Turning ten minutes of fame into a lifetime

The name Charli D’Amelio has become synonymous with TikTok, and her story exemplifies how virality on social media can, with a bit of luck and the right tools, lead to unprecedented success. For those unfamiliar with Charli’s story, allow me to introduce you to the TikTok sensation:

Charli’s origin story is traced back to a since-deleted duet dancing video with another creator @move_with_joy that went viral in a matter of hours. Although quick-lived virality is a common experience for many TikTok users, due to the platform’s algorithm which makes it easy for anyone — no matter their follow count — to go viral,  Charli’s presence on the platform has far surpassed the standard 15 minutes of fame. 

In five months, her account gained over five million followers, with no signs of slowing down. She took over the app, and her followers turned into dedicated fans who wanted to know everything about her.

In her comment section fans would write her notes of admiration. One fan page in particular wrote, “Charli i love you more than everyting i will be [the] happiest person if you reply”.  

So naturally, when Charli posted a dancing video with her never-before-seen older sister, Dixie, fans immediately flocked to Dixie’s page. As time went on, Dixie began to establish her own following, one somewhat separate yet still attached to Charli’s. Establishing herself as a non-dancer, Dixie produced content that was more comical and relatable, countering the intricate dancing videos that Charli produced. Shortly thereafter, the sisters’ parents, Marc and Heidi, created their own accounts where they posted their own content such as date night vlogs and videos of them dancing with the family dogs. 

Charli became the most followed person on TikTok with 41.4 million followers Mar. 25, 2020. Currently, Charli has 147.1 million followers. As for her family, Dixie has 57.5 million, Marc has 10.5 million, Heidi has 10 million and their family account has 15 million. A combined total of 240.1 million followers on a single platform.

Although Charli's success story began on TikTok, it extends far beyond that. Frankly, TikTok was just the first step. Since TikTok was a relatively new platform that received a great deal of attention in a short amount of time, it was rich with opportunity for the D'Amelios — business opportunity, that is. 

Although it may sound frivolous to consider content creating an occupation, there is an opportunity to make bank from posting on social media platforms such as TikTok. For instance, many brands will pay popular content creators a lot of money for them to promote their products on their platform. This is known as a brand partnership and it is very common on TikTok.   

With their large following and established presence on TikTok, the D’Amelios accumulated a large network and earned numerous brand deals. For instance, Charli appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for Sabra Jan. 2020, which she promoted on TikTok. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Charli’s two-second appearance made her approximately $1 million. 

According to Forbes, Charli is the world’s highest-paid TikToker and earned a total of $17.5 million in brand and endorsement deals in 2021. Some of her biggest partnerships were with Takis, Morphe, and Invisalign, to name a few. Comparatively, Dixie made $10 million from brand deals such as Amazon, Simon Sleep and more. In addition to brand deals, the sisters launched their own clothing line with Hollister, Social Tourist.   

Now, the D’Amelio family is growing their empire and launching their own business venture: D’Amelio Brands.

A statement announcing the latest business venture was released Sep. 8 on Marc D’Amelio’s Instagram:

“We want to create great products and a brand that fill a need and serve a purpose with focus on socially conscious and sustainable products. More to come,” Marc wrote his 1.6 million followers.

Marc’s professional background has been the subject of scrutiny and has generated various conspiracy theories. For instance, an account on TikTok speculated that Charli’s sudden rise to fame was a result of her father who “is sus. he is rich AND a politician. those two things never go together well,” the post said. As the post indicates, it is publicly known that Marc ran for Connecticut State Senate to represent District 25 in 2018. However, Marc refers to himself as a businessman rather than a politician. 

While these conspiracies are outlandish and have almost no credibility, at their root they are an example of how confusing virality is to the general public. For instance, one comment posted by @timotheechalametspinkhat reads, “i’m happy for her but, 90m in less than a year??? for doing the same thing everyone else does?? it makes absolutely no sense.” 

The best answer, besides the conspiracies, is that the algorithm works in Charli’s favor. 

Either way, the family seems to be taking advantage of their platforms and the rapidly growing creator economy which is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion. 

The namesake will allow the D’Amelio family to develop and design their own products ranging from fashion, beauty and lifestyle which they can then market to their large following. According to Forbes, the company plans to hire and work with consumer professionals to develop the products.

Already, D’Amelio Brands has raised a total of $6 million in seed money with well-known investors such as Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt and Apple Senior Vice President of Services Eddy Cue. The family plans to own the company entirely, allowing them to cash in all the profits.

“We must take advantage of the moment,” Charli told Forbes in an interview.

Still active on TikTok and various other social media platforms, the family will maintain their previous brand relationships while they build their empire.


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