17 Inspiring & Adventurous Women of Color to Follow in 2018

Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of meeting many amazing and inspiring women on Instagram. And I’ll be honest that in the beginning, most of the women I followed looked very much like me.

The thing is, if diversity is truly one of your values, then your belief should absolutely extend to your Instagram feed.

These are some of my favorite women to follow for inspiration in travel, the outdoors, photography, advocacy, leadership and life. They also happen to be women of color.

They are travel bloggers, photographers, athletes, adventurers and business coaches. Some of them are friends, some I have talked to online, and some probably had no idea I existed until now. 🙃

If you are looking for inspiration, these gals are serving it up by the ton, every day.



Glo Atanmo | @glographics |

If you enjoy travel and are not following Glo, please advise what rock you have been living under, you need to get on that! Glo’s adventurous outlook on life is contagious, her sense of humor relatable, and her writing refreshingly honest. When Glo tackles a more serious topic, which she does often, she does so in an educational manner with a humorous flair. Glo’s posts always leave me feeling inspired, or give me something to think about, or both.


Why have I been so happy lately? I want to talk about two simple words that have some real weight behind them; Personal. Growth. Take a moment and think about the last time you took a step back and did a real, honest life evaluation. Are you doing what it takes to get to where you want to be? We all have high and low seasons (life happens in waves) but I want you to think about if you’re can be making better daily choices to push yourself out of your comfort zone and thrive. Are you being challenged? Are you learning new things? Are you living with a positive mindset? Are you setting yourself up for success? These past weeks, I’ve been making a lot of small changes that have me feeling fantastic about where I am right now and what’s on the forefront. Sometimes all you need is to start taking action with one thing and watch the rest fall into place. So, let me here it… what’s ONE way that you want to challenge yourself in the upcoming weeks? #siempregirando Photo by @rico.png

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Sienna Brown | @siempregirando |

Since finding Sienna on Instagram a couple of months ago, she has become someone I look forward to seeing in my feed every day. Her stories are always injected with positivity and productivity–– helpful and necessary reminders for me as a freelancer. Sienna is an ex-pat currently living the digital nomad life in Spain, and she talks a lot about creating a life you love wherever you want to base yourself. Overall she is a ray of sunshine. If you love motivating and inspirational content, check her out!


As I hiked 23 miles this weekend with the bare necessities on my back, I thought about my first backpacking trip at age 14. After my grandma picked me up from a weekend in San Rafael Swell, Utah, I could not stop raving about it. I told her about filling my nalgene with river water that had bugs and dirt, but using iodine tablets to make it drinkable. I gushed about sleeping without shelter for the first time, about watching shining celestial bodies shift above me as the night wore on. I explained that we weren’t allowed to bring technology, not even watches, so we went to bed when we were tired and cooked when we were hungry and woke up with sunrise. I effused about the rock art and horse skeleton and campfires and crossing the river with 30 lbs on our backs and fiery canyon walls. And that night as I washed red sand from my hair and cleaned dust from my ears, I was grinning as I came to a realization… I didn’t need much to be happy, just some food, friends, shelter, and beautiful surroundings.. That was enough to make me feel more at peace than I could ever remember. That was enough to make me feel alive. // Feeling alive in Haulapai and Havasupai lands ✨ 📷 : @caitlinrathbun

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Ashleigh Thompson | @ashanishinaabe

I met Ashleigh last summer through our mutual friend Len Necefer of NativesOutdoors. I enjoy following her for her colorful images and personal reflections from her time spent outdoors. Ashleigh is a runner, hiker, climber, and she writes beautifully. I have learned a lot from her honest perspective as a Native woman in the outdoors, especially when it comes to recreation.


My world. #reflectionstories

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Paola Franqui | @monaris_ |

You will rarely find a photo of Paola without her camera. Paola’s work is a kaleidoscope of streets, windows, and fleeting glances from strangers. Her work makes the viewer feel as though they are peering into a private world. She is truly talented, and someone I look up to when it comes to travel photography.


