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These Women Share What Keeps Them at the Top of Their Game

Written By: Aletta Cooke Best San Diego Influencers

Sunshine, beaches and perfect weather are synonymous with San Diego. But beyond the spectacular scenery, San Diego is blossoming into the newest hotspot for bloggers and influencers. These four women tell us how they put “The Cool” in Southern California Style.

Best San Diego Influencers

Kamelia Britton of Hackerette

Q: What inspired you to start a blog? How has living in San Diego influenced you?

Kamelia Britton: Before I was ever a blogger, I was a simple girl, who grew up in a small Texas town and never traveled as a kid. I saw other families go on vacations, and it just wasn’t something that we did. As an adult, I worked hard to put myself through nursing school and create a better life for myself. After working as a registered nurse for a few years, I’d heard about travel nursing and it caught my interest. In 2005, I signed a three-month contract for a travel nursing job here in sunny San Diego. I’ve been here ever since.

I saved up to take my first big overseas trip to Europe in 2006. After spending three weeks abroad, I knew I wanted to travel more. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I started looking for ways that I could make it work. I was researching budget travel online when I discovered travel hacking and error fares. Travel Hacking refers to using credit card bonuses to travel for free using points and miles. Error Fares are basically “mistake fares” that have allowed me to travel the world for a fraction of the cost. I once got an error fare that took me around the world to 7 countries for only $325!

Since I was always out traveling the world for next to nothing, people started to take notice. Everyone would ask me how I did it, and I’d get the same questions over and over. In 2016, I decided to start a blog and build a course to share what I’d learned. Since then, my brand has grown and I’ve gotten more creative with my photography. Today, I mostly create photo content in collaboration with brands on Instagram and love it!

Q: What are the essentials for planning a trip?

KB: I have a whole system that I use to search for flights and it’s a bit complex. I’ll always compare multiple sites and then see how many miles I’d use if I chose to redeem them. Google Flights, Kiwi and Momondo are some of my favorite sites to book the best deals on flights. For packing, I always check the weather and plan my outfits based on what I’ll actually be doing, and what will photograph well in any setting. Solid colors are easy and won’t compete too much with that cool mural that you find unexpectedly. Also, I carry several solar-powered battery packs with me so that my phone and camera are always charged and ready to capture content all day.

Q: What have you learned about yourself through the creation of your brand?

KB: Oh gosh, so much! Nothing will challenge you more than the creation of a personal brand. You have to pivot all the time and stay malleable. I’ve learned that saying “yes” can bring amazing opportunities and that there is also such power in your “no.” I’ve learned to be true to myself and to learn from each mistake. Failures happen and teach you where you need to grow.

When you create a personal brand, you are on display for the world to see and people aren’t always nice. You have to have thick skin. It’s also very competitive in this space. You have to continuously innovate and invest in your craft. You have to love it and I’ve learned that I truly do.

I’ve always been a very private and introverted person, but being in this space has forced me to open up because your audience wants to know you. I’m learning to share more and I’m slowly getting more comfortable. My audience is so supportive and they’ve watched me grow over the years. They’ve become friends who are truly happy for me and I’m grateful to have such an amazing community behind me.

Q: What is your favorite country or place you’ve visited?

KB: The Maldives for sure. I was invited there last year for a press trip and it was such a dream come true. The opportunities that have come along since starting my blog have been such a gift. My fiancée Jacob also proposed to me there in the most beautiful way. The Maldives will always have a special place in my heart. https://www.instagram.com/p/BiwpxElny8H/

Q: How do you staycation in San Diego on a budget? What’s a place in San Diego that you haven’t visited yet?

KB: I love spending the day at the beach or taking in some fresh air at Balboa Park. There’s so much to do in San Diego. If you want to make a night of it then I’d suggest using the Hotel Tonight app to get a last minute deal on a room downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter. I think every person on Instagram has been to Potato Chip Rock except for me. I’m sure I’ll get there at some point but haven’t been yet.

 

Danielle Lucia Schaffer of City Girl Gone Mom

 

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Q: What inspired you to start a blog? How has your fashion changed from living in New York, now that you’re living in San Diego?

Danielle Lucia Schaffer: I have a broadcast journalism background and I love documenting my life with photography, so it was the perfect segway for me. My husband created my brand name, so I can’t take credit for that. I honestly love having a blog and being able to share what’s trending, big family travel, home decor and how I am winning and failing as a parent (in style, of course).

I grew up in NYC, so naturally it’s the epicenter of my world, and it’s still the epicenter of fashion. There is a huge difference between California and New York style, but I adapted just fine. I am enjoying the coastal breeze and looks that allow for sunsets with your toes in the sand. But, don’t ever be surprised if I am wearing Zimmerman with flip flops.

Q: You’re a mother of four! What tips do you have for balancing motherhood, marriage and being an influencer?

