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In this episode of «My Job is YouTube», Atlanta-based Mimi G tells the story of how her love of sewing helped get her through incredible hardships in her life and how she turned her passion into a million dollar business. She talks about starting her YouTube channel to teach people how to sew and how it’s been the catalyst for a multitude of other business ventures, including a subscription-based sewing academy. Mimi, a self-taught entrepreneur, offers tips to other small businesses interested in starting their own channel.
0:00 Meet Mimi
0:39 How she built a million dollar business
1:32 Homeless in LA
2:45 Free vs. paid content?
4:40 Business opportunities from YouTube
5:38 Her subscription-based academy
7:36 How her channel supports her businesses
8:28 Advice for small business owners?
Mimi started her channel to get people excited about sewing and share her knowledge, and now has 320,000+ subscribers, 16M views on more than 300 videos.
These are the stories of #YouTubeImpact.
Check out the Mimi G Style channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/mimigoodwin2
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The creator you’re about to meet
has one of the most incredible
life turnaround stories I’ve ever heard.
She left home at the age of fifteen
and was later homeless,
on the streets of L.A, with her baby.
As the years passed,
through one hardship after another
she followed a certain passion,
like a guiding light.
And it eventually led to
the creation of her YouTube channel
and multiple successful businesses,
bringing in over a million dollars a year
Now, by the numbers
at the time of this recording
the Mimi G Style channel has
Over 16 millions views from 322 videos.
Let’s learn how Mimi built all of this.
Hey, Mimi, so great to talk to you.
I’ve done my research, and,
just to set the stage for everybody
you run a successful YouTube Channel,
making sewing videos
you sell access to longer tutorials
you do licensing deals
for your own sewing patterns
you run a subscription-based academy
teaching people how to sew
and, most recently,
you’ve launched your own fabric.
Am I missing anything here?
Just a couple of things,
you know, like writing a book.
And it’s actually not my fabric line,
I started an entire fabric store online.
And, we’re opening a
creative center on top of it.
This conversation is meant to be about
your YouTube channel and businesses
but it doesn’t feel right
to completely leave out
all the hardships you faced
early on in your life.
Can you just talk about
how your love of sewing
helped you get through such hard times?
Sure. I left home when I was really young.
I ran away from home
when I was 15 years old
and made my way
from Chicago to California.
And then, during the first,
I don’t know, six to seven years of that
I was either on someone’s couch
or on the streets, park bench
whatever I could find, honestly.
And then, when I was homeless
with my oldest daughter
we were sort of squatting
in an apartment complex
not too far from Los Angeles City College
and, I just sort of made my way
as best as I could.
it started to get a lot harder
because I didn’t have anywhere
to take her, I couldn’t work.
So, my mom ended up taking her
for a couple of years
so I could get on my feet
and that really helped.
But I learned to sew
when I was really young, when I was 12.
And then, I did it
for a couple of years in my teens.
Then, obviously, sewing is hard
when you’re homeless
you know what I’m saying?
So, that didn’t work out too well.
But it wasn’t actually until I got married
that I started sewing again.
And that’s really when it became
very therapeutic for me.
It’s helped me; even helps me now.
You’re now running your YouTube channel.
It’s going really well
and you’re making simple tutorials.
But you came up with
an interesting way to sell viewers
on buying longer sewing tutorials.
How do you decide what is free
versus what is for sale?
Well, initially, that happened because
I was doing, like you said
easy, quick projects for YouTube
just getting people
excited about it.
And I had made a skirt for myself,
that I had posted on my blog
and people just went nuts for the skirt
«Please, can I buy the skirt»
and I was like, «No.»
But, I was sitting around one day
and I thought
«Maybe if I can just teach them how to
make the skirt I can get them off my back»
is really what I was thinking.
So, my husband at the time,
who was in film and production, was like
«Why don’t you film a tutorial showing
them how to do it, all of the steps?»
you don’t have a whole lot of time.
You don’t want somebody sitting around
for an hour, hour and a half
trying to learn a project.
It has to be fast, quick,
get them interested, and then, bye.
And so, I thought,
«Ok, well, I’ll do that»
sort of step by step, literally
walking them through the entire process.
But it was time consuming
and it took a lot of effort.
So, I thought «Well, maybe
I’ll make it as a paid download».
And so I did, which,
at the time, was really tough
because we didn’t have
all the things we have now
like all of these digital deliverables.
Back then, I had to send it manually.
And, so, that was time consuming,
but people responded really well to it.
And I made so much money
from that paid tutorial
«Oh, this is really interesting».
So, I figured if I could keep
my YouTube channel fun, quick
just interesting projects, that maybe,
would have people excited
to want to learn more
then I would use YouTube for that.
And, then, anything
I knew was going to be complicated
or took many steps,
or was going to be time consuming
I put as a paid tutorial.
Then, you took things further and got…
Was it the licensing deals
and sponsorships, were they next?
