Today’s influencers represent a sea change in celebrity culture. Instead of actors and sports figures first gaining influence and then cashing in on recommendations, a new generation of social media stars – and no, that doesn’t just mean Gen Z – are using an interesting lifestyle and a essential social flow to build an audience, find a voice and even make a living in real time. Today’s influencers are not just trendsetters, reflecting our culture within us, they are set to become power brokers, shaping the society we live in. The new wave has reached NoVA, and we have brought together local social scholars who are making their mark on our region and beyond.
We spoke to Dani Sauter, originally from Alexandria, a model, mum cat and full time IT entrepreneur. She broadcasts her sleek and intelligent take on body positivity in person and online.
Instagram handle: @blonde_inthedistrict
Online since: 2014
To start: âI had a job where I felt like I had lost all my creative energy. I felt depressed. And one of the ways I got out of that funk was to dress up and be happy in what I was wearing. When I turned to clothes that made me feel good and looked amazing, I realized that style is a tool. I quit this job and while looking for a full time job I started Blonde in the District. Modeling was finally born from my blog.
Why she does it: âI want to show women that they don’t get intimidated by style. There are no rules. If you love it and rock it, that’s the beauty of the style. It is for every person and every body. When I started out, it wasn’t about body positivity outwardly. But I saw that so many women were in the same boat as me, that they had a hard time finding clothes that fit them, and it grew from there. It feels good to know that I have made a positive impact on someone else’s life, whether it’s by sharing something authentic about myself or a brand of clothing that another woman can find value in. joy.
Biggest post of all time: “I was recently on The Drew Barrymore Show, and I shared the snippet on social media. [It landed just under 15,000 views.] The spectacle held out its hand to me; it was a turning point in my blogging career. His team asked me to be part of “Drew’s Doggy Bag”. I presented Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation [in Arlington], and Drew donated $ 5,000. “
Favorite comments: âOn my seven year anniversary post, people said they couldn’t wait to be on Instagram to see my [content]. It made me look inside myself to realize that’s why I’m doing this.
Strangest Comments: âI certainly had the enemies. These comments can be hard to shake, but they come from people who are not sure of themselves. And once someone asked me to buy me the dress I was wearing in a message.
Future goals: âMy approach has changed over the past two years. It’s always style driven, but I’ve tried to find ways to make an impact for the common good, my community and the underprivileged. What message do I want to get across other than feeling good about yourself? I want to grow, stay relevant, and do more than what I’m currently doing.
On “alive” off camera: “It’s funny, sometimes I get recognized at a coffee when I’m wearing sweatpants and a denim jacket, and I think, No! I’m on leave now!“
What she won’t share: âMy personal life with my husband and my family [is off-limits]. “
Why his followers care: âThey look to me for new resources and new inspirations of style, beauty and well-being. I have cats, so if you like cats, I’m your girlfriend too.
Free loot: âI tried to do more trading: sometimes brands will ask you to send you a certain item and won’t let you choose. But I want to select what I am trying. It’s an unrealistic expectation, and I want to be genuine. If I was promoting something, I used it. One of the most interesting partnerships has been with a brand called Gettacar, and I got a new Audi through this collaboration. I also received swag for my cats, but I find it cute!
His message for his seventh birthday: âA lot of blogs don’t last more than a few years. It is a saturated industry. If you don’t spend a lot of time on it, it can be difficult to be successful. For me, that means I made the effort to reach seven. I am proud of what I have accomplished.
Her new Pretty Kitty store: âDuring the pandemic, I was looking for a ceramic cat statue from the 1970s like my grandparents. I found one online. But then I kept looking for other vintage cat items, and my friends started sending me items their parents wanted to get rid of. I ended up with a collection. So I decided to launch a vintage and modern cat decoration online store. I get everything myself.
The best NoVA spots: âMy husband and I go to the Chop Shop Taco in the old town for a date night. It is a modern [spot] in an old car garage from the 1970s. To clear my head, I religiously attend Ascend Cycle classes at Del Ray. I just reached 100 classes!
A version of this story originally appeared in the January issue. For more stories like this subscribe to our monthly magazine.