Zoel­las World

Bronzer tu­to­ri­als, man­sion MAKEOVERS and a novel that OUT­SOLD Harry Pot­ter. When Zoe Sugg in­vited STRANGERS in­side her BED­ROOM, her ca­reer path changed for­ever. How did one beauty vlog­ger turn her PAS­SION into a lipstick LEGACY?


Back then it WASN’T re­ally any­one’s job. It was just a space to be CREATIVE and to SHARE your pas­sions and views with other PEO­PLE all over the WORLD.

Zoe Sugg wants to tell you all of her se­crets. The 27-year-old Bri­tish vlog­ger and un­likely beauty icon has spent the last eight years shar­ing cheery dis­patches on Zoella, a dan­ger­ously watch­able YouTube chan­nel that will turn you into a beauty ad­dict – even if you have no interest in foun­da­tion. In the last few months, Zoe has shown you how to or­gan­ise your lip­sticks, get the per­fect bronzed look for sum­mer and in­vited her boyfriend, fel­low vlog­ger Al­fie Deyes, to give her a makeover.

But it’s a mis­take to un­der­es­ti­mate the 27-year-old as just a pretty face. We can’t stop stream­ing her videos. Nei­ther can al­most 12 mil­lion other peo­ple – the number of sub­scribers to her Zoella chan­nel at last count. From videos shot in her bed­room, the en­tre­pre­neur has cre­ated a multi-prod­uct, profit-mak­ing em­pire.

“The early days for me were in 2009, when YouTube was a much smaller space. In­spired by other video-mak­ers who sat in their bed­rooms on their we­b­cams, I picked up my dad’s dig­i­tal cam­era to start film­ing some­thing my­self,” re­calls Zoe, the daugh­ter of a prop­erty de­vel­oper fa­ther and beau­ti­cian mother, who grew up in Wilt­shire, Eng­land, and re­lo­cated to a five-bed­room man­sion in Brighton with Al­fie in June (the at­ten­dant vlog, ‘The Hap­pi­est Day’, scored 2.5 mil­lion hits).

“Back then it wasn’t re­ally any­one’s job. It was just a space to be creative and to share your pas­sions and views with other peo­ple all over the world. I was sur­prised when I heard about the part­ner­ship pro­gram, where you could ap­ply to earn money through ad­ver­tis­ing. I re­mem­ber after about a year of film­ing videos, a cheque for $60 landed on my doorstep from Google. I was so amazed that some­thing I en­joyed so much had made a lit­tle bit of money! Espe­cially as I didn’t have a job at that time.”

In 2009, no one pre­dicted that video would take off like it has. Eight years later, Zoe – along with her friend Tanya Burr, who’s of­ten seen mak­ing cameos on her vlogs – is a mogul-in-the-mak­ing, over­see­ing cos­met­ics brands, book deals and lu­cra­tive part­ner­ships with brands and net­works, in ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing her own con­tent. >

Her first vlog was un­apolo­get­i­cally sim­ple – a four-minute video on ‘60 things in my bed­room’ (chew­ing gum, an ad­vent cal­en­dar, back­comb­ing brush…) with her boyfriend in the back­drop. Who could have imag­ined its fu­ture?

Since then, through col­lab­o­ra­tive con­tent (she av­er­ages one col­lab­o­ra­tion video per month), be­friend­ing the me­dia and un­der­stand­ing her au­di­ence in­ti­mately, her sig­na­ture style has not changed – but her in­come cer­tainly has. Ac­cord­ing to a Business In­sider re­port, Zoe – whose em­pire in­cludes a best­selling cos­met­ics line with UK chain Su­per­drug, a line of can­dles, pil­lows and sta­tionery and a three-book se­ries with Pen­guin – clears £50,000 a month.

By es­ti­mates, Zoe, who was re­cently named Forbes’ number one beauty in­flu­encer, draws an au­di­ence that’s more than 26 times larger than the cir­cu­la­tion of Bri­tish Vogue. But you don’t fig­ure out how a teenage girl dis­rupted the US$445 bil­lion global beauty in­dus­try by look­ing at the num­bers alone. Mag­a­zines have al­ways sold beauty as as­pi­ra­tion, per­suad­ing us that we can un­lock the se­cret to a glam­orous life by buy­ing a new lipstick. Zoella, who’s prone to an unedited stream of chat­ter and ap­pears to de­light in mis­pro­nounc­ing fancy French beauty terms, is up­front about her flaws. She tells her young au­di­ence they’re fine as they are – de­spite the fact that she’s gor­geous enough to make milk­maid braids look like a style tri­umph.

“Ev­ery­thing in this in­dus­try changes so quickly, from the trends and the pop­u­lar top­ics to what peo­ple want to see, and stay­ing on top of that is important if you want to keep your au­di­ence happy,” ex­plains Zoe, who be­came the fastest-sell­ing de­but au­thor in his­tory with the Novem­ber 2014 pub­li­ca­tion of her young adult novel Girl On­line (knock­ing J.K. Rowl­ing off the top spot!).

“On the other hand, I truly be­lieve that mak­ing videos and cre­at­ing con­tent that you want to cre­ate is al­most more important than this, be­cause otherwise you could start to lose your per­sonal iden­tity or the love of things you want to share. I al­ways film and up­load things I’m 100 per cent happy with. I like to watch con­tent that I feel some sort of per­sonal connection with.”

Un­like beauty icons such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, Zoe – a true poster girl for her gen­er­a­tion – is un­abashedly wholesome, more likely to bake cup­cakes with Al­fie or hang out with her pug, Nala, than go to par­ties or fre­quent night­clubs. She doesn’t drink and is fa­mously can­did about her strug­gles with anx­i­ety, re­veal­ing a his­tory of panic at­tacks in a widelyshared De­cem­ber 2011 blog post. Zoe, who be­came the first dig­i­tal am­bas­sador for UK char­ity Mind, is de­ter­mined to use her plat­form to re­duce the stigma around men­tal health. >

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