If you are scrolling through YouTube as a woman of color, then you are bound to come across a GRWM (“get ready with me”) video by friends turned content creators “Kay & Kosh”. The YouTube channel, originally created by Calah and Asha, first began as an expressive outlet for two introverted teenagers from Georgia that slowly amassed a YouTube following of 200,000+ subscribers and several brand sponsorships just by being themselves. Based outside of the city of Atlanta, Calah and Asha teamed up routinely to shoot videos on real topics together before recently branching out to start new channels (peep their progress on Female Consumer Goods and AshaKosh). In this interview with BAUCE, Calah and Asha share what it has been like for them to be young digital influencers and how you can make it big on YouTube too.
What inspired you ladies to get into YouTube and vlogging? Whose idea was it and when did you shoot your first video?
Calah + Asha: We actually got the idea together spontaneously. It was almost heaven sent to the both of us like it was just meant to be. We were walking after school one day [after going to] the nail salon and we decided “Hey! Let’s do this!” and we immediately went home afterward and set everything up. We both were really interested in natural hair (we would do each other’s hair after school), we ran track together, and we had a few classes together at the time.
We shot our first video a couple weeks after that. We had no equipment at the time so we would tape our phones to the window and sit in front of it until we could afford to buy more things!
What was your family’s initial reaction to YouTube? Did they want you to do it or not want you to do it?
Calah: At first my family didn’t really understand me doing the whole YouTube thing. It took a minute for them to fully grasp me on camera being a career but they were supportive after the fact. When I first started I was much younger so my parents really just tried to make sure I was being safe and careful with the things I shared on social media with a growing following.
Asha: My family was cool about it. They didn’t know it would get this big though. They didn’t not want me to do it; I guess they were just happy to see me be passionate about something.
How did you two meet? What is it like being business partners with a close friend?
Calah + Asha: We met on the first day of high school in our first period class. Ironic right? Being business partners and close friends is super cool. Sometimes it definitely takes some getting used to because there are many different aspects that are immediately brought into the picture. So making sure we stay balanced is really important.
How would you describe each other’s personalities?
Calah: Asha is very bubbly and very straightforward. The straightforward part can be super funny at times because some of the bold things she would say in situations I probably wouldn’t so it’s super interesting to watch. I think we balance each other out with that part.
Asha: Calah is very much a breath of fresh air. She’s always so positive. She has great energy to be around. Calah’s super funny and always does the weirdest things. She very much a character on her own.
When did you realize that YouTube was actually becoming a business for you all? How many months did it take you to get “big”?
Calah + Asha: We realized YouTube was becoming a business not only after we started seeing the money coming in, but when we saw the number of emails we were getting from companies interested in working with us and sponsoring us. We also started receiving tax forms that we never got before so we completely had to learn the entire business aspect of it all. It actually took us a while to get big — it definitely didn’t happen overnight although it does feel like that sometimes. We started our channel about three to four years ago. We never had one specific video that took off and shot our following straight up. It was a slow process, but extremely worth it because we got the opportunity to learn so many different things.
In one of your videos, you ladies shared that you decided not to go to college and wanted to focus on YouTube full time. Is that still true? Why did you make that decision?
Calah + Asha: We chose not to go to college for a couple of reasons. We both weren’t 100% certain or set on what we exactly wanted to go to school for and we needed more self-discovery before paying that amount of money. Also, not being in school full-time not only has given us a ton of time to focus on our Youtube, but it has also given us time to figure out other business ventures that we want to branch out and explore. We have found different things that we like now that we didn’t necessarily realize beforehand. Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of time and is definitely a personal investment so this has given us the time to build a foundation. Now that our foundation is somewhat built, we definitely have been talking about going to school.
What is it like as young influencers? Did you ever get bullied by classmates or feel hated on for your early success?
Calah + Asha: Being young influencers was very odd at first. We definitely received some hate from classmates but we didn’t let that stop us. At first, getting the hate would be somewhat discouraging but we always had each other’s backs and made sure it didn’t affect one another so deeply. People will always have something to say when you’re doing something! I think the main thing that was totally different was making the amount of money we were making at such a young age. It definitely did put us ahead in financial aspects and felt really good being able to take care of things on our own at such a young age.
Which YouTubers do you look up to? Why?
Calah: The Youtubers I look up to are Alyssa Forever, Jamie + Nikki, and Shannon Boodram. They inspire me to put my 100% effort into the videos that I do. The quality of their content is so consistent and always something new to look forward to. They also portray a realistic lifestyle which makes it super relatable when watching.
Asha: I look up to Jackie Aina and ItsMyRayeRaye. They both are the definition of #blackgirlmagic; they also are very uplifting and funny. They both have launched successful makeup lines and that’s something I aspire to do.
Where would you like to see yourselves in five years? We’re going to have to hit you up in a few to see if these statements come true!
Calah: In five years I see myself with a house or maybe married and digging deeper into business. I see myself finding and discovering more pieces of myself. I would love to have a safe space for girls where I could have a “Girls Club” with a monthly membership. I see myself also doing something with interior design or architecture.
Asha: In five years I would like to see myself running a successful studio for Youtubers or photographers where they can have the tools to be great. I know when we were starting our YouTube channel, we didn’t have the money or camera equipment that we wanted. So I would be giving other people the chance to have great quality right away. I would also [host] classes and workshops there as well.
What is your advice for other young women who look up to you and want to do what you’re doing?
Calah: For young women that look up to us, I would say to find your niche and stick with it. It is extremely hard to find exactly where you want to be or where you want to go sometimes but it is even harder to get anywhere without a plan or blueprint. Try out different things, get your feet in the water. Not everything will work, somethings will, some won’t. Figure out your “why” and make sure you know why you’re doing a specific thing. Stay consistent with what you do, don’t ever let anyone talk you out of doing it and work on turning your vision into reality 100%.
Asha: My advice for young women that look up to us is to do whatever you want and never hold yourself back. If you want to be successful, you can’t just want it — you have to be actively doing whatever it takes to get there! If you want to be a YouTuber, don’t do it for the fame or the money. Do it because you want to and be yourself. There are so many people doing the same thing on YouTube, but what makes the big YouTubers big is their creativity, passion, and talent. These are things nobody can take away from you.