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Emma Chamberlain revolutionized YouTube by being herself — and now she’s building an empire

Gibson Johns
·5-min read

Tune into We Should Talk every Thursday, where In The Know’s Gibson Johns interviews celebrities and shares his thoughts on big cultural moments. Follow We Should Talk on Spotify here.

Emma Chamberlain revolutionized YouTube just by being herself, and she’s well on her way to conquering other industries as well.

The 19-year-old creator burst onto the YouTuber scene in 2017 and has since racked up nearly 10 million subscribers on the video platform, cultivating a loyal following of people who find her unvarnished approach to vlogging to be ultra-relatable.

During a recent interview on In The Know’s “We Should Talk” with Gibson Johns, Chamberlain revealed that she originally started her YouTube channel as a way to push back against influencers pretending to lead perfect lives and to give fellow teenage girls something realistic to watch instead.

Listen to Emma Chamberlain’s interview on In The Know’s “We Should Talk” below:

“I started it with no goal in mind, and then after a little bit of trial and error, I was like, ‘Oh, wait. Okay, I know what my goal is now.’ It took me a second or it to click. With YouTube, I felt like there was a lack of honesty from the other girls my age on the internet,” she told In The Know. “I’m not saying there wasn’t anybody, but the people that I grew up watching and the people that I was watching, I felt like everybody was trying to create this false narrative of their life.”

“It was such a trend at the time I started to make it look like you have the perfect morning routine and the perfect makeup routine and that your skin always looks good, and it made me feel really bad growing up watching that,” Chamberlain explained. “It made me feel so alone and nor normal, in a sense.”

“But, I realized: You know what? That’s what people need to see. People need to see the truth and they need to see what being a teen girl is really like. People want to see that because then they can relate and they feel safe and comfortable,” she went on. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be what I wish I had when I was younger. Someone who would make me feel good and not alone and feel like I had a friend in the screen.’ I wanted that!”

For Chamberlain, that meant documenting everyday moments like driving and hanging out with friends and burping and going to the bathroom. It meant not being perfectly made up and having messy hair and not always caring about what she’s wearing. It meant pushing back against the ideals pushed upon young women by society so that her young followers could realize that, no, they don’t have to subscribe to those standards.

“It just didn’t feel like there was enough intimacy on the internet, and I wanted that,” Chamberlain told ITK. “I was like, ‘I’m just gonna be me, whether that’s cute or not, I’m gonna be that.'”

Since growing her following not just on YouTube but also on Instagram and TikTok — and anywhere else people are posting content these days — the world has taken notice: Time put her on its Time 100 Next List, she was named the 2018 Streamy Awards’ Breakout Creator and she’s worked with huge fashion brands like Louis Vuitton and the CFDA.

Chamberlain also started her own company last year, turning her much-noted obsession with coffee into its own brand, Chamberlain Coffee. During her interview for “We Should Talk” promoting the company’s new line of bends, Chamberlain told In The Know that she took a very similar approach to starting the company that she did to starting her YouTube channel: In essence, cutting through the bullshit.

“I’ve always been a huge coffee drinker, since I was way too young. I have so many amazing memories associated with coffee — going to cafes with my dad, stuff like that — so it’s a very intimate thing for me. It started where I wanted to start the company just because I wanted to be a part of that. As we’ve grown the company, it became more than that to me,” she said. “It was more like, ‘Where is there a gap in this coffee world that I can fill?’ I’ve always felt like that. I felt like that with YouTube, as well. I wanted to create a coffee brand that was a little bit more inviting and a little bit more honest and a little bit more colorful and more fun.”

“I was like, ‘You know what? Where’s the coffee brand that doesn’t care? Like, that is just straight to the point: Good coffee, no covering up any weird B.S.’ I wanted to be the coffee brand [for] young adults that are starting to get into coffee. I wanted them to feel like they can come to Chamberlain Coffee, where they know they can get an honest experience and the information is easy to understand,” she added. “I want that experience for my generation.”

Watch Emma Chamberlain’s full interview on In The Know’s “We Should Talk” below, and check out Chamberlain Coffee here:

If you enjoyed this article, check out In The Know’s recent interview with YouTube’s Patrick Starrr and Olivia Culpo here.

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