Fashion Influencer Dani Sauter Is Making the Cat Mom Lifestyle Cool in the DMV – northernvirginiamag.com

Today’s influencers represent a sea change in celebrity culture. Instead of actors and sports figures gaining clout first, then cashing in with endorsements, a new generation of social media stars—and no, that doesn’t just mean Gen Z—are using an interesting lifestyle and a must-engage social feed to build an audience, find a voice, and even earn a living all in real time. Today’s influencers aren’t just trendsetters, reflecting our culture back at us—they’re on their way to being power brokers, shaping the society in which we live. The new wave has reached NoVA, and we’ve gathered together the local social savants putting their stamps on our region and beyond.

We spoke to Alexandria-native Dani Sauter—a model, cat mom, and full-time IT government contractor. She’s spreading her stylish, smart take on body positivity in person and online.

Instagram handle: @blonde_inthedistrict

Website: blondeinthedistrict.com

City: Alexandria

Followers: 108,000

Online since: 2014

Getting started: “I was at a job where I felt like I had lost all my creative drive. I was feeling down on myself. And one of the ways I was getting out of this funk was dressing and being happy in what I wore. When I turned to clothes that made me feel great and I looked amazing in, I realized that style is a tool. I left that job, and while I was looking for full-time employment, I started Blonde in the District. Modeling eventually grew out of my blog.”

Why she does it: “I want to show women not to be intimidated by style. There are no rules. If you love it and you’re rocking it, that’s the beauty of style. It’s for every person and every body. When I first started, it wasn’t outwardly about body positivity. But I saw that so many women were in the same boat as me, having a hard time finding clothes that fit, and it grew from there. I feel great knowing that I have positively impacted someone else’s life—whether it’s sharing something authentic about me, or a clothing brand that another woman can find joy in.”

Biggest post ever: “I was recently on The Drew Barrymore Show, and I reshared the snippet on social media. [It landed just under 15,000 views.] The show had reached out to me; it was a turning point in my blogging career. Her team asked me to be a part of ‘Drew’s Doggy Bag.’ I featured Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation [in Arlington], and Drew donated $5,000.”

Favorite feedback: “On my seven-year anniversary post, people commented that they can’t wait to get on Instagram to see my [content]. That made me look inside myself to realize that’s why I do this.”

Weirdest feedback: “I’ve definitely had the haters. It can be hard to shake those comments, but they come from people who are internally insecure. And I once had someone ask to buy the dress off me that I wore in a post.”

Future goals: “My approach has shifted over the last two years. It’s still style-focused, but I’ve been trying to find ways to make an impact for the greater good, my community, and the underprivileged. What is the message I want to convey other than to feel good about yourself? I want to evolve, stay relevant, and do more than what I’m doing now.”

On “living” off-camera: “It’s funny—sometimes I’ll get recognized on a coffee run when I’m in sweatpants and a jean jacket, and I think, No! I’m off duty right now!

What she won’t share: “My personal life with my husband and family [is off-limits].”

Why her followers care: “They turn to me to find new resources and style, beauty, and feel-good inspiration. I have cats, so if you like cats, I’m also your girl.”

The free loot: “I’ve been trying to do more exchanges: Sometimes brands will ask to send you a certain item and not let you choose. But I want to select what I’m trying. It’s an unrealistic expectation, and I want to be authentic. If I promote something, I’ve used it. One of the coolest partnerships was with a brand called Gettacar, and I got a new Audi through the collaboration. I’ve also received swag for my cats, but I find it cute!”

Her seven-year anniversary post: “A lot of blogs don’t last more than a few years. It’s a saturated industry. If you don’t dedicate a lot of time to it, it can be difficult to be successful. For me, it means I’ve put in the effort to get to seven years. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.”

Her new Pretty Kitty boutique: “During the pandemic, I was looking for a ceramic cat statue from the 1970s like my grandparents had. I found one online. But then I kept looking for more vintage cat stuff, and my friends started sending me items that their parents wanted to get rid of. I ended up with a collection. So I decided to launch an online vintage and modern cat home-decor shop. I source it all myself.”

Top NoVA spots: “My husband and I go to Chop Shop Taco in Old Town for date nights. It’s a modern [spot] in a defunct 1970s car garage. To clear my head, I religiously attend classes at Ascend Cycle in Del Ray. I just hit 100 classes!”

A version of this story originally appeared in the January issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.   

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