Remember those times when you were praying and begging on your knees for things that you have now? Gratitude does not solely revolve on being thankful for things when received. It’s about being thankful for everything around you even when it’s bleak. I have observed and witnessed countless of times in my life that when I am wholly vibrating in gratitude, that’s when doors open up and abundance comes rushing in. And when I’m not, the doors stay shut. It’s something so simple, yet we get in our own heads long enough that it turns complex and we just forget. When your bank account is down to two digits, when you lose someone you love, when traffic is churning your head, when mundane routines suck the juice out of your life, when things are falling apart and things aren’t going the way you had plan. It’s easy to forget. Yet we tend to focus on things we don’t have enough of, instead of things we already have. It brews in the small moments that most go unseen. Small, tiny mindful moments that has the magnitude to shift realms. Like waking up to the golden light shining through your window and watching a galaxy of dust float through it. Or eating your food mindfully and slowly, imagining how it grew and how a golden star fed it to feed you. Or remembering to look up at the night sky when it’s so dark that you can see the Milky Way. Or when a complete stranger gets out of their own way to help you when you need it the most. Or when you watch people in public transportation and you become fully aware that they are living a life as complex as your own, you realize that they’re not that much different to you because you’re both sharing the same air and breathing it the same way. Or when you’re diving under the ocean waves and they bring you the sudden clarity of how tiny you are in the universe yet how significant it is that you have this life. Or the way the last light of the day disappears into the ocean as dusk consumes us, turning skeptics into mystics. That’s when you feel it. That’s when you close your eyes and feel gratitude settling in your bones. Then something twists the doorknob and the universe comes flooding in. @KEEN #Aphlex #FollowYourFeet

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Stephanie Dandan | @stephanie.dandan |

Stephanie’s work is a breath of fresh air and a tall glass of cold water in one. In her images, she captures moments and emotion so well. They carry a sense of thick nostalgia that makes you wonder if you lived inside that moment in a dream once… or was it real life after all? Stephanie’s writing is vulnerable, gritty, and unapologetic. Seeing things through Stephanie’s eyes is a treat, and a multidimensional one at that.


Lee Litumbe | @spiritedpursuit |

Lee’s photos transport me across the world. I love that her feed is a mix of photos of her, food/views, and the people she meets along the way. She travels to and writes about many locations I don’t see tons of travel bloggers visiting (especially in Africa, but not exclusively)–– her intention with this to challenge society’s assumptions and stereotypes. The respect she has for the places she visits and people she meets is obvious through her thoughtful photography and captions, as is her attention to detail. An added plus: her outfits are always incredible.


Today at a meeting my boss asked what made us smile today. I instantly thought of watching lightbulbs go off in my students heads today. (We’ve managed to get to a special place in math where I’m actually teaching them new topics instead of rebuilding skill and reviewing and I love it) Even two of my students who generally struggle, were able to understand the concepts. AND IT WAS THE GREATEST FEELING EVER. 🎉🎉🎉 It’s an insane feeling to watch connections be made right in front of your eyes, and it instantly makes all the fighting and eye rolling and frustrated glares completely worth it. In those moments, there’s nothing that could put a bigger smile on my face. So tell me, what made you smile today? 😁

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Ari Watkins | @ariiiwatkins |

Ari and I met when she came as a participant on my Greece adventure last summer, and wow were we lucky to have her. Think of Ari as your virtual supportive friend who will give you a hug and make you smile when you need it most. Online, she shares her journey of living abroad in Thailand and finding purpose, meaning and gratitude along the way.


