How a mom of six became a YouTube beauty guru

Oct 31, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Mindy McKnight first began sharing how she braided and styled her daughters' hair on a blog and when she created video tutorials on her Cute Girls Hairstyles YouTube channel, they quickly became a huge hit.

Mindy McKnight and family

Now the busy mom, who has more than 1 million subscribers and 11 to 12 million views a month, shares how her family became an internet sensation along with tips for recreating the looks at home.

Who knew that doing your daughters' hair could turn into a lucrative, full-time family business? Cute Girls Hairstyles creator Mindy McKnight, who works with her husband Shaun to create hair tutorial videos, says it's all about loving what you do, and some great hair products, of course.

SheKnows: How did you get started with the business?

Microbrides by Mindy McKnight

Mindy McKnight: I actually started blogging in 2008 to begin with. I had a bazillion people ask me how to do the hairstyles that my girls were wearing around so I thought, "This would really be a lot easier if I took pictures and put them up on a website" and then they could go to that. So I started doing that with just photos and then after about a year or so, I had a hairdo that was particularly difficult to take pictures of, so instead my husband suggested filming it and uploading it to YouTube and so we tried that with a couple videos and it ended up going really well. YouTube contacted us to join their partner program and the rest is history.

SK: Were you surprised by how many people started watching your videos?

MM: Yeah, very. Even at the time, we put up two tutorials and we sort of forgot that they were there. And then YouTube contacted us and was like, "These are doing so well. Do you want to be a partner and keep uploading videos?" We certainly weren't anticipating it.

SK: Your husband left his job to work with you full time as well. How did that happen?

MM: When I originally wanted to monetize it and put ads on my channel, he was like, "Don't junk it up with all these ads" and I did it anyway and due to my lack of computer savvy, I think I put them up wrong. So then he went in and fixed it and started getting involved. I think the first month, when the paycheck came in, it was only like $30, but he was like, "Wow, you can actually make a little bit of money off this." The idea of being able to monetize it and tap into it intrigued him, so then he became my biggest cheerleader and got more involved. More than a year ago, it got to the point that we couldn't do it with him working his regular 9 to 5 job and it came to the point where I was losing more money than he was making, so we thought it was a good time to make the switch.

SK: What videos do you recommend for beginners to start with?

MM: We have some basic braiding ones, so any of the ones that only require three to five minutes. Another great one is our Daddy Dos. Initially this one was inspired by basic hairdos and we wanted it to be so easy, even a daddy can do them. One day when we set out to film them, I said to Shaun, "You should really do them." We've had fathers write in that have custody of their kids for the weekend or their wives have passed away, and they talk about how those have been inspirational for them.

Heartbraids by Mindy McKnight

SK: What are your favorite beauty products to use on yourself and your daughters when styling hair?

MM: I really, really love argan oil. When my hair's wet, it keeps it really healthy and shiny and not damaged. If I want volume, Bed Head Meringue is really great. I just use a basic Suave extra strong hold hairspray, so nothing too fancy there. I really love my Nume curling wand.

SK: What are your tips for someone who's trying to create their own YouTube channel and brand?

MM: Make sure you love it. If you're doing it for the money, it's gonna be a lot harder. If you're doing it because you truly love doing it, you'll find a lot more success. I recommend keeping the videos shorter as opposed to long and just be yourself. I definitely think it's kind of beautiful on our channel that some people come back because they've genuinely fallen in love with my kids or our own family dynamic, and other people come back for the hair content. I don't think you're as likely to be as successful if you're not willing to share your personality. People love that window into your life.

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Photo credits: Mindy McKnight