At 21, Main Line YouTube star Rachel Levin can move a product, pack a mall

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Rachel Levin has an entire room in her Lower Merion home that acts as a second closet for her clothes and accessories.

At first glance, it appears 21-year-old Rachel Levin and her boyfriend are hosting an epic pool party in her Lower Merion backyard.

To document the festivities, maybe a few selfies or video clips will find their way to Snapchat - because, you know, that's the average social-media output for a Gen Z-er.

Except that Levin is RCLBeauty101. Her YouTube handle might not mean anything to you if you are a twinkle older than 25, but to the makeup world of tween and teen girls, Levin is a superstar.

A make-your-own-beauty-products-guru-turned-comedienne, Levin has 8.3 million YouTube subscribers - also known as Levinators - ranking RCLBeauty101 92nd in the world for YouTube subscribers. (She ranks higher than rapper Wiz Khalifa, who is 94th.) Her videos receive 100 million views a month, making her channel among YouTube's fastest-growing.

"I never thought I would ever be that popular," Levin says. "I'm shocked every single day."

Clearly, anytime Levin is near a camera - whether cellphone or Canon - it's serious social-media business.

That pool party Friday at the house she shares with her mom and siblings? She was filming an original comedy, If Google Was on Summer Break. A handful of Levin's friends ask a poolside Google - played by a tankini-clad Levin - a series of questions, from What do you do when a boyfriend calls you fat? to How can you get a workout body in five minutes?

The answers are funny, if not just as arbitrary. For the workout question, Google just throws up her hands and walks away.

By early Saturday afternoon, after posting a flurry of teasers on Twitter (1 million followers), Instagram (2.4 million), and Snapchat (900,000), Summer Break was up. In the first 25 hours, the video - sponsored by gaming app Best Fiends - cracked 2 million views. As of Tuesday morning, views approached 3.3 million. Yup, about a million views a day.

"Rachel's video significantly moved the needle on downloads," said Phil Hickey, vice president of marketing and communications at Seriously, the Los Angeles company that produces Best Fiends.

Like other YouTubers with at least 1,000 subscribers, Levin gets income from ads that run on her YouTube channel, which she splits with parent company Google. Sponsors also pay her directly for verbal mentions and product placement. Each time Levin said "Best Fiends" in Summer Break, she threw change in a glass. Cha-ching!

That said, Levin is hesitant to divulge how much money she makes. Doctors and lawyers don't share their salaries, she says defensively. (Her dad is a doctor; her mom, a lawyer.)

Also, adds Naomi Lennon, who manages Levin and a roster of YouTube stars via her Lennon Management Co. in Los Angeles, wealthy YouTube stars seem to get more than their fair share of hate.

"They are young, in their early 20s," Lennon said, "and making a lot of money for doing what people think looks easy."

Even if Levin isn't making quite the kind of cash as YouTube's top star PewDiePie - Forbes estimates the Swedish game reviewer has a net worth of $12 million - one can assume Levin is doing pretty well.

She spends thousands to hire actors and rent swank Airbnb mansions to host videos such as Disney Princess Slumber Party. That video - her most popular, with a record 60 million views and counting - is part of a series in which she stars as Belle.

Levin rewards contest winners with iPhones and iPads (a common practice among YouTube stars). She has a New York stylist and an entire room in her house that acts as a second closet, for her clothes and accessories - including a pair of Louboutins.

Even with all the fame - she was on the cover of Adweek's May 2 video issue - her fans still find her down-to-earth. That's because the on-screen Levin embodies Lena Dunham's deadpan humor with a hefty dose of Carrie Bradshaw's whimsical fashion forwardness. And it helps that her boyfriend, Isaac Nakash, who occasionally stars in the videos, looks like he just walked off the set of HBO's Entourage.

"I just love everything about her," said 11-year-old Sharon Tyler. "I want to meet her boyfriend. I want to hang out in her room. I even want to meet her fish."

Last month, Sharon and her 12-year-old sister, Madison, serendipitously ran into Levin at the City Avenue Target.

"She's different because most girls only do makeup tutorials and DIYs," Madison chimed in. "She's like really smart and funny. Very unique."

Although Levin has found fame with comedy, she doesn't make light of the makeup tutorials, which she started as a teenager after experimenting with concealers for her dark, under-eye circles.

"I used to watch a lot of beauty videos on YouTube, and whenever I did my makeup in the mornings," Levin said, "I would do my own tutorials in the mirror."

When she was 15, Levin started her own channel and, using CoverGirl's Simply Ageless Concealer, filmed her first how-to video. She had 457 views in two days.

"That was intense for me," Levin said. "I thought, That's more people than in my grade."

In the first year of doing tutorials, reviewing products, and making her own - like a solution to grow your eyelashes and eyebrows - the Wall Street Journal featured Levin in an article about the rising popularity of makeup tutorials. When she reached 150,000 followers, she started working with Lennon. After high school, she attended Penn State Brandywine for a year before dropping out - she was doing what she loved already. (She plans to enroll next spring in online classes.)

In 2014, when Levin was at 350,000 subscribers, her format evolved to include a comedy skit. She realized she liked doing them more than the tutorials.

Her first in the genre, Back to School Expectations vs. Reality, remains her third-most-popular video, with 25.7 million views.

When she had 1 million subscribers, a thousand girls showed up at a mall meet-and-greet. When she was at a mall on vacation in Israel, 3,000 girls showed up.

"We're afraid to do another," said Lennon, who has been fielding movie offers.

"I didn't think it was possible for me to have the life I have right now," Levin said. "And if I have so much happiness right now, I'm excited to see what the future holds."

ewellington@phillynews.com
215-854-2704
@ewellingtonphl 

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