Jackie Created Her Own LaneMy dark skin and full lips sometimes make me insecure about rocking a colored lip or eyeshadow. If you need the confidence to be bold, be sure to check out Jackie Aina. Nude colors are my friend, and I appreciate them to no end. However, looking at the beauty tutorials created by one of Youtube’s top influencers, Jackie Aina I am starting to rethink my position on Crayola colored pigments on my brown skin. Jackie Aina also referred to as a Youtube Style Warrior stepped into her creative calling ten years ago when the Youtube beauty game primarily featured the White and Asian woman. Known by her friends as the dark-skinned girl with the colored eyeshadow Jackie reluctantly started to build her social media brand when there was no Fenty beauty to reassure her of her foundation color or provide her with the eyeshadow palettes curated for her complexion. Now in 2018, Jackie is not only a beast with the brushes, but she is also an army reservist and an NAACP award winner, who is impacting the lives of her 2.4 million Youtube subscribers and over 900,000 Instagram followers. Aina is doing this by not only giving makeup tips, but also giving advice on money, and commenting on the state of racial inequality issues all at the same time. Keep reading to see what you can take away from Jackie Aina’s rise to success. And learn how you can use her journey as a blueprint to jump start your brand.
Steps and Takeaways for Success
Step One: Find a Void and Fill It!Before she was a famous beauty blogger Jackie Aina was a married, Army reservist, who at the age of 21 was living in Hawaii and downright miserable. However, it was her love for all things beauty and the nagging tug at her creative side that prompted her to start her YouTube channel and dig herself out of her unhappiness. After realizing that there was a need for women of color on YouTube Jackie would go to makeup counters and ask the makeup artist to help her recreate looks that she would see broadcasted on YouTube. Extremely dark, smokey eyes and new lip trends would be easy to find when searching for the tutorial. However, the content creators would be women with fair skin creating and using the colors favorable for other women with fair skin. After approaching the makeup counter and receiving her instructions then Jackie would go home and tape her process. But she didn't realize that she was speaking to brown girls with a complexion like her Aina just thought that she was putting her personal twist on the look. It was when she decided that she was going to stand up on her own two feet and stop looking for other beauty bloggers to create the look for her. She realized that it wasn't just her that needed to see these visuals, but the other people realized that the content creators on YouTube at the time did not look like them as well. The looks that those mainstream Youtubers were creating did not reach the audience of color that had nothing else to watch.
TakeawayJackie was able to benefit off of the momentum that YouTube was building at the time and get in on the platform early. She was also able to see the void that was forming on the platform and fill it for herself and an audience.
Step Two: Create Your Brand and Stick to ItOutside of being a fantastic makeup artist Jackie's success comes from her being able to talk about the uncomfortable issues in the beauty market that alienates a lot of its consumers because they can. Ten years ago the beauty industry was not even thinking about diversity. Jackie being a beauty content creator of color had a glass ceiling that she needed to reach and then break to continue to create content. The products that she was using to build her brand and speak to her audience with did not exist for her skin tone. And the amazing thing about Jackie's brand is that she was able to build it on it making her lack of resources a topic of conversation.
AuthenticityWe know that up until about five years ago there were little to no options for darker shades of foundation. There were 10 to 20 shades of lighter hues that cater to Caucasian women and those with lighter skin. Up until last year, darker shades were not significant enough to advertise. This disparity in options is something that Jackie spoke about without thinking of the consequences, and it is also something helped place her in her position as a complexion expert. Her focus on complexion would be what afforded her the opportunity to collaborate with huge brands like Too Faced and Artist Couture later on in her career. Ironically, when she first started, she didn't even know that you could make money off of ads as an influencer. Jackie was authentic in her beliefs and what she was vocal about regardless of the money, and it made her content appear genuine to her audience. Her authenticity also gave her content more depth in comparison with other beauty vloggers because she was talking about something else other than the product.
Takeaway:Jackie took on the challenge of talking about color in the makeup industry before diversity became a thing. Diversity is now a topic of discussion in the attempt to market to a broader range of customers, but Jackie is someone that beauty brands wanted to reach out to when they start to look for influencers of color to represent their brand because of her stances years ago. Her being an authority on complexion helps her to attract big dollars at this point inside of the makeup industry. Nevertheless, because diversity has just recently become a focal point of big brands, Aina had to put work in for the past ten years. She talked about unpopular topics like race and discrimination while suffering the consequences of not being their first choice at times.
