Instasize: All right, well everybody, thank you for tuning into another episode of our Instasize Unfiltered podcast. I'm here with the beautiful and vivacious Ayda from the Instagram handle @Ayda_June. I almost said July because my brain does that. Ayda June, how are you loving Cuba?

Ayda June: I'm loving it so far. I think it's a beautiful country and I'm definitely getting the Narcos vibe here.

IS: I know. So much culture, so much humidity, but you're handling it like a champ.

AJ: Yes. My hair isn't though, but it's okay.

IS: No, you have perfect ringlets. Ladies and gentlemen, perfect ringlets. So thank you so much for joining us on this segment of our creator tour.

Ayda June

AJ: Thank you.

IS: I know it's been a very jam packed week of nonstop shooting. So just kind of jumping around here, what has been your most memorable shooting experience while being in Cuba?

AJ: I think for me it would be the first day. We were walking around just getting a tour of the city before we started shooting the next day. It started raining and I was like, "Why don't we just shoot now?"

IS: Why not? She was the first creator to kind of jump in. You kind of led the way for everybody else because the first day, although it's scouting, everyone's kind of nervous. They're like, "How are we going to do this?" But you jumped right in, danced in the rain, shot in the rain.

AJ: Yes, yes, right. And I found old school cars.

IS: In the Plaza. It was dope. It was really, really cool.

AJ: It was exciting.

IS: I can't wait to see the pictures, honestly. But I did skip over kind of our intro, my apology.

AJ: That's okay.

Ayda June

IS: I want to give our listeners a little background on you and your story, and I know in conversation you had brought up that about three years ago you packed up everything and lived the nomadic lifestyle, just traveled all the time?

AJ: Yes.

IS: Where did you travel to?

AJ: I started out in Paris first, then headed to Asia and then back to Europe and then back to Asia again. It was pretty, pretty exciting.

IS: Did you have a outline of where you wanted to go, or you were just kind of winging it?

AJ: Just winged it. I went to a country, didn't have a train ticket out, so just went along with the ride, I guess.

IS: Wow. And what was your favorite country?

AJ: I always used to say I can't pinpoint one country. But I think now that I'm back and have a base, and base that's at home now and I can travel from there, I have time to reflect and I think Greece.

Ayda June

IS: Greece

AJ: Has been my all time favorite.

IS: It's beautiful. I daydream about it. I visited two years ago and I miss it all the time.

AJ: Yes, it's so wonderful.

IS: If I ever was going to buy a one way ticket to somewhere and just disappear, it'd be Greece.

AJ: Greece.

IS: Meet me in Greece. But what was the hardest part about traveling around for three years?

AJ: Definitely living out of a suitcase and being away from family. Living out of a suitcase, I love fashion. I love my hair products being a former hairstylist, so I have to have all of that. It was hard to jam pack it into one suitcase.

IS: Like a carry on or was this a big ... Because in Greece you have to carry around your stuff on the cobblestone. Was it a big suitcase?

AJ: Yeah, it was about 26 inches.

IS: And you just lived out of it for three years?

AJ: Yeah, basically.

Ayda June

IS: And you just mentioned that prior to creating full time, you were a hairstylist?

AJ: Yes.

IS: So at what point did you kind of decide that you wanted to pursue content creating full time? What was your aha moment?

AJ: I had been behind a chair for about six years and it came a time where I was like, "Okay, I want to go traveling." And a year into my travels I started feeling down because nothing was filling my creative spirits. So I thought why not start an Instagram page? And actually I started photography first and then I went on sharing my photos publicly.

IS: So how long did it take you to grow to 100k and above?

AJ: I think 2017. Mid 2017 is when I started, so I think two years now.

IS: Girl!

AJ: It's been two years.

IS: Killing it, killing it, killing it.

AJ: Thank you.

Ayda June

IS: So what do you shoot with, because you said you got into photography first?

AJ: I started with a Nikon d3300, but then I upgraded to Nikon d750.

