They deliver video tutorials, testimonials, test curly products and report on trends. They’re curl authorities the curly community looks to for insight and ideas. Following and learning from some of their tactics could help in your quest to master your curl pattern.
Most of us spend too much time on the internet, whether it’s scrolling through Pinterest, sharing work on Instagram or keeping our followers up-to-date with our everyday life on Facebook. But for the top texture influencers on social media, spending time on the computer is more than a pastime; it’s a way of life. These curlistas started creating YouTube videos and blogs as hobbies but have spun them into successful careers. With a loyal following in the hundreds of thousands, beauty vloggers and bloggers are winning big on the web. Just look at the numbers: Beauty content on YouTube accounts for more than 700 million videos each month and continues to grow rapidly year after year, reports Pixability’s “Beauty on YouTube” study. As a result, bloggers and vloggers are changing how many curlies discover, use and purchase beauty products. But why?
Texture! went straight to the source to get the answer. These are the social mavens you’re going to want to get to know: Nora of Shalimarcat; Francheska of Hey Fran Hey; Jenell Stewart of Kinky Curly Coily Me; and Alison of Modern Mrs. Huxtable. Here they share their thoughts on how the blogosphere is transforming the texture industry and the importance of authentic, personal connections on the web.
Why do viewers respond so positively to you?
Jenell Stewart, KinkyCurlyCoilyMe: It’s the phenomenon of, “This girl has hair just like me.” I was able to appeal to an audience of women with a kinkier texture and shorter hair. Additionally, I’m very down-to-earth. I created a platform based not on pretending to be an expert but on promoting my learning experience and explaining myself in a way that people could relate to. I wasn’t authoritative or pompous. I was just me.
One thing that keeps me successful is that I do everything because I’m passionate about it. I communicate with my audience. I call all of my fans my “loves,” and reply to them on social media. As challenging as that can be sometimes, I reply. I think people can really feel that connection with me, and I make myself available so I can meet the women who support me.
Alison, Modern Mrs. Huxtable: It probably sounds cliché, but I just try to genuinely be myself. I also view my subscribers as equally important in the YouTube process—this doesn’t mean that I am “number-crazy” about how many followers I have, but rather that I value my viewers’ comments and messages. I feel that the viewers are a part of every video I create—their input and feedback contribute to the creative process and finished product.
I believe my new purpose in life is to inspire and uplift. I want people to feel elevated, to feel motivated after they have spent time watching my videos. This is as simple as starting every video with a huge smile and warm greeting. People need messages of empowerment, happiness, hope, sunshine and love, so that is the energy that I strive to embody and put out into the universe.
Nora, Shalimarcat: I think it’s because I am an eclectic vlogger: I like to play with styles a lot! I am not a curly-hair-obsessed person, so I occasionally use heat or silicones, and I have nothing against coloring your curls. My motto is do what makes you happy!
Francheska, HeyFranHey: My readers know I’m not in this for any kind of financial gain or any personal fame. I think they understand that everything I put on YouTube is to solve a problem and be helpful. Word-of-mouth has been the most influential tool for me to become so big. I’ve actually never done a sponsored video. I think the key to the growth of my brand is in the integrity. I’m going on three years of being on this social media wave, and that’s been my biggest thing: to keep the integrity of it all.
How do you believe YouTube is changing the beauty industry and the texture community?
Alison: When I went natural in 2009 there were only a handful of brands that I could find in stores. Now, there are whole aisles dedicated to natural haircare. People don’t really understand how huge that is!
There are thousands more natural hair bloggers and vloggers. There are tons of natural hair companies sprouting up every day. Technology and social media are such a huge part of our generation, so it means a lot to see blogs and Instagram and YouTube accounts dedicated to studying, capturing and celebrating natural hair. Natural hair is not necessarily new, but I think the YouTube world allows people to identify and relate to vloggers in a way that makes natural hair seem fresh and trendy. It means a lot for girls to see people on the computer screen who look like them.
Francheska: In reality, we are the people who are closest to the consumers. We have an emotional thread with the clients. We aren’t celebrities or actors who are completely detached from reality. We go to meet-and-greets and connect with our subscribers. We email with them and respond back and forth on Twitter. We have relationships with our viewers, and we’re all on the same playing field.
How are beauty brands embracing the beauty explosion in shaping the blogosphere?
Francheska: They’re definitely responding. Many of the trends in hair are based on what’s popular on YouTube. Now every brand has a natural hair category. They’re paying attention and seeing our influence and rebuilding their brands based on what’s working for us.
Remember when models got mad at celebrities for taking over the cover of magazines and ad campaigns? I almost feel like YouTubers are going to be the new celebrities and start pushing out traditional celebrities.
