When you reflect on the uncanny links and ties between YouTube’s most successful vloggers, you realise how the influential inside-circle is a family of sorts. Jim Chapman is husband of Tanya Burr, brother of Samantha and Nicola of Pixiwoo, chum of Zoella and Alfie Deyes – just to name a few. All of these personalities, who boast millions of followers in their own right, have been able to transcend the limits of online and embark on IRL projects, from beauty lines to best-selling baking books, which obtain unparalleled levels of success. For Jim, presenting, hosting film premieres and becoming a member of the British Fashion Council Menswear committee are just a few of the many strings to his weighty bow. We spoke to the multi-talented man about how he has brands like Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Mulberry magnetized by his self-proclaimed “normal guy” allure.
When you graduated in 2009 with a degree in Psychology, did you imagine that things would turn out like this?
I had absolutely no idea. One thing I did know is that Psychology wasn’t for me. In Norwich, where I’m from, the main areas of employment are insurance or retail, so I worked both of them for a while, but I knew that I couldn’t stay there long. I needed something creative and that’s when making videos on the weekend became really important. There weren’t any full-time content creators at the time and I didn’t even know it was an option. I figured I would just keep making videos on the weekend for as long as I enjoyed it.
When did YouTube transition from a hobby into a job for you?
I remember earning enough to pay rent to my mum one month. After that I quit my job and said “you best get used to me mum, I’m going to be living with you for quite a while.” I didn’t think it would be much bigger than that, but I enjoyed it much more than any of the other jobs I had previously and the money wasn’t important.
Consistent content at such a frequent rate and the editing that goes with that must be tough, where do you get your video ideas from?
A lot of my videos are quite reactive. My daily vlog channel is basically like a diary, so the content kind of writes itself. Whatever happens in my day gets recorded. As for the videos on my main channel that are little more focused and subject based, I find having an audience who can actually talk to you really helps. They can tell me what they want to see and I can try my best to deliver. After doing it for so long though, you definitely do find that you say ‘’done that one already’’ quite a lot.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their own channel?
Do it because you enjoy it, not because you see someone like me who has been fortunate enough to reach this level. For every one of me, there are a thousand other channels that haven’t made it. Also, never underestimate the amount of time, dedication and sheer hard work that goes into it. Viewers get to see the finished product and figure it’s super simple, but the reality of it is that I work every day, very hard. I don’t get much time to sleep and as my channel and the space around it grows, and as doing what I do is becoming more mainstream, I’m finding that there is simply not enough hours in the day and I don’t have enough stamina to do everything that needs to be done. It can be really overwhelming.
Is there a particular moment in your career so far that stands out as an indefinite highlight for you?
I’ve been really lucky and I get to do, on nearly a daily basis, what a lot of people can only dream of. Fashion is a big thing for me though, so breaking into the industry and being accepted into what can be a fairly brutal world so quickly, is something that I’m very proud of.
What was your initial reaction when GQ asked you to write their style column?
It was a dream come true. I have read the magazine for a very long time and to suddenly find myself as a very vocal part of the team, both in writing, being featured and headlining their first foray into video content, has been a real highlight.
What influence, if any, has your career had on your consciousness and choices in terms of fashion?
I’ve always been very interested in fashion, but I’m not sure fashion was that interested in me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes on the way, but my style has certainly developed. Having a creative platform to share it with the world has really pushed it for me. I get to work with incredible brands doing amazing things all over the world and, as a result my life has completely changed.
Describe your style in 3 words…
Easy, tailored, invested.
How did your collaborations with powerhouses like Louis Vuitton and Burberry come about?
I feel like a lot of this has been a case of right place, right time. I kind of have a monopoly on fashion led male social talent. I also like to think that I make fashion fun. It can be quite a straight-faced, pouty, squinty industry, but by being a normal guy and feeling open enough to talk to other normal guys about it, I think it’s opened people up who maybe were interested but couldn’t find an outlet.
Can you tell us a bit about any upcoming projects that you’re working on?
There are lots and lots in the pipe-line, but most of it is under wraps for the time being. Watch this space!