Tiarra Monet was able to turn a small hobby into a successful YouTube beauty channel and her own business all before the age of 30. Monet's recognition as one of the top YouTubers landed her a spot as a guest speaker on the Simply Stylist Do What You Love panel sponsored by Dove.
Before Monet joined Brandi Cyrus and actress Cara Santana on stage at the Oct. 25 conference, she sat down with International Business Times to dish on how she got her start as a YouTuber and her hair extensions and weave line, Crowned Collection.
International Business Times: You've grown your YouTube channel tremendously over the past few years, what made you want to get into vlogging?
Tiarra Monet: I kind of was ahead of the YouTube boom. I started at 17 by mistake. I started changing my hair a lot and I was on Facebook; Facebook and MySpace were really huge in 2006-2007 so they were like can you do videos on how you did your hair, so I did. I had like a $40 digital camera and I would just sit it in the mirror; there was no fancy editing. I would just record myself doing my hair and I went to college and I logged back into my YouTube and there was like 10,000 people [watching it]. In 2007-2008, 10,000 people was like a million so I kind of realized that there was a network and kind of like a camaraderie there and I kind of became friends with a lot of the people that started following me. We just traded videos, it wasn't about making money, it was just fun. And it grew into [something bigger].
IBT: What's the hardest thing about being a vlogger?
Monet: I think the hardest thing is like the pseudo fame that comes with it because you are a regular girl -- celebrities are regular people too, but they're kind of untouchable so as a blogger or vlogger you’re touchable. You're taking the subway, you're going to H&M, you're going to be at Mac on 14th street so you kind of get to see the people that follow you more often than a celebrity would, but they treat you like a celebrity so I think the hardest part is maintaining that look because they expect you to look like your [videos]. Or if you have a bad day and you run into a subscriber, you can't have a bad day. So I think that's the hardest part, especially now since I run my own business. It's hard to separate the two because I'm not a person anymore. You become this internet untouchable but touchable person. It's kind of a blurred line that comes with vlogging.
IBT: Where do you see your YouTube channel and your career going?
Monet: Well, I'm trying to segue into television now. A dream of mine has always been to be some sort of anchor woman or just be on television producing. I kind of sat YouTube down for a year because I wanted to build outside [of that] so I do see my business growing and franchising with the help of YouTube.
IBT: And you just did a commercial with Revlon and BET. How did that come about?
Monet: Well, the visibility from YouTube. Someone from BET followed me on Instagram and knew I was a New York City blogger and contacted me and said, "Hey, I have this Revlon spot, would you be interested." And I said of course.
IBT: How has being a YouTube sensation changed your life?
Monet: It is my life. I'm so grateful for it. I would say it's encouraged me to love myself with all the negativity and it kind of made me who I am.
IBT: What made you start your wig and weave business, Crowned By Monet?
Monet: I guess what prompted me to start the business was what if YouTube got deleted; how do I maintain my lifestyle, how will I pay my bills because YouTube went from being a hobby to a career. So I took some time and figured out what people were watching me for and it was for my hair tutorials and I kind of just turned that into a business which is the Crown Collection. I sell hair extensions, I actually install it. I was able to do that outside of YouTube and it's kind of self-sustaining now. So I guess that was the main reason, what if YouTube decided to say we're done.
IBT: What are some of the biggest hair mistakes people make?
Monet: I think the biggest hair mistake, especially in the black community, is keeping hair extensions in too long. We like to save money and it's expensive to install extensions so a lot of my clients keep their weave in for 3 months, 4 months and it's really really bad for your scalp and our hair. It's just like our skin and it has to breathe, so I think the biggest mistake is just keeping it in too long and not nourishing your hair.
IBT: How did you get started in doing hair?
Monet: My mom. My mom is a licensed beautician and I would watch her do hair and go to the salon with her. So I just got into it and I loved the fact that she was able to change her looks often. And I never liked the way I looked at the salon because I would go to salon and then go home and change it. So then I just started doing my own [hair].
IBT: What do you hope people take away from your Simply Stylist panel?
Monet: I hope people are inspired because you can come from anywhere. You don't have to have the fanciest equipment, best cameras lighting. You can literally just be passionate and it will resonate and people will invest in you.
IBT: And what tips do you have for other vloggers or people who want to start their own YouTube channel?
Monet: It just has to be something you love because if it's not a true passion it reads and it won't be organic. You just want an organic following; people that will grow with you. So just be passionate about it.