By Emily G. Peters
In the last few years, the term “social media influencer” has worked its way into our lexicon, describing those who use their online presence to influence others’ purchases, appearance or lifestyle. But what if that influence could shape a community for social good?
It’s a question recently tackled by Michelle Simonsen and Mackenzie Reed Mize, the two powerhouses behind Pretty in Pasadena. Launching in November 2017, these millennials use their social media influence to foster meaningful community connection.
“Pretty in Pasadena aims to support all things local by being the premier community builders of our area,” the pair explained. “We strive to grow authentic relationships by connecting with and supporting local businesses, organizations, nonprofits, influencers and personalities.”
Armed with the tagline “more than just a pretty place”, Pretty in Pasadena grew out of the duo’s desire to unlock the city’s hidden gems.
“Friends wanted to know how we found the great places we visit in Pasadena,” said Simonsen, who met Mize when they both became volunteers with Pasadena’s Junior League. “We realized we wanted to start a brand where we could bring awareness to the people, places and events that make Pasadena what it is—without taking a fee to promote.”
Both Pasadena transplants (Mize grew up in Texas; Simonsen hails from Alaska), both understand what it takes to build a personal community from scratch. A long career in the entertainment industry brought Mize to Los Angeles, while Simonsen’s skill in music production and performance led her to USC. Along the way, they fell in love with Pasadena—where they now reside as neighbors.
“There is so much to love about the Pasadena area: amazing restaurants, bars, shopping, music, culture and events for people of all ages, especially young people,” the pair said. “Here we have it all.”
In just a few months, Pretty in Pasadena’s mission of authentic connection has already born fruit. Their monthly iTunes podcast keeps locals in the know about the community, and numerous collaborations have led them deep into Pasadena’s network of small businesses. They’ve also been able to support causes like foster care/adoption, mental health and empowering female leadership.
“Our 2018 nonprofit partner of the year is Five Acres,” said Simonsen of the agency, which works with families in crisis. “They’re celebrating their 130th year of service and are one of the oldest nonprofits in all of LA County.” The pair’s home nonprofit is also close to their heart.
“We’re proud to be the media partner for Junior League of Pasadena’s ‘Simply Speaking’ benefit on April 28,” said Mize. “It’s open to the public with tickets currently available.”
As their audience grows, it seems like Pasadena likes what these two women are doing. The pair hopes to become the go-to resource for the best of what Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley has to offer—all the while using social media as the conduit.
“Social media has an incredible way of bringing communities together—but can sometimes feel produced and unreal,” the pair said. “Who we are in our photos is exactly who we are in real life. We’re real people, best friends and we’d love to meet you. If you see us in town, say hi!”
Learn more about Pretty in Pasadena at www.prettyinpasadena.com | firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow their podcast on iTunes and join the community conversation by following them on Instagram and Facebook @prettyinpasadena and Twitter @prettyinpas.