Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth. You can check out previous installments here.
In the summer between Paige Wassel‘s sophomore and junior years of college, she emailed Vogue cold and asked for an internship.
“I was studying PR at the time, and Vogue got back to me and they were like, ‘We’ve never had someone just email us for an internship,'” she says. “They brought me in for an interview, and I ended up landing it.”
Subscribe for daily Tubefilter Top Stories
She worked PR for Vogue, and then got a full-time job at a PR firm in Los Angeles after graduating. But it wasn’t too long before she realized “I just don’t want to do this anymore.” And she got lucky/unlucky: “I actually got laid off around that time where I was looking for new jobs. That started my whole freelance career as a prop stylist.”
Prop stylists arrange the items you see in photoshoots for brands like Crate & Barrel and magazines like Architectural Digest. Wassel has worked with both, along with dozens of other brands, over the last eight years.
And, had it not been for COVID, she’d probably still be prop styling full-time. But when COVID closed everything down, she saw the opportunity to express her creativity in a different medium: on YouTube.
Now, her channel has nearly 150,000 subscribers, and in addition to building it with videos about interior design and decorating, she’s also building her own company, WAS, which works with indie artists to drop vintage-inspired home goods. On top of both those things, Wassel is working on a recently launched newsletter, and is looking forward to 2024, when she wants to take all of this, the entire Wassel brand, to the “next level.”
Check out our chat with her below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: For this first question, just imagine somebody is reading this and they don’t know anything about you. They’ve never seen your stuff. Give me a little bit of an introduction about you and what you do and what your life was like up until social media.
Paige Wassel: Okay. My name is Paige Wassel, and I am from the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. I started my career path pretty early in college. I was very ambitious, and I got my first internship with Vogue magazine. My summer going to junior year, I just emailed a bunch of people in public relations. I was studying PR at the time, and Vogue got back to me and they were like, “We’ve never had someone just email us for an internship.” They brought me in for an interview, and I ended up landing it. That’s how my whole creative career started, but I was always on the backend where I worked in public relations for creative companies.
It wasn’t until I graduated college and moved out to Los Angeles where I was working at a PR firm, and I was like, “I just don’t want to do this anymore.” Weirdly enough, I actually got laid off around that time where I was looking for new jobs. That started my whole freelance career as a prop stylist. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last eight years. I’ve been a freelance prop stylist, and I style for interior brands. If you go to purchase a sofa from, let’s say, Crate & Barrel, I design those rooms and style those rooms that are being photographed. It’s a very specific industry. I absolutely love it.
I style a lot with Architectural Digest. I go in for magazine shoots, and we rearrange the homes and put them all together. I’ve always had this background in interior design. I wasn’t necessarily an interior designer. When COVID hit, I was like, “Maybe I’ll throw up a few videos.” After 10 of them, I think, one took off and I’ve been slowly growing ever since.
Was that too long?
Tubefilter: No, no, no, no. That’s perfect. How did you end up on social media?
Tubefilter: Before COVID hit, I remember talking with my friend, Kate. We were watching Jenna Marbles, actually, on YouTube. I’ve always been a big YouTube watcher. She was like, “You should start a YouTube channel.” I was like, “You know what? I have thought about that before.” I just never really delve into it or had the time. Once I wasn’t working on set as a prop stylist, I was like, “I’ll just throw up some stuff.” At the time, I had bought a condo in Chicago that needed some renovations. Lot of my first videos, which are hidden now, are me renovating or doing small renovation projects in my Chicago place.
Last night I was actually thinking about this. I was like, “What prompted me, or what was the week or the day that I was like, ‘Yes, I’m just going to throw up a YouTube video.'” Because it’s weird to look back on now just being like, I just threw up videos and, I guess it’s a newstart. It wasn’t until, I think, the 12th video, or I don’t remember exactly, the video called Don’t do this shit to your house. That took my channel off in a sense. I think I got 25,000 subscribers from that video, something around that. I was like, “Okay, I got a little momentum.”
