In a world fueled by social media posts related to every aspect of our lives, it’s easy to simply scroll along and hit the “like” button. However, to be an influential style leader where others view you as an expert—that takes skills. This week’s Urban Beardsman is a double feature consisting of two gents whose entertaining sneaker and lifestyle vlogs have catapulted them to YouTube stardom. Meet YoAnty: a bearded Bostonian with a masters in video production, and two YouTube channels that hosts over 25,000 subscribers each—one dedicated to his daily adventures, and the other to his appreciation for sneakers. Along with Foamer Simpson (AKA Foamie): a professional basketball player with a stand-out red beard—often referred to as a ‘podiatry poet’ for his clever sneaker narratives paired with urban cinematography—hosting over 62,000 subscribers and counting.
To say the fellas have an extensive knowledge and collection of sneakers would be an understatement. They don’t collect them to just store away for bragging rights. Instead, they both admit sneakers (to them) are about the love of wearing them to express their own individuality. In their vlogs, they swiftly name the anatomy of a sneaker down to the last stitch of the toe-box, while highlighting their favorite features of their latest sneaker purchase. Their enthusiasm sets them way above your average "sneakerhead"—enough to influence thousands of viewers asking where they can get the same pair, or style tips on how to wear them. Neither of them predicted what initially started as a passion for cool footwear would turn them into YouTube sensations. YoAnty shares, “when I started doing vlogs a few years ago, it was just a hobby where I did my favorite product reviews. I got a small following and people started leaving comments about how they liked my review or even my style. I didn’t even really tell my friends at first I was doing it.”
During surgery rehabilitation from a recent sports injury, Foamie admits he had a lot of downtime and sought out YouTube vlogging just for fun. “When I started the channel, my brother also coincidentally had a surgery, so we started watching tutorials how to make vlogs and toyed around with it. Our first videos were awful, but it’s been fun learning as we go and seeing how they’ve evolved.”
It wasn’t long after that both of the guy’s channels caught enough buzz to earn serious sneaker cred in the online community, specifically with Complex Magazine—landing both YoAnty and Foamie in the Top 20 Best YouTube Sneaker Channels last year.
Although the guys share a love for similar sneakers, their channels and favorite purchases can be quite unique from one other. In explaining his artistic strategy before making a vlog, Foamie reveals, “I was raised in New York so where I’m from influences the aesthetic. I also love the 90’s so you’ll see references from that era and stuff I grew up on. My brother does most of the camera work and editing, but we’ll bounce ideas off each other and plan it out ahead of time. I don’t script it, but I do plan it out in my head section by section.”
On a different approach to filming, YoAnty has more of a ‘turn on the camera and go’ style. He can often be found speaking to you while driving his car, or taking you with him on a trip through the mall as he ponders whether his next purchase is practical or an impulse buy. His girlfriend, YoChanty has also become a co-star in many of his videos now, which serves as a reality show as they go on vacation, or debate on a topic while eating at Chipotle. “She was a little resistant to be in the videos at first, but after reassuring her that my viewers would embrace her (and a little coaxing), she’s gotten used to it and we have fun with it together.” YoAnty’s fan base has even become so accustomed to watching his daily routines, they order his favorite daily iced coffee drink, and share it as hash-tag catchphrase to show they’re enjoying the same beverage as him: “#Black2Splenda.”
Being that YouTube has become such a huge platform for people to seek out style inspiration, the guys’ appearance plays an intricate part in keeping their viewers engaged. Often with interesting compliments.“The nature of the beast with YouTube is you’re gonna get some crazy stuff. Some people will randomly say, “I love you” or once someone even said ‘I want to marry you,” laughs Foamie. However with or without the propositions, the guys have found that the key to connecting to their audience is by being true and genuine to themselves. YoAnty states, “the cool thing about vlogging is connecting with other people, so I really appreciate when kids come to my channel to see how I wear sneakers with certain pants or tell me I inspire them, it not only makes me want to continue to move forward, but to always stay true to myself.”
In the spirit of being true to their identity, both guys have well groomed full-beards that are received quite well by their audiences. “Since I grew it out about 7 months ago, I get mixed reviews on my site,” says YoAnty. “But most people like it, I’d say 80% support it and 20% aren’t fans. You start to have that moment when it gets too long and people don’t always support it, and there are people that will try to take you down on your beard, but you gotta embrace it—it takes balls to grow a beard!”
However, as most of us can relate when it comes to our parents, Foamie’s #1 non-supporter is his mother. “My mom is not a fan. She’s always asking me if I’ll shave it off for her—or at least trim it down like George Clooney. I think beards are still kinda perceived like tattoos—some people looked down on them from past generations. I know that’s why my mom doesn’t like it, but if you have a beard, champion yourself and be a good dude—being a good representation will change the perceptions attached to negative stigmas.”
Although the guys can be seen in front of the camera sometimes more than once a week, there’s much more going on behind the camera than meets the eye. Now that his knee is fully recovered Foamie plans to return back to playing professional basketball next season, and has also launched a new YouTube channel with brother called Banana Stew Productions. YoAnty is also thinking of expanding another channel related to fitness, as his gym routine is a huge part of his daily regimen.
As the guys pursue more ventures on or off camera, you can expect to see them go forth with well-conditioned beards: both admitting Beardbrand beard oil and the pocket comb as some of their best-kept secrets. YoAnty’s fans have even created a Twitter account for his beard. “Now that my beard has its own twitter page, there’s no way I could shave it now!” Foamie admits “it took some work to get it here, so I plan to keep it and hopefully one day I’ll be 95 years old rockin’ the wizard beard.”
Both guys have shown that regardless of your passion, if you believe it enough and pursue it as your true authentic self, people will not only respond well to your enthusiasm, but respect you for it. Whether it’s your first attempt to grow out a beard, or attempting to start out your first vlog, Foamie references his favorite metaphor from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” His advice has proven to show results. The truth is in the numbers, (or followers in this case). So in closing, as they say at the end of every good vlog (or blog) “If you liked what you’ve just seen, be sure to hit that thumbs up button!”