To be able to say that you’ve been an influencer for almost half of your life is a feat — even for digitally native Gen Zers.
Multihypenate Amanda Steele, 22, has spent 12 years creating content for social channels including YouTube and also boasts the titles of fashion brand founder of Steele and working actress.
“Most of my success came from me doing it so early,” said Steele, of her influencer career. “When it gets overly saturated, whatever platform you’re using, it’s just hard to get your content seen.”
Steele, who launched her YouTube channel in 2011 with dreams to become a fashion designer, branched into makeup as the beauty industry took over social media. Now, as the founder of her own clothing line, Steele — which she describes as “model-off-duty style” — her aspirations in fashion have come full circle. The line includes “leather pants, so it’s edgy and sophisticated,” along with blazers and baggy jeans.
“It’s not super trendy,” said Steele. “But you can walk into a business meeting or you can go out with your friends or get brunch, all in the same outfit.”
Most recently, the creator has branched off into the acting world, starring in “Paradise City” on Amazon Prime. But this doesn’t undermine the power of social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, where she has about 6 million cumulative followers.
“YouTube will always be there,” said Steele. “TikTok is where our brains are at right now, the short-form content. But now we have Reels, and we can do that on Instagram, too.”
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity
The importance of work
“What I’ve learned in this industry, overall, [is that] people are more likely to help you if you’re putting in the work. I made mistakes when I was younger, meeting with brands and not knowing the business very well, where I’d say, ‘Oh, I’m here. Make things happen for me.’ Now that I’m older, I understand. I put in all the work designing the first collection. [My] No. 1 tip is to work hard, research and be prepared.”
TikTok try-on hauls for the win
“Our last launch did so well. Normally, we have content shoot days, where we get a bunch of content together to promote the launch. But I didn’t like the format [for that launch]. It was like, ‘Oh, these are ‘natural’ Instagram posts that we want you to do, but it’s gonna be recorded by a professional videographer and a professional photographer.’ For this launch, I [said], ‘Can you let me try to do this on my own? Trust me a bit.’ And it was the most natural thing. I sat on my floor and filmed a try-on TikTok haul. It was natural. That worked out a lot better for me. It’s a little bit of both; I do need to have full production for my YouTube channel, because that takes so much work that I don’t have time to do. But if I’m posting and promoting my brand, [content where I’m] being as natural, just relaxed and organic as possible does the best.”
Gen Z’s poster child
“From the outside, what people would see is that I am the poster child for Gen Z. Maybe not, because now these younger TikTok stars [are] super Gen Z vibes. And I don’t completely relate to them, because it’s different.… They have TikTok and they have the short-form content. That’s all they know; they always had the phone, they always had social media. Where, when I started, it was, ‘OG YouTube’ — we had YouTube. I remember Twitter being made. It’s a different world than what I had lived in and I grew up in. But I definitely think the values that I have [are the values they have,] regarding chasing your goals, [believing] anything can happen, putting yourself out there online and talking about your passions. I have the job that a lot of Gen Zers now say that they want to have when they grow up.”