I kept putting out new videos, trying new things and just seeing what sticks. My content has really changed throughout the, I would say– I’ve been on YouTube now for about two and a half years, almost three years, and my content has definitely shifted, but I keep just throwing stuff up and seeing what people like. I’ve really enjoyed it. Now it’s my full-time job now, YouTube and my company WAS. I don’t prop style as much because I was doing too many jobs. My manager was like, “You need to figure out what you want to do.”
Tubefilter: Understandably, yes. Also, I feel it’s very relatable to hide your first YouTube videos. I feel that’s a very common thing to do.
Paige Wassel: Yes, looking back.
Tubefilter: Was there a specific moment where you went full-time on this or has it just been a gradual development?
Paige Wassel: It’s been very gradual. I feel like I could have gone full-time a while back. I definitely could have. YouTube is an isolating career. I found out you’re just filming yourself. I do these home update videos where I’m showing my progress of decorating my home. I also do sit-down videos just talking about interior design. I was always on the fence of really pulling back on my prop styling career. Now I just do prop styling when I want to.
If Architectural Digest contacts me to do a shoot– I recently styled a shoot for Orville Peck in AD. It’s little projects I’ll do just to be on set because I really enjoy prop styling also. I don’t think I’ll ever be like, “I’m only a YouTuber.” I like having all of it, dabbling in having YouTube, and then now I have this company, WAS, and then the newsletter coming out and then taking on prop styling jobs when I’m just getting the itch to physically style something.
Tubefilter: I’d like to hear about how WAS got started.
Paige Wassel: When I started YouTube, a lot of the reason I started YouTube actually was to get myself a platform so I could have my own company, which is interesting because I don’t feel like a lot of people go onto YouTube with that intention. I have always wanted my own company. I had a small little company called Tap and Tack back right when I graduated. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial. I sold stylish tapestries that you would pin up on your wall. You can even look up their Instagram, Tap and Tack. It still exists. It’s a small little business I had.
I always wanted to have a little business, and I was like, “How do you do that nowadays if you don’t have a buttload of money to just launch a product? How do you promote your business?” I was like, “Oh, social media. That’s the way to do it.” It went hand in hand because I also really enjoy making videos on YouTube, but I also was like, “I could use this platform to launch WAS.” The second I had– I think I hit– once I got that plaque, that 100,000 subscriber plaque, I was like, “Okay, now I can launch this company.” It’s always been a really slow launch. It’s not like I just invested a ton of money.
The concept of WAS is that I partner with a small artist and we do a product drop. We come up with a product, we create it, and then we drop it and then everyone purchases it really quickly because once it’s gone, you never see it again. It’s like you get this one-of-a-kind item. It’s vintage-inspired that you’re getting a one-of-a-kind thing. Once it’s gone, we never release the product again. I partnered with– My first product launch was with this artist called Momo Gordon, and she designed wine glasses with me. I think I released 1,000 wine glasses, and they sold out overnight, which was pretty sweet. People liked it.
It’s like in replacement of merch, YouTubers always release merch and I’m like, “Oh, instead of merch, I’m just going to release fun home decor.” I didn’t even have to invest that much money into it. I remember I invested a couple thousand dollars to just test. I made the website myself on Squarespace. I invested some money into the product, I paid the artist, and I just used that to test if people would buy my products, and they did. The money I made from that, I was able to invest in the next launch of pillows. Then the money from that, I invested in the next launch of pillows. Now I’m investing a lot more money than I did. It’s definitely not a couple of thousand, but now I have tote bags coming out. As it grows, I keep upping the quantity that I’m selling. The last round of pillows sold out, I think, in six hours, which was pretty sweet.
Tubefilter: Yes, that’s amazing.
Paige Wassel: Yes, people like the concept, I think, of the drop and that they’re getting something unique. You have to be available for when the product’s released and you just don’t really know who the small artist is going to be. It’s a fun. It’s really fun. I really, really enjoy having a community that I’m building this company with. If you watch my stories on Instagram, I’ll ask people their opinions on the products as I’m making them, and so we’re kind of creating this product together, which is just such a fun thing.
Tubefilter: Yes, it’s really interesting to me because I feel like most YouTubers or most creators in general, they build their channels up to a couple of million followers and then do this kind of thing. The fact that you’re doing it at the same time, growing both the channel and your store, is really interesting to me. It’s very interesting brand-building.
