‘If You’re Not Top Tier They Don’t Care About You’: Plus Model in the Making Shaqita Calls StyleHaul Out [INTERVIEW]

Shaqita, curator and star of the Plus Model in the Making channel on YouTube, recently uploaded a fiery video regarding her former network partners Stylehaul. Colorfully reenacting her perceived treatment at the hands of the largest beauty network on YouTube, Shaqita intends for her video to be a cautionary tale for other creators. Craftily calling them “StyleMaul,” Shaqita details how she was a cog in their system, neglected and passed from one rep to another in a revolving door system of executives and handlers until her contract finally ended and she was free to strike out on her own.

It is certainly not the first instance of a creator being disappointed with their MCN of choice. The most contentious split so far has likely been Ray William Johnson’s acrimonious break with Maker Studios, but there have been several creators at all levels who have jumped ship or struck out on their own.

The main takeaway from all of these conflicts seems to be: consider your contracts carefully. Also be aware that you have to look out for your own interests at every step of the game. Increasingly though, not even that advice seems like it’s enough to keep inexperienced creators away from bottom-line driven MCNs.

I watched the video where you said anybody could get picked up by “StyleMaul,” but how did you specifically get involved with them?

Shaqita: In 2010, I began to make more fashion-related content on my YouTube channel. I was an aspiring model passionate about fashion and loved the camera lens. Eventually, after my channel reached a good amount of views, during that time I was contacted by StyleMaul for a partnership. I was unfamiliar with StyleMaul but they convinced me they were the only and the best fashion network on YouTube. They backed up these claims by flaunting the popular signed channels they had (like trophies) and giving the impression if you were signed with them your channel would grow to the same magnitude as theirs. They persuaded me to believe the reason why the BubsBeauty’s were so successful was mainly because they had their team on their side and they would be on mine as well.

So after drilling them with numerous questions — via phone because they would never want to respond by email so you can have their lies on record — I signed.

What was so bad about your experience that you’re now embarking on a global tour to expose them?

Everything. From the continuous change in staff, forever waiting on email responses, unreturned calls, being looped in circles, discrimination, fake opportunities, empty promises, breaching on contract, I don’t know where to start!

When you are first signed to your “Community Manager” they convey such interest in your channel. They speak of all these opportunities you’re never going to get and assure you that “eventually” you will. So … you wait … and wait. You do a lot of maze traveling while your community manager is directing you to the nearest exit. They’re like con artists; they B.S. you enough to possibly believe they might be working on your team but in reality they are just trying to handle as many calls as they can from hopeful channels like yours, so they can go home on time.

Branding, sponsorships, collaborations opportunities all promised verbally but I never receive one of these after two years plus of being signed. Channel support doesn’t happen unless it affects your channel’s ads, which equals their paychecks (aka the revenue they take from your channel).

How has the smear campaign been going so far? Have you heard anything from “StyleMaul”?

I don’t know if I would reference it as a “smear” campaign; I’m simply speaking the truth, but if it comes off like that so be it. The video has been doing well and creating a lot of discussion, which is great. If I could just help one person not get suckered into a contract that isn’t in their favor, I would be satisfied with that. And no, I have not heard from StyleMaul and do not care for their response.

Why did you change the name of the company to “StyleMaul”? Do you think they’d sue you otherwise?

I wanted people to be able to see this video without false defamation of character claims. I’m simply exercising my first amendment rights. If anyone should be sued it wouldn’t be the one who didn’t breach their contract.

Is it easier to be an independent or with a MCN?

Sadly, it makes little difference being signed with a network or independent. Since being signed with that network they haven’t done anything for me. I grew my channel without ANY help. So if you are signed to a network like theirs, the only difference would be the amount of your own channel’s earnings you get to keep.

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