Diana Brandt — the creator of Arizona Foodie, azfoodie on Instagram — is the leading food and beverage influencer in Phoenix. Not only does she produce beautiful content, but her audience is “ride or die” and they turn out in droves at the restaurants she recommends. But just who is Diana Brandt and how did she create the ever-growing Arizona Foodie persona?

Prior to becoming a social media influencer as Arizona Foodie, Brandt was a mom-blogger and had not yet had a taste of food events until she started working at an international food competition. It was then that her journey into the social media world and the food industry began.

READ ALSO: 6 of the most influential Arizona-based influencers

“Arizona Foodie came about because I decided to separate my personal photos from all my food posting,” said Brandt. “I think it worked out well only because I had started the account at a time (2014) where Instagram was just becoming popular and my goal was not to become a social media influencer, but rather just create a community for the new food scene that started to grow and blossom around me.”

Building a community and a buzz around the local food businesses was not the only thing Brandt managed to do, but she was able to find out what her passions were and build a brand from the ground up.

“Before Arizona Foodie, I didn’t really know what I was meant to do or what I was passionate about. When I started doing Arizona Foodie, it brought a sense of purpose and a drive that I was always searching for,” said Brandt. “I feel really lucky that I started this at a time in which building a community through social media was kind of new, otherwise I think it would have been a different process in the social media world we currently have today.”

There are many advantages that come with being a social media influencer that it can be easy to forget the disadvantages, one being the negativity that comes with it. But Brandt’s podcast, “Social Dysmorphia,” gives audiences insight on all the sides of social media, including how she deals with the negativity.

“Negativity and trolling can sometimes cause reactions and harmful effects on your mental state which we’ve talked about on the podcast. I think it’s really important to create a healthy practice of boundaries and breaks from social media just to remain sane,” said Brandt.

In between being a host for her podcast, “Social Dysmorphia,” being a social media influencer with Arizona Foodie, and being a mother of two, Brandt has had to learn to time manage and balance her time between it all.

“Prior to last year, I got into a good groove with not overbooking myself and not saying ‘yes’ to everything and managed my time really well,” said Brandt. “But after the pandemic, and experiencing so little of events, it really made me miss it. So now that everything is opening up, I’ve kind of lost that groove but it’s a work in progress.”

In a year of destruction for the hospitality industry, Brandt has played an influential role in supporting small business owners. Her “Venmo Tip Challenge” has also distributed over $40,000 to hospitality professionals during the past year during the pandemic.

“I have a lot of compassion for those that struggled due to the pandemic or just on a regular basis,” said Brandt. “Hearing the raw and emotional stories from the people I had given tips to, just goes to show that we never really know what might be going on in someone’s life and if we have the chance to make their day just a little better with an act of kindness, then we should take it by all means.”

Diana Brandt has grown her platform and brand with more than just sweet treats to share with the world but with a genuineness and kindness that continues to gravitate people toward her and her platform, Arizona Foodie.