Most adults probably wouldn’t recognize high school seniors Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight, but if you have a kid who watches YouTube—like many adults watch network television—chances are they’re fans of the petite, doe-eyed twins.
The two teenagers run their own YouTube channel, self-named “Brooklyn and Bailey,” where they post videos on a variety of topics from an inside look at their drill team to reviews on beauty products and clothing, music videos of their original songs and even an unscripted monologue about breaking up with a longtime boyfriend, tears and all.
Today, they have more than 4.5 million followers on their channel, as well as 2.7 million on Instagram, and their most popular video—on getting their wisdom teeth removed—has amassed over 19 million views.
When YouTube first launched in 2005, the most popular posts were a cat “playing” the piano and mainstream pop stars’ music videos. Today, YouTube personalities have carved out niche markets by creating channels focused on their passions such as makeup and hair tutorials, vlogs or comedic sketches. One of the most popular YouTube channels in the world—with over 24 million subscribers—is Dude Perfect, a group of friends who perform sports tricks at their headquarters in Frisco.
As more millennials ditch cable and young children prefer iPads to televisions, these YouTube stars can make millions from ad revenue and sponsorships. In a recent video—showing highlights from Senior Week at their high school—Brooklyn and Bailey partnered with HP and featured the HP Sprocket Mobile Printer.
The twins didn’t get their start on YouTube by chance. Their mom, Mindy, runs the popular channel Cute Girls Hairstyles, which started in 2009 and has over 5 million subscribers.
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“Once [our mom] started getting followers people were curious about us and our personalities,” Brooklyn and Bailey say. “They didn’t even know we were twins, so when we turned 13 we got our own channel. We never thought about what was going to happen [when we first started]. We were thinking in the present. We’d just make a video and post it … and then it became this huge thing.”
Now, Brooklyn and Bailey plan their videos weeks in advance and post every Wednesday afternoon just like a television show that airs once a week, except there’s no off-season.
“Depending on the kind of video, we usually start brainstorming ideas at least a month in advance. After planning, we have to get the tools, so, for a fashion video we’d need to shop for the clothes to wear and figure out where we want to film; sometimes that’s just in our yard or bedroom. After filming we give it to our editor … and we review it before it goes live.”
Brooklyn and Bailey’s videos have a candy store quality to them: bright lights, background decor in vibrant colors, and of course, lots of simultaneous high-pitched, singsong twin moments. They don’t read from a script which helps keep their tone light, fun and casual; they never come across as rehearsed.
“We just try to be ourselves because that’s what people want to see, and that helps them relate to us,” the teens explain. “We try to keep everything on our channel positive since our audience is mostly little girls. A lot of social media can be negative, but it’s easy to spread a positive message. When we first started, we were told to base [our channel] on who we actually are so that we could build a business around it for the future.”
Building an Empire
The twins have already started building their future ventures. Last fall, they traveled the country with DigiTour, a social media festival production company known for producing the world’s first social media tour, where they met with fans and performed original songs. Today, they’re focused on a completely different product: mascara.
“Brooklyn and I have always been passionate about mascara,” Bailey says. “About a year and a half ago, we started developing our own because we just couldn’t find one that was great at lengthening and volumizing, that wouldn’t harm our eyes, didn’t streak or clump—all without breaking the bank.”
The Lash Next Door mascara, which has a patent-pending 2-in-1 formula, is in the prototype stage, but the teens already surpassed their $25,000 fundraising goal by pre-selling kits to fans on indiegogo.com. They plan to roll out the product in spring of this year.