At 16, Amanda Steele epitomizes Gen Y’s modus operandi, which can be summed up as: Why not?
Before many of her peers have learned how to drive or clocked in their first job, the teen from California’s Orange County has attended two seasons of New York Fashion Week, designed sunglasses with Quay Australia and appeared in an online reality series called “The Social Life.”
Steele’s industriousness, along with the hundreds of makeup videos she’s posted on her six-year-old YouTube channel titled MakeupbyMandy24, has inspired her legion of fans, who number more than 807,000 on Twitter, 324,400 on Facebook, 2.6 million on Instagram and 3.4 million on YouTube.
“I’m 16 and can’t even finish my homework on time,” noted one admirer after viewing the edgy video Steele made to promote her $60 tinted mirrored aviators with Quay.
Steele, who resembles a baby Kate Upton, has another project to motivate other teen girls — or at least get them to shop. On Monday she’s making her modeling debut in a hot pink maillot decorated with turquoise seashells, a tan fringed jacket and 10 other looks in Boohoo.com’s new spring campaign. She’s the latest social media influencer to team with the British fast-fashion retailer, which is opening a two-week pop-up shop on Los Angeles’ Abbot Kinney Boulevard on April 1. Her fans approve: a photo of her in a green cutout swimsuit on set generated some 133,000 likes in the first day it was posted on Instagram.
While on break from the photo shoot earlier this week at the rainbow-colored Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs, Calif., Steele shared her thoughts on trying new fashion and beauty trends, packing for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and building her personal brand.
WWD: How did you get started on YouTube?
AMANDA STEELE: I started my YouTube when I was 10. I was into makeup. I watched a bunch of other beauty gurus on YouTube. I got obsessed with it. I thought it would be fun for me to try it out.
WWD: Describe your style.
A.S.: My style is very sleek and monochromatic. I don’t like to put myself into categories. My style is always evolving. I like to try new things, too. One day I like to wear something bohemian and another day I wear edgy. I always wear black and gray.
WWD: What kind of fashion and makeup looks are you trying for spring?
A.S.: I really like tan. I have this bomber jacket. When I went to fashion week — the one before — there were a lot of tans and fringe and neutral colors. It was the Seventies trend. For makeup, I’m really liking natural, glowing makeup with a pop of color, like blue eye shadow on your eye. It’s superfun. … Definitely I experiment with my makeup all the time. I’m into trying new things [like] blue eye shadow. I would try out orange lips and something fun. I would definitely try not to have a bright eye and a bright lip.
WWD: Are you planning for Coachella already?
A.S.: Last Coachella I went to, I had the best time. This will be better. I’m having fun picking out my outfits.
WWD: What do you like about Coachella?
A.S.: I love the fashion. I love how laid-back it was. The weather was hotter. It’s a specific style for Coachella you don’t see anywhere else.
WWD: What are your fans looking for in terms of fashion and beauty?
A.S.: I think they’re looking for what they can wear to school every day and a way to be different and stand out and be unique and still be a teenager. I think that works for me a lot. I can give them a lot of help. I was the same exact way when I was in public school. I didn’t know what to wear.
WWD: Talk about the ad campaign. How did you collaborate with Boohoo.com on the creative process?
A.S.: We had a fitting yesterday. We tried on all the outfits. We went over what we liked and didn’t like. We picked shoes together. I had some input. I picked out the things I felt comfortable in. I thought that would make my pictures look great….We’re shooting at this hotel and it’s superbright. It’s easy to get into the vibe. It’s warm outside and you’re at a pool….The vibe we’re going for is really easy.
WWD: Did you have a favorite look from the photo shoot?
A.S.: A black dress is so my style. It’s all connected. It’s a tube top and a matching pencil skirt and a choker that went around it. It is superchic and something I would wear on the red carpet.
WWD: How was your experience working with Quay Australia? Would you do more fashion projects in the future?
A.S.: I did sunglasses with Quay. That was the first thing where I had my input on. Yeah, I also feel like I want to make my own things, completely design and produce on my own, because I feel like I want to have as much creative control as I can. I want my own personal piece and my vision and how I want it. I hope it’s soon. I still need to learn the industry and make sure I do it all right. I don’t want to rush things.
WWD: Are you taking fashion design classes?
A.S.: I’m not. But maybe when I graduate high school I will. I’m always learning every day….Being on set like this, I’m always learning new things.
WWD: I know you’re only 16, but do you have a dream project?
A.S.: I really, like, would like to make my own brand. I would like to make my own personal brand as big as it can be.
WWD: What’s your advice for young people who want to start their own YouTube channel?
A.S.: I would say to be themselves. That’s what people are attracted to on YouTube. If you’re different and yourself, no one is like you.