Nia Wellman is a true influencer in every sense of the word. As a teenager, she united her skill for black hairstyling, her experience building an audience on YouTube, and her natural ambition to become a beauty vlogger. She teaches her 100K+ subscribers how to care for and be proud of their natural colors and textures. She’s also utilized her social media platform to build a campus organization that encourages students to take pride in their bodies and serve their communities. This is one boss babe whose influence won’t be disappearing any time soon.
College: Hampton University
Major: Strategic Communication
Expected Graduation Year: Spring 2019
What inspired you to start your own YouTube channel?
I started doing YouTube in middle school with my older cousin Jade by making silly rap videos and vlogs of us being crazy. Once I started wearing my hair curly I would turn to YouTube for inspiration until I became as good and knowledgeable as the people I would watch. When I entered high school and began getting questions about my hair, I started using YouTube as my creative outlet. I posted hair and makeup tutorials, short documentaries about being black and the issues that dark-skinned women face, along with videos of me simply talking about being a lesbian and other important topics. Creating videos essentially allowed me to use my voice in ways I didn’t know would impact myself and others on such a large scale. In a nutshell, what inspired me to create content on YouTube is that I wanted to put my voice out there, no matter how weird it might seem, because I knew somebody would understand me.
How do you hope, as a content creator on YouTube, to inspire other young black women and men?
I hope that my content allows young black men and women (and, honestly, anyone else who watches me) to embrace the talents they have to create their own lane. We get so caught up in worrying about the next person, or if a field that we’re interested in is oversaturated, but there’s no such thing as oversaturation when you’re being true to yourself. I also hope that my content inspires people to always seek opportunities for growth through education, and not even necessarily traditional education. I think it’s important that we always continue to learn, because you can never know too much.
What inspired you to start Campus Curlz Inc?
Luckily for me, I’ve known how to manage and style my hair since I was 11. However, a lot of black women don’t have that luxury because they’ve had relaxers or texturizers since a young age, or they feel like their hair is unmanageable. When I saw how my YouTube tutorials were being used as teaching tools for others, I thought, why not utilize my knowledge and network into something bigger than myself? So when my co-founder and I started Campus Curlz at Hampton University in 2017, we wanted to ensure that it was an organization that would provide growth, resources and support to not only our members, but to our colleges and the neighboring communities as well.
How has social media been beneficial in expanding Campus Curlz?
Social media has been extremely beneficial to the growth of Campus Curlz. Initially, a decent amount of our chartering members in 2017 discovered Campus Curlz through the vlogs I would post on my YouTube channel about Hampton University’s service opportunities and events. Our strategic use of social media has also grabbed the attention of new members, and has aided our expansion across the U.S.
What were some of the hardest parts in starting your own YouTube channel, and even your own organization?
As I mentioned earlier, it can be discouraging to see others doing similar things to what you’re doing. because you might see them as competition, but it’s super important to understand that we’re all talented in our own special way. Once you focus on doing what you do best, everything else will come easily. Also, consistency has been hard for me since I’m active in other organizations along with other business ventures, plus friends, school, traveling and just life in general. I’ve also realized that I can’t necessarily do business with everyone because everyone isn’t as dedicated to things as I am. When running an organization, business or anything else, you must be cognizant of how you pick your team.
What would you consider your greatest achievement to be thus far?
My greatest achievement thus far has been attending Harvard Business School’s Summer Venture in Management Program, a one-week residential program for rising seniors. I was hesitant to apply because although I’m an entrepreneur I haven't taken many business classes, and honestly I didn’t think I would get in because it was at Harvard. Attending this program allowed me to stop believing that I’m undeserving of being in particular spaces and to let my voice and knowledge do the talking.
What advice would you give to other young women of color looking to start their own YouTube career or organization?
GO FOR IT! You can literally sit around for days, weeks, months and even years saying you want to do something, but never actually do it because you don’t think it’s your time, you don’t have the resources, or you’re scared of what others might say. All of those are simply excuses. Nothing will ever be perfect, and you might not have it all together in the beginning, but as long as you have a vision and you plan on being dedicated to your dreams, the sky is truly the limit.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Determined, dedicated, hardworking, resilient, and eclectic.
Carissa Dunlap is a Her Campus News X Social Intern for Summer 2018. She is a current Publishing major and Journalism minor at Emerson College (Class of 2020). When she isn't perusing the YA bookshelf at the bookstore, she can be found watching dog videos on Facebook, at her favorite coffee shops, or relaxing on the beach. Follow her on Instagram @dunlapcarissa or Twitter @Caridunlap.