Jenell: Beauty brands are realizing that women with multi-ethnic hair are paying attention to ingredients and what products promise and deliver. Consumers take very seriously what a product label says, and if the product’s performance doesn’t match that, then we are vocal. We’ve made our mark by saying we want products that are more moisturizing and conditioning. So you are seeing an influx of co-washes and moisturizing conditioners in the category.
Alison: I think beauty brands know there is now a greater level of power and exposure in the hands of vloggers when it comes to product reviews. A good review plug from a popular YouTuber can mean a huge boom in business, while poor reviews can stifle business or prevent people from trying a product.
Viewers can also start to change the level of trust or credibility that they give a vlogger based on the vlogger’s decision to be sponsored or partner with a beauty brand. There are a lot of politics and layers that go into the relationship between blogging and beauty brands.
How are YouTubers helping to bridge the gap between beauty brands and clients?
Jenell: By watching a YouTube video, you see the step-by-steps and experience live. On my YouTube channel, I have so many videos showing me applying the product from start to finish. Consumers get to see what it looks like, get to hear what it smells like and learn how it works. So even if content is branded, bloggers and vloggers can still offer that same value to a video. Vloggers offer incredible opportunities for companies. It’s phenomenal how many people they will be able to reach and grasp by the engagement vloggers offer in their videos. To the watchers and readers, if the vlogger is genuine and authentic all the time, then there’s definitely a way for the person to do branded content and make it work. There’s also a way to do branded content without talking up something that you don’t really believe in.
Alison: YouTube vloggers bring a more personal and relatable angle to products than national marketing campaigns do. Consumers feel like they are getting advice from a friend or coworker—someone they trust and know—and that type of positive coverage is huge for a beauty brand. It is also really amazing to see YouTube vloggers branch out and become entrepreneurs making their own products—essentially the client becoming the beauty brand. It creates a connection or closeness to the brand when it is a YouTuber the consumer has been watching and supporting for years.
What does the future look like for you and your brand?
Alison: I hope I can continue to grow my fan base and reach more people globally. I would love to have more meet-and-greets in the states as well as overseas. YouTube is a great platform to reach people outside of your immediate geographic location.
I hope that I can continue to build an entrepreneurial base for myself built on my YouTube success. Most importantly I hope that young women and men leave my channel feeling inspired and motivated. If each video I post leaves a viewer with a pocketful of hope, then I have fulfilled my purpose.
Nora: YouTube is becoming more and more important, so I hope to keep my viewers interested in what I do and in what I have to say.
Francheska: I’m such a little hippie. I’m very in the moment. For me, it’s all about the momentum. I try not to limit myself by saying what I’m going to do in the next five years. I don’t know; I could be doing things that I never would have imagined. I never really thought I’d be on YouTube. That was never in my plans, and it turned out. I’m just riding the wave. Every opportunity that comes and feels good, that’s where I’ll be.
Jenell: I’m growing my website. I’m looking to do more speaking engagements and talk with women about healthy hair growth, natural hair and wellness. I look forward to those opportunities.
5 Things To Learn From Texture Influencers
1. Engage Your Audience
Audience engagement is like superior customer service. A successful blogger knows the importance of connecting with followers and always letting them know when they’re appreciated. Although time consuming, replying to emails, comments and messages is essential to building a relationship with your clients, and encourages them to turn to you for texture advice and product recommendations.
2. Solve Problems
Clients want content that delivers a benefit like how to use a product, demonstrates how to create a celebrity-inspired look, or executes a new industry trend. You don’t need a professional studio to deliver powerful imagery and share valuable information. You can create and post your own professional beauty advice without worrying about professional lighting! Make it personal and be sure to always mention your salon name, location and how to book a texture consultation.
3. Stay Relevant
It’s important that you not only produce tips and how-tos to share on your or your salon’s social media outlets or during a consultation, but that you stay relevant to your followers by providing current information. They’ll look to you as being “in the know” and will think of you for special occasion styles, visit your site or pages for what’s trending, and listen when you recommend a new style, an updated finish and product recommendations to help them get the look.
Collaborating with popular YouTube personalities, celebrities and brands is a way to instantly introduce yourself to an entirely new network of people. Simply commenting and introducing yourself and your salon-based solutions is a great way to start. Maintaining an authentic voice is crucial and will allow you to increase your own following organically. Keep the emphasis on what you know and experience as a salon professional. Share more about the techniques you use, less about specific brand preferences. Promote yourself as an authority.
5. Promote Yourself
As you increase your texture expertise, be sure you are telling the world about it! If you decide to post YouTube videos or texture tips on a blog, use other forms of social media to get your content out there. Share teasers of your latest YouTube video on Instagram or a sneak peak of a new texture product on Facebook. Even sharing your favorite tips from other texture sources can help position you as a resource for your clients. Just remember to add your professional voice to explain why you are sharing it, and to include a call to action to come for an appointment, consultation, or personal product demo and recommendation.