believe it or not, i had multiple pre introductions to fly fishing. once in the tenth grade i convinced my English teacher to take me out of study hall and teach me how to cast. i was not interested, i was skeptical. i was tired of reading Walden and could not for the life of me understand the man’s obsession with fishing. i liked time spent with D.White, i tried harder at the comma splice rules as a result…it obviously did not last. # earlier this year post 100k in Argentina my boys were fly fishing, we camped near a lodge kind enough to let a ragtag little bunch stay a couple nights. the boys went upriver to flyfish… i drank fernet in hammocks w/ @elliot_wr # then i needed to learn to flyfish and i found myself out on the river with @_chadbrown_ . and i fell in love with river time, with distilled moments, with the focus and patience required, with the opportunity to begin to understand river ecology. this is what we share at @soulriver_runsdeep. this summer there will be six mission driven experiences in wild spaces at risk of environmental threat. we are looking to bring PNW based inner city youth and veterans together for leadership development, healing & learning. there are definitely some chance for folks from further away, so don’t hesitate b/c of that! super proud to be a part of this organization. please hit me up with questions, tag someone who might be a good match and please share my info with anyone curious! we are accepting applications for participants until January 21st!!! really hope we can share some river time! # ✨📸✨: @_cammcleod_

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Faith Briggs | @faithevebee

I started following Faith about a year ago when she became one of Columbia’s new Directors of Toughness, traveling the world on serious expeditions and testing their gear. Faith is frequently on the trail, and her Instagram stories remind and motivate me to go outside and get moving. In addition to photos and IG stories of her adventures, Faith shares her journey in writing, from reflections on her athletic accomplishments to discussing the many layers of privilege people in the outdoor industry need to unpack. She’ll give you something to think about and some motivation while she’s at it.


To be compassionate, is to be brave. Compassion asks questions, and waits patiently in the uncomfortable silence of unknown Compassion creates space for growth and change and movement And affirms the unexplained One time I sat in child’s pose for an entire yoga class In pain from an illness that I’m still learning to live with Angry, tears pooled beneath my face on my purple mat Then the teacher touched the small of my back and said softly “Meet yourself with compassion.” So I stayed there, for another hour, forehead pressed to the ground. Compassion calls us to stem the gap of unfamiliarity And resist the culturally conditioned response of fight-or-flight To love beyond reason, and rally against judgement. Every day my job requires me to extend compassion to those on the outside But I’m still struggling to follow the guidance my teacher gave me that day And I’m ok with that…so, I guess I’m getting somewhere.

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Noël Russel | @noel_russ

Noël has one of the most beautiful hearts I have encountered in this crazy online world. Her photos are lovely, but it is Noël’s writing that will really move you. Her storytelling is soft and nourishing. Her words are intentional and their meanings are deep–– she muses on everything from her connection to nature and God, to her family and ancestry, to her life and her work at a homeless shelter. I deeply admire Noël for her kindness and strength: both obvious in anything she posts.


It’s easy to think that my life is all sunshine salt water and rainbows judging from the places I’ve been or the photos you’ve seen but trust me when I tell you that this isn’t always the case. I am not always fearless. My life is far from perfect. Most of the time when I’m writing or sharing words of encouragement, it’s because I am the one who needs to read them. There are days when I feel broken or simply not good enough and today was one of them. There are times when I need a shoulder to cry on and a vent session with a friend, times when I get worried or anxious of the future or regretful of my past. No one’s life is without a certain percentage of pure bullshit – the point is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move the hell on. I don’t want to dwell on the things that have gone wrong. I am actively choosing to invest my thoughts into what can go right – how I can succeed in whatever tiny ways I can. And it takes work. Sometimes putting a smile on your face and walking out of the door is the strongest thing you can do, and that’s okay. So if you are feeling alone in your doubt, your pain or your sadness – know that you are not alone. We are all in this together. ☀ #projectinspo

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Jinna Yang | @projectinspo |

I first encountered Jinna’s work a few years ago when she traveled the world with a life-size cardboard cutout of her father as a tribute to his life. From there I was inspired and motivated by Jinna’s writing, which continues to be uplifting and supporting whatever she writes about. Her photos are crisp, cool and clean; I especially admire her underwater and abstract images. Jinna’s perspective is unique, always finding light without ever having to invalidate the darkness.