Yeah, so, the licensing deal
came almost right away.
That was also, you know,
partly due to YouTube
because I was doing
reviews of sewing patterns
and sharing my thoughts
and things that might be
bumps in the road, if you were sewing it.
So, Simplicity reached out
and they were like
«Hey would you mind
doing some more reviews?»
«We’ll send you patterns, things
that you can, review on your time.»
And I thought, «Sure».
So, we built that sort of relationship.
And there was so much interest and buzz
and this quick growth on
my channel, and even on my blog
that they took a risk on me
and they were like
«What if you had
your own pattern line?»
And I’m like,
«Yeah, let’s do it.»
That was almost ten years ago.
And I’m still
best selling licensee for the brand
and we’ve sold out,
so, I’m very thankful for that.
So, then, you launch a whole
taking your tutorial viewers,
free and paid, into a whole onlie school.
So, what year was that
and what was the thinking behind it?
So, I launched Sew it! Academy
I guess we’re going on six years.
So, six years ago.
And, the reason I did it is
because YouTube is fantastic
but the problem is, that
if you’re just learning a new skill
and sewing, specifically,
is what I’ll speak to
it can become frustrating if you’re just
pulling up a video and trying
to follow along to a project
and you’ve never sat at a sewing machine
or know the difference between needles
or types of threads,
or types of fabric.
So, what can happen is,
you start to learn to sew
and, then, quickly become frustrated,
and, then, not want to do it anymore.
So, although YouTube is fantastic
for wanting to learn different things
there is still sort of a curriculum
a way that I wanted people to learn.
I didn’t want people to get frustrated.
I wanted them to be able to start, having
never had any experience, whatsoever
and learn to sew,
with every course building on itself.
So, I thought if I created
a subscription business
where you would join
for a low monthly rate
I think, right now,
it’s less than 12 dollars a month
and, every month, I would teach you.
The first class is literally me
taking a sewing machine out of the box
like, «This is a sewing machine,
this is a needle, this is thread».
Make it really easy for people to follow
so that, when they want to go
find a project on YouTube
they have the basic foundation.
And, students who started with me,
we have about an 82% retention rate,
that started six years ago
and had no idea how to sew
are now making full coats
and suits, and tailored projects.
So, it’s been really amazing
for people to learn
without being frustrated
and without a lot of technical jargon
that they can’t follow.
You’ve got so many things going on
all these money making businesses.
How does the channel
play into all of these?
YouTube, for me, is a way to push people
to everything else that I do.
So, for example, in Sew It! Academy,
we do all of these fun,
easy classes for YouTube
projects, things of that nature.
And then we’re always
driving people to Sew It!
«Wanna learn more? Go to Sew It! Academy.
And so, that’s how I use it for that.
For our fabric store, for example,
we do what we call «Fabric Hauls»
where I show the latest inventory
and people get really excited.
And we say «If you want to purchase
head over to Melanated Fabrics.»
So, we’re constantly pushing there.
It’s really just a way
to stay really engaged
to be able to create content
that, if you’re smart about it
drives people to your other businesses.
And that’s really how I use it.
If I had to guess
what a lot of business owners
are thinking right now, watching this,
it’s «Well, I could never do all that.
I mean, she’s amazing.
«She’s clearly not human
because she does all these things.»
How would you recommend
somebody think about getting started?
Let’s say they own a small business.
How would you recommend they
kind of get started with YouTube?
I think the best way to get started is
to just share knowledge.
When people stop me
and they’re like
«I have this idea. I wanna
start a business, what do I do?»
I’m like «Do you know
how to do something really well?»
«Ok, teach other people how to do that.»
That’s the easiest way to start.
So, it really just depends
on your business
but, if you have a business that
requires you to create content
then be aware of what you’re doing.
For me, I have all of these
There’s always a way for me to
share content, teach people.
And that’s really all it takes.
One, you have to be consistent.
Whenever anybody asks
«Mimi, what do you think is the one thing
that built your businesses?»
I’ve done it.
I’ve worked on it, every day.
I used to work a full-time job.
After I left work, I had four kids.
I would feed them, bathe them
put them to bed, work on my own business.
So, it just takes consistency
to be able to post, create content
that people find valuable.
Not just content
you have to give them value
in your videos, in your content.
That’s really where it starts.
I’m a high school drop out.
I didn’t even graduate high school.
I didn’t go to college.
I’ve taught myself
everything that I know today.
I still do most of my own graphics,
I still build most of my own websites.
And I would literally go to the library
at the library, that’s how old I am.
I used to go to the library and be like,
«I need a book to learn HTML.»
And I would
fiddle around with it until I learned it.
There’s really no excuse.
There really isn’t, especially, now.
If you have an idea, if you’re really
passionate about something, just start.
Mimi, your story is
one of the best I’ve ever heard.
Thank you so much for your time
and sharing it with us.
Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here.
And they can follow me @mimigstyle
on all socials.