Francheska - HEYFRANHEY
Francheska of HeyFranHey started her Tumblr after being diagnosed with a health condition. It was her journey to become a healthier person inside and out that propelled her to speak about beauty from a holistic approach. After healing her body through nutrition, fitness and natural/organic products, she wanted to share her knowledge with those willing to listen.
In addition to making her posts relatable and easy to incorporate in everyday life, Francheska attributes her success to speaking from an honest place and solving a problem. Her advice for people interested in YouTubing is to find out what’s missing in the marketplace and determining: how you can contribute to that open space.
Jenell Stewart - KINKYCURLYCOILYME
After a big chopping in March 2010, Jenell Stewart of KinkyCurlyCoilyMe decided to embrace her natural hair. With no friends or family members who were natural, Stewart found joy in blogging about her journey and created KinkyCurlyCoilyMe as a way to track her progress and share it with others.
The actual name of the website is a derivative of the textures that appear in her own hair. Within the first two years of blogging, Jenell transitioned her blog into a natural haircare site for women in need of hair education and support. Stewart has been featured in Essence and on BlackEnterprise.com, VibeVixen.com, SoloDovePR, CurvyMagazine.com, Essence.com, BlackHairMedia.com, RollingOut.com, JuicyMagOnline.com, NewsDay.com, Examiner.com, TribeCalledCurl.com and CurlyNikki.com. Stewart has also contributed to NaturallyCurly.com.
Whitney - NAPTURAL85
Whitney, known as Naptural85 on YouTube, is a graphic designer, vlogger and blogger. Whitney started her YouTube channel in August 2009 with an upload of her “Natural Hair Journey”—her transition from relaxed to natural hair—which was intended to thank the YouTubers who’d given her the inspiration to go natural. But people told her that they were inspired by her story and encouraged her to upload more. The rest is history! Five years later, Whitney is still sharing her journey and has expanded her channel with daily vlogging videos that chronicle her life as a wife and new mom.
Alison - MODERN MRS. HUXTABLE
In 2013, Alison got her start on YouTube with her channel Modern Mrs. Huxtable, aimed at advocating for positive female role models as well as educating women on the secrets to healthy, long hair. She is dedicated to sharing her results with others and using her background as a university instructor to inform and educate other women on how to reach their personal hair goals. Alison spearheads an initiative to share female empowerment messages and encourage positive, well-rounded depictions of women like that of the iconic Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show. Alison focuses on uplifting women in areas such as self-esteem development, finding purpose and creating sound value systems.
Gina - HAIRSPIRATION (UK)
Gina of Hairspiration has been blogging since 2008. She blogs about natural hair, beauty and lifestyle. She is an advocate of green brands and small business and is currently in the process of “cleaning up” her makeup bag. Gina has been featured on numerous websites, including Essence.com, Ebony.com, Fashion Bomb Daily, Style Pantry, BGLH and Ebony Glam, as well as in Pride, Marie Claire, Grazia, Jones and Blackhair. Based in the UK, Gina has a background in fine arts and has spent the past nine years working at Aveda and other high-end hair salons, where she has gained useful knowledge in hair care, beauty and trends. By day, Gina is currently working as a freelance PR consultant and sometimes columnist.
Sarah - WATERLILY716
Sarah started her channel to provide education about curly hair basics and to help others learn how to care for and love their natural curls. A-soon-to-be teacher and self-proclaimed hair junkie, Sarah realized several years ago that there weren’t a lot of girls with her looser-curl hair type making videos or sharing advice. From that concept, her channel evolved into what it is today.
Jessica Lewis - MAHOGANYCURLS
Jessica started vlogging on YouTube in March 2009, sharing her natural hair journey with women around the world in hopes of inspiring them to love and embrace their hair. Jessica has been featured on LA Talk Live radio, CurlyNikki.com, NaturallyCurly.com and many other social media platforms and is currently a natural hair blogger for Essence.com. Over the years, Jessica has drawn the attention of many women worldwide.
Shanti and Antoinette - AROUND THE WAY CURLS
Shanti and Atoinette are the best-friend duo behind Around the Way Curls. The two created a community for women to connect, encourage and inspire one another. Around the Way Curls is an online publication that infuses pop culture and issues of women’s interest with an emphasis on the beauty, originality and spirit of naturally kinky, curly hair. With hair as the catalyst, Shanti and Antoinette work to redefine beauty and to recondition women not only to embrace their natural state of being but to value their individual uniqueness and overall worth.
Nora - SHALIMARCAT
A medical student and model with a passion for beauty, fitness and health, Nora of Shalimarcat made the decision to embrace her natural texture six years ago after two years of relaxing, blow drying and straightening. Nora was inspired to create her first video when she entered a giveaway on Naptural85’s channel, at the time her favorite YouTuber. Filming was so much fun that she thought, why not create her own channel for wavy hair? At the time, the majority of the channels were geared toward women with tighter texture patterns.
This article was written by Chandler Rollins for Texture!