Chelsea Crockett is a 16-year-old Triad High School junior, who earns A’s and B’s, attends Knights games with her friends, and hangs out with her youth group from First Baptist Church in Maryville on most weekends. Girl-next-door pretty with long, chestnut hair, she is poised and a little bit shy.
So, why are millions of teenage girls aroung the globe watching her on YouTube?
Because she gives honest, useful advice from the heart.
“I think people should be themselves, have their own identities,” Chelsea said, explaining why other teenage girls listen to her. “I want to talk about how to be positive, respect who you are. You don’t have to be the most perfect person.”
As the “Beauty Licious Insider,” she provides hair, makeup, fashion and lifestyle tips in vlogs — video tutorials — that she has been making at her Troy home since 2011. She recently reached more than 100 million views on her YouTube channel. She is about to achieve 1 million subscribers as well.
To put that into perspective, there are only 1,000 such accounts of that caliber — she will be in the Top Ten percent of YouTube videos.
Whether she is showing how to make a pantry paste of brown sugar, honey and nutmeg to apply in “Tips for Fuller Lips,” or urging girls to stand up for themselves and not be pressured by others in “Let’s Have a Heart to Heart” video, she has a believable quality.
“I like to make fun-filled tutorials that bring a smile to people’s faces,” Chelsea said.
In “Why I Deleted Twitter,” Chelsea told teens not everything has to be shared on social media. She removed a personal Twitter account because she was being affected by all the negative, emotional posts, and she didn’t like feeling that way.
“You don’t need to have every social media account to feel like you’re fitting in and knowing what everyone is up to,” she said. She advised her peers to limit their phone time, strive for more balance, and be more active instead of always feeling the need to be online.
“I find that the best moments of my life are not when I’m Facebooking, or Instagramming or tweeting them.”
Chelsea has recorded more than 300 videos. Not all are so serious. In “Night Routine for School,” she is shown making dinner with her sister, playing with the family dogs, being tutored in math, and scrubbing her face as part of her beauty rituals. Oh, and putting in her retainer.
She uses humor, too, with a title like “A Day in the Life of a Lazy Person.” Bloopers, horsing around with her brother Chandler, and an April Fools’ Day makeup fiasco are all part of her videos.
Her “10 Easy School Hairstyles” racked up nearly 3.7 million views, and her “Morning Routine for School” was seen more than 6 million times.
Chelsea’s most viewed video is “Barbie Makeup Tutorial” of June 2012, with more than 15 million views.
“Each generation has had Barbie dolls. I think the younger girls really liked it. Everything was pink,” she said.
Chelsea is a natural before the cameras, with a friendly smile and a willingness to be sometimes goofy and unfiltered. Those qualities, combined with a sense of style honed from an early age, have attracted attention from media and advertisers, including an ongoing relationship with Seventeen magazine, product endorsements and an even upcoming reality TV show.
Megan Bycel, head of talent relations for Awesomeness TV, which handles Seventeen’s videos, describes Chelsea as “a driven, passionate young woman who has established her own niche in the oftentimes crowded Beauty/Fashion space on YouTube and has done so in a way that is organic and relatable to her entire fan base.”
How it began
Being a glamorous fashionista wasn’t always Chelsea’s goal.
“I was a tomboy,” she admitted.
Her mother Michelle, stylish and fashionable, said the family enjoyed shopping as a pastime.
“I always dressed her to a T, and she always looked cute when she was young,” Michelle said.
In fifth grade, Chelsea became intrigued by makeup. “It was something new, you could experiment with how it enhanced appearance,” she said.
At 13, she began making videos, inspired by vlogger Michelle Phan, a makeup demonstrator and entrepreneur.
“It was super-hot outside, and I was bored. I decided to make a tutorial video. From there, it was slow progress.”
Her first was an eye makeup how-to she recorded on her cellphone. From cellular videos, she graduated to a $50 point-and-shoot camera. After she did well in a national video contest, her reach grew.
At first, her parents figured it was a hobby. A year later, she entered the “Next Face Awards,” seeking the International Beauty Vlogger of the Year on YouTube.com.
“You could put up a video for people to vote on and give you feedback,” her dad Brandon said. “Chelsea made the top six.” She was flown to Los Angeles. “Then it just exploded.”
Now they have invested almost $30,000 in camera equipment, in a home studio with lights, strobes, green screen and special effect capabilities. They purchased a drone for aerial shots a year ago.
“Chelsea is 100 percent self-taught,” Brandon said. “She is very hands-on. She edits with Final Cut Pro, picks out her own music, making sure it’s cleared if it’s copyrighted.”
“Everything I do is on my own,” Chelsea said.
