One morning, Nikki Phillippi woke up and felt that God was telling her to post videos onto YouTube. A self-proclaimed “girly girl” obsessed with everything fashion, beauty and health, Nikki had little prior experience with YouTube, but having seen signs that called her to join the video sharing platform, she finally set out to make her channel. It took her three tries — she uploaded and took down her first nail tutorial due to nervousness — but once she let the video sit long enough on her channel, she realized she was hooked. Now, three years later, Nikki has become a prominent creator within the YouTube beauty and fashion community, and shares videos of her fast paced shopping trips to affordable stores such as Forever 21 and Victoria’s Secret with her nearly 334 thousand subscribers.
Bubbly, goofy and always dressed in bright colors, Nikki hopes her fashion and beauty advice inspires girls to be the best they can be. Her perfect appearance is no small feat seeing as she is from Valencia, California, a desert town that bakes you in the summer like a pizza in a hot oven (it’s my hometown, so trust me, I know). But after all the makeup is taken off and the hot pink dresses are back stored in her closet, Nikki shares that she feels most beautiful in sweat pants relaxing around the house with her husband and dogs. Just in time for a little spring closet cleaning, Nikki’s channel is full of spring clothing haul videos from stores both chic and affordable that will help girls both build and declutter their wardrobes for the upcoming summer months.
When did you originally begin making videos for the channel?
Nikki Phillippi: I opened my channel in July of 2010, and it was really random the way it started. I had come back from Singapore after working with Universal Studios, and I always tell everyone — and I think I sound crazy to people but it’s true — I literally woke up one morning in July and I felt like God was telling me to get on YouTube, and I was like, “That’s really weird. What am I going to do on YouTube?” I wasn’t into YouTube; my husband knew more about YouTube than I ever did. I was not like a “go to YouTube and watch fun cat videos” type of person. So I woke up, it was really strange — what am I going to do — and I stumbled onto the the whole beauty community and all these people who were making videos just talking about beauty stuff. I originally found Ingrid who’s Ms. Glamourasky and Flourish and Michelle Phan and I found their videos and fell in love. I was like, “This is really cool!” I feel like this is what that means, so I made like a nail polish video, something like that, and I uploaded it and like five minutes later I took it off. I was like, “This is so embarrassing putting this on the internet.” I thought back on my life, on acting, and in November I uploaded again, and I took it down and it was so embarrassing, and I was like, “This is so embarrassing. I can’t do this!”
Then in December — it was my third time — I was driving home in the car, I was actually driving to an acting thing in the car, and I turned on the radio and when I turned it on it was Dave Ramsey who is like a financial advisor and talk show hose on the radio, and right when I turned the radio show on Shay Carl called in like right when I turned it on. “What do you do?” “I make YouTube videos.” And I remember when he said that a jolt went shooting down my body ‘cause I had never heard anywhere from anyone, literally just a weird thing in the middle of the summer, so I finally was like, “I need to freakin’ make YouTube videos.” So I got home and that night I uploaded, and I was like, “I’m not going to tell anyone; I’m going to keep quiet. Nobody needs to know this.” So I put it up and it didn’t take very long after doing some research that I realized, wow, people really do do this for a living, and to me, once I made the decision that I wasn’t going to tell anyone, it took away the fear and it was really fun. I’ve been making videos since I was a little kid; I just hadn’t done it in a while. We have so many home videos of me just directing my sisters. So after that I pretty much pursued it full-time right away ‘cause once I figured out what you could do when it was so cool, my whole family was like, “Oh my gosh, you have to do this, this is so you!” Then I started pursuing it full-time from December, so about two and a half years I’ve been doing this.
Were you originally doing lifestyle videos or did you focus on one topic — hair, health, nails — and then grow?
I started, I guess, in more the beauty genre. I’ve always felt weird saying that because I never felt like — I know it’s a title on YouTube but it feels funny — I’ve never felt like a beauty guru. I’m not like a makeup artist, I’m just someone who really likes all this stuff and had a shopping problem growing up so it started more in the beauty side of things and I started to venture into other things as time went on. The more I focused on what I wanted to do, I developed more of a clear idea of “Okay, I’m going to stick with this and I’ll grow what I want to do as I grow.” I always knew I would come back to doing music and acting and stuff like that but that’s kind of evolved and grown over time.
Have you always been a girly girl?
Yes [laughs]. I have always been a girly girl my whole life. That’s very funny, I’m bright pink flats right now and a bright pink scarf — so yeah, I’ve always been a girly girl and I’ve always had a shopping problem, and my mom just dies that part of my job entails shopping. She was like, “Well, isn’t that nice for you?” It was a problem before and now it’s a write off!
