THE ‘ON FLEEK’ TEEN’S VINE WENT VIRAL IN 2014, BUT MONROEE NEVER SAW A SINGLE CENT OF THE PROFITS. NOW SHE’S READY TO CHANGE THAT.
When Peaches Monroee posted a funny Vine describing her eyebrows as being “on fleek” — a phrase she spontaneously made up — she figured maybe a few friends would see it. Instead, the entire internet took notice, catapulting the two words into overnight virality. It took half as long for others to capitalize on it.
That was three years ago. Today, Peaches (whose real name is Kayla Newman) wants her second shot. According to the 19-year-old Chicago native, she hasn’t seen compensation or recognition for her phrase, which has since been stitched onto sweatshirts, sewn on beanies, and made into stickers. Stars like Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj have used it, but Newman still remains largely uncredited (as many black teenagers responsible for shaping internet culture frequently are).
With the support of her social media followers, the nursing student has recently started a GoFundMe campaign with a $100,000 goal to launch a hair and cosmetics line. “I feel like everyone has those chances in life,” Newman told MTV News over the phone. “I missed one, but this is my second time.” We spoke with Peaches about being known as the “on fleek” girl, the inspiration behind her new project, and how life has changed since her viral moment.
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]
Can you describe your Vine that went viral? What was that experience like for you?
Kayla Newman: Well, I had just come from getting my eyebrows done and it was me and my mom. She went into the store and I was just sitting in the car and I was like, “OK. Let me just say something about my eyebrows.” That’s when that video came about. I had never heard of “fleek.” I had never said it, never had written it down — it just came out. I was on Twitter and people from my school — I was a sophomore going into my junior year — kept saying “Peaches gonna be famous,” [or] “Wow, that video is blowing up.” And I’m just like, “What are you talking about? Whatever.” Next thing you know, I’m hearing people saying it everywhere.
I didn’t think it was gonna be this big. I didn’t tell my mom until a month or so later. She didn’t know about it and people were coming up to me in public. She was like, “How do they know you? What are they talking about?” And that’s when I showed her. She was like, “This is something positive. You’re not doing anything obnoxious and I’m pretty sure this will go one of two ways for you.” And after that, it has. People have been using it. People have come up to me saying, “I haven’t paid a penny for my eyebrows since I’ve seen that video.” And I’m like, “Really? Because all I did was just say something.” Now I’m sitting here in 2017 trying to do something with it.
How has your life changed from when you first went viral to now?
Newman: I would say the people and some of my social media. In 2014, high school was iffy and rocky. You have teachers and you don’t want to bring that outside world inside of school. People were looking at me. Teachers found out and they were talking about it. But I stayed focused on my books. Either way, I was still going to get the grades. I would ignore [the attention]. So many of my peers’ mothers and grandmothers had seen it on Facebook and would say, “Does that girl go to school with you?!” People at my brother’s school would come up to me. My mom was so shocked. Whenever someone would say it, she’d say, “How do you know about this?”
How long after your Vine went viral did you realize people were profiting from “on fleek”?
Newman: Not too long, to be honest. People were hitting me up on social media saying, “So-and-so has hats and you need to sue them.” One company was trying to get me — they even used “fleek” in one of their hair lines. They basically wanted me to ride over the video. I said, “No, I can’t do that. It’s still mine.”
It was big. You pop a firework and it goes up in the air and splashes — that’s how my video was. So many people were selling stuff. It didn’t take too long. Within two to three months, I started seeing [“on fleek”] everywhere.
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