Sitting at their kitchen table, Chelsea and her parents talked about the impact of her success on her and her family, and her goals.
A jeans-and-sweaters-wearing schoolgirl, “Chels” likes hanging out with her church youth group.
“I feel really accepted there. We’ll have a bonfire, or go ice skating.”
Brandon said the youth group’s fellowship is important. “It gives us a sense of relief,” he said. “There are new things to think about at night as a parent.”
The Crocketts have lived in Troy since Chelsea was an infant. “I’ve grown up with these people. My school friends always treat me the same,” she said.
Living there has helped shield the family from the craziness of Chelsea being a global celebrity.
“Eighty percent of people who watch her videos are outside the U.S.,” Brandon said. “They know who Chelsea is. She has fans in almost every city of the world.”
The first taste of what a big personality she was came at a beauty conference. “Hundreds of girls ran up to her, just crying, they were so ecstatic to see her,” Brandon said. “We thought, ‘I can’t believe she’s having such impact.’ It was like she was a superstar.”
Chelsea keeps her online fame into perspective. “I get to do what I like to do,” she said. And, no matter what, she still has to do chores, including her own laundry, and she has a curfew.
A family business
Chelsea is a hands-on businesswoman with a corporation and a staff of five on her payroll, including her parents and three website writers. She oversees merchandise, has a cellphone app, and weighs in on a growing number of offers.
“We get six to 10 emails from businesses all around the world daily wanting to work with Chelsea,” Brandon said. “We also receive product packages every couple of days from companies hoping that we will talk about them and or show them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. We have about 60 brand deals.”
J.C. Penney, NYX Cosmetics, Walt Disney World and Benefit Cosmetics are a few of the companies wanting to work with the Crocketts. That means contracts and specifications on how products are portrayed. They have a team — lawyer, accountant and financial people to help.
Brandon is his daughter’s manager, and he runs his own company, building and designing websites for car dealerships. A 15-hour day is normal for him.
“I multi-task. It’s an all-day job, but it’s a great opportunity,” he said.
“We try to keep a balance, and we parents have to have date night, too,” Michelle said.
Last year alone, Chelsea flew to Los Angeles five times, New York City twice, and Chicago twice. One or both parents accompany her.
On average, she posts one to two 4- to 8-minute videos every Monday. After school, she will either work out with a personal trainer or work on videos, then do homework. She writes content for her videos, and her mother is the proofreader. They make sure the title is correct, nothing is obscene, and the grammar is error-free in the description.
By using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, her social media savvy has helped develop a loyal following that values her opinion.
“Instead of always focusing on beauty on the outside, she is focused more on beauty from the inside out these days,” Michelle said. “Girls think they have to look like a celebrity, those photo-shopped looks.”
Because of her popularity, they do have to take safeguards. For a Dallas BeautyCon in March, they have hired a staff of security guards. She has been mobbed for hugs and autographs before, but it’s worth it. “I love meeting people. It’s always an amazing experience to see fans in person,” she said.
Chelsea is a contributing editor at Seventeen magazine, and is featured in their video web series “17 Before 17,” in which she tackles a bucket list ranging from getting her driver’s license to flying on a trapeze. It is meant to get teens out of their comfort zone.
Chelsea turns 17 on March 2, and is nearly finished with her list, all recorded for the Seventeen YouTube channel.
They showed her picking out a red Hyundai Genesis II for her first car. She checked off her first date by going out with a blond surfer dude she met during her longboarding experience near L.A.
“We text every once in a while. There is nothing between us. We’re friends. I’m glad I got to meet him,” she said.
The Crockett family will be featured in an upcoming reality TV series on Internet celebrities. Though they can’t divulge details yet, the show is tentatively set to air in March. The Crocketts appear in four half-hour episodes, and are in negotiations to extend the show.
Camera crews were at their home for 10 days, filming from 8 a.m. to midnight, sometimes until 2 a.m. The reality show actually brought the family closer together, Michelle said.
“We needed to have some of these conversations. It’s so easy to get caught up in all of what’s going on. It’s hard to sit down and have a meal together. We have to set aside time as a family.”
Chelsea has no desire to become an actress or model, rather she wants to pursue a career as a motivational speaker. Her next step is to select a college, where she plans to major in communications.
She wants to parlay her ability to connect to others as a vocation empowering girls. It would be her dream job.
“I would love to be able to speak to girls of all different backgrounds, ethnicities and spiritual affiliations,” Chelsea said. “I'd like to be able to give makeup tips while telling them about where I put my faith and trust. I believe this is what I'm being called to do in my life.”
You can find Chelsea at chelseacrockett.com at at youtube.com/beautyliciousinside.