“What can I do?”. “Que puedo hacer yo?”. These are questions I get asked every day! “What can I do to fix and protect our planet?” “How can I, as a single individual, make a difference if millions of others are not?” Well, I’m here to show you how easy, important, fun and beautiful it is to incorporate consciousness into your lifestyle. 4 years ago, these words never crossed my mind! I used to order 3 to-go coffees per day to stay awake in the corporate world without thinking about the waste I was creating on a daily basis. Over 1000 cups per year to be exact! I was one more human caught in my own world, not paying attention to anything going on outside of it, until the day I started reading more about sustainability, watched many films, and understood that every action I take can either continue to exploit our home or can help heal it. Easy steps and little shifts in routines and mindsets that CAN have a positive and healing impact on our planet. Think about this for a second: We, globally, use and discard 1 million plastic bottles PER MINUTE. 91% of this is NOT recycled. In the US only, we use and discard half a BILLION plastic straws per day! This is plastic that takes 400+ years to decompose. Plastic that always finds its way into our oceans; killing and poisoning sacred animals needed for our survival and to keep our oceans healthy. Why are our oceans so important? They absorb 93% of the CO2 emissions we produce, making our oceans our main protector against global warming! Now, what can YOU do to protect your home? Our mother. Head to my blog to read all about the eco products I carry with me 24/7 or my ways of reusing and getting creative, like the skirt I’m wearing. It’s a tablecloth transformed into a skirt! I had unused tablecloths from Bali and India, so…I took them to my seamstress and asked her to give life to a skirt and a pair of pants from those unused fabrics! That easy! Click the link in my bio to read more, tap the photo for conscious brands, and make sure you follow the non-profit I’m an ambassador for, @sachamamaorg. They are a must-read for information on sustainability and climate change! 🌎🌿💚♻ Ready to #gogreen? 😍 #ecofriendly

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Valeria Hinojosa | @waterthruskin |

Valeria is a blogger focused on making her lifestyle as sustainable as possible. I met her on a retreat in Costa Rica, and her passion and commitment to an eco-friendly life is incredibly contagious and encouraging. She is always sharing her favorite tips, products, and thoughts about living more consciously. Valeria proves that it is possible to create a life you love in a sustainable way.


10 whole years ago this month I left my corporate job with salary, bonus and benefits worth six figures, I shaved my head, and I moved to Japan to teach English. That single decision ten years ago changed my life. Since then I have lived, worked and studied on four continents and I have traveled to six continents multiple times, reaching 110 countries and territories. Travel is so much of the fabric of who I am, thanks to my awesome parents who took us on international trips fairly regularly from my first trip to Uganda when I was six. What has transpired over the last ten years has been a journey of self-discovery and understanding more about the world around me. I know myself better than I ever have and I am happier than I’ve ever been. It took a long time to get here and A LOT OF HARD WORK, but I am happy that I have arrived. I have made soooooo many new friends and had brief but meaningful exchanges with strangers all over the globe. Thank you to all of my friends who have supported me via couches, beds, spare bedrooms, airport pickups, happy hour dates, late night convos and photography skills. As I embark on the biggest journey of my life this year I look forward to more interactions with strangers, friends and family, more self-discovery and more global exploration. If I’ve met you before I would love to know where and what that initial meeting was like!! Put it down below. This should be fun! #THEcatchmeifyoucan ⚪⚪⚪⚪⚪🔵⚪⚪⚪🔵⚪⚪🔵⚪⚪⚪⚪⚪⚪🔵⚪⚪⚪⚪🔵

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Jessica Nabongo | @thecatchmeifyoucan |

This woman is on fire. Jessica has traveled to (easily) over 100 countries and territories, writing and sharing her vibrant photos along the way. She also founded Jet Black, a travel agency that creates trips and curates itineraries to countries in Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. On Instagram, you will find Jessica’s photos and captions to be bold, full of life, and unapologetically real. Her posts are lively reminders to keep pursuing the life you want on purpuse.


