YouTube Superstar Bethany Mota Uses Online Fame to Inspire Young Fans

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YouTube superstar Bethany Mota is selling a line of school supplies at Target, which thrills her almost more than anything she has accomplished as a DIY queen. “I grew up going to Target. It was one of my favorite stores,” says the 20-year-old entrepreneur, whose popular video posts cover everything from shopping to crafts to makeup to everyday hacks, usually designed to helps kids gain success at school, and life. “Growing up in a small town, we didn’t have a shopping mall or a bowling alley, so me and my friends would hang out at Target. So to see my designs with my name on it in the store was such a special moment.”

Her deal with the giant retailer is just one example of Mota’s reach with teens and preteens. She has 10 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, 3 million on Twitter, and 5 million on Instagram. Her clothing, accessories, and fragrance line is available at Aéropostale, and she’s got a book on deck (to be released through Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster).

Her career began as a hobby, and she still thinks of it that way. “When I got into it, I was 13, and YouTube was in a very different place. … At the time, not that many people were making videos, so the whole idea of gaining success and doing what I do as a living was not something that was out there,” she says.

Another example of her reach: Last year, Mota, along with YouTubers GloZell Green and Hank Green, interviewed President Obama. That video has 3.7 million hits.

Recognizing her influence, Mota is applying her positivity to other projects, including working with UNICEF, and with Pacer National Bullying Prevention Center. “For me, if I’m not inspiring or helping in some way, I’m not happy.”

It means even more because she has experienced cyber-bullying herself. “I was able to go to a bunch of different schools and talk about my story and talk about what it means to truly have confidence in yourself,” she says. “What it comes down to is, know who you are.”

Other projects on Mota’s plate include building a music career — she’s released a couple of songs on YouTube in the past few years, with some success — and a soon-to-be-released mobile game app called Hollywood U.

And then there’s her job as camp counselor — alongside fellow digital star Tyler Oakley — at Camp 17, where social media stars can interact with fans. “I never went to camp, so this is my first time!” she says.

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