IS: And how did you kind of learn the ropes? Did you watch YouTube videos, teach yourself, just kind of...

AJ: Yeah, self-taught. A lot of Pinterest, Pinterest. I saved a lot of Pinterest guides and YouTube videos and all that. Actually I started with my iPhone first, then Nikon, and then the next up.

IS: You had to invest in your creativity, right?

AJ: Yes, exactly.

IS: Awesome. So I've had the honor of being able to get to know you over the past couple of days and earlier today you did mention that you want your Instagram presence to be relatable. And I felt that for someone with as big as a following as you to hear that term relatability, it definitely struck a chord in a good way. I was like, "Yes," because so many people in your position, I don't think they want to frame themselves in that sense. So can you discuss that a little bit more?

AJ: Yes. I think they're ... People come up to me and say, "How can I grow my Instagram?" My answer is, "Well, do you have passion for it?" That comes in first. So with passion comes dedication, with dedication comes success. And that's the order it should always go. When people want to do the same thing, I'm trying to portray that with hard work comes success, and I don't want it to seem like what I'm doing is not possible for you. How I got to travel, I saved for a long time and how I grew my Instagram, I put in a lot of effort and dedication. It's a full time job.

IS: I was going to say you did it starting in 2017 and onward. Love the car alarms. Thank you so much for the car alarms. Awesome. So I guess my next kind of segue way, where do you pull inspiration from? When you're looking at kind of your next shot, what catches your eye?

Ayda June

AJ: For me, I'm always looking for color. It's always been my thing. I need color in photos because colors give me energy, brings me happiness. I mean, I think everybody likes color.

IS: So I read this book called The Color Code years ago, and I think you would be a yellow.

AJ: Yeah?

IS: If anyone listening knows what the color code is, she is a yellow and I highly recommend you read it because it's very good. But basically yellows are passionate, they're vivacious, which is kind of what we intro'd this with.

AJ: I love that.

IS: And they're very easy to get along with. Kind of moving on here, how do you refer to the line of work that you do when it comes to talking to it with your friends, your family? What do they think you do?

AJ: I would describe it as a Digital Content Creator. So I create content for brands, I'll create content for my Instagram, for my blog, for ... yeah, that's it.

IS: So do you specialize specifically within travel? Are you trying to break into other niches, or are you going to kind of stay in travel?

AJ: Now that I moved back after three years to my base in Washington, DC I would like to still keep travel, but I want to incorporate my lifestyle as well, to show a little bit more of myself and who I really am other than a beautiful location.

IS: Absolutely.

Ayda June

AJ: I would like to connect in that sense.

IS: And be relatable, right?

AJ: Yeah, absolutely.

IS: What is your favorite aspect about creating content full time?

AJ: It fills my creative juices, my creative cup.

IS: I love it. I love it. So you're always itching for creativity then?

AJ: Yes.

IS: So aside from photography, is there anything else that kind of pushes you creatively or something that you'd like to get into?

AJ: Like to get into...

IS: What's next for Ayda June?

AJ: I would like to start a business. I am creating a class. I'm not 100% sure if I want to go full on with it because I'm writing it and I want to see how it goes. I'm creating a class for businesses in my area on how to revamp their social media and bring in business with that route.

IS: So how to use social media to generate leads and what have you?

AJ: Exactly.

Ayda June

IS: Amazing. I know at dinner the other day you had brought up wanting to kind of write more, so that's very in line with your overarching goals here.

AJ: Yes, yes, yes.


IS: wesome. So before we run out of sunlight completely here, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?

AJ: I would love to be invisible so I can spy on people.

IS: So you can spy on people, amazing. Well Ayda, it was a pleasure getting to chat with you.

AJ: Thank you.

IS: Thank you so much for joining us in Cuba. I hope to see you in another country or in Washington DC sometime soon.

AJ: Same, yes, yes.

IS: If you guys want to check out any of Ida's work, everything will be linked in the section below, and we'll catch you on the next episode.

AJ: Thank you.

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