Hola todos! Just thought I would take a moment to reintroduce myself on this platform.. whether you personally know me or we just met here’s a little info about me: -My name is Karen Ramos I was born on the central coast in California but both my parents are from Oaxaca. -I just finished up shooting in Mexico with @rei for a summer campaign we’re working on, they sponsored my trip down the coast and in return I create content. -When I was 24, I founded, with the help of all my amazing friends, a 501(c)3 nonprofit called @getout.stayout It connects youth and kids of color to the outdoors through experiential educational outdoor excursions. (Follow us!) -This is my personal Instagram page and my political opinions are not a reflection of @getout.stayout .. from time to time there are posts that you may see and not agree with. That’s completely okay 🙂 I believe that something as simple as the outdoors is political and has had some deep rooted problems that we can no longer afford to ignore. -I am a @nativewomenswilderness ambassador, I believe in what they stand for and if you haven’t already go check us out. -I have the cutest, craziest, adventure pup named Frida. I picked her up off the streets in Oaxaca two years ago while on vacation. -After this trip I don’t really know what’s next, I have a free semester before I start school again and I quit my job to be out here… so I think I’ll just play it by ear.. And lastly I try to keep it as real as one can on an online platform, sometimes I make mistakes and I am sorry .. but I appreciate all the support the community has built around this page. THANK YOUUUUUU!!!! • • • • • • • • • • • • • #naturechola #LatinoOutdoors #getoutstayout #naturechola #getoutstayout #LatinoOutdoors #WylderGoods #diversitynadventure #everyoneshike #melaninbasecamp #unlikelyhikers #hikeitbaby #vasqueview #sponsored #nativesoutdoors #nativewomenwilderness #cholaxbomb #sup #diversifyoutdoors #indigenousrising #bajaroadtrippin 📷: @llituma1

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Karin Ramos | @naturechola

Karin lovingly shares her adventures in the outdoors and in the realm of advocacy–– the non-profit she founded, Get Out, Stay Out, seeks to get kids, especially kids of color, exploring outside. Karin’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoor industry is both important and inspiring, and something we can all learn from.


I’m 25 today. My mum’s spent an entire year reminding me I’m going to be “a quarter of a century” (she’s put a lot of effort in making me feel old 😂) but today is that day. I’m not a big birthday person and I’m not that great at planning things out. So I can’t say I had many life goals for 25, other than wanting to be happy and I’m glad I didn’t. Nothing has turned out as expected and the best thing that ever happen to me was that turning point leaving university, feeling completely lost, broken, confused and not knowing what to do. I don’t know why we place so much pressure on young people to have it all together, to plan out their next 20 year career move when I can’t even plan out what I’m going to eat for dinner 😂 …if I could give you advice it would be to breathe. It’s okay not knowing what on earth you want to do. I’m so glad I gave myself time. I wasn’t just burying my head in the sand (though it was lots of that too 😅). I spent time pursuing interests, which happened to be taking pictures. I made friends with guys who had those same passions and I was spurred on by a mother who never said I “can’t” but asked me “how?” and gave me the time to work it out. I’m still working life out, but I’m so blessed things are slowly coming together. I’m not sure what my next 25 years will look like, but I’m trying to give myself the patience, faith and grace to act on just the next step, without always knowing the bigger picture. *breathe* _ Self portrait, January 2017

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Holly-Marie Cato | @h_cato |

Holly is a photographer with a talent for capturing the perfect moment.  Her images tell personal stories, challenge stereotypes, and inspire connection. Holly’s work has inspired me to push myself in travel photography, and to share the images that feel more raw and real to me. Though her photography can be serious, Holly’s Instagram stories usually aren’t. Pro tip: Don’t watch them anywhere it might be inappropriate to burst out laughing.


