Business of Beauty: Welcome to Kandeeland

/ Jul 10, 2013

Kandee

Often, success in this brave new digital and social world seems directly proportionate to how mean or “snarky” a personality can be. (Think news sites like Gawker, the ruthless annals of Reddit, or the Twitter accounts of any one of Bravo’s Real Housewives). Which is why YouTube beauty sensation and makeup artist Kandee Johnson is such a breath of fresh air. There’s absolutely no snark in her makeup tutorials, hairstyle how-tos, or product reviews.

Watch enough of her videos, and you might suspect that the bubbly, positive persona Johnson — or KandeeJ as she’s known to fans — presents in her videos is a caricature. But talk to her for a few minutes (or even an hour), and you’ll find that she really does pepper her speech with an infectious giggle and frequent exclamations like “Oh gosh!”

Nevada-based Johnson’s main YouTube channel boasts over 1.4 million subscribers and more than 203 million views. Some of her most popular clips, like this tutorial on how to apply glitter lip stickers and this transformation into the Queen of Hearts character from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” have over eight million and three million views, respectively. Welcome to Kandeeland, a world where being genuinely nice and life-affirming leads to integrated sponsorships with brands like Kia, and guest spots hosting the Golden Globes for L’Oreal.

kandeejohnson3

To Brand or Not to Brand?

Johnson is currently repped by Maker Studios, whose roster of beauty talent includes Andrea Brooks of AndreasChoice and Camila Coehlo of Makeup By Camila.

So far, the 10-month engagement has boosted Johnson’s income through commercial appearances like the Kia series with Chester See, but even with Maker’s representation, she says YouTube still isn’t quite paying all the bills. “It’s definitely part of my income, but it’s not like I don’t have to do anything else,” Johnson says. “I blog and I do some TV show appearances and hosting.”

She’s also a single mom raising four children, sharing glimpses of that side of her life on her second YouTube channel and supplemental blog. In the midst of it all, Johnson manages to get new content up on her main channel almost weekly — a departure from when she first launched in 2009 with a constant stream of daily content.

“In the beginning, I did a video almost every day and it was insanity,” Johnson says. “I’d shoot these crazy costume videos that would take me two hours to film and then hours of editing to cut down to 10-12 minutes. If someone had told me that I’d be up until three in the morning every night making YouTube videos, I would’ve have thought they were crazy. But that’s what it was like.”

Johnson’s goal now is to do two videos per week, a task she equates to a 16-hour day for each video, since she serves as “camera man, lighting person, and editor.”

With this much investment, you’d think that Johnson would be a bit more focused on monetizing her efforts. Though she’s worked on some non-paid projects for makeup brands “she’s loved for years” like Urban Decay, MAC, and Makeup Forever, she doesn’t do paid product reviews or beauty endorsements on principle.

“I’ve had every brand approach me for years now, but it’s been a question of staying true to my audience,” Johnson says. “YouTube is like having a conversation with your friend — and if your friend says ‘this is brought to you by McDonald’s’ that feels very strange. And while I do think that turning down some of the opportunities was not a financially wise choice — particularly at certain times in my life — I didn’t and don’t ever want to talk about things I don’t believe in on YouTube.”

 kandeejohnson2

Keepin’ It Real

It’s this acceptance of what is real — without succumbing to negativity — that seems to fuel Johnson’s YouTube popularity. While her clips offer step-by-step instructions for how to make a lemon sugar scrub, or do a celebrity-inspired eye, or even attempt a runway look, viewers also eat up the bittersweet moments of life that she shares in between.

“My life is not perfect. I got married when I was really young, got divorced and then married and divorced again,” she says. “And I have struggled as a single mom. Some people on YouTube want to portray that their life is just awesome, but sometimes mine is not. I don’t wallow in that though, I try to inspire people, and I think that’s what makes them come back.”

