Welcome to All in the Creator Family, where in partnership with upcoming YouTuber event FamFest — a two-day, all-ages festival starring family vloggers — we profile content creators whose families are at the heart of their videos. Each week, we’ll chat with a featured family-oriented creator about how they established their own unique platform within the booming content space.
From Cinderella to Snow White to The Parent Trap, so many of our stories feature stepparents who are unloving, conniving, and even outright evil. The cruel stepmother/stepfather–sometimes paired with equally cruel stepsiblings–is a fictional figure so familiar it’s probably become a tired trope for some viewers. But for the many, many children and adults who are already part of blended families (or will be in the future), it can almost seem like a warning that they’ll never have the kind of happy life a “traditional” family does.
Jessica Skube, her partner Chris, and their close-knit blended family are here to prove otherwise. To their 2015 marriage, Jessica brought daughter Lilia, son Landen, and twins Kyson and Kaden, and Chris brought his boys Caden and Tommy. In 2016, they welcomed their seventh child, daughter Addelyn. To say they have a full house is an understatement–and it’d also be an understatement to say that with such a large family, things can get just a little complicated.
The Skubes are totally open about their lives together, documenting both the triumphs and the tough times on three channels: their core one, JesssFam, which has 1.01M subscribers and nets around 7M views per month; JesssKids (46K, around 40K per month); and Jessica’s solo channel, Just Jesss (166K, around 800K per month). Some of what they share–doctor visits, occasional elevator-related mishaps, vacations, and back-to-school prep–is what you’ll find on many family channels, regardless of the families’ makeups. But they also talk about uniquely blended family things like custody issues and trying to arrange Thanksgiving when their kids have other parents to visit and other dinners to attend (below).
Being visible as a blended family is important to Jessica and Chris not just because it’s actually how they live their lives, but because the positive image of a blended family is vital for some kids–and parents–to see. They want others to know that it is possible for parents, stepparents, and children to come together as one happy, healthy family.
Check out our chat with them below.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! What did you do before YouTube?
Jessica Skube: My name is Jessica Skube and I’m a mama to seven kiddos. We are a blended family, and I run three YouTube channels: our family channel (JesssFam), my kids’ channel (JesssKids), and my personal channel (Just Jesss). I started YouTube 10 years ago, when I was only 17 and I was pregnant with my daughter. So I’ve been doing this my entire adult life. Before YouTube, I was just a normal awkward teen in high school.
Tubefilter: What made you decide to start a YouTube channel? What specifically appealed to you about running a family channel?
JS: It wasn’t a black-and-white decision for me. I started by making weekly pregnancy vlogs with my daughter just to document my pregnancy, and when she was born, I transitioned it into weekly videos of my family. I was just doing it for the memories, but when more and more people started watching, I started uploading more–and the rest is history!
Tubefilter: As you mentioned, your family is blended, and that can come with some challenges! Why is it important for you to document the tough parts of being a family as well as the highs?
JS: I share my journey because it’s real. Not many people can relate to a totally perfect family with no challenges. Co-parenting and blended families are somewhat taboo for a lot of people to hear about because emotions surrounding divorce with children are complicated. It can often be a touchy subject for lots of families because of the expectation of being perfect and fear of being criticized. It’s easy to lose yourself through hard times, so I strive to show people who may not be in the typical family that life happens. It’s okay for everything to not be perfect, but still be the best for everyone involved. I’m so passionate about it, because although our situation is not ideal and our family dynamic is unusual, it doesn’t mean our lives can’t be filled with the same amount of love and respect. Our life is complex and fascinating to some, but I’ve had so many people reach out to me throughout the years about how I’ve helped them in some way, and that’s why I continue to do this.
Tubefilter: Society gets fed a lot of stereotypes about “evil” stepparents and by-marriage kids being treated differently because they’re not someone’s “real” children. Why do you think it’s important for viewers to see a blended family that’s happy and thriving?