Is there any one thing you love the most when you go shopping?
You know, actually funny you ask that I was talking to Dan about this the other day because I really like shopping. It’s not even like, “Oh, I just like buying stuff and bringing it home” because I actually don’t like having a ton of crap. I give a ton of it away after having it for a little while. I don’t like having a ton but I realize I think what I like the most about shopping is I’m a really visual person so being out and being in stores and seeing all the colors and displays it actually is very artistically inspiring to me to see what everyone is putting together. The pictures they are putting up, the displays that they’re doing, but actually when I shop I feel like I’m really inspired creatively and it lifts my mood even if I’m not buying stuff.
How would you describe your own style, and is there a celebrity whose style you really envy?
I would call my style like casual-girly-chic. I always like to be comfortable but then I’m definitely girly, and I don’t know, you could say “chic” but I scratched that because I put the word “casual” in there, so yeah, casual-girly, I would definitely call my style that. Celebrities, I like a very wide variety of celebrities and there isn’t one celebrity that I am in love with like, “Oh, I wish I was like that.”
Is there a piece of clothing that you own that you couldn’t live without?
My pixie pants I think. They are basically like heavy duty leggings. It’s an excuse for me to not have to wear real pants, just being honest.
Is there a fashion trend you would never try? Or one you see and it just drives you crazy and not in a good way?
I don’t know about a fashion trend that drives me crazy. I’m really — this sounds really corny — I’m honestly just really big on people wearing what they like, and so a lot of times if I see something and I am not a fan of it, it doesn’t even really register because I’m just like, “Oh, that’s just not me!” I have a really hard time even remembering what kinds of things I don’t really like that people wear because I’m like, “That’s not me, but that’s them.” I just really think fashion is not a certain way that people should dress; I think it’s something that people should use to feel comfortable and more like themselves so they can go and do the things that they want to do in the world.
What is something people wouldn’t be able to guess about you from watching your videos?
I’d say people wouldn’t guess that I definitely feel — it’s funny I was talking about this with Dan too — I’d say people wouldn’t guess that I get afraid a lot. I was joking about — I was only half joking — that I want to get a tattoo one day that says “Don’t be afraid” because I always find that all these things that I want to do in life in general I get scared over doing everything and then I do it and then I find it wasn’t that big of a deal. It is always this huge ordeal in my head so probably a lot of people would be surprised about that just because how much I do and how much I put myself out there, but I get scared very easily and I really want to just continue to push past that and grow.
Was it nerve-wracking to be chosen for and move forward with the NextUp program?
I was nervous when I entered because I entered previously and I wasn’t chosen, and I really wanted to do it so I was definitely nervous about entering. But it’s actually funny: once I just did it I was fine because I realized, “Oh I was turned down before — it’s fine if they don’t pick me again!” But when I got the email that I was picked I was really, really excited, and I’d say, yeah, “excited” is probably the best word to describe it. It’s just been a fun, exciting process.
What are some things you’ve learned along the way making your own videos? And then some things you’ve learned specifically from NextUp?
Making my videos I’ve probably learned that personality and connection to people that goes over really well with what I’m doing and realizing more and more I have to be authentic. I’m learning to really go with my gut. And then in terms of NextUp, I was actually sick the first couple of days so the biggest thing I pulled was collaborations, which I’ve always been really big on collaborations, but hearing the data behind it and seeing all the different examples that they gave us like, “See, this is how important collaborations are. We can show you in numbers,” that has probably been the biggest thing. And then the other thing was kind of in the data and the analytics and messing with your channel from the back end for meta data. That was a really big thing too that I am not that great at, so that was really interesting.
Your channel inspires a lot of beauty inside and out from people — what are some moments when you feel the most beautiful?
I feel the most beautiful when I’m showered and clean and I get out of the shower clean and fresh. I’m in my sweats and I’m hanging out with my family, with my husband and my dogs. That is when I’m happy, and I think happiness is what makes me feel the most beautiful.
About the piece:
Out of YouTube’s thousands of creator channels, 30 promising creators are picked every season to participate in the YouTube NextUp Creator program — a sort of Hogwarts Academy for the very best of the YouTube best. They spend a week training at the YouTube Creator Space in Los Angeles, attending seminars, learning advanced filming techniques and interacting with some of the YouTube greats. In short, it’s a pretty cool honor. Since YouTube thinks they’re worthy, NMR thinks you should know about them.
So we’re featuring the Winter 2013 class of Nextup participants — 2 a day for the next 15 days. Learn about these fresh faces, love their content and then subscribe to their channels, because these are the next generation of YouTube innovators.
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