By Lauren Wong
Looking for a particular niche to get into, or some inspiration from locals? Here’s just a few Arizona Influencers that have dedicated their feeds to their greatest passions.
A Boston transplant with a passion for all things cooking and dining out, you can learn more about Christina Barrueta and see all of her work by checking out her website. Barrueta is a writer and author who has been inducted into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame, receiving the Arizona Restaurant Association Foodist Award as Best Food Writer. Additionally, she’s won awards for her Instagram and website from PHOENIX magazine and Arizona Foothills magazine.
“I started my Instagram account ten years ago simply to document the people and places I love, including restaurants, travel, and my gardening hobby,” Barrueta says. “Over the years my account’s main focus has been to spread the word about the talented people in our culinary and beverage scene, and how special Arizona is.”
She showcases Arizona winemakers, in her book Arizona Wine: A History of Perseverance and Passion. Her second book, Phoenix Cooks, features a compilation of recipes from the city’s favorite chefs and restaurants (available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc). She is also a guest host on A Taste of AZ podcast on YouTube, the Arizona contributing editor to The SOMM Journal with a regular column spotlighting our state called “The Sonoran Scoop.”
“For every photo liked or shared, a person or place in our community is being supported, so that makes me really happy,” Barrueta says. “I really try to put the spotlight on the community, so you’ll find more pictures of chefs and bartenders and their dishes and drinks, than of myself.”
CEO of AIIR Professional, the first ever crystal infused hair care line, Jenny Strebe posts all things hair, from tips and tricks, to wellness and keeping a positive mindset. You can check out her hair care line products by visiting her website.
Originally from the small town of Walla Walla, WA, Strebe was curious about hair styling at a young age, “much beyond putting ponytails on Barbie dolls and practicing on friends.” In 2011, she spent many sleepless nights writing and creating her blog, Confessions of a Hairstylist, which launched in 2012. “I received so much feedback and requests, my sharing to-do list grew exponentially and soon I had compiled hundreds of tutorials and quickly evolved into not only a stylist, but an educator with a passion to share for everyone’s benefit,” Strebe says. In all that success she grew a large Instagram following, created a YouTube channel featuring hundreds of videos, and authored three books (all sold in 17 countries)! In 2016, she began her innovative hair care line made with holistic ingredients.
“I’m always evolving. As I continue to expand my knowledge of wellness in the beauty space and crystals, I share my discoveries with my followers. People can go to my page and learn not only about trending hairstyles that will make them shine on the outside, but also mindset tips that will help them glow within as well,” Strebe says. “I think while the hustle culture still exists and is in my life, I am trying to share more tips on balance and wellness, not just fun hair tutorials.”
Before starting her company, she explains that she was in a weird dark place. She was working for different brands that, to her, felt empty and transactional. “I got off stage from working with a hair care brand and I reached into my pocket for my piece of amethyst (which is said to relieve anxiety) and I knew I wanted to try to create that feeling I had at that moment in hair care,” Strebe says. “So, I created AIIR.”
Lauren Franklin and Owen Steinwall
“We describe our account as an outdoors blog focused on our life as ‘weekend warrior’ hikers, campers, explorers, and occasional roadtrippers,” Lauren Franklin, Sr. Paid Media Specialist, and Owen Steinwall, Technical Recruiter, say. “We strive to be informative, inspiring, and educational on hikes to do, trips to take, how to be safe, and arguably, most important, how to leave it just as beautiful, if not better, for the next visitors.”
Owen grew up in Arizona, while Lauren moved to Phoenix after grad school in 2018. She fell in love with both Owen and hiking! They started their account during the pandemic in late April of 2020 when they started hiking more. They’ve created a community for all locals in the area that share this same passion of getting outdoors and taking in the beauty around us.
“Our short term goals are to continue to encourage people to get outdoors and continue to educate on Leave No Trace,” they say. “Our long term goals are to continue to add diversity to the hikes around AZ and the southwest that we do. We love being a resource and positive motivation!” Their effort goes into education, where to go, what to bring on your hikes, how to be prepared, etc. They want to share with their followers all the amazing things they come across.
One of their favorite memories is backpacking through the Channel Islands National Park together, just amplifying how much they love what they do, even when it’s challenging. “We truly believe the outdoors and public lands are meant for everyone to explore and enjoy! There is an indescribable connection between us and natural beauty, often a visible time capsule in earth’s history. But, we also think it’s extremely critical that everyone enjoying the outdoors whether by car, ATV, foot, etc., does so with a heightened sense of responsibility to respect the land, leave no trace, leave it better where possible, and conserve for future visitors,” they say. “We hope everyone can enjoy these spots now and in the future by doing the right thing.”
Originally from Southern California, Melissa Moore moved to Phoenix in 2005. She keeps up with her lifestyle blog The Melissa Lifestyle, and works for a non-profit organization. Her blog and accounts showcase everything she’s passionate about; fashion, networking, beauty products, healthy living, and fitness. She also shares insight on navigating motherhood while juggling a full time job and blog business.
“If you are genuine and approachable, the following comes organically,” Moore says, “I sometimes run into my followers locally, and some who have shared how my content has impacted their life. Whether that be how they are influenced by my fashion tops, or how they love getting to know my life through social media. I love how we can connect in real life!” Looking forward, Moore hopes to build her dream company, a fitness studio/boutique. A place to get not only a good workout, but also some trendy gear afterwards.
“Blogging is my creative outlet and a place I can express myself. I never intended for it to be a business…” Moore says, “The road was not easy and believe me, I wanted to quit several times. Working full time, being a mom, running a household, and running a business can be a messy juggle. Work life balance can sometimes run you to the ground.”
“I want the world to know to stay positive and keep striving for your goals,” Moore says. “I hustle every day for my family and thankfully it’s because I love what I do!”
Ranger’s account allows followers to join in on his adorable journey through life. “We created Ranger’s account before we even brought him home as a fun way to track his growth, little did we know he would stay small forever due to his medical condition of Pituitary Dwarfism,” Mayo says. “Since then, our account has become a fun and playful outlet to show Ranger’s journey and teach/help others about his condition.”
Their passion stems from knowing how serious/scary this condition can be, and how few people know much about it. Four year old Ranger is 17 lbs, a huge difference from his sister, Jessie, who is also featured on the account. “His personality is extremely unique in its own right. Although he may be small, he sees himself as a regular, full-sized German Shepherd and his size has never stopped him,” Mayo says.
Since starting the account, Mayo shares that through their followers they’ve been able to find methods that helped Ranger. Now, with their growing platform, they’re able to spread that knowledge. “Throughout our journey we have gone through many hardships. At one point, Ranger lost all of his fur due to the condition and it took much trial and error to finally get to the point we are at now. Being able to have an outlet to look to for advice was very comforting,” Mayo says. “Ranger is healthy as ever and simply enjoying his life like any other pup would!”
(To treat his fur condition, Ranger takes Levothyroxine and fish oil).