Not only is YouTube sensation Peakmill the one to watch; she’s also setting a new standard. The incredibly relatable hair and makeup guru has racked up more than 400k+ Instagram followers and 850k+ YouTube subscribers since 2011. And her beauty breakdowns have garnered closed to 72 million views at the post date of this interview—say what?!

Yet, the soft-spoken Nigerian remains humbled and grounded, despite her overwhelming success.

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“To me, my beauty means confidence and graciousness. And I don’t just mean confident in your outer beauty, it’s deeper than that,” she tells ESSENCE. “How you carry yourself and your true personality. It’s great to look ‘done’ on the outside, but if you aren’t a good person what does that truly mean?”

It took us nearly three months to catch up with the busy beauty entrepreneur [Editor’s note: she just wrapped her wildly successful Wigz Across America tour in London last month]. But, we finally connected to learn more about the woman behind the brand, how she got started, and what’s next.

ESSENCE: Tell us about how you got your start. 

Peakmill: When I started my YouTube channel, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do or where it could go. Back then [when money was a little tighter], I was looking for a videos on how I to do my own hair by myself. [To my surprise] I came across so many tutorials and from there I really grew a strong interest in hair and makeup, [naturally] I started experimenting more on myself. After subscribing to a few ladies, I thought, “I may as well start doing my own videos, too.”

I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do at first. [Back then] doing hair reviews was the big thing. I was like, maybe I should do a review on the hair that I did my own install with. I started with that and other random stuff. I tried to be funny. Most of those videos have been deleted by now because they are super embarrassing. From there, I also started dabbling in makeup [because more] people would ask for makeup tutorials. [At the time], I was like, “how do you expect me to do a tutorial when I don’t know what I’m doing either?” But they [subscribers] were asking so much that I started creating them, which led to more. I felt the need to experimenting even more, learn more, and start researching more. Before you knew it, it just blew up.

ESSENCE: Your real name is Khadijat, but everyone knows you as Peakmill. Tell us how that came about.

Peakmill: I wanted to do something simple and tie back to Nigeria. I wanted them [Nigerians] to see the name and say “that sounds familiar” or “this girl must be Nigerian.” I didn’t want it to be something typical or common like “Nigerian Girl” or “Nigerian Barbie” or even “Nigerian Beauty.” I was trying to brainstorm a few things and “Peakmill” just randomly popped into my head. There’s this popular drink that Nigerians make for breakfast every morning—almost every Nigerian knows about it. It’s actually called Peak Milk, a chocolate milk similar to Milo. I was like I can’t really call myself Peak Milk, and I can’t really call myself a milk. I just combined the two and can came up with that, it’s kind of corny.

ESSENCE: You have over 300K followers on Instagram alone. What’s your social media approach and how has it shaped your success?

Peakmill: I still manage my social media myself! Social media has for sure brought in a lot of business. Especially if you’re a Youtuber, it’s always good to have [other channels/outlets]  for extra promo. Before, I would only post my videos on YouTube, but now because of Snapchat and Instagram they might not see it—they aren’t always on there.

This wig tutorial just went live on my YouTube channel. 😘 song by @ojay_kingpin

A video posted by Peakmill (@peakmilll) on

Now, whenever I post something on YouTube, I tease it across social media. By me posting that there’s a new video,  it gives me roughly one thousand more views because hundreds of thousands of people are seeing my Instagram feed. That’s dope! At the same time I feel like it’s a way to give them a teaser and get them excited to see what’s next to come.

ESSENCE: How do you manage to juggle so many fabulous projects at once without feeling overwhelmed?  

Peakmill: I do feel overwhelmed a lot of times with this. Occasionally, I have to go away for two week or a month—however long I need. Then, once it gets too long, I start to miss it and come back! But, whenever I “go away,” I don’t go away from everything. If I’m not doing YouTube, I’m at least making wigs.

If I’m not making wigs, I’m on Instagram posting just a little bit. [You never want to disappear] because for want to stay consistent. If you just disappear people are just going to lose interest—and people are going to start to fall off from you. You have to have to be very careful with that. I’ve been very fortunate; a lot of my viewers are very understanding when I take a break. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for a lot of content creators, a lot of times they are going to go away from a month and when they come back their viewers aren’t checking back with them like they used to. 

ESSENCE: What keeps you motivated and inspired?

Peakmill: One of the main things [that drives me] is my desire to help other people. That’s one of the reasons that I started my channel as well. Being so curious is what made me start my own channel—and for people asking me to bring them more. I’m like, “I’m helping all these people, why not?” What more can you ask for? I’m helping people and also making a living from it.  What really keeps me going is all the people coming up to me saying “I’m glad that you were able to help me”, “you inspire me”—and all that good stuff. That’s my main motivation to keep going.

ESSENCE: Wigs are convenient, beautiful, and protective. It seems like everyone is rocking them—what gives?

Peakmill: I wasn’t always interested in wigs. I wasn’t even that educated in hair extensions and how to care for them. Normally, I would get braids—the kanekalon braiding hair—that’s all I knew about. Once I got into the Youtube world and people started talking about half-wigs and the U-part wig really started coming into play (the U-part wig is the wig version of a sew-in). Of course, like you mentioned it’s so convenient. You don’t have to keep it in for so long and you can take it out, you can wash it, you can reinstall it. It’s just like a new sew-in. That’s what so exciting about it! I feel like because social media—especially YouTube—people are able to become more informed about this stuff. That’s why a lot of people are catching on it. I feel like if there’s no Youtube, then there wouldn’t be a lot of people selling wigs. 

ESSENCE: What’s next for you? 

Peakmill: I’m a very spontaneous person…Normally, I don’t just plan things out. I kind of just go with the groove of things. Whatever God has planned for me comes  my way and I just go with that. A lot of times I don’t try to have too many goals because you never know and things happen. I wouldn’t say that I don’t want to be disappointed, but at the same time that’s an aspect of it. Whenever something doesn’t go my way, it’s not the end of the world for me. I believe in second chances and moving on. It’ not the end of the world. You’re still breathing. Normally whatever comes my way, comes my way. Honestly I don’t have any major things planned for the next 6 months. Pretty much whatever I have coming out definitely whenever it’s out it gets noticed. And that’s all I can tell you at the moment.

ESSENCE: What advice can you give to other Black entrepeneurs?

Peakmill: I would definitely say that it’s not easy…Different people will come your way that you have to work with or sell to, or whatever the case may be. Try as much as you can to stay grounded, because not everybody is going to come into your life for the right reasons. You also want to be careful with the type of people that you deal with. Don’t easily trust people, but at the same time, don’t block people. Not everyone is out to get you. But, just test the ground and see how things are going before you dive into anything.

Keep up with Peakmill by subscribing to her YouTube page.