live every weekday from 12:07 pm until 5-6 p.m. EST.”
Contact: IG DM
“I’m not your ‘typical influencer’ and I think that’s what makes me stand out,” Jackson says. As a former news anchor, she approaches every post with what was engraved in her brain while in the newsroom: Why should people care? Why would they feel the need to stop scrolling for this?
“My content is a true reflection of who I am. I love to explore, learn, and share, and my social feeds are indicative of that paired with tips and insights about all things real estate,” Jackson says. “I like to use social media to bring value to people and each post, whether it’s a local recommendation or a ‘selfie,’ I guarantee you there’s intention behind it.”
Currently representing buyers, sellers, and investors, she’d love to build her offerings and help more millennials, first-time buyers, and veterans looking to sell or relocate. Since she was quite young, she’s loved being “in the public eye.” Using her natural talent in that and genuine inquisitiveness, for five years she thrived in working with local news, until stepping away to follow her entrepreneurial pursuits.
Her social media isn’t about gaining followers, she cares more about the people that she’s directly impacting. She focuses on fostering relationships as opposed to aiming for a specific number of followers. She hopes people see her page and find a new place to check out or learn something new, and then return to her for both travel and real estate information, and in turn, bring her a new clients. Having worked on television, many people would DM and ask her questions about her personal life, and in creating her account she’s been able to answer some of those questions all while helping others find cool experiences and the perfect place to call home. Her handle for IG is the same as her Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok accounts.
“I wouldn’t be successful in this space if I didn’t ‘bet on myself.’ I took the time I needed to learn about digital content creation and understand the business side of influencer marketing,” Jackson says. “Like anyone, making the transition from one career to another is never easy. I was scared out of my mind, but I truly believe that when you ‘make the jump’ and accept that you will come out on the other side stronger… you will!”
Contact: Email [email protected] and visit outdoorsydiva.com
“I encourage Black women to seek out experiences in adventure travel, solo travel, and embrace nature and the outdoors,” Gay says in explaining her account. “My passion has always been to inspire.” Starting her account back in 2014, she didn’t see many women doing what she wanted to do with her life.
“I went looking for inspiration and didn’t find it, so I became my own inspiration and, in the process, inspiring others. I became what I wanted to see,” Gay says.
The path of transitioning into an “influencer” has been a slow and interesting process. Not wanting to follow all the newest trends to build account popularity, such as pods, she’s relied on her genuineness with her audience and staying true to her niche as her avenue to success. Followers can expect more video content to come.
Her website/travel blog features a variety of posts full of guides from outdoor adventure, unique travel experiences, foodie adventures, to theme parks and more. Additionally, you can find a link to buy her photography, and podcast on her website. “Follow me if you want to laugh, be inspired to step out of your comfort zone, and gain some true insight into the Black American experience,” Gay says.
Contact: IG DM, email [email protected], www.thegadaboutgab.com
After living in Tampa for the past three years, Gabrielle Renè decided to take a year hiatus to immerse herself into the van life.
“I have always been a meticulous planner with a desire to organize and consumed with 'resfeber' (the tangled feelings of fear and excitement before a great journey begins),” Renè says. “This life for me is about connection, not only connecting with our environment and ourselves, but with one another. I want others to experience the fortunes I have through life and travel!”
The birth of the Gadabout Gab sparked during her 2017 Australia trip where she learned her niche in creating itineraries. She caught the eyes of the public, giving her the chance to share her travel tips and tricks while creating plans for them. As followers continue watching her adventures of navigating a van across the country, she can’t say for sure what’s next.
“I keep hardly anything to myself in this community I’ve created. My IG fam is on this roller coaster of a ride with me every twist and turn, they experience with me.”
Her favorite part of being an influencer is the coaching she does for brands and other influencers, however, the biggest struggle is staying on top of all her platforms and their algorithms.
“Countless hours of connecting, networking, and messaging, content creation and having to come up with never-before-seen ideas, posting and driving traffic to all different platforms, connecting and working with brands, and so much more,” Renè says, is all behind the scenes of every account.
During the month of October, she dedicates her content to breast cancer awareness, #originatoroctober, because of the close, personal affects it has on her life. Follow her travels and learn how to pitch to brands, budget, the reality of van life, editing photos, and more.
Additional social media accounts: TikTok
Contact: IG (DM, email, phone number all on page), Facebook, his business website
Cody Durakovic’s fitness journey started with Little League sports back when he was only 4 years old. Sports was his escape from the noise and hardships that come with Instagram: @cody_dura
“People around me would tell me I was never going to make it to college, that my GPA or grades to get into school wouldn’t get me there regardless of if I was athletic enough,” Durakovic says. In not giving up, an opportunity came to him his senior year of high school and he committed to play football at the University of South Florida. It “allowed [me] to see that it didn’t matter what anybody else thought.”
Once he hit his junior year of college, things began unraveling. At 20 years old, he had to get two back surgeries as a result from pushing himself to the point of no return, fighting an injury out on the field for too long.
“That was the most difficult thing I had been through in my whole life,” Durakovic says. “My college football career ended pretty suddenly; doctors told me I wouldn’t be cleared to play sports ever again.” Their assessment spiraled him down into a deep hole of depression.
After about a year, he decided it was time to stop loafing in his depression and slowly get back into shape.
“Fitness is really what saved me and helped me find who and what I want to be. … I think it’s a great outlet for other people to really dive into their inner self, mentally and physically, and see what they can unlock through their achievements,” Durakovic says. At age 21, he took his passion and started his business, Nutrishop, with the goal of helping others in their own, individual fitness journeys. Additionally, he offers fitness, nutrition, and mentorship coaching.
On his Instagram, he shares the good alongside the bad, when he was in his best shape and his worst. He wants others to hear his story, the struggles he went through and see that whatever demons you may be fighting, you’re stronger than you think. “It’s OK to fall into a rut, but it’s not okay to stay there,” Durakovic says. “Adversity is just part of growing.”
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