YouTube Style Guru Q&A: Jarmaine Santiago


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Move over, Pioneer Woman. There are some new Internet superstars in town.

While millions of women around the country are reading tales of the Pioneer Woman’s sexy rural life, their daughters are tuning into YouTube, where a new generation of young women is generating enormous audiences of style-obsessed viewers between the ages of 12 and 24. Posting self-produced videos on how to do the perfect smoky eye, how to wear your hair like Jessica Alba or what to wear, the most successful of these YouTube gurus can rack up more than 300,000 views per video.


Many of these style gurus are living right here in Los Angeles. We wanted to get to know them -- and thought you would, too, through an occasional series of Q&A’s.

First up—Jarmaine Santiago, a 21-year-old student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing whose channel JLovesMac1 has 314,173 subscribers. Santiago’s persona is a mix of Fran Drescher meets gospel preacher meets pretty Filipina girl with Tourette syndrome. ‘It’s like my alter ego that comes out when I’m excited,’ she said during a recent phone interview. ‘I have to be in the mood to shoot a video.’

Originally from Ventura County and currently living near Koreatown, Santiago said she spent six months watching other YouTube gurus before she jumped into the fray herself a year and a half ago. ‘First I did it out of curiosity, then it became a little hobby, and then I got obsessed with it and I’m still obsessed with it,’ she said. She posts two to three videos a week on one of her two channels--Jlovesmac1 and Jarmaine TV -- and says it takes her about four hours to make a video--two to talk and two to edit. ‘It’s like you are running your own show,’ she said. ‘It’s your channel and you can talk about anything you want.’

In a recent video called ‘Haul: Forever 21’ (linked above) Santiago describes a spring shopping trip to the discount retailer where she was accosted by an aggressive sales clerk (‘It’s like, what do you want from me, woman!’), bought a blank tank top with a zip-up back (‘For easier access....just kidding!’) and some short shorts (‘If you are looking for the perfect Daisy Dukes for summer...ewww girl! don’t even have to look anywhere else.’)

It got more than 90,000 views within 24 hours.

ATR: Describe your style:

JS: I don’t know. I don’t even know what my style is yet. I’m still in the discovery stage. I like to go with whatever’s comfortable. I’m a little bit girly, but not too girly, but I shy away from being girly because I want to look mature. I’m into fashion, but am I big follower? No. But I like to risk it a little sometimes. But I don’t really have style. It’s changing.

ATR: What’s more important, makeup or clothes?

JS: Do I have to choose an answer? .... I don’t know. Well, I was born into this Earth naked… OK. Clothes. I feel like you can express more of yourself with how you dress. But when I take off my makeup I’d look like a zombie, so we don’t want to go there.


ATR: Favorite place to shop in Los Angeles?

JS: H&M and Forever 21. I love to go bargain shopping. And I love Asian stores, they are the best. I like to get eyelashes from the Asian stores and Asian beauty products because those are good, and they are cheap too. And they are international, so you can get a gist of what other countries are doing.

ATR: Least favorite place to shop in Los Angeles?

JS: I’m not really into stores like Anthropologie or Abercrombie or Urban Outfitters or anything like that. I want to shop for what my subscribers could afford. I worked a part-time job. I like to take a little risk and spend my money, but hey…those places aren’t affordable. I know at H&M and Forever 21 the quality isn’t long term, but you know, who cares about quality.

ATR: What are your three most essential makeup products?

JS: Eyebrow pencils and mascara and concealer. Those are the core and they are what I started out with on YouTube and what I was most innovative at. That’s been my holy grail since the get-go.

ATR: What are your three most essential wardrobe items?

JS: Umm…..jeans, that’s for sure. And a white tank top underneath a shirt and hoops. Yeah. Hoops. They look good with jeans and T-shirts, you look casual, but I don’t know, edgy?

ATR: Finish this sentence. I make YouTube videos because…..

JS: I like to make people smile. And I like to bug people.

--Deborah Netburn

Video: Jarmaine Santiago on YouTube