Local Jacksonville Influencers 

Words by Amiyah Golden


You don’t have to be a Gen Z-er to know about influencer culture and the waves that it’s making in today’s world. 

The power of influence used to strictly belong to celebrities and those with powerful names. 

Red carpet appearances and the occasional testimonial would send the consumer world into a frenzy to keep up with the latest Hollywood craze. 


But times are changing — and fast. With the rise of social media, the ability of the everyday person to garner influence is now attainable. With new technology and algorithms implemented, many people can go viral. That doesn’t diminish the work it takes to keep that relevance. One viral video does not equate to successful longevity. Local influencers Jaiden Ashlea and Kayla Kosuga can attest to this with Ashlea accumulating more than 275,000 followers across Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube with Kosuga having more than 3.5 million


and Ashlea with 275,000 on her three platforms, the Jacksonville residents and I were able to discuss their successes and their journey to notoriety. 


Ashlea shares the inspiration behind wanting to become an influencer: “For as long as I can remember, I have always been a creative person. Fashion inspired me to start a blog as a little girl and from there it turned into YouTube videos and then came the world of influencing! Once I realized that I could make a meaningful impact on people’s lives through sharing parts of my own life, I slowly started to realize it was what I was meant to do.” Although the road hasn’t always been easy due to the lack of support, Ashlea persevered and noted that “…my passion was beyond any doubt that people would send my way.” 


Kosuga’s inspiration came from OG YouTubers, such as Bethany Mota, MyLifeasEva and Michelle Phan, all creating content catered to teen girls and young women with videos regarding fashion, makeup and lifestyle. These names sparked some remnants of nostalgia for me because of my positioning in their fan base. I would tune in weekly to watch a new haul or listen to an outrageous storytime. But they were a part of my adolescence and guided me through some rites of passage. “I was always inspired by them, and I wanted to be able to give that feeling to others,” said Kosuga. “I’ve always enjoyed the process of coming up with ideas, filming the videos and even editing them.” I resonated with the feeling Kosuga experienced, as I have tried my hand at starting a YouTube channel but obviously have failed as I am writing this article now. 


Ashlea and Kosuga were also big inspirations for teenage me. I remember being excited to sit down and watch their daily vlogs. Both sharing aspects of their lives that allowed me to feel connected with them somehow — even more than the next influencer because of their proximity to me. Seeing the two enjoy life in this city we call home was interesting because it was out of the “norm” here. Other YouTubers I enjoyed resided in Los Angeles, New York and Hawaii. That life didn’t seem achievable in Jacksonville, Florida, but Kosuga and Ashlea proved me wrong. 


It wasn’t easy for the two to initially create content here in the city. Jacksonvilledidn’t have much presence in influencer culture — and still doesn’t compared to other places — but the two surpassed the anxiety and the hurdles. 


“It was really challenging at first, and I was always nervous vlogging out in public,” Kosuga recounted. “You never see that here in Jacksonville as you do in L.A. Sometimes I would randomly get stopped and get asked what I was doing. I can feel when people are staring at me.”


Although the two are successful here I was curious if they would ever move to a city like L.A.


Kosuga’s desire was to move to L.A. or NYC because as she put it, “There’s not much that goes on in Jacksonville.” 


Ashlea admits she felt the pressure to move to be successful. “[I felt that] I had to be in those big-name places to make an impact but that was far from the truth!” She has talked to her husband about moving, and they both agreed that they would love to move to a different city to settle down but not for social media purposes.


While Ashlea and Kosuga are best known for their YouTube channels, they have both pursued business ventures outside of their own personal content creation. 


Ashlea recently opened her newest investment, Studio Next Door Jax, a rentable photography studio and event space. 


“Studio Next Door stemmed from the fact that as a special needs mom, I am unable to commit to any sort of job outside of our home. Once I realized I couldn’t go back to work, I knew I had to think of something that would not only pay the bills but allow me to do something that I was passionate about — creating,” Ashlea said.


Kosuga’s goals are slightly different with a focus on the fashion world. “..next on my list is launching my own clothing brand, so stay tuned!”


Both influencers are moms, and that plays a pivotal role in how they handle their social media platforms. Ashlea’s son was diagnosed with Spina Bifida at 18 weeks, so that has changed her outlook on what she chooses to share on her platforms. “I find peace in the privacy of enjoying the good days with my family,” Ashlea said. 


Kosuga is in the same boat when it comes to her family as well.  She is a full-time, stay-at-home parent so when it comes to her kids she “… always prioritizes [them] before work.” With her life being so online she is very cautious in what she posts. 


These girl bosses are great examples of perseverance and determination. Building an online empire is not for the faint of heart; it comes with mean comments, shaming from peers and self-doubt. But these two mommy moguls go to show that it is possible to be successful despite the obstacles.


Follow Kosuga on her various platforms at @KaylaKosuga.

Follow Ashlea on her various platforms at @Jaiden.Ashlea.