Emma Chamberlain’s Great Awakening – Forbes

The 22-year-old YouTube sensation made $20 million last year from her eponymous coffee brand — meet the creator who’s full of surprises.

When Emma Chamberlain started her YouTube channel in 2017, she had no intention of becoming an Internet phenomenon — let alone the multimedia mogul she is today. But through hundreds of videos, the 22-year-old content creator and influencer has transformed before the eyes of viewers: “Pulling an all-nighter” from a teenager to a sophisticated travel and fashion documentary, telling us: “We all owe the dollar. Save the apology.”

His vlogging over the past seven years has made Chamberlain one of the most influential people of his generation. With over twelve million subscribers on YouTube and 15 million followers on Instagram, he earned around US$20 million last year, according to Forbes estimates. Her fame gives her opportunities outside of social media: she’s been the face of Louis Vuitton, Lancôme and Cartier, and painted “Emma-verse” among other luxury brands.

Despite living in a grotesque world lately, Chamberlain somehow maintains her girl-next-door persona. While most of his followers will never attend the fashion shows in Milan and Paris or document the preparations for the prestigious Met Gala in New York, Chamberlain’s authenticity is what Generation Z craves.

He uses this connection with his generation, along with his huge fan base, to scale his start-up Chamberlain Coffee. “I’m a home barista just like the rest of us,” says Chamberlain, who is on the 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 list. “Coffee can often feel very intimidating – what inspired me was how I could create a brand that defied that feeling.”

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When it comes to campaign images, Chamberlain Coffee puts aesthetics first.

Chamberlain Coffee Founded in 2019 with the help of UTA Ventures (United Talent Agency) and has raised $15 million in funding from investors including Blazar Capital and Volition Capital. Products range from coffee grounds to matcha powder to the recently introduced ready-to-drink tin lattes. From 2022 to 2023, the company’s sales almost doubled; Forbes estimated it at $7 million last year. “I’ve always been interested in the production of coffee, so I had this vision and thought, ‘Hopefully I’m qualified to do this,'” Chamberlain says.

Chamberlain grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. The summer before his freshman year of high school, he was struggling with his mental health and failed his driver’s test (which made things worse), so he started a YouTube channel as “Escape.” She started with videos about fashion and beauty, which she described as “primitive and elegant”, but soon got tired of this style and decided to create a platform that would entertain viewers in a new way.

“It was then My main goal is to have fun. It became this art form for me,” says Chamberlain. She asked herself, “How can I make this world as interesting as possible?” She soon developed her signature editing style – lots of quick cuts, zoom-ins, warp filters and voiceovers; She was able to comment on the scenes from the comfort of her bed. In 2018, a year after announcing (via a YouTube video) that he had dropped out of high school, Chamberlain reached one million subscribers, moved to Los Angeles on his own, and began building a team to take his career to the next level. condition. In 2019, he was invited to the Louis Vuitton show at Paris Fashion Week, and a year later started the podcast “Anything Goes”, which landed him a multi-year deal with Spotify.

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Now, after a year of taking it easy on YouTube and returning to more documentary-style videos, he’s gearing up to return to the site in full force. “I’m rebuilding my relationship with YouTube and trying to find a way to make my content healthy and entertaining,” he says. “I realized I had a passion for video content.” She will continue to create content to promote Chamberlain Coffee: “It’s always been a passion of mine; even before I started YouTube,” she says of the coffee industry. says Chamberlain.

As the company grows

Chamberlain’s role has also evolved: “I’m very interested in every part of it,” he says — including designing retail and distribution strategies and interviewing potential team members.

However, his expertise is still in creative, and he is passionate about shaping the brand’s voice to appeal to Generation Z. “When it comes to campaign images, Chamberlain Coffee prioritizes aesthetics,” he says, adding that he wants his ads to look “like they came out of a fashion magazine.” While social media and online marketing are the company’s main growth drivers, retail is taking on a new focus: Chamberlain coffee bags will first appear at luxury grocer Erewhon in Los Angeles in 2021, followed by Sprouts in 2022; Ready-to-drink lattes were introduced in April 2023 in a six-month trial at Walmart. Based on buyer feedback, they were brought back into the lineup and last December they were released more widely with a revamped late formula. In April this year, Chamberlain Coffee signed a deal to sell ready-to-drink cans (in flavors like vanilla, cinnamon roll, salted caramel and mocha) at 800 targeted locations.

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Despite their enormous success As an influencer, Chamberlain isn’t obsessed with being a celebrity. But she’s excited to continue collaborating with other brands from the entertainment industry — this year, Chamberlain Coffee teamed up with Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila to serve espresso martinis with her signature cold brew at a Coachella pop-up. Next, he will focus on establishing Chamberlain Coffee’s position among the plant-based and health-conscious population, launching several new campaigns this spring.

Despite her meteoric career, Chamberlin’s biggest challenge is not letting mistakes discourage her. “There will be ups and downs – sometimes a lot of nonsense,” he says in a very down-to-earth way. And: “You know what you gotta do? You gotta put on your big girl pants and get going!

Emma Chamberlain, born in 2001, is an American content creator, influencer, and entrepreneur who first rose to fame through her YouTube channel. He founded Chamberlain Coffee in 2020.

Text: Alex York
Photos: Jamel Taubin for Forbes

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