When you think of social media celebrities, Kansas might not be the first that comes to mind, but don't be fooled. The Sunflower State is home to several online sensations that you might recognize. From incredible hairstylists to toddlers making trick shots and more, These Kansas internet sensations have some serious skills!
Pedro Ruiz, via twitter.com.
Pedro Ruiz of Wichita is famous online for his insane hair cutting skills, which he has acquired over the last five-and-a-half years in the business.
His precise cuts and attention to detail earned him recognition from Insider, MSN.com and more, as well as a following of over 12,000 on Twitter.
“I first got discovered after doing a Wushock design on a Shocker fan about three years ago when the Shockers made it to the final four,” Ruiz said. “I have always enjoyed art, and when I cut hair, I try to integrate this passion in my haircuts and designs.”
In addition to creating outstanding styles for his clients, Ruiz is set apart by his commitment to bettering himself every day.
“I was extremely humbled by the attention and love I received online, and it only makes me want to work harder to better myself,” he said.
Ruiz says he’s been fortunate to find others who really appreciate his work.
“I have definitely met some cool and interesting people recently who have heard about me online and wanted to get their hair cut by me,” he said.
Ruiz has had a consistently booked schedule for years now, and he’s thankful to have so many clients that appreciate his work.
Every once in awhile people recognize Ruiz for his work online, but he says that, for the most part, his day-to-day life has not changed much.
“Some people say I should move to a bigger city, but I feel like you have to do the best you can no matter where you're at; the cream always rises to the top. Plus, I love Wichita and the people here,” Ruiz said.
Check out some of Ruiz's cuts in his Instagram.
Trick Shot Titus
Titus before appearing on TV in Belgium. Photo via Facebook.com.
Trick Shot Titus Ashby is from Derby, Kansas. Titus is known worldwide for his astounding hoop-shooting talent. The basketball prodigy began shooting hoops as a hobby at 15 months and was a YouTube sensation within a week after posting the first video, becoming a phenom by the age of two. The Ashby family has created a series of "Trick Shot Titus" videos that show Titus making incredibly challenging shots for anyone, let alone someone his size! Titus has made baskets backwards, from the top of buildings, from motorboats and more. Titus has beaten celebrity A-listers Jimmy Kimmel, Channing Tatum and Bradley Cooper in shootouts, and has faced basketball greats like Shaquille O'neal and Kobe Bryant.
"I think the hardest shot we ever did was at the Kansas Capitol. He shot from the fifth floor to the basement and as the ball passed each floor there were some weird aerodynamic effects which made the ball move a lot in the air," said Joseph Ashby, Titus's father.
Titus has appeared on television numerous times, including visits to the Today Show, Fox and Friends (five times), Jimmy Kimmel Live (five times), and Little Big Shots. If that isn't enough, Titus has done even more foreign television, appearing in Germany (Twice), Spain, Italy, China, Colombia, Japan, Argentina and Belgium.
According to his father, Titus is recognized by fans every now and then.
"He gets pretty embarrassed by it. Once in a while he’s in the right mood and will be all about taking selfies and signing autographs," Joseph Ashby said.
Titus turns six this year and his family is thankful for the opportunities that his success has given them.
"The biggest blessing from our YouTube success is that we get to spend a lot of time together. It may not last very long, but it’s been a special couple of years for us," Joseph Ashby said.
Watch the original Trick Shot Titus video below, and check out the YouTube channel here.
Trick Shot Titus's First Video
Ursula Goff, via ursulagoff.com.
Rainbow colored hair has recently taken the internet by storm. Several stylists post photos of multicolored manes, but Wellington, Kansas's Ursula Goff takes it a step further, creating not only beautiful rainbows but also hair paintings. What is a hair painting? It's the recreation of a famous painting is a person's hair, of course! Goff has recreated works such as Van Gogh's Starry Night, Edvard Munch's The Scream and more in the hair of her clients.
Goff has been a licensed cosmetologist for 14 years and began playing with hair long before acquiring her license, but she says it's her skills as an artist that inform most of the techniques she uses in her work today.
"I am pretty much always looking for an excuse to paint, so painting on hair seemed like a natural sort of extension of my two major skill sets," Goff said "I was rinsing out a client late last year and the colors in her hair were Van Gogh inspired, and I wondered how hard it would be to actually paint a Van Gogh on hair. So I started the hair paintings project the very next day."
Though she was eager to begin her hair paintings, it wasn't an immediate success.
"I struggled through Starry Night for a few days, got frustrated with it, and decided to start on "The Scream". I worked out a lot of the technique on that one," she said. "That painting is sort of messy and muddy enough that it was pretty forgiving of my constant re-working of it. I would say over the span of about a month I worked out a pretty good strategy that I ultimately applied to all the other paintings."
She added that many of her techniques are developed out of sheer curiosity.
"I am curious and like to try different things and my clients are, thankfully, kind enough to oblige me," Goff said. "I wouldn't say I have perfected a bunch of techniques with regard to my other stuff; I just sort of go with the flow, collaborate with my clients, and try to do something cool on every head that's in front of me, something that I love and can feel good about and that is fun to execute."
Taking Off Online
When her work started to take off online Goff was surprised.
"I still feel surprised every time my work gets noticed; I'm not sure if that feeling will ever completely subside."
The effect that her success has had on her, Goff says, is perhaps the strangest part of the whole experience.
