By Emily Williams
YouTube sensation Meredith Edwards harnessed the entrepreneurial opportunities of online video-blogging and created a career through her YouTube channel Southernbelle606.
Edwards, a senior at Vestavia Hills High School, operates a fashion, beauty and lifestyle channel geared towards guiding young women and promoting self-confidence.
“I just want to help inspire girls,” Edwards said. “The majority of my viewers are probably middle school-aged and up into high school.”
Edwards said she finds her own inspiration in celebrities like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez but also in seasoned YouTube stars and Alabama’s own Eleventh Gorgeous.
“It’s nice to see other people from Alabama,” said Edwards. “The majority of YouTubers, I’ve noticed, are from California.”
Though Edwards has established her Southernbelle606 brand, she said she plans on expanding her business in the future. When she heads off to college in the fall, she plans on studying social entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville.
“It sounds like it would have something to do with social media, but it doesn’t,” said Edwards, who attended a class that explained the major.
Social entrepreneurship is akin to learning how to run a nonprofit organization such as the Tom’s shoe company and the popular thrift store Goodwill. Edwards said she believes the major will help teach her how to turn her personal brand into a thriving business.
With or without schooling, Edwards is already profiting from Southernbelle606. She has partnered with a company called Style Haul that places ads before her videos and pays her a certain amount of money for every 1,000 views her video receives. And it’s not only money that she makes; being a member of Style Haul provides a lot of advantages, she said.
“There is a YouTube event coming up in Dallas. It’s called BeautyCon, and I’m going with my mom,” Edwards said. “At lots of YouTube events, Style Haul will have before and after parties where they’ll give away prizes and have photo booths.”
Edwards said she also receives free products from online companies. In return, she tests the items and features them on her show.
“I’m currently finishing up a video that I’m doing for Proactive,” she said. “They contacted me and wanted me to try out their new system.”
She receives so many packages a week that she has created a “Mail with Mere” segment on her show where she unboxes the products she receives during the week. Over time she has picked out a few favorites.
“One time I got one of those facial brushes,” she said. “Also, the purse I use right now, I got that from a website, and so many people have asked me where it’s from.”
While Edwards enjoys the perks of her job, her favorite thing about Southernbelle606 is not a material object.
“I love just sitting down and being able to talk,” she said. “A lot of people put a lot of time into editing videos, but I like when I’m just sitting and talking and being myself.”
Edward’s personal style has led her to Internet fame with more than 40,000 subscribers and over 1.6 million viewers from around the world tuning in to watch and learn.
“I love monograms, and I talk about them on my show,” she said. “I can always tell people are from other countries when they ask, ‘What is a monogram?’”
Edwards’ mother said she’s proud of her daughter.
“We think it’s such an amazing thing that our child has done this all on her own,” Jill Edwards said. “She is not the same person. It’s amazing, the confidence that has come from all of this.”
As stated in the “about” section of her channel, Edwards hopes to evoke that same sense of self-confidence in her viewers as they watch her videos. Even though her channel reflects her personal style, she said her best advice to viewers is to “wear what makes you feel best.”
As the seasons change, Edwards said she is looking forward to lots of color this spring.
“My favorite colors are any kind of pastels,” she said, adding that her favorite designer is Lilly Pulitzer, known for vibrant printed patterns.
Edwards also loves to accessorize her outfits with statement necklaces, she said while wearing a large gold necklace featuring a cluster of pearls in various sizes.
“I also like dainty jewelry. I have a necklace from Kendra Scott right now that I really like,” she said.
As for hair, Edwards said she tends to wear her hair down most of the time and is always searching for the quickest way to achieve the perfect curl.
“I love loose waves,” she said. “I have a few different tutorials on curling your hair. One of my most popular videos was a no-heat hair tutorial where you pin your hair up and let it dry overnight.”
In her free time, when she isn’t posting a video or working her retail job, Edwards said she loves to shop and considers herself a bargain hunter.
“I like the Salvation Army in Homewood,” she said. “That is my favorite one to go to. You can find some good stuff there. I’ve found J. Crew, Patagonia and Lilly Pulitzer.”
Edwards’ biggest plan for the future is her move to Nashville for college, but she said she has a few plans before she leaves.
“I’m planning on doing a meet and greet sometime this summer before I leave for college,” she said.
She met a few of her fans in Atlanta last year and said she hopes to do something similar here in Birmingham.
“It won’t be anything formal, just sitting down and meeting new friends,” she said.
For more about Meredith Edwards, visit www.youtube.com/user/southernbelle606.