Banter With BluMaan: Talking Vlogging, Styling Meraki & David Beckham With Joseph Andrews
The hair vlogger shares the secrets of his success with MTV…
YouTube star BluMaan – aka Joseph Andrews – has joined the ranks of Zoella and Tanya Burr, by taking his grooming knowledge and dedicated following, and turning them into a tangible product. Launching his hair wax Original by BluMaan Styling Meraki earlier this year, Joseph received 10,000 pre-orders in just two weeks, allowing it to go into mass production.
We caught up with Joe to find out how the whole thing started, why he loves llamas so much, and what he plans to do next!
MTV Style: When did you start your YouTube channel and why did hair become your focus?
BluMaan: I started my YouTube channel during my gap year after I finished high school. I took a gap year because I wanted to gain some work experience – something that at the time I never had – and therefore moved from Tanzania, Africa (where I was going to school), to Virginia to live with my aunt and uncle. During my time with them I took on a part time job working at a toy store and spending the rest of my time babysitting their kids.
A few months down the line, I took a real interest in men’s hairstyles and hair products. I began watching tons of hair-related YouTube videos, which led me to discover a men’s hair product brand located in California called Hanz de Fuko. YouTube reviews and hairstyles created with HDF led me to purchase their newest product at the time: Claymation. I purposely chose this product because, at the time, no one on YouTube had created a review using Claymation, so I jumped on the opportunity and planned on creating the first review using HDF’s newest product.
Of course, I had 0 subscribers, as this was my first video. I uploaded the review purely for fun without expecting anything to really happen. However, the day after the upload, HDF found and featured it on their Facebook page resulting in a viewer bump. A few hours later, HDF sent a message inviting to fly me over to San Francisco to shoot a professional cut and style video with Daniel Alfonso. This absolutely blew my mind considering I had about 7 subscribers at this point and I of course enthusiastically accepted the opportunity.
A few months later, SlikHaar TV (Danish twins with the largest men’s fashion following) asked if I would like to make a few videos for their channel. Once again, I couldn’t believe the big opportunities I was getting, and immediately said yes. Since then, I’ve grown a deep appreciation for men’s hair and style, and thoroughly enjoy the fact that I get to make videos about it.
MTV Style: What trends have you found with your videos that are watched most? Is there a magic formula to a successful vlog?
BluMaan: People know me most for my hairstyle videos since these are the types of videos I started out with. Because of this it’s no surprise that my hair videos do best. To be more specific, linking a celebrity with a certain hairstyle usually does the absolute best, especially if that celebrity’s hairstyle is popular at the moment. The formula that seems to work best is simply providing 100% useful content within any given video.
I always try to include both entertainment and solid information in the videos that I make. Finding the balance between providing great information while still maintaining audience attention is something that I work very hard on doing. At the same time, I really enjoy mixing up the content I produce. I feel like if people don’t know what to expect exactly, it maintains a higher amount of interest. This is one of the reasons that I’ve started branching out into different areas of fashion, along with hair.
MTV Style: Which other vloggers do you watch personally?
BluMaan: I have a personal relationship with many of the male fashion YouTubers and always look to them for creative inspiration. Non-fashion YouTubers that I enjoy watching include NigaHiga, Tobuscus, devinsupertramp and a number of the British YouTubers.
MTV Style: Talk us through the process of how you got your own product, Original by BluMaan Styling Meraki, into production…
BluMaan: Ever since the beginning of my channel I always thought it would be really cool to have my own line of men’s hair products. However, this was always more of a fantasy than something that I thought could become a reality, since I had no idea how to go about starting such a big project. That being said, I received an email in October 2014 from my now business partner Ben Weir asking if I had ever thought about making my own line. I learned a bit more about him and since then we have both worked together very hard on creating a community based product. His skills are very business focused, where mine lean more towards the creative side, and this contrast has proven to work very well together.
We started by asking my subscribers what they were looking for in a hair product and after reading hundreds of responses we went to work to figure out how to make said product. After spending months trying to find a manufacturer, we stumbled across a lab that was able to live up to the standard we were looking for. We made eight revisions of our product before we were happy with the final outcome, which is now known as Original by BluMaan Styling Meraki. I found the word ‘meraki’ by simply typing “cool words” into Google (no shame in admitting it), and scrolling through a few different websites. What stuck out specifically was the meaning behind ‘meraki’, a Greek word that meant ‘to put so much effort into something that you leave a piece of your soul in your work’. This happened to be very fitting, since this was a community project, and we took advice from so many people. Taking a ‘piece’ of what everyone had to offer.
MTV Style: What was the best thing about seeing the finished product?
BluMaan: It felt like forever between starting this project and actually finishing it. The best thing about actually completing this project is to see in the physical what Ben and I have been imagining and thinking of for so many months now. We are both very proud of our first hair product and plan to have more added to the BluMaan line in the future! After running pre-orders for two weeks we managed to sell roughly 10,000 jars, and with those funds we’re now in the process of mass-producing Original by BluMaan. The fact that we were able to reach these numbers leaves both of us hopeful for the future to come.
MTV Style: If you could have any celebrity use Original by BluMaan, who would it be, and why?
BluMaan: If I could pick any celebrity to use Original, I’d go with David Beckham. The main reason for this is because he is such a huge inspiration in the men’s fashion industry right now. If he were to use Styling Meraki then you’d know without a doubt it’s good stuff!
MTV Style: What do you hope to achieve in the hair/grooming/vlogging business next?
BluMaan: For short-term goals, I would like to add more products to our line. We have one right now and I have a vision for an additional six or seven products at least. Long term, I would like the BluMaan brand to become independent from my YouTube channel and take off at a global level without the need of my face behind the product. I’m sure there is a lot to do between now and then, but Ben and I will continue to work hard.
MTV Style: Where did your love of llamas come from?
BluMaan: Llama’s are super strange, I mean look at their jaw when they eat… They’re hilarious.
MTV Style: You've lived in a lot of places. Where do you want to go next?
BluMaan: The great thing about YouTube is that it can be done from anywhere that has an internet connection. I’ve lived in many places in the past and I don’t have a specific location that I would like to end up in. Going with the flow has always been my motto and I’m happy to continue living without knowing where I’m going to end up next!