Step Three: Build Your Audience & Get to Know ThemJackie credits herself as the first dark-skinned Youtuber to get over 1 million subscribers. Yes, regardless of the cultural behemoth that is “Black Twitter” colorism on social media is a thing. She did it by asking her audience how she could reach them and why a Youtuber of color had not achieved that follower count when so many of her white counterparts were able to do so. Unfortunately, a lot of creators make the mistake of becoming too niche. Then they make that worse by only talking to that one group, not realizing that other people who don’t fit their mold might genuinely like their content. Jackie makes a conscious effort to ensure that everyone learns something when watching her channel. Whether they are man, woman, non-binary, White, Black, Asian, Latin or any other ethnicity Jackie knows that all of these people are in her fan base. As a successful creator, it's imperative that Jackie knows who is watching her content so that she can ensure that she's not leaving anyone out. She was able to use that to advantage and talk to them directly to get her to her goal of 1 million subbies. Before reaching 1 million, Jackie specifically asked the audience that she did have:
- Why were there no dark-skinned women of color with 1 million subscribers?
- Do darker women of color appeal to broad audiences?
Organic Growth via AdaptationJackie credits her growth in viewership to her ability to be herself. Initially, her videos started out extremely technical. With a military background and her spot at the oldest of 7 kids, the videos teaching her viewers how to recreate these different makeup trends took on a militant vibe. However, after the release of "Trends We’re Ditching" where Jackie makes fun of beauty trends that should've never even become “a thing,” she realized that people like the funny quirky her. The mistakes that she made on camera were relatable, and her audience genuinely loved her for her. They liked her so much that the video went viral. This impacted her content, and she realized that her personality is something that can grow her audience tremendously.
TakeawayJackie's approach to knowing and growing her audience is rooted in common sense. She knew that the average human gravitates towards someone who looks like them. To grow, she informed the audience that she was already able to secure that outside of her look her personality was something that they can engage with as well. Outside of the brushes, she wanted to talk about real life issues, and that was able to bring in more viewers. The audience didn't have to worry about not gravitating to her content because of how she looked or what makeup tip she talked about; they just had to worry about if they liked her content and her personality. Isn’t that how you make friends in real life? Think about how you diversify your circle in your everyday network. You crack jokes, bring up what you’ve seen on the news that may have resonated with you, and then others gravitate towards you in agreeance or your ability to hold a conversation. Is it similar? This approach was something that she was able to translate onto a multimedia platform, and it enables her to attract more virtual friends.
Step Four: Create Your Content & PublishJackie creates content very differently from a lot of her counterparts. When a YouTuber reaches a level that Jackie has reached they've begun to go out and hire a production team. Things like storyboards come into play and content takes them days or weeks to create. They also become so dependent on a sponsor that their content it more sales oriented and brand approval is crucial to publishing. However, Jackie admits to being self-sufficient when it comes to creating content, and she does not have a production team. She edits all the videos herself and creates a list of content to execute and publish weekly. Publishing entertaining beauty tutorials like: “Makeup for Finessers” and “Life’s a DRAG Or Is It?” she can merge the hot trends in pop culture with the beauty world, and she doesn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to do so!
TakeawayYour content does not have to be perfect. Your content does need to be published. Don't get caught up and how everything looks! You and your aesthetics will get better with time. If you are collaborating with a lot of brands, don't forget to still feed your base by giving them the content that you captured them with. A lot of influencers and content creators abandon their platform once they get a check, but the check should be a springboard to make what you were already doing a lot better.
Step Five: Know When it is Time to GrowAfter ten years of struggling with the lack of foundation to match her complexion, Too Faced presented Jackie with an opportunity to focus on complexion shade expansion. Too Faced is a makeup company that knew that they had limited foundations available for people of color and they wanted to change that. The Too Faced x Jackie Aina 'Born This Way' foundation collaboration makes sense for Jackie's brand. It introduces 11 new shades of foundation into the brand's assortment. This is a need in the beauty industry that she has been vlogging about for the entire span of her career and she was finally able to fulfill it.
TakeawayMany influencers would take a check and collab with anyone whether it aligned with their message or not. When it comes to the green, there are not many who would worry about the brands intent behind giving them the money, but that was not something that Jackie wanted to do. Too-Face had always given Jackie some recognition when it came to sharing their platform throughout the years. And she knew that when Too-Faced reached out for her help and expertise, it was the right move. Jackie was able to swatch test the new foundation colors, change the undertones to fill the gaps in their existing line, and help them to create the names for the colors. Her input enabled her to become a partner in with this line, and it was the right move for her brand.
Focus on Your FoundationThese five steps are not the only thing that has enabled Jackie to serve her country and her community in ways that a lot of us can benefit from! Nevertheless, they are some of the significant components of her brand. Aina’s ability to find a void and fill it using not only her technical skills in her content but also her fearlessness in speaking about taboo topics has enabled her to create a lane in business that is all her own. The Jackie Aina brand has a set foundation. Everything that she's doing now to grow her empire is on solid ground. What do you think about Jackie’s ability to mix her influence as a beauty vlogger with her unique form of activism? Drop a comment and let us know below!
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