Redefining Beauty on Social Media — How Jellysmack Changed the Conversation

Jellysmack
5 min readFeb 16, 2022

The rise of social media has democratized the publication of beauty content, while the mainstream press’s unrealistic standards remain uncontested. Certain kinds of bodies, faces, and looks have been lauded, and others shamed. Technologies like Photoshop have only served to make flawlessness a prerequisite for publication. Platforms have become tools of social comparison — especially for young people, just as they’re stepping into their identities as adults.

Enter Jellysmack, the global creator company. We knew that the industry could do better, that we could do better. And so, we set out to create beauty content that would cater to a more diverse, more real audience. Four years later, we’ve partnered with multiple viral beauty creators and big-name brands and have some of the most successful beauty channels in the world.

How it grew

Let’s rewind: 2017. Paula Layoun was hired as a video editor and director. It was a small team back then, so she did a little bit of everything, including writing and research. Her team managed UGC (User Generated Content) for beauty influencers, optimizing their content and creating compilations. After working with established creators, Jellysmack decided to launch its beauty channels, and Paula was tasked with developing the original shows that have now become staples.

The first step? She looked into what was already on the market and “found overperforming trends in certain categories. Hacks, tips, and awe-inspiring makeup and hair transformations” all made a list. The challenge was to draw inspiration from the viral content without falling into clickbait territory. “Tips” became Beauty Hacks and everything “awe-inspiring” Beauty Wow.

Each episode of Hacks, for example, is based on the solution to a beauty woe (acne, visible bra straps, etc.), and models reflect the full spectrum of body types and come from diverse backgrounds. “The goal is for the models to represent real social media users,” says Joanna Thevenot, Lead Content Strategist at Jellysmack. Paula’s determination to keep the hacks on point even led to hiring beauty consultant Marine Defray (who has since become a Producer). “We give real advice that is both useful and entertaining,” says Paula. It’s never just content for content’s sake.

And, hiring Marine was just the beginning. As the channels grew, more staff came on board. Joanna joined the company in 2018 as a Community Manager. Back then, being a CM meant writing, editing, scheduling, publishing — the whole nine yards. “It was nice to try my hand at everything,” she says. “I learned a lot on the job.”

The team was churning out videos different from the standard social network fare. The copy was written to speak to audiences directly, in the signature chill Jellysmack style. The content itself challenged ingrained beauty standards, showing a wide spectrum of models from all walks of life, genders, sizes, and nationalities and addressing beauty concerns that had often gone under the radar.

Paula and Joanna were soon promoted to managerial positions. With more staffing to strategize and more experience in putting content out there, Jellysmack fine-tuned its voice. Trends continued to serve as a springboard for ideas, but the message of beauty for everyone became the guiding force and sparked the creation of two new channels.

Boys Do It Too and Crowned Ladie’s address niche communities that have often been excluded from mainstream content. The first, men who are passionate about makeup and beauty, often including drag queen transformations. The second is beauty designed for black women, including wigs, braiding, makeup, skincare, etc. The welcome video on Crowned Ladies is a fascinating look at how black women used hairstyles for survival during times of oppression. It drives the point home that beauty is not only aesthetic; it is also social commentary and history.

For Joanna, working on the beauty channels is more than a job. It’s a passion, a way for her to “express herself artistically.” She’s been a beauty enthusiast for as long as she can remember. But, she readily admits that it’s “been difficult to find people who look like her” in the online beauty space. So, naturally, she takes pride in helping foster safe spaces for diverse communities. On a lighter note, she also confesses to owning “too many” eyeshadow palettes.

Paula echoes the sentiment. “We want our audience to feel that our pages are a safe space to express their definition of beauty. No matter how different it is. If they want to use makeup to express it, we support them. If they don’t, that’s ok too.” And the message is coming across loud and clear. Jellysmack is changing the conversation on a global scale, and the major players in the industry are taking notice. Think Brad Mondo, Sephora, and Fox Entertainment, all of whom are current partners. Not bad for a project celebrating its fourth anniversary.

The Future

What could be next for a set of channels that is already such a resounding success (close to 50 million followers accros platforms)? Paula chimes in: “We’re always on the lookout for new opportunities, trends, better ways to give our audience what they want to see.” This means constantly rethinking, reevaluating, and renewing.

Case in point: based on new research, a new channel called Unwritten Beauty has just been launched. Showcasing talent who have undergone physical trauma (or were born differently-abled) is the next step in showing that beauty is for everybody. “We’re doing makeup on this type of talent, not to hide their scars, but to allow their beauty to shine,” says Joanna.

They’re also looking into new markets in Latin America, Europe, and Asia specifically. The US was a launch pad. Now, it’s time to take their message worldwide. They’ve already started prepping a Spanish version of Burst Out Loud, a quirky Snapchat show where estheticians with big personalities react to weird beauty techniques. The goal is to be more present both on the international scene and “on Snapchat and YouTube,” says Paula.

One thing is for sure: Jellysmack’s mix of beauty and advocacy has made an indelible mark on the industry. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by the bigwigs, will continue to challenge problematic beauty standards, and will take creativity and artistry to new heights.

--

--

Jellysmack

Jellysmack is the global creator company that detects and develops the world’s most talented video creators through technology.