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#NoFilter with Kandee Johnson

By The247

The247: Both YouTube and the beauty industry have changed so much over time. What has it been like for you to be part of the two?

Kandee: Before, when YouTube first started out, people were still getting their facts of beauty only from beauty editors and magazines. Nobody knew how to use a large majority of products, there were not the number of beauty companies and brands there are today. So you had limited knowledge with a limited selection. And it's so interesting to be a part of the transition. (Beauty companies) were just using paid ads. Now (they’re) focusing on influencers or focusing on social media campaigns. And even the birth of YouTube. It's so crazy because I remember when I did it and nobody was really watching YouTube regularly for anything. Even my friends, some family, peers, everybody just thought it was a joke, you know? And they were like, “Oh, you're still doing that little YouTube thing. Are you still doing those little videos?” The word YouTuber wasn't used, “beauty guru” hadn't been coined. There were so many of these things (I got) to watch change later.

What was your initial vision for your channel, and did it change? Do you feel like you accomplished what you set out to do?

Kandee: When I posted my first video, I think I had a goal that I wanted a hundred people to watch it. And I don't think people really know how much time it takes to make YouTube videos. It's like you're putting on a TV show, but you're also the creative director, the producer coming up with all the props you need to have ordered. When I started, I didn't even know how you got footage from a camera onto a computer. So I had to Google how to do everything.

From that point, it's definitely exceeded my expectations. I had no idea when I started out doing this. No idea that I would ever be asked to do a voice in a Trolls movie with Justin Timberlake. I had no idea I would have products on store shelves nationwide. There would be commercials of me all over the country. I had no idea I would get a TV show. I mean it's so crazy to me, from my little humble beginnings - I had no idea where my YouTube was gonna go.

You keep up with your channels and have done so many beauty product collaborations in the past. Would you ever launch your own beauty line?

Kandee: I am such a perfectionist. And I care so much about things. I just don't want to throw out any cheap or easily-done thing just to make a dollar, you know? And I've had other brands offer to do my own little mini-line with them. And I was like, I think I really would want whatever I do to be the absolute very best. And for me to have as much control over that. I would never just put my name on it. It just feels like this very dear and precious thing would have to be so perfect and so great and done so well and not disposable.

You’ve taken some breaks from YouTube. How hard is it to have that time away, knowing that your audience wants more from you?

Kandee: Back when I was YouTubing and posting two blogs a day, I had people saying “I don't know what I would do without your blog posts every day. They really get me through.” The responsibility that you feel when you have an audience that says that - you do not want to let them down. You feel like if they're going through a hard time, you want what you're writing or encouraging or entertaining them to not be there for them that day. And especially hearing as many stories as I have of helping people through very, very traumatic and hard times, you do feel a sense of obligation. And then in some moments, you're just not able - you have nothing to give.

Since you started YouTubing, Instagram and TikTok have also become major players in the beauty tutorial space. Have you felt some kind of pressure to keep up with new platforms to stay relevant?

Kandee: It's very interesting because I've seen other platforms come and go. So I've always advised people, just be careful. You know, when Vine came around, I remember seeing friends, seeing people blow up. They were getting 15-20 million followers on this platform in weeks. It was just crazy. I saw them getting Lamborghinis, renting big mansions to live in, and all these crazy things. And then I also saw the collapse of that, and I saw them scrambling to get on other platforms to try to maintain what they had going everywhere.

Sometimes what you get really fast can also leave you very quickly. I know the momentum of cranking out that much video, that much content - they're gonna get burned out at a very quick rate.

Who are some beauty creators that inspire you now?

Kandee: I would say as far as TikTok goes, I think Mikayla Nogueira (@mikaylanogueira) - she just came out the gates with what old-YouTube had. It was passion, excitement, relatability, just the realness, like your real friend. And I really like her genuine heart and sincerity that she has. It feels, I would say, like a breath of fresh 2009 air.

You’ve talked about how YouTube was more of a happy place when you started out. Can you explain that a little more, and how you feel you've maintained that happy place within your channel?

Kandee: It was such a happy place because the internet was so fresh. It was so new. People were just there that loved makeup, or loved whatever it was. It hadn't been filled with gossip and drama. There was a lot more pure intent going on. And then as you know, time goes on with anything. Sometimes there's like the heyday and the highlight of something being really good, and then it just becomes a different place than it used to be. There was like camaraderie, there was fun between other creators. Later the methods people were using to gain popularity or gain followers were not as authentic or genuine. There have been situations where I probably could have gained traction from the drama of a situation. And people said, “Oh, you should make a video about that. It would get so many views.” And I could have done that and I could have gotten millions of views, you know, but I don't want to do that. I don't wanna be the benchmark that draws anybody down. I always think people can change. I hopefully give them the benefit of the doubt that they will be better, kinder, wonderful people or grow.

For my channel, I think whether it's YouTube or Instagram, I always want that to be a soft landing for people. I don't want it to ever be something where people go and they feel bad.

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