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South Jordan Journal

South Jordan a hotspot for bloggers, influencers

Jan 08, 2020 02:15PM ● By Libby Allnatt

Brianna Degaston of South Jordan started her Instagram in high school and now has more than 10,000 followers. She also has a YouTube channel with more than 13,000 subscribers. “I love the mountains, the nice people, the never-ending list of fun things to do, the restaurants, quality of living,” she said of living in Utah. (Courtesy of Brianna Degaston)

Libby Allnatt | [email protected]

Gone are the days of fashion being reserved for glossy magazine pages and elaborate runway shows. These days, anyone can stay up-to-date with trends with a smartphone and an Instagram account. 

From pastel-hued mountains in the distance to the Oquirrh Lake in Daybreak, the sights of South Jordan are regular backdrops on social media because many online content creators in Utah either live in the area or visit it to capture the sights. 

What is an influencer?

Blogs have been around for more than 20 years, with the blog-publishing site Blogger launching in 1999. Instagram (launched in 2010) is a comparatively new platform that brands are still learning how to navigate to their advantage, said D’Arcy Vandenberg.

“We all know that marketing on social media is extremely important,” she said. “If you don’t have a presence on social media, you’re not going to be in business very long. That’s where everyone’s putting their marketing dollars. That’s going to keep growing.”

Vandenberg is the leader of Utah Babes Who Create, a local chapter of California-based Babes Who Create, a company focused on media production and influencer marketing. There are more than 20 chapters around the world (including Egypt). Utah got its chapter with a launch party in November. 

“For me personally, influence is to help guide people to make their purchase choices or to help guide them into an outfit idea or an inspiration for your home,” Vandenberg said. “It really is sharing your input with others.” 

‘Daybreak really hit the mark’

Daybreak resident Deidra Smith said if the right brand came along, she might work with them, but for now she enjoys using Instagram for herself. 

She says her Instagram is “all about my family and all the things I love.” But Smith has especially made an impact in the neighborhood with a Halloween tradition she shares photos of every year.  

Every year, Smith’s front porch turns into “Dee’s Candies,” a twist on See’s Candies, complete with a checkered floor and custom-made outfit. Daybreak officials share the photos on the community’s Instagram, and See’s even sponsors her now, sending lollipops for the children. She said the idea came from a love of See’s Candies and the fond memories that came with eating the candy growing up, as well as grandparents who always found ways to bring their neighborhood together, especially around the holidays. 

Daybreak resident Deidra Smith sets up “Dee’s Candies” at her home each Halloween. Smith enjoys sharing photos of Dee’s Candies and of parties she hosts with her friends on Instagram. (Photo by Blackbird Photography)

In addition to photos of Dee’s Candies, Smith enjoys sharing photos of parties she hosts with her friends to her almost 2,000 followers.  

She said the consistent and visually appealing aesthetic of the Daybreak area, as well as its tight-knit and supportive community, make it a great area for photographs and content creation. 

“I feel like Daybreak really hit the mark with how they laid out our community,” she said. “I believe they have an aesthetic they stick by, all the colorful homes and the beautiful lake.”

Originally from California, Smith has lived at her current home in Daybreak for a year and a half, but she’s lived in Daybreak twice before.

“I grew up in Orange County and the Balboa Island area,” she said. “Watching people walk around a community and be active and really close to their neighbors, I feel like that in itself is a great atmosphere to build amazing content. You get really close to each other. You can capitalize on that too; this person knows how to do this.”

Showing the personality behind the camera 

Brianna Degaston of South Jordan started her Instagram in high school and never could have imagined it would grow to what it is today.

“It still blows me away how many people out there in the world know so much about my content and actually like it,” she said. “That’s really cool. It was a lot of hard work to grow a following, especially with all the competition.”

Her Instagram, @briannainsaltlakecity, has more than 10,000 followers, and her YouTube channel has more than 13,000 subscribers. Degaston also has accounts devoted to technology and computer science, with more than 3,500 followers on Instagram and 1,000 subscribers on YouTube, both under the name Tech Girl Brianna. But she said that technological skills aren’t everything when it comes to creating content. 

“I think it’s important to have some tech skills such as being able to create graphics and edit videos, but to be honest, content is everything,” she said. “You can have the best-quality videos, but that’s just not enough because people want to see a real person with a real personality behind the camera, not their tech skills.”