Paige Wassel: I agree. I think it’s like a different approach in it. I think it has to do with my age also. I’m 31. I think a lot of people who start YouTube, I feel are in their young 20s. They don’t have this business background or approach to it. Whereas, I started YouTube to do this, but now I love YouTube. It’s fun. I started it so I could have an audience to build a company, but now I’m like– I’m very immersed in the YouTube world. I don’t want to stop making videos either. It’s fun to just have it all in one.
Tubefilter: How does YouTube production work for you? Do you aim to put out a video a week?
Paige Wassel: I do a video once a week, every Sunday. I’m pretty consistent on it. I’m pretty strict, because I’ve been freelance now for about eight years, you have to be very strict with yourself. Starting YouTube was pretty easy in that sense because I’ve already been really regimented and strict with waking up early and getting stuff done. Yes, I put a video out once a week. Sometimes I skip a week. There was a moment there where I was doing a Wednesday, Sunday thing, and I didn’t like doing that. That was too much content for me.
Tubefilter: You do really long videos comparatively.
Paige Wassel: Yes, yes. I think now I’ve been hitting around 30-minute videos. Especially since my content has changed, I’ve been doing a lot more home tours and stuff within my own home. It’s a lot easier to just find fun footage for that. Whereas, I did a lot of sit-down videos at the beginning of my channel, and I still do them, but those are– usually, I don’t want to chat for 30 minutes. I try to keep those under 20, but– I don’t know. I’m very like, YouTube is so– all this is very just still new to me. I just throw up whatever I feel like and see what happens.
Tubefilter: It’s clearly working for you. I am really interested too, I think you’re the first person I’ve spoken to who has begun growing a channel since the start of COVID and isn’t using short-form content.
Paige Wassel: Oh, I know. I dabbled in TikTok at the way beginning, and I actually built a pretty nice following. I actually hid all of them pretty recently because it was– that time was so long ago and I stopped posting. I think I had 15 videos, and it did well for me, but I’m really bad at immersing myself in all forms of social media. YouTube is really the only platform I’m really consistent and good at. Whereas, I’ll get approached for Instagram deals. I’ve never done one because I just can’t do that. I don’t know why.
I also think my approach in this is to not be everywhere, just contain into YouTube and people can find me there. I don’t want to take every brand deal that comes my way. I don’t want to just put a story up on Instagram to make money because I think my connection with my audience is pretty important to me. I think if I start flooding them with other content or ads, it could– I don’t know. That’s just my approach. My manager might have another opinion on that though.
Tubefilter: It seems like your videos you’re making now are what you really want to be doing. That’s great.
Paige Wassel: They definitely are. I think this upcoming year is going to be really fun for me content-wise because I have so many ideas, and I actually have time to do them now. Whereas, when I was prop styling more, I really couldn’t branch out. I have a lot of creative fun things coming up that I’m excited about.
Tubefilter: I’d love to hear about your newsletter. Where did the idea for it come from?
Paige Wassel: I feel like this ties back to me only being on YouTube. I’m very picky with the platforms I want to be on. Actually, estate media and my manager pitched the idea to me. My manager was shocked that I was going along with it because I feel like I’m constantly denying things. I liked that idea. I was like, “Oh, this is a good way to share some links of things that I’m purchasing or talking about certain things in my life maybe that I wouldn’t necessarily share on YouTube.” I’m not a very personal sharer on YouTube. I’ve actually shared a little bit more recently. I’ve been talking about my dating life. I’m like, “Oh, this is interesting.”
I think the newsletter is a fun way to type that out and tell people where I’m eating, what I’m buying, my weekend projects that I’m doing, or just random interior design stuff. We’ve come up with a few other concepts where I show– I feature a city every week that I find Facebook Marketplace finds for. If you read my newsletter and your city is featured, then you might find something on Facebook Marketplace that I personally picked out, which is a fun concept. Then a lot of people are fans of my best friend, Kate. On my YouTube, I’ve had her on a few times and people love– they love her. She’s also a prop stylist like me and works in interiors. We basically do the same thing.