DLS: I have to be completely transparent and say there is no such thing as balance with my size family, so it’s more like blending. When people say “you have your hands full…” I respond by saying, “ You should meet my two dogs!” My family has been onboard since the beginning. I am obsessed with photography and I think all four were born with a camera in their face. The best tip I could ever give, is to make work hours. For me, I work while my children are at school, minus my toddler. And the minute they come home, I unplug from my virtual world and plug into my real one. It can be very easy for influencers to work all day and night, so we truly need to make hours. It looks easy being social media savvy while juggling a few kids, a camera and a handful of contracts. I have created a career and a brand around making the most of motherhood, and I think most influencers do a pretty good job of capturing the good, the bad and sometimes even the ugly. I boomerang my best moments with cheesy Champagne toasts, and then I blog about our setbacks—the spills, the sleepless nights and the daily attempts to lose those last 10 pounds.

At the end of the day, I’ve worked countless hours to turn motherhood into a stay-at-home career that allows me to hold onto and capture the fleeting moments with my little ones. As far as my marriage, it means everything to me, so we like to stick to a bedtime for the children so daddy and mommy can have alone time on the couch. And we have officially become masters of the “date night in.” We turn on “Leon Bridges Radio” on Pandora and sit by the fire like professionals. And when we want to turn things up, we honestly hire bands to play in our living room for a select group of friends. Our local favorites right now are @goodoldboysmusic. We are a family that truly doesn’t like to separate and we do just about everything together.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect about being an influencer?  

DLS: For me, the equation is quite simple. If I can sell it on a flexible schedule, and stay at home… I am in! Having the opportunity to mom, wife and create a revenue stream around something I love, is the new American dream. And only those who are highly motivated, who are consistent in brand and social engagement, and who don’t give up before that moment of motivation becomes a mindset will succeed.

Q: What was your initial vision for you brand? How has it evolved over the years?

DLS:  I wanted to have a space where people can find out what’s trending, but I also wanted to share my fails so people could relate. I have always envisioned keeping parenthood real. Here’s how my blog works. My blog chronicles my life, my love of family, fashion, food and more, and my social media channels amplify the blog. And these days, it’s become so much more than just writing a couple of articles every week. Through my blog, I’ve been able to take my love of photography and videography—on both sides of the lens—to the next level. I figured out what my strongest points were in this space. For me it’s keeping things real, my NYC grit, my photography and writing chops. And I’ve just built upon that throughout the last few years.  I feel my brand has evolved by expanding my reach. In addition to my blog and social media channels, I am a top contributor on TODAY parents and I am a host to a popular podcast, “The Mom Confidential.”

Q: You have a passion for photography. What’s the most scenic place in San Diego?

DLS: Okay, now you stumped me! There’s no way I can just pick one, but if I have to, I’ll say Coronado. Coronado boasts this cool coastal vibe of its own. The homes are very reminiscent of the east coast and have that perfect curb appeal that people dream of. The beaches are pristine and who doesn’t love the prestigious Hotel Del? It’s also the birthplace of naval aviation and our Navy Seals train on the island. Coronado is rich in history and tradition and you can feel how proud the residents are. Every other home proudly graces an American Flag. On the other side of the island, there are spectacular views of downtown and no matter where you go on the island, you can be sure you will be smiling at its beauty.

 

Conni Jespersen of Art In The Find

Q: What inspired you to start a blog? What’s the significance of your name, Art In The Find?

Conni Jespersen: I am a personal wardrobe stylist and I started my blog back in 2012 to align my business with my creative ideas. My aim is to inspire and encourage women by sharing style tips, offering useful outfit ideas and providing closet organizing resources. My blog is my platform for my wardrobe styling business, Art in the Find. The name Art in the Find came about because I believe there is an art to finding pieces and products that are unique to each of my individual clients. I’m passionate about helping clients define their personal style.  

Q: What’s your favorite aspect about being an influencer?  

CJ: My favorite part of being in a creative industry is being able to connect people to other people and new experiences. If I can help connect someone to a new person or brand and they are able to have a positive experience from that, that brings me a lot of joy.  

Q: How do you define your style? How do you define San Diego style?

CJ: I would say that there is a colorful sophistication in my style. I love stripes, color, and prints and patterns. But I also love streamlined pieces that have texture. I’m not afraid to mix and match certain styles, but I also love a refined outfit as well. San Diego style definitely has a more laid back approach. But that’s not the status quo. There are people in San Diego who aren’t afraid to branch out and try new styles; it just depends on the neighborhood you’re in!

Q: What are your go-to outfit and clothing pieces?

CJ: Well, I recently wrote a blog post about 12 essential wardrobe pieces everyone should have. Go to’s usually involve something with a stripe. Or a great shoe. I love my overalls from Madewell, my pink, J.Crew wool jacket and my animal-print, block heels from Sam Edelman.

