In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins Sept. 15, we are highlighting Instagram influencers in metro Phoenix who are of Hispanic and Latino heritage.
These social media figures have grown sizable communities on- and offline as artists, business owners, community members and people whom social media users look to for inspiration and advice. They share their cultures, talents and resources on Instagram and other platforms.
Influencers such as Karla Lu (@polymathmom) and Kisha Gulley (@panamakish) are honest about their lives as parents, and have tens of thousands of followers. Local icons such as chef Silvana Salcido Esparza (@chefsilvana) and artist Kathy Cano-Murillo (@craftychica) are passionate about serving their communities.
When is National Hispanic Heritage Month?
National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15-Oct. 15. It recognizes the cultures and contributions of people living in the U.S. who emigrated from — or whose families and ancestors are from — Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Central and South America and other Spanish-speaking cultures.
Multiple Latin American countries — including Honduras and Nicaragua (Sept. 15), Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18) — celebrate their independence days over the course of the month.
In metro Phoenix, more than 42% of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, according to the latest Census data.
In celebration of the diversity of people and cultures represented under Hispanic Heritage Month, here is a selection of notable Arizonans to follow on Instagram.
Aileen Martinez, AKA @look.see.draw
Chicana artist Aileen Martinez, who grew up in the Valley, pays tribute to Phoenix in most of her works. She has illustrated many recognizable businesses and locations, including Crescent Ballroom, the Melrose District and Pizzeria Bianco.
Angélica M. Urrego, AKA @arepababe
Arepas are Angélica Urrego’s religion. That’s why she created Arepa Babe, a Colombian food business that offers catering and has pop-ups in Phoenix. Urrego, who is from Bogotá, Colombia, also uses her platform to advocate for other local small businesses.
Armando and Ramón Soto, AKA @rootsinspanish
Looking for plants or flower arrangements in metro Phoenix? Brothers Armando and Ramón Soto sell plants, including succulents, terrariums and air plants, through their business, Roots in Spanish. They also offer floral design services as From Roots to Flowers.
Cultivo, AKA @cultivomarketcollective
Cultivo hosts pop-up mercados — marketplaces — that showcase Latino and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color)-owned small businesses. Follow its Instagram account to find out about upcoming events and vendors who will be attending.
Denisse Myrick, AKA @chasingdenisse
Digital content creator Denisse Myrick is a fashion and portrait photographer known for her street-style photography. Her 44,000 followers come for her posts about home organization, life as a new mom and resources such as information on reproductive and mental health and anti-racism.
Hear from Denisse:Arizona’s Black Instagrammers get real about systemic racism
Elyssa Bustamante, AKA @thefunkylatina
The Funky Latina brings her “latest take on music, concerts and everything in between,” according to her blog. She often posts in-depth interviews with musical artists and creatives on Instagram.
Isabella Canzano, AKA @isabejita
Phoenix musician Isabella Canzano shares all things creative, from her songs to her bilingual art designs, and is vocal about topics that are important to her, including mental and chronic illness.
Where to find them: https://www.instagram.com/isabejita.
Karla Lu, AKA @polymathmom
Karla Lu is a former civil engineer originally from Lima, Peru, who is now a day trader in the Valley. She runs a bespoke nursery décor business, The Polymath Mom, with her husband.
Lu also creates online content full-time, sharing photos of her family time and travels with more than 360,000 followers.
Kathy Cano-Murillo, AKA @craftychica
Phoenix’s crafty chica, Kathy Cano-Murillo, is a self-described “creativepreneur”: an author and artist who shares her creations, from bottle cap magnets to ceramics and upcycled crafts. She also has her own fabric and greeting card collections.
Her longtime blog is “anchored in DIY and crafts” but also explores other topics, including family life, food and travel.
Kisha Gulley, AKA @panamakish
Kisha Gulley discusses self-care, fashion and parenting on Instagram as @panamakish and her blog, The Kisha Project. Born in Panama and raised in Arkansas, Gulley, a former flight attendant, met her husband, a pilot, through work. She and her family moved to Phoenix a couple of years ago and, since receiving an autism diagnosis for her older son in 2019, have been sharing resources for parents of children with autism in Arizona.
In a blog post this year, Gulley wrote, “As an Afro-Latina, I try to do my best to educate my kids on our culture. I use all of my platforms to show the beauty of my heritage.”
Lalo Cota, AKA @Lalocota
Chances are you have at some point passed by a Lalo Cota mural in Phoenix. Remember the “Los Suns” mural outside Carly’s Bistro downtown? That was Lalo Cota.
The renowned self-taught artist is perhaps best known for his use of the calavera (skull) motif. His inspirations range from Mexican folk art to Chicano low-rider culture, according to his website.
Downtown Phoenix art:8 murals and the artists behind them
Paloma Kemak, AKA @glitterglucose
Paloma Kemak, who was born in raised in Arizona, is living “my glittery, girly, fabulous life” in the Valley. Last year, in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Kemak wrote in an Instagram post, “I love my Hispanic culture and it’s such a huge part of who I am.”
The fashion and country music enthusiast shares her travels as well as her lifestyle as someone with Type 1 diabetes.
Hear from Paloma:Why are there so many photo shoots in downtown Phoenix?
Rose Montoya, AKA @rosalynnemontoya
Rosalynne — or Rose — Montoya is a model, actor, makeup artist and public speaker living in the Phoenix area who uses the pronouns she and her as well as they and them.
A performer from an early age, she wrote, directed and starred in a short film while attending Seattle University, earning a bachelor’s degree in film studies at 19 years old. Their personality and short videos on social media, which aim to “spread love and education about their community,” have particularly resonated on TikTok, where they have more than 638,000 followers.
Silvana Salcido Esparza, AKA @chefsilvana
Silvana Salcido Esparza is the chef and businesswoman behind beloved Valley restaurant Barrio Café. The activist and Arizona Culinary Hall of Famer has been a best chef semifinalist for the James Beard awards multiple times in the past decade.
According to her website, “As a citizen of both the United States and Mexico, she feels a personal responsibility to elevate popular perceptions of Mexican American culture.”
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