Editor’s note: ¡Viva Tijuana! is a multi-story series about the life and culture of San Diego’s modern neighbor to the south. More stories from the series can be found in links below.
Tijuana-based YouTuber Karla Celis offers beauty and lifestyle tips to 2.5 million subscribers weekly across her three English- and Spanish-language channels, on topics ranging from hair-braiding to making caramel apples.
If you don’t know how to do something, check YouTube
Celis, 26, got her start five years ago, uploading video tutorials as a hobby.
“I’m a very visual person, and if I don’t know how to do something, I would always go to YouTube,” says the business administration grad, who doesn’t shy away from tackling a broad range of topics, from cooking to makeup to Ikea hacks. “People tell you what they want to see.”
When the world’s leading apricot scrub manufacturer knocks on your door, answer it
Celis knew her hobby was evolving into something bigger when St. Ives approached her with a sponsorship offer.
“That commercial was my first big payday, and I said, ‘Wow,’ ” she says. Since then, she’s landed an agent and done campaigns with Target, Macy’s, Nutella and more, pulling down a healthy salary in the low- to mid-six figures.
Don’t listen to the haters
“Randomly, you’ll get ugly comments, but it’s part of the job and you have to learn to live with it,” says Celis, who says the online sniping got worse when she became a mom (to Mia, now 1). “When you make yourself a public person, people are gonna talk, and as an influencer, you need to learn to deal with it. If you let yourself get sad, you’re not gonna survive.”
“My No. 1 rule is that, in order to live well, you have to be doing the job that’s right for you,” says Celis, who was working in an accounting office before her YouTube channel took off. “Sometimes you do something just to please other people, but if you do what makes you happy, that’s how you’re going to transmit your happiness to others.”
Celis’ most popular video? A home remedy for teeth whitening.
“I found a recipe on Pinterest from a dentist and I thought, ‘Let’s see if it works,’ ” says Celis, who uploaded her adaptation of the remedy in 2013. “It went viral, which I didn’t expect, and now it has something like 33 million views.”
And the two things Celis can’t teach us about life
Although Celis is willing to make videos about almost anything, there are some topics even she won’t touch.
“You know what they say about religion and politics,” she says.