Grad Has More Than 600K YouTube Subscribers
Born in Sulphur, Louisiana, where she lived until the age of 10, and raised in Missouri City, Texas, MaCenna Lee always knew she wanted to live a creative life. “It was definitely hard leaving behind family and friends to attend college in another state, but FIDM and Los Angeles quickly became home,” said MaCenna, who received a Fashion Design degree and a B.S. in Business Management from FIDM. After an exciting career as the VP of Marketing at fellow FIDM Alumna Chan Luu’s eponymous brand, she started the DIY and home decor YouTube channel XO, MACENNA in 2018. Featuring videos on decorating, design, thrifting, room makeovers, and more, the channel has grown from 2,000 to more than 600,000 subscribers over the last 18 months. We recently caught up with the busy vlogger to learn more about her inspiring journey from fashion student to social media superstar.
What was your path to FIDM like and how did you select your Fashion Design major? All through high school, I knew I wanted to study and major in something creative. At first, it was interior design, as my mom was also an interior designer and I loved home decor, but then decided to pave my own path as a fashion designer as I loved Project Runway and dreamed of having my own fashion show one day.
What led you to return to FIDM to study Business Management? Earning a higher degree was always something I wanted to do, but after completing my Associate's degree in Fashion Design, I felt I would benefit more from work experience. After two years of working for various design houses, I quickly realized I would need to earn a higher degree to take my career to the next level. At the time, a Bachelor's degree was becoming the minimum requirement for higher-level jobs in almost every industry, so I worked full-time and went back to FIDM full-time to earn a B.S. in Business Management — a large undertaking, but very worth it.
How was it being an online learning student for your B.S. degree? I decided to take the Bachelor's program entirely online as it would allow me to continue to work full-time while also earning a higher degree to further my career. Like any curriculum, it was tedious and there were a lot of late nights studying, but I found that I actually preferred learning online.
Any favorite FIDM memories? One that comes to mind was getting to attend the DEBUT Runway Show and see the amazing collections the students created!
You previously worked for fellow FIDM Grad Chan Luu. What was that experience like? I worked for Chan Luu for six years and started as a receptionist just to get my foot in the door. I worked hard and began climbing the ranks in the company quickly. In a few short years, I became the Vice President of Marketing where I spearheaded the brands marketing initiatives and managed the retail side of the Chan Luu brand — everything from new store roll-out and e-commerce, to branding and social media. Chan herself was an amazing mentor and I value the time I was able to spend with her learning from her incredible business acumen to impeccable taste and creativity.
When and why did you start making YouTube videos? I started my YouTube channel XO, MACENNA in August of 2018, and it really was just a creative outlet for me and a place to share projects I was already working on for my house in hopes to inspire others to do the same. I quickly fell in love with the whole process of creating videos and knew it was something I wanted to dedicate more of my time to. It took a few months to learn the ins and outs of the different facets of YouTube, from editing and filming to how to create entertaining and quality content. Honestly, I'm still learning every day.
How were you able to grow your audience? Was there a particular video or post that was a turning point? I think it was a combination of many things that helped my audience grow, from consistent uploads and getting better at creating content every video to engaging with subscribers and creating content people were genuinely interested in. There was a turning point video in May 2019, almost a year after starting my channel. I gave my nieces a bedroom makeover and filmed the entire process from inspiration and painting to buying and styling the room with decor. The video really took off and had over 100,000 views in the first week. This was huge for my channel at the time as I only had about 2,000 subscribers. So after that, I started mixing in more room makeover type videos for my channel.
What does it feel like to have built such a massive social media following? It truly feels amazing. I’m so grateful my channel has been such a success and people really enjoy the videos I create. Having a YouTube channel, especially a DIY and home decor channel, is hard work and takes a lot of planning and dedication. So when subscribers comment such amazing things on the videos and support my crazy projects, it really means a lot to me.
Are you still based in LA? Yes, I am still based in LA, but hoping to invest in property back in Texas for a fun renovation project for my YouTube channel — but LA will always be home.
Anything else you'd like to add? Although when I started at FIDM I thought I would be a fashion designer with runway shows and my own clothing line, my career definitely took a turn. Looking back on my experiences now, I'm so happy I was open to trying new jobs and expanding my knowledge in different areas like marketing, social media, and interior design. It led me to where I am today and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Keep up with MaCenna on YouTube @XOMaCenna and on Instagram @macennalee.