Q: What is your favorite item in your closet?

CJ: My denim jacket has been a staple in my closet for years  I’ve had the same jacket from J.Crew for the last 10 years and it never goes out of style.  

Irina Kern of Explore Lifestyle with Irina Kern

Q: What inspired you to start a blog? How has San Diego influenced you?

Irina Kern: I wanted to share my style, beauty and fitness experience with other women. I have often been asked about my beauty routine and how I manage being a mom, wife and still get time to take care of myself. Since I’ve been living in San Diego for more than a decade now, I’ve gotten used to the relaxed and easy-going style of this wonderful beach city!

Q: How do you balance being a wife and mother while killing it in the blogging and influencer world?

IK: It’s all about planning and organizing all your tasks. I always have a hard copy calendar with me where I write in all my appointments, events, trips and things to do. I write the global, big tasks for the year and then for each month. Every night, I write a plan for the next day. If I didn’t do what I planned, I’ll start with those tasks, first thing in the morning. This keeps me organized and prepared.

Q: What have you learned about yourself through the creation of your brand?

IK: It takes a lot of time, effort and emotions to create your brand. It’s constant work! The main and crucial thing I learned is planning. Structural plan for your day-to-day life. Photoshoots and blogging are top priorities.

Q: You have a unique blend of fitness, beauty and style. What attracted you to each of those categories?

IK: I always wanted to look beautiful at any age and I love skincare and makeup products. I think a woman should take great care of herself no matter what and I chose fitness which has helped me to not only become more toned and sculpted, but also emotionally more tolerant and strong. I love clothes, shoes and handbags! It’s my passion to combine different items from my wardrobe and create various looks.

Q: Where do you see yourself and your brand in the future?

IK: Time will tell! But as of today, I see myself as a successful style influencer and establishing collaborations with various clothing brands.

 

Kimmy Nguyen of KimiCoyo

 

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Q: What inspired you to start a blog? What piece of advice do you have for people who also want to start blogging but feel something is holding them back?

Kimmy Nguyen: I moved San Diego from Virginia Beach two years ago. I didn’t know anyone here so I started blogging not only as a creative outlet but also as a means to make friends! I honestly didn’t know that it was going to open so many doors for me. My advice for anyone that wants to start a blog is to just “start!” There is never going to be that “perfect” time so the best thing to do is to just start. I highly suggest doing plenty of research (i.e. blogging platforms, type of style or aesthetic you want your page to be, and type of content you want to share) prior to starting a blog. I feel that in the beginning stages, it’s really important to set the tone for your audience. They should come to your page and know what type of content you’ll be sharing! But of course that doesn’t mean you don’t have room to grow or change. I just feel that before you create your blog, you should find your niche.

Q: Best pizza place in town?

KN: Oh my goodness! Hands down the best place to get pizza in San Diego is Buona Forchetta. I’m sorry, but nothing beats it!

Q: What have you learned about yourself through the creation of your brand?

KN: This is now my third year of blogging and I can say that I’ve learned a lot about myself within those three years. First, I’ve learned that it’s not possible for me to work for anyone else. I grew up in a home full of female entrepreneurs and so they instilled a crazy and creative work ethic in me. I worked full time during my undergraduate years and part-time during my graduate degree and I haven’t stopped since. The second thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am a lot more creative than I’d like to give myself credit for. Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, but when in reality I loved to bake, cook and create. I pushed aside my creativity because I pursued what I thought I had to in order to not only make my family proud but to make myself proud. I’ve come to realize though, is that my mind just doesn’t work that way and that what makes me truly [happy] in life is to create and share my content with everyone. Whether it is recipes, best places to get croissants in town and even style. I am a creator and it took me nearly 25 years to accept it.

Q: What things have you incorporated from your Vietnamese culture and your Virginia Beach roots that have influenced your San Diego lifestyle?

KN: Growing up in Virginia Beach, VA and also growing up Vietnamese has definitely impacted the way I view things. I lived in Virginia for over 15 years so it holds a special place in my heart. I think growing up in the suburbs and somewhat of a small town, there weren’t that many places to go so you kind of have to create your own fun. I absolutely loved to spend time with a good group of people and to host dinners and parties. When I moved here to San Diego, I tried my best to find that great group of people and to recreate the same fun environment for everyone to come and enjoy themselves. Yes, going out is great but there’s something about staying in and cooking for your friends and family that’s just so much better! I guess it’s also the Vietnamese in me too because my family all love to cook and entertain. Something you should know about the Vietnamese culture is that we love, love, love food! So when I cook or come up with a good recipe, I love to share it with my followers.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect about being a blogger and influencer?

KN: My favorite thing about being an influencer and blogger is building and creating a community. I love that I can create a place for people to come and take my ideas and spin it into something totally creative. I love that when I arrange local meet-ups, that all my followers can come, network, share ideas and even create long-term friendships.

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