The number of beauty and fashion vloggers on YouTube can feel overwhelming. It's certainly an overssaturated market—from fans trying to find a platform for reviewing beloved products to people with massive followings creating real, viable careers. For 18-year-old Maddi Bragg, the rise to over 1 million subscribers to her beauty and lifestyle videos came with consistency. She started her channel when she was just 12 years old, experimenting with bold fashions that have only become bolder over time. With six years of regular updates under her belt, she's certainly a veteran in her field. PAPER spoke with Bragg about her starting her vlogging career so young, discovering her passion for makeup, and what makes her content a little bit different from the standard beauty video.
Your story starts with YouTube. When did you first make your channel? Do you remember making your first video?
I started when I was 12! I don't remember making my first video specifically, it was so long ago.
What made you decide to pick up YouTube in the first place?
I got really into makeup and I was always watching YouTube, so I just started showing people how I did my makeup in the morning. Then I started vlogging.
Was there a particular video that launched you into mega-fame? When did you first realize people were really responding to your videos?
My channel kind of grew over the years, there wasn't one viral video that did it. Three years ago people started recognizing me from my videos and it was the coolest feeling.
I like that you built two channels—madisenrosebeauty1 and Maddislifee—one to reflect your personal life, another for beauty, style tips and tutorials. Why did you want to keep these things separate? For most YouTubers, it seems like the two elements bleed into each other on one account.
I made a vlog channel because some of my fans who love beauty and fashion videos aren't necessarily the same as the people who love to watch vlogs. Sometimes I vlog on my main channel though. It depends!
How long have you been into fashion and beauty? Do you remember a particular moment when you got into both?
I've been into fashion and beauty for as long as I can remember.
When did you first start experimenting with makeup?
I started playing with makeup when I was about 12.
How do you decide what beauty or fashion tips you're going to do in a given day or week? Even early on in your career, you've been very eclectic—everything from how to style Doc Martens to Halloween makeup to what to wear to a Maroon 5 concert.
I give tips on whatever I'm feeling on that day. I do a variety of makeup and lifestyle videos to space it out, and I'm usually inspired by whatever's popular.
You also talk about fitness—what inspired you to include some health stuff in the kind of videos you make? And as a result, do you get a lot of comments or inquiries from people about body positivity? What are your thoughts on that?
I love working out and staying healthy and promoting body positivity. It's something I'm interested in, and people seem to like my videos about it. I think it's good inspiration.
One thing that has always made you stand out in teen style vlogging world is your love of piercings. When did you get your first? How many do you have now and what are they?
I have 12 piercings! Four on my left ear, five on my right ear, two on my nose, and one on my belly button. I got my first piercings on my earlobes when I was eight.
It's also interesting to see how your style changed—over time you've definitely become edgier, and your fans have stuck by you through the transition. It's a really great and beautiful thing—why do you think they've been so loyal?
My fans have grown up with me. My taste is always changing, and so are fashion trends, but I'm still the same person.
How consistently do you put videos out? I saw that you took a break for a couple of weeks earlier this fall—you said you were going through some stuff. How important is it to take some time for yourself? Most YouTubers I talk to will tell me they put out a video a week, but sometimes that's just not possible.
I make videos as often as I can. It's so important to take time for yourself though.
Tell me about your first fashion collaborations. When did brands first start reaching out to you?
About a year after I first started making videos I started to get emails from brands.
What's your relationship with Taco Bell?
I've just always been a huge fan of Taco Bell, and I got to work with them for the first time this year. I was so excited when they invited me to go to the Teen Choice Awards and promote their scholarship program.
I saw you recently collaborated with Forever 21. How did that come to be?
I've always been a fan of Forever 21. They reached out and asked if I'd like to model for them for a new line of clothes with the theme "borrowing from the boys," which was perfect for me since I love oversized shirts and that kind of thing.
I know you're close with fellow beauty vlogger Amanda Steele. How did you guys meet? Is it important to you to have friends who do something similar to what you do?
I have lots of vlogger friends. I get to meet so many cool YouTubers doing what I do, and it's awesome to collaborate with them and share ideas.
Because this is a teen-centric series, we want to know a little bit about your daily life. What do you do when you're not working? What TV shows and music are you digging right now?
I'm loving Black Mirror on Netflix and I've been playing the Weeknd's Starboy album non-stop.