For Johnson, she says the inspiration is what keeps her coming back — even more than the ad revenue. “I got an email shortly after I started, from a girl who was planning to commit suicide,” Johnson says. “She said she’d been watching my videos because she wanted to be beautiful when people found her. But eight hours later, she was still watching and eight hours later she was still alive, and she said ‘I’m alive because of you.’ When someone says you helped inspire them to keep living — that’s how you know you’re doing something right. So I’ll definitely keep at it.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Galaxy Quest

Amazon Studios Going on ‘Galaxy Quest’

 
Here's how musicians should use facebook

Facebook Finally Takes On Freebooting With New Copyright Tools

 
FitnessLogo

FitnessMagazine.com’s SweatTV Enters the Streaming Workout...

 
Difficult People Hulu Billy Eichner Julie Klausner

Hulu Renews ‘Difficult People’ for 2nd Season

 
NGSNLigaMXLogSmash

Soccer Streaming Heats Up As NGSN Pacts With Liga MX

 
DiscoveryVRlogo

Discovery Jumps into Virtual Reality With Discovery VR App

 
rsz_camera-408258_1280

Taming the Online Video Wild West Takes Some Tech Savvy

 
AmazonBox

Amazon Video Follows Netflix to Land of the Rising Sun

 
supergravitypics

Supergravity Pictures Hires Development Duo

 
Muchdigitallogo

Much Digital Studios Launches its First Round of Brand Partnerships

 
Daniel Fisher Playbuzz

Playbuzz Opens Up Shop in The U.K. for its Snackable Content

 
Snapchat

Snapchat Adds Three Big Names to Discover, Eyes New Revenue

 
PBSDigital

Web Series Wednesday – PBS Digital Studios

 
Channel Frederator Network

Channel Frederator Expands its Animation Network with 90 New Channels

 
Hulu gets rid of the plus

Hulu Goes Programmatic with Oracle and LiveRail

 
Divimove

Divimove and Sony/ATV Partner For Digital Music Publishing

 
Star Wars Force Friday Unboxing Maker Studios

Disney Unboxes Maker Studios Talent for Star Wars Product Launch

 
angrybirdstoons

Layoffs at Rovio in The Wake of Restructuring

 
Mike Rothenberg River Accelerator

Virtual Reality – The Rewards, The Risks with Mike...

 
YouTube Gaming

YouTube Gaming Clicks on Start Button

 
comics

Machinima and Michael Bay Team Up for Video-Enhanced Graphic Novels

 
smoshmovie

Smosh: The Movie in Walmart, On its Way to Netflix

 
5922553_orig_opt

Subway: The Series Goes Underground for Laughs

 
CBS

Cablevision Woos Cord-Cutters with CBS Streaming Video Service

 
AndyKaplan

NATPE/Content First Elects Sony’s Andy Kaplan As Chairman

 
Social Media Special-Ops MTV Other

The Truth Behind MTV(other)’s ‘Social Media...

 
Fail Army

FailArmy Comes Out Victorious with Superfan App

 
amazonstudios

Amazon Casts Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt in...

 
Superfan

Vevo’s Super Fan Showdown Posts Strong Season 3 Numbers

 
Erin McPherson Maker Studios

Erin McPherson and Jeremy Welt Out at Maker Studios

 
raindance web fest 7-29-14

Raindance Web Fest Announces 2015 Independent Series Award Nominees

 
quickflix

Quickflix Calls Off China Deal, Has Netflix Claimed Another Victim?

 
MikeJones

5Qs With Science CEO Mike Jones On FameBit and Original Content

 
netflixjapan

Netflix Launches in Japan with An Assist From SoftBank

 
McFadden

Will McFadden of Collab On Helping Vine Stars...

 
vevosecondsofsummer

Vevo Diversifies It’s Slate With Live-ish Content

 
YouTubeEd

5 Emerging Education Channels

 
YouTube Space LA Late Late Show with James Corden CBS

YouTube Space LA Comes of Age

 
YouTube Audio Library

YouTube Adds 1K-plus Tracks to Royalty-Free Music Library

 
Comcast

Comcast Enters the Live Streaming Arms Race