‘Why I Love New York City’: Penn State Alum Shares NYC Pride On Instagram
Penn State alum Eljay Aguillo’s passion for New York City and sharing content on social media has led him to viral fame. Aguillo, the owner and founder of West Fifty Seventh Media, has created numerous projects centered around all things New York City.
One such project is “Why I Love New York City,” which focuses on artistic photographs of the city with quotes from Aguillo himself.
Aguillo grew up in State College and decided to attend Penn State, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biobehavioral health in 2006. Biobehavioral health was a new major at Penn State at the time, and Aguillo found that his interests in healthcare, analysis, and the sciences fit within its confines.
He sought a change of scenery after graduating and moved to New York City. There, he started his career as an office assistant at Larkin Agency. He then made the switch to quality analysis in the biobehavioral health field.
Aguillo made an Instagram account in 2012, just as the social media app started to gain popularity.
“It’s not that I wanted to switch to social media [as a career path],” Aguillo said. “I wanted to start posting stuff like a blog. I used Instagram for that mainly when I first started.”
Aguillo continued to work as a quality analyst while maintaining his social media presence on the side. “Why I Love New York City” was one of his first passion projects.
By 2013, Aguillo found himself a part of a community sharing and posting content centered around New York City.
“It became a small, tight-knit community, but it also became a very competitive community,” he said.
Aguillo continued to take photographs and make content until he was noticed by then-actress and the future Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. Aguillo’s Instagram grew exponentially when the former actress and Duchess of Sussex began posting Aguillo’s photos of New York and tagging him in her posts. The photographer gained immediate success and was invited onto the Toronto set of “Suits,” an American television series. In 2012, Aguillo created his brand, West Fifty Seventh, to streamline his projects.
In 2017, Aguillo published his book, “Why I Love New York City,” which was based on his Instagram project.
The “Why I Love New York City” project also serves as a love letter to Aguillo’s wife, who he met on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Ever since then, Aguillo has associated New York City with new beginnings and his wife.
“I use New York as a backdrop,” Aguillo said.
In addition to “Why I Love New York City,” Aguillo creates content for his second account, New York City Foodies. Aguillo is in the beginning stages of creating a podcast in collaboration with Chef Russell Jackson, a Bravo TV host who has appeared on the Food Network and owns the Reverence restaurant in Harlem. Aguillo is also the current manager of global communications and engagement a KDC/One, a beauty and personal care brand.
Aguillo urges patience and diligence when building a brand on social media.
“If you don’t really start small, you don’t know how big it gets,” he said. “The ideas you create are always good ideas — you can always fine-tune them later.”
Aguillo believes that collaboration is critical to social media success.
“When you collaborate more, you and a team, later on, have more benefits than just doing it yourself,” he said.
Aguillo keeps himself out of his projects, instead focusing on the city and its people.
“I want people to shine through my account, he said. “[Ideally] I want to be working on a small team making people shine.”
To learn more about Aguillo and his “Why I Love New York City” project, visit the project’s Instagram.
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