Looking to visit D.C. and don’t know where to start? Lived in D.C. your whole life and looking for a new place to visit? Luckily, these D.C. influencers provide their followers with the best hidden gems to check out.
Shawn Gilleylen: The Queen of D.C./The Queen of the District
Shawn Gilleylen, better known as “The Queen of D.C.,” or “The Queen of the District,” says she manifested living in Washington, D.C. in 1985 after visiting one summer in high school.
“I’m from St. Louis, MO and D.C. captivated my heart within one week,” Gilleylen says. “I promised myself that after graduating from college, I would move to D.C. Nine months after graduation, I was living and working for my United States senator on Capitol Hill.”
“I started my account because exploring D.C. has always been my hobby. People enjoy seeing my day-to-day life, candid moments around the city and strolling down memory lane.”
According to Gilleylen, short-form videos allow her to share content quickly. She takes her followers on neighborhood tours, to experience local culture and discover D.C. gems.
“I thrive off engagement and love sharing my travel adventures around the world. Once people discover me, they contact me for recommendations, whether visiting, local or relocating. For over 10 years, I’ve greeted my followers with ‘It’s a gorgeous day in the District,’ and they love it. I want to spread the message globally; D.C. is the place to be.”
Gylleylen’s goal for her account is to grow a trusted resource for the D.C. community. She wants to be a one-stop-shop for all things D.C.
Alex Schroeder: Alex Eating
Alex Schroeder started making TikToks out of boredom during the pandemic. After spending too much time on the app and scrolling through other people’s videos, Schroeder decided he was going to create, not just consume.
“I’ve always loved exploring D.C. and finding new restaurants, bars, and things to do, so I decided to share that love through video on my TikTok account,” Schroeder says. “More importantly, I saw the terrible effects Covid was having on the restaurant industry.”
“Lots of people were losing their jobs, and businesses were closing every other day. As a strong supporter of local small businesses, I saw the opportunity to use TikTok as a way to promote mom and pop shops. That’s when I really felt a purpose behind creating the content. The videos really seemed to resonate with people, and the growth was super-fast. After just three months of posting, I had more than 40,000 followers on TikTok. I didn’t want to stop after that.”
Schroeder wants to keep growing his account and sharing all the great things about D.C. He aims to expand it into a “guide to everything D.C.” page, including food, drink, events, travel tips, dating ideas, etc. On his Instagram, he reposts his TikToks and tags all the businesses for easier business engagement and hopes to grow that account to match his TikTok.
“But really it’s about the businesses. After one of my first small local restaurant videos went viral, the owner contacted me to let me know my video gave them a huge bump in business they desperately needed during the pandemic. As long as I can keep doing that for businesses that need it, I will be thrilled.”
CK + Diana: Hypefoodies
CK and Diana, or Hypefoodies, grew up watching “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.” After seeing him travel to their homelands in Southeast Asia, they were inspired to go back to their mother countries and document it. They learned to use professional camera equipment and editing software to highlight the culture and the food.
“Since we didn’t have the funds to continue travel, we noticed people really loved our food posts,” CK says. “This led us to make Hypefoodies on Instagram [in] 2017 to highlight food from our travels and locally. Our specialty has always been video, so it made sense to make a TikTok which was born in 2020,”
Their years of experience in photography and videography tricks from YouTube set them apart from other TikTok creators. They don’t follow trends and have their own style focusing on smooth filming and clean transitions.
“We also implemented voiceovers and try to describe the cuisine we are eating (much like Tony Bourdain) which has received positive feedback.”
As children of Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees, Hyperfoodies’ upbringings affect which businesses they showcase.
“We tend to lean more towards minority-owned businesses that get no shine,” CK says. “A lot of these business owners do not know how to market themselves on social media and remind us of our own parents. We hope to help highlight people like us while also establish a meaningful career in food photography/videography.”
For those visiting D.C., they want people to know there is more than just the Washington Monument and Walking around Georgetown.
“Really dig deep and find there’s a beautiful mix of different people and cultures that you can really immerse yourselves in. Of course, following Hypefoodies will help you discover that.”
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