She and I, we always are bouncing ideas off each other. She has a column in the newsletter as well where she does a paint color of the week. She’s really, really good at selecting paint colors and offers a service now where you can pay for her to tell you colors to paint your certain rooms. That’s another fun aspect. I don’t know, I’m very open to the newsletter growing and changing as we put it out. The first one’s being released– actually, I think it went out 20 minutes ago. We went back and forth on all the concepts for a few months, and I’m pretty excited about it. It’s the one other platform I’m like, “Okay, sure. YouTube and a newsletter.”
Tubefilter: More and more creators are doing newsletters. Especially for people who trend toward longer-form stuff, it really works out.
Paige Wassel: Right. I think if you’re in a specific niche, if you’re in fashion or if you’re in interiors or something where sharing a link or sharing products or, I don’t know, it’s an easier way to share stuff. Sometimes when I make YouTube videos and I’m sitting down– today I’m filming a video of a gift guide. It’s called Cool gifts to give or something like that. I don’t know. I’ve done it in the past years. I was thinking to myself, I was like, “Do people really want to watch me talk about what to purchase for your friends for Christmas, or I could just put it in a newsletter?” It’s kind of taking that content and shifting it over so I have space for different content on my channel.
Tubefilter: What does the average week look like for you now in terms of producing a video and a newsletter and working on your store?
Paige Wassel: It’s a lot. Every week is different for sure. I have to break down my weeks pretty intensely. This one’s not as bad because I was sick, so I got to move some things around. There are a lot of small details that go into my weeks, especially if I take on a prop styling job, that actually floods it. I would say Monday is the day I get my stuff together. I would never film on a Monday because usually I’m a little salty from all the food I ate over the weekend and maybe the booze I drank. I like to get myself maybe a Monday off, sometimes Tuesday off. I’ve been really bad at it lately, where I’m like filming on a Wednesday and a Thursday, and then I have to edit on Friday. Today I’m filming on a Friday. It’s going to be great.
Every week is different. I have meetings with the newsletter people, the team. Usually every other week or so, we have a bunch of shared docs that we’re just going in and editing and getting it prepared to go out on Friday. Then WAS, it depends. The totes that I’m launching come out December 10th, so we’re in crunch time. This next week is going to be really dedicated to finalizing all of that stuff. When we get really close to the launches of the products is when I really have to focus. Then I usually take a few weeks off after where I’m like, “I can’t think about creating another product right now. I need a break.”
Every week I’m going into my manufacturer. I’m sourcing fabrics for whatever product I’m putting out. It’s definitely a lot of work. I’ve slowly been giving up control. My manager’s like, “You should let people help you because you have too much on your plate,” which is he’s really great at helping me out with that. I’m just super particular and trying to accept help so that I can get more done.
Tubefilter: I know it’s difficult, but that’s a very common inflection point. Creators who are really growing this as a business, everybody hits that point. I’m glad you’re adjusting to it.
Paige Wassel: Slowly.
Tubefilter: Yes, slowly. We’ve talked a little bit about what you’re doing for the future, but do you have any other plans or aspirations or goals for the next year you can talk about?
Paige Wassel: Right now I was just thinking about this with– I was talking about this with my mom. I was like, “How lucky am I to be in this position right now where I get to design products and I get to art direct photo shoots and prop style photo shoots?” For eight years, I’ve just been styling for other clients, and now I’ve shifted it where I’m like, “I’m creating this myself.” I’m in this position right now where I can create anything I want for YouTube, I can create any product I want. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it wouldn’t sell, but I don’t know. From the trajectory I’ve been on, people have enjoyed my stuff.
My goal of the next year is to really immerse myself in my content and creating the content I really want to create and putting out more products with WAS. I’m very excited about the growth of my company. I’m honestly– sometimes I wake up and I’m shocked that I get to do this. It’s pretty wild that I’ve created a freelance career for myself for the past eight years, really enjoyed it, loved it, and now I’m like shifting it into something of my own. I’m very excited. I think, that’s focusing on YouTube, WAS, all the same stuff, but just taking it to the next level, hopefully.
Paige Wassel (and her new newsletter) are with Estate Media.