Baton Rouge bloggers and influencers bring art and culture into the city, keeping its creative community growing and evolving.
January Hart Rizzo began her Instagram account as a way to keep in touch with a fellow school-mom as a joke.
“She said she was going to miss my outfits each day, so I posted an outfit on my personal Instagram one day and people loved it,” Rizzo said.
Her account, @januaryhartrizzo, now has 45,000 followers who expect a certain level of expertise from Rizzo when it comes to fashion. The captions she chooses are cleverly crafted and almost always, there is a link for her followers to purchase the items she's featuring.
The 41-year-old New Orleans native began her journey in the fashion world as humble as any other would– with a love for fashion and a degree in apparel design from LSU.
“After college, I did a few designs for children’s clothing companies, but when I got married and had my own kids, that stopped,” Rizzo said.
She and her husband and their two boys, age eight and 10, live in Baton Rouge and reap the benefits of Rizzo’s rapid rise on social media.
After experimenting with blogging, she decided she enjoyed writing and giving people something to enjoy throughout their daily lives. Her self-professed purpose is to give someone a positive message, inspire others to do something creative with their time and encourage people to share their creativity with the world.
“It was so much pressure at the beginning to make sure I was doing the right thing and I was trying to hide my age— the whole thing was just a lot more work than I thought, but after a while I decided, you know, this is me and I’m going to showcase [it],” Rizzo said.
This year, Rizzo has found herself among a community of Instagram influencers and bloggers who didn't exist when she began her online journey.
“When I started, there weren’t that many people doing what I was doing and honestly, I didn’t even know what I was doing, but now the community that has grown out of people seeing others thrive [through] blogging is amazing,” Rizzo said.
She lists @gracefullytaylored and @apinchoflovely as two accounts she likes, mentioning their involvement in the blogging community. The women go to boutiques, shops and restaurants to promote them to their followers, in attempts to make Baton Rouge a more cohesive place for ideas.
Rizzo said she believes that people like herself are in place to help the community find something good and creative to do together. She looks at blogging and her so-called “influencer status” as a platform to help people interact and enjoy each other’s company at the boutiques and restaurants she visits.
Her biggest following is in New York City, but Dallas is a close second, with Baton Rouge rounding out the top three. She said she curates her content to match what she thinks her followers will like, especially with new boutiques and eateries popping up in town.
On the other end of the spectrum is Marissa Wehrer. The 21-year-old marketing senior is also a New Orleans native. When she arrived in Baton Rouge, the city’s creative scene was lacking and she had no interest in blogging.
“When I first came here, it was simply for college and I didn’t think much of Baton Rouge in terms of a creative center— where someone could make something and do something for others,” Wehrer said.
Her perception changed when she began making homemade jewelry in her dorm room at the end of her freshman year.
Wehrer is the face behind @jewelry_and_journey on Instagram. In only two months, she has gained a following of over 400. Before the creation of her account, she sold beaded chokers to various sororities on campus, realizing that people enjoy items made by local artists.
Once she started up the blog, she noticed there was an entire blogging community in Baton Rouge that she was blind to.
“I didn’t know how much work it was, nor did I realize that it was an actual community with meet-ups and collaborations,” Wehrer said.
Once she graduates in December, she will move to Spain for a marketing job and expand her brand, taking jewelry and her Baton Rouge friends around the world with her. She said she hopes to use her newfound influence to bring people to places they may have never seen, while educating them on the latest jewelry trends.
Without the "foremothers" of Instagram blogs like Rizzo, Wehrer may have never began her own blog or Instagram account. She said that by seeing other accounts, she was inspired to create her own.
“I always saw people doing cool and creative things around the city," she said. "I knew I had something different with the jewelry to bring to the table and I am so glad I did it."