 Ambreen Tariq | @brownpeoplecamping

If you are involved in the outdoor community, I sure hope you have heard of Ambreen. Though her feed is full of lovely outdoor scenes, it is her vulnerable and candid writing that I enjoy most. Ambreen shares openly about her experiences in the outdoors: positive, challenging, peaceful, whatever it might be. And she doesn’t only share her own opinions, but objective truths that are important for people of every background to read and consider.


Thurka Gunaratnam | @thurka |

I recently stumbled across Thurka’s Instagram account and found myself cracking up watching her story highlights. She is a filmmaker and educator, and is also definitely one of those people who seems to do just about everything (how this is physically possible, I’m not sure). Thurka’s videos on YouTube shine a (very funny) light on her culture and personal experiences. I am looking forward to following more of Thurka’s adventures!


I did a short interview with @outdoorresearch [link in bio] for #sheadventures month and to briefly touch on how media often portrays women, my personal challenges in climbing and managing a busy schedule. Three things I wish I had noted in this piece are: . 1.) There are so many incredible groups and people who relentlessly, selflessly give to the community, improve the lives of countless people, and seek to encourage more diversity and support for underrepresented groups. @thegnarwall and @j00kab00 with @verticalgeneration, @browngirlsclimb, @boccrew, @melaninbasecamp, @shelmatic with @heyflashfoxy, @indigenouswomenhike, @missmeghanyoung, @gleeabel, @paulinadao… The list is endless. I wish I had mentioned that these groups and individuals do so much more than any one person’s (my) singular goals for themselves when it comes to championing important issues. . 2.) Representation is important. Climbing media is largely homogenous and often reinforces stereotypes of what it means to be or look like a climber. These issues are important. If you find yourself angered by mentions of diversity or inclusion, ask yourself why. It is also important to note that many stories are being published about the entire female experience while really only speaking about the experiences of a select few. We can support more women by making sure we consider how different each woman’s experiences and struggles can often be. 3.) Too many women of color grow up feeling ashamed of our features that don’t fit into the *standard* portrayal of beauty. It’s a narrative woven into so many of our personal experiences. I’m ready to see all of these issues continue to be discussed and challenged. Future generations do not need to repeat this. #brownisbeautiful #browngirlsclimb . 📸: @forestwoodward

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Melise Edwards | @meliseymo

Melise is a rock climber, and though I am not a climber myself, it would be hard to not appreciate the photos she shares of her outdoor accomplishments. But what I love most about Melise’s feed is how openly she shares about her journey, whether she is talking about mentorship, inspiration, failure, representation for women and POC, or her challenges and accomplishments in a scientific field. I guarantee you will find something to relate to in what Melise so graciously shares.


There are so many epic groups celebrating WOC on Instagram. Here just a few, some women-specific and some not:










Don’t see your favorite inspiring WOC here? Please share in the comments below, or add a link to your own Instagram/blog!

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  • Reply
    Mara Moran
    March 13, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Thank you so much for compiling this list! What a great example of amplifying the voices of women of color and introducing their incredible work to your followers who might not have stumbled across them yet!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2018 at 6:48 am

    Hello Erin! I love this list! I’d also like to mention @travelingfro on Instagram and my community, Black Digital Nomad

  • Reply
    March 15, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    What a great post, Erin. I can easily see how these women might help inspire your photography and writing. I took a look at all these women’s Instagrams and followed a lot of them. As I went down the list, I felt happy and inspired to find other women of color whose social media platforms represents more than just pretty photos. As a photographer myself, I definitely look for inspiration that comes from others’ work, but I feel a deeper inspiration and connection when it comes from someone who shares more than skin-deep beauty. Also, I’d like to say that you have inspired me in a lot of ways, inside and outside of photography. As a woman of color, it’s refreshing to see other women help inspire change through their actions. Knowing how Instagram can be so saturated with superficial photos and captions, it’s nice to find people and posts that aren’t that way.

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