JS: As parents, we all have the same goal: happy, healthy, well-balanced children. It’s not often you hear about blended families in a light other than highlighting the negative relationship between parents. When you are in co-parenting situation, you are often criticized more, with higher expectations of how you handle situations. It’s important for people to see that although it’s tough, it’s doable to put the kids first and keep going.
Tubefilter: Why do you think family content is so popular with people across social media platforms? What are some key things you’ve noticed about your own audience?
JS: There are many different factors that play into who our audience is. Some of our viewers are parents and some of our viewers are not. Some may even have no interest in ever having any children of their own. But generally speaking, childbearing and childrearing is just fascinating in itself. My own audience seems to be mainly female, but regardless of gender I think we, as humans, are drawn to other humans and captivated by our abilities to raise, nurture, and educate these little tiny creatures we brought into this world. There are so many types of families, and I think it’s fascinating how different people juggle the different sets of circumstances life hands them.
Tubefilter: How do you keep your content fresh and standout in such a crowded space?
JS: I try to stay humble and relatable, but at the same time somewhat entertaining. I take life’s challenges and try to convey our reality in a fun, educational, and sometimes humorous way. There is so much content out there now, there’s almost no way to guarantee you will stand out. I just make sure to have fun while creating content, and then honestly just cross my fingers that the video performs as well as I’d like it to.
Tubefilter: Are there any other family content creators who inspire you?
JS: So many. There are some fellow OG YouTube mamas, like britneyandbaby, who inspire me to keep going and remind me why we started doing this in the first place. Then there are several I’ve fallen in love with other the years, like OKbaby, Sunkissed Mama, and DearGreyson. There are countless amazing creators on this platform who continuously inspire my creativity, editing styles, and ideas.
Tubefilter: What are the challenges of running a channel where your kids are the stars right alongside you?
JS: My kids have been born and raised on YouTube, and now that they’re getting older, I’m realizing some of the challenges that come along with that. One being going out in public and people knowing who they are. Although they are used to it and know no different, it’s hard to explain to them the dynamic of the numbers and what it all means. They know we have one million subscribers, but they don’t understand yet how incredibly substantial that is. I have to continue to remind them to stay humble, while encouraging their creativity in what they are becoming and wanting to become.
Tubefilter: How do you balance your content production? Is there a certain number of hours you film each day, or do you just film when it feels like something vloggable is happening? Do you keep space for downtime/non-filming?
JS: I stick to uploading content Monday through Friday, so one video five days a week. But I don’t necessarily film on those specific days. Generally at the beginning of the week, I will look at my schedule and plan out which days we are going to film, depending on what things or activities are going on that week. Sometimes life happens and I pick up the camera unexpectedly as well. On filming days, I usually film intermittently between 8 a.m. and bedtime, and usually edit from bedtime until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. Between filming, editing, and uploading, there is never really much downtime. However, being a mom comes first, and sometimes you just gotta make time to snuggle up with your babies off-camera.
Tubefilter:Is YouTube your full-time job? What else does the average day involve?
JS: Yes, YouTube is my full -time job and has been for the last several years. We have three different YouTube channels and between filming, editing, and uploading, I typically work seven days a week. Our average day looks like most other families’–except we’re holding and talking to a camera!
Tubefilter: What plans do you have for the future, both for your family and your channel?
JS: Ten years ago, I never would’ve expected to still be making videos on YouTube. That being said, I think it’s safe to assume I have no freaking clue what the future holds for us. We’ve had so man ups and downs over the last decade, I can only imagine what is to come for our channel and our family. We will continue to strive for the best, and I cannot see us living life outside of the public eye anytime soon.
FamFest is the biggest two-day family festival featuring your favorite YouTube stars. Our mission is to bring families and creators together in an immersive environment to create memories through engagement. FamFest will be featuring one-of-a kind experiences and “Instagrammable” moments at the OC Fair & Event Center on June 20th & 21st, 2020. Tickets (use the code JESSS50 to get $50 off any ticket), sponsorships, and more information available now at famfestusa.com.