The 'face of Houston' actually lives in California—but you wouldn’t know it

Anastasia Hansen, one half of the popular local site ‘It’s Not Hou It’s Me,’ left Bayou City for the Bay Area back in October. Can you still rely on her for local intel when she’s posting from 2,000 miles away?

Photo of Brianna Griff
Anastasia Hansen, one half of the popular local site ‘It’s Not Hou, It’s Me,’ left Bayou City for the Bay Area back in October. 

Anastasia Hansen, one half of the popular local site ‘It’s Not Hou, It’s Me,’ left Bayou City for the Bay Area back in October. 

Anastasia Hansen, It's Not Hou It's Me

Beyoncé. That’s one person who might be considered a Houston ambassador. You could say JJ Watt, too, or José Altuve. Really the entire Astros crew might fit the bill. But Anastasia Hansen of the local lifestyle blog “It’s Not Hou It’s Me” has no problem claiming Bayou City fame. 

“We’re 110 percent faces of the city,” Hansen says. The “we” she speaks of is, of course, herself and Natalie Harms, co-founders of the popular site.

The 30-something Houston natives have built what began as a source for new residents into a brand with more than 80,000 followers across social media and a November Instagram post garnering upwards of 3,000 likes and comments. Each post on the site—which has an audience predominately made up of women in their late-20s to early-30s—centers around what to do or where to go in Houston, as well as giveaways and partnerships with local businesses.

Heather Austria, 34, of Sugar Land, Texas has been a fan of the site since she discovered it in 2015. “They have offered such valuable resources over the years,” she says. 

While Hansen may not enjoy the heightened profile of Beyoncé, the two women may have more in common than just their hometowns—they both actually reside in California. 

Hansen, who by day works for the design agency Fjord as a business design senior manager, announced her move to Oakland on her personal Instagram account back in August, but per a quick review of “It’s Not Hou It’s Me,” you wouldn’t realize she departed the city for good back in October. An Instagram Reel from Dec. 6 shows her practicing yoga at The Studio BE on Yale Street—in the caption she shares the classes she attends. It’s as if she never left. 

“I’m not super advertising [the move],” Hansen says, “because it’s not going to change the delivery and messaging of the things that get published on the blog.” Meanwhile, when Hansen spent summer 2019 overseas, she shifted gears to writing pieces about Paris brunch spots worth waiting in line for and itineraries for long weekends in Italian cities.

The duo has been writing together since joining their high school journalism team at Houston’s St. Agnes Academy. After college, Hansen and Harms decided to combine their knowledge and writing skills to launch “It’s Not Hou It’s Me” in November 2014. The site was first developed as a landing page to highlight their lifestyles and to share personal stories. A scroll through the site’s archives unveils Harms’ musings on “The Bachelor” while Hansen detailed how to throw an empty apartment party

Through the years, Hansen says her blogging style has evolved to focus solely on what other people can experience. Culture, food, and travel are the central topics of the brand, with a tone the founders describe to be “like you're talking to a friend.”

“I try really hard to be authentic and genuine,” Hansen says. “Depending on the circumstances, I’ve been to most of the places and I have a ton of content to go off of." She still has family here and plans to maintain portions of the blog through return trips, as seen in photos recently shared showing Hansen at spots around Houston that were taken in November.

Fan Heather Austria agrees with Hansen about the necessity for authenticity, citing both that and truthfulness as important traits of influencers she follows. But Austria is confused about the most current content of “It’s Not Hou It’s Me,” especially given that Hansen hasn’t shared the news of her move. “I feel very lied to right now,” she says.  “I don’t follow her personal account and it really did seem like she was here. How can one post about events and not be here?”

Given it’s only been two months since her move—and given that much of the world is on pause for the foreseeable future—Hansen no doubt still has a grasp on what’s relevant to locals and those relocating to Texas from both coasts. But how will she continue to maintain her position as the “Face of Houston'' as the city evolves as the months and years wear on? 

Now, Hansen relies on Houston freelancers for her contribution to social media. She tells the freelancers where to go and what photos and video to capture, then Hansen assembles, edits, and posts the pieces under her name. “It’s my brand,” she says. “I manage the voice and everything. I’m the editor. I’ve got a team that goes out and executes.” Hansen adds that the blog has grown by 3,000 followers since her move. 

Hansen maintains that it’s a common business practice for influencers to have a staff that assists with administrative tasks and content creation. She offered local examples, including Danielle Dubois of “Hangry Houstonian” who is searching for freelancers for TikTok videos.

Marissa Ha of “Houston Hotspots” confirms that she owns HiFi Marketing Agency where three full-time employees capture social media content. Ha also lived in Fort Worth for a year while running the Houston-focused website. Now, Ha resides in Bayou City full-time.

As for Harms, she still resides in the Heights neighborhood where Hansen used to live. The two rarely collaborate—Hansen says that they write and post individually for the blog—but they still share a content calendar so that each knows what the other one is doing, However, readers won’t be introduced to the freelancers who are contributing to the website. 

“It’s probably already confusing to people that there are two people that run it,” Hansen says. “From a branding perspective that’s a lot to juggle for audiences.”

The blog isn’t going anywhere, Hansen says, and neither she. Her image and recommendations are still a prominent part of “It’s Not Hou It’s Me,” even if she does live almost 2,000 miles away. “It’s something that I’ve been doing for a really long time,” she says. “I enjoy doing it so I don’t see any reason to stop.”

A previous version of this article stated that Hansen posted photos to her blog in December that were taken before her move. Those photos were taken during a return trip to the city in November.

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