4 Up and Coming Black Influencers to Follow on Instagram

SPOTLIGHT|JUNE 19, 2021

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Today and year-round, VizSense works to amplify Black creator’s voices. On this Juneteenth, we wanted to highlight four amazing up and coming Black Instagram Influencers and content creators to follow and keep an eye out for. We had the pleasure of speaking with Destin, Nkenge, Ari, and Iyana about their experiences as Black content creators, where they got their inspiration to start their pages, and how brands can continue to be more inclusive and authentically amplify melanated voices year-round.

These four individuals inspire others to accept themselves, inspire change within their communities, and promote positivity to their followers and beyond!

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Destin Grayson

@carpe_dmg

Destin developed his page 3 years ago to focus on inspiring men of sizes to dress well and influence his audience with different looks and style tips. His goal has always been to promote body positivity and give men the confidence to be stylish. To his surprise, not only men, but women who care for their mate, appreciate his content for gift ideas for their partners.

How has your page changed in the past year?

Over the past year, I think I have changed. It has been more difficult for me to produce content. Not because of less free time but because I found myself in a mild depressive state. Not being able to interact with people and go out took an unforeseen toll on me. So rather than getting dressed daily I would be in sweatpants and hoodies. Now that we are returning back to normalcy I feel a lot better and my mood is improving.

Since there have been so many big cultural changes in the past year, what are your thoughts on where the influencer industry is heading in terms of diversity and inclusion?

Influencer marketing for diversity and inclusion is improving tremendously. I see many more companies making a conscious effort to include people of color in their advertisements. Representation matters.

Where do you think brands can improve to be more inclusive and better advocate for BIPOC all year long?

Companies/brands can improve to be more inclusive all year round if they keep the same energy they had post the George Floyd death. I had never seen so many people supporting the 'Black Lives Matter' movement or have so many advertisements directed towards people of color. That is the type of effort these brands need to make all year. Not just after a tragic event.

What are some tips you have for anyone trying to get started as a content creator?

My tips if anyone wants to get started as a content creator are simple but require time, effort, strategy and commitment.

First identify your audience or niche - who will your content be targeting and what do they want to digest.

Then create quality content that will entertain or educate your audience. This is to establish yourself as an "expert" in your niche.

Engage with your audience and community. Reply to people that leave comments, DMs, or share your content. Also, identify people in your niche that are doing well and attempt to connect with them.

Lastly, stay consistent. Post often and constantly research tips on how to enhance your audience's experience.

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Nkenge Brown

@itsnkenge

itsNkenge focuses on fashion and photography. Nkenge uses her camera to create, capture, and share content that empowers, enlightens, and educates women everywhere. In showing her photography process - which most of the time consists of her taking her own photos - she's inspiring women to create, even if it's by themselves.

What are your thoughts on where the influencer industry is heading in terms of diversity and inclusion, and how has your page changed in the past year because of it?

My business has mostly changed in terms of the companies I choose to work with. I've become more conscious about their actions around diversity and inclusivity. I'll even find myself scrolling through their social channels to verify if people of color are included in their campaigns or content overall.

Where do you think brands can improve to be more inclusive and better advocate for BIPOC all year long?

Over the past year, I have seen some improvements in the influencer marketing industry when it came to diversity and inclusivity, but I do think we have a long way to go. To me, consistency is the key. It's one thing to feel included holistically and it's another to feel included temporarily. The color of my skin is not for trends or relevance, it's a part of who I am. I do hope brands take the time to understand this and include BIPOC communities in a way that makes us feel heard and represented everyday.

What are some tips you have for anyone trying to get started as a content creator?

Authenticity -- Being yourself is the easiest thing you can do when becoming an influencer or content creator. It helps you to connect with your audience and grow a loyal following.

Consistency -- This was something I struggled with for years. It's hard to see the fruits of your labor, if there is no labor. In whatever you do, without discipline or consistency, people won't take you or your brand seriously. Set a goal, create a reasonable schedule that'll get you to that goal, and stick to it! It'll all be worth it, I promise!

We are not perfect. Things take time and we are going to make mistakes. Where there are weaknesses, there are also areas of opportunity you'll have more than enough time to work on. Don't overexert yourself and always remember to have fun!

Profile picture of thenaturalari

Ari Dickerson

@thenaturalari

Ari started her page in February of 2019 to track her Heat Damage Journey and showcase natural hairstyles to help support healthy curls. As her page grew, it became a support system for those who had heat damaged hair looking to her for motivation to continue their journey. Her goal is to continue to support others who may have damaged hair and help spread positivity across the natural hair community.

“I always tell the people who come to me for advice about heat damage that although transitioning is a long, tedious process it is 100% possible AND worth it. Coming from super heat damaged hair to now finally having healthy curls has been such a rewarding experience and my goal is to continue to spread positivity and support to others who may have damaged hair.”

What are your thoughts on where the influencer industry is heading in terms of diversity and inclusion, and how has your page changed in the past year because of it?

2020 was a pretty difficult year for me. I have always strived for my page to be relatable and I'm pretty open for the most part about my life, but now sharing certain experiences has made me feel closer to my audience and they feel comfortable talking to me about personal matters in their life as well. Instead of only talking about hair I want to expand my content further and really showcase my Self Journey.

Where do you think brands can improve to be more inclusive and better advocate for BIPOC all year long?

Brands should give POC more opportunities to showcase their talents BUT not degrade their worth when given. We work hard all year long just to be given the bare minimum when partnering with brands. More opportunities like this would help POC feel supported and appreciated in the community.

What are some tips you have for anyone trying to get started as a content creator?

Consistency is key!! Really think about the reasons you're doing this and if these reasons genuinely make you excited to get up the next day and get your goal then that's all you need to move. The people will come, if you LOVE the content you're putting out, others are bound to love it as well!

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Iyana LeShea

@iyana_leshea

Iyana's page focuses on natural hair, fashion & beauty content that influences her audience to exude confidence and big Queen energy. Iyana strives for her content to inspire her audience to love themselves the way they are, and wants her audience to know that they can do anything in this world as long as they put their mind to it!

What are your thoughts on where the influencer industry is heading in terms of diversity and inclusion?

I am very happy to finally see a lot more brands being open to include and show representation for our black creators and our black creators with albinism. I feel like these step can break down that “one size fits all” beauty standards.

Where do you think brands can improve to be more inclusive and better advocate for BIPOC all year long?

I think brands should continue to support and shine light on issues that do affect our black community. I want brands to also do it from a place of being genuine and not just because it’s a “trend”. Also like I stated before, being open and receptive to featuring and collaborating with more black creators

What are some tips you have for anyone trying to get started as a content creator?

A couple tips I can give to those just starting content is to stay consistent, be creative and stay authentic & true to yourself. Being your authentic self and creative will help you stand out and separate you from the rest!

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