Trisha Paytas and the Importance of Credibility in Business
Your business and personal branding have a symbiotic relationship with your credibility: your branding supports your credibility and vice versa