"It has actually increased my anxiety a bit and made me more protective of my privacy. Some people have decided to treat me differently, both good and bad. Somehow, for some reason, getting recognition for my work has been kind of uncomfortable. You know how sometimes it's hard to take a compliment? Maybe you feel awkward or like it's undeserved, or maybe wonder if someone is just being polite; it's like that, but multiplied times 1,000."
Goff is very grateful for the recognition she has received, but she has felt both the negative and positive results of such wild popularity.
"The pros of "instafame" are often obvious and coveted, professional validation, popularity, opportunity. The cons are often not clear or discussed, though, and I have felt a little surprised and taken aback by them, Goff said.
The cons are certainly outweighed by the pros for Goff, who has seen tremendous growth in her business, additional industry opportunities and a reminder to stay true to herself.
"It's helped me realize that being myself and doing what I've always done is the best thing for me. That I was right to ignore everyone who thought I should tone it down or stop doing "weird" stuff, because obviously, there are people out there that like and appreciate it, which I really wasn't all that aware of until all this happened. And it's attracted a lot of like minds into my life, so I would say I've never had a better group of friends or support in my life."
According to Goff, people are surprised to find that she is located in small-town Kansas.
"There's often an assumption that for me to have such a large rainbow hair clientele, I must be in a metropolitan area and/or on the coast," she said.
Check out more of Goff's work on her website.
John Olmstead takes a humorous approach to Facebook's "Thankful for us" photo frame.
John Olmstead, a student at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas posted a photo on Twitter that went viral within 12 hours. Pretty impressive, right?
The photo (pictured) shows the feet and legs of what looks to be a couple standing together and facing each other.
Captioned "The holidays are better with you", a full photo would reveal that what appear to be the legs of the woman in the photo are actually Olmstead's which he crammed into a pair of women's boots. The man's legs and feet are actually Olmstead's arms and hands, in his own pants and shoes.
"I actually didn’t come up with the idea of the photo, my sister had sent me a photo of someone else doing the same thing and I thought it was pretty funny, so I wanted to see if I could recreate it!"
According to Olmstead, it was about four hours after his initial post that he noticed people that he didn't know favoriting and retweeting his photo.
"At first I thought it was kind of weird that all of these people I didn’t know were interacting with my account, but at the same time I was really pumped that it was getting so much attention, because who doesn’t want to go viral these days, am I right?"
By the time he went to bed on the night he posted the photo, Olmstead recalls, it had about 13,00 likes. When he woke the following morning, it was up to 35,000, and this was just the beginning. Shortly thereafter, a reporter from internet giant Buzzfeed reached out to him.
"I was in so much shock when I saw that someone from Buzzfeed wanted to talk to me, like, Buzzfeed. What!?!" Olmstead said.
Above all else, Olmstead it thankful for the opportunity he's had to share smiles with those who've seen his photo.
"The best part about the whole ordeal would be that I know that my photo brought so many people joy. I’ve always only wanted to make people happy, so knowing that I made at least 121,000 people smile really warmed my heart and gave me a sense of accomplishment."
Despite being stopped to talk about the photo a few times, Olmstead says that he hasn't really been affected by the online fame achieved through the viral post, though he adds "it has been neat to get a taste of what it's like."
"It's just been a crazy ride, to be honest," Olmstead added.
Find him on Twitter.
Peterson Farm Bros
The Peterson Farm Bros have been making parody music videos about farming for four years, earning them more than 43 million views on YouTube and a large following on Facebook.
According to Greg Peterson, who studied agricultural communications at K-State, the videos were inspired by class discussions regarding the disconnect between farming and the general public.
The Peterson Farm Bros uploaded the first parody music video, "I'm Farming and I Grow It" on June 25, 2012. By June 29th, it had over a million views. After just 10 days, the video had received five million hits. Our second parody music video was uploaded that December, and it received 10 million views in its first week.
The Petersons are excited not only to change the way people think of farming but also to educate them on the subject.
"We try not only to entertain people but also educate them on what farming is really about and why farmers do what they do," Peterson said. "Our videos have hopefully impacted people positively in that way and that is important to me."
The Petersons' videos have been used both in classrooms and as a tool for parents to teach their children about the farm industry.
"Our biggest impact is possibly being made in younger audiences as role models and that’s something I take very seriously," Peterson said, adding that this also fuels his motivation.
The popularity of the videos took the Petersons by surprise.
"It’s still kind of a shock that something like this could happen to a normal Kansan like me. Fame is also kind of hilarious, my brothers and I still laugh when people want pictures or autographs from us. But at the same time, we are happy to give them and enjoy making someone’s day in that way."
About a year after the videos began gaining traction online, Greg Peterson began to pick up some speaking engagements around the country. Today, Peterson gives about 100 presentations each year. Having travelled to 49 states, seven Canadian provinces, and seven total countries over the last 5 years, Peterson is thankful for the opportunities the videos have given him to see the world.
"Never thought I would become a world traveler, but now I am addicted. Seeing the world opens your eyes to so many unique and important perspectives," Peterson said.
Also responsible for the group's social media channels, Peterson devotes a significant portion of his time to the Peterson Farm Bros videos, whether that's traveling to discuss them or sharing updates online. Though these endeavors keep him busy, he still makes time to help out on our farm as much as possible.
The Peterson Farm Bros are often recognized by fans, particular those in the Midwest or those who are connected to the agricultural community.