Degaston said when it comes to her Instagram style, she strives for simplicity and to avoid over-the-top edited photos. 

“My aesthetic is all over the place, but my favorite is definitely bright and minimalist,” she said. “I am so attracted to that look and lifestyle. There’s a Danish term called ‘hygge’ that I try to live by which means to enjoy the simpler things in life.”

Degaston said it’s important to make content you’re passionate about, engage with your audience and post consistently but without forcing yourself.  

“I just post what makes me happy, and I hope it inspires others to do more of what makes them happy,” she said.

Staying true to one’s style

Vandenberg, of Utah Babes Who Create, said she knows local bloggers who don’t live in South Jordan, or they live on the cusp of the city, but they’ll go to the area to shoot photographs and gather content. 

While Lily Arbon, @simplyme_lily on Instagram, officially lives in Herriman, she said she’s in close proximity to Daybreak, a place where she enjoys spending time. 

“I love walking over there,” she said. “The vibe of downtown Daybreak is so fun and cute. Like with the little restaurants there, it’s more a modern vibe. I totally love that area.”

Arbon said she has always been passionate about shopping, fashion and clothes, particularly finding stylish pieces for curvy women. A few years ago, she started her Instagram, which now has 11,000 followers, to share where she buys her clothes.

“I always, as far as I can remember, would get asked, ‘Where did you get that?’” she said.  

When thinking about a name, the word “modest” kept coming up, both in terms of style and price. 

“It can get expensive to buy clothes and keep up with the Instagrammers and all the bloggers,” Arbon said. “I want folks to find pieces that are classic and inexpensive too.”

Arbon’s outfit photos (or, in Instagram lingo, #OOTD, also known as “Outfit of the Day”) feature a variety of clothing, from colorful dresses to crisp coats, and information in the post descriptions about where particular pieces come from.

When it comes to figuring out what to post, Arbon said while she’s guided by what her audience would like to see (“I was just doing an Instagram story and saying, do you want to see some thrift items? 100% of the people who voted said yes”), she also likes to post what feels good to her and stays true to her style. 

“It’s what feels good for me without feeling like I’m trying to be something I’m not,” she said. “All of the stuff that I wear, I’m not just putting it on for a picture.”

‘Gives your feed more diversity’

Abby Brady started her blog The Classy Giraffe a few years ago after struggling to find clothes that fit a tall frame. 

“I was like, you know what? I’m going to start a blog and Instagram because there has to be more girls and women going through this,” she said. 

In addition to fashion, Brady has used her blog and Instagram page, @theclassygiraffe, to cover lifestyle topics and mental health issues. 

When it comes to the kind of fashion she shares on her Instagram, Brady said she likes to test out trendy outfits while still making sure everything is comfortable. Showing clothing that’s affordable and from brands that are reasonably priced is also key. 

“I’ve learned how to dress myself, how to find clothes that work for my taller frame,” she said. “I’ve made connections with people.”

Brady, who is based in Herriman, often shoots photos in the South Jordan area, Daybreak’s Soda Row being one of her favorites. 

“The lighting is really good there,” she said. “I also like the docks where they do the food trucks; those are always really cute, especially in the spring and summer.”

Brady said when shooting photographs, many bloggers and influencers will bring several outfits along to ensure they get a good amount of content and a variety of photos, so the number of backdrops and photogenic areas in Daybreak helps. 

“There’s a lot of different background options,” she said. “It gives your feed more diversity.”

Collaboration over competition

Vandenberg said that while the local blogger and influencer community isn’t immune to the competitive vibes that often accompany such an industry, Utah has a positive environment that helps foster support for one another. 

“What makes Utah different, it has a bigger sense of a community overall, just because the people here are very giving and open and want to help,” she said.

Arbon, of the @simplyme_lily Instagram page, stresses the importance of the local fashion community being inclusive and diverse, and the value of collaboration over competition.

“There’s different sizes and aesthetics,” she said. “We vibe together and connect as bloggers, and Instagrammers, really connect at the most human level of hey, there’s people who are watching us who are maybe young people and that we are a good influence and show that we support each other and that we’re not in this competition. We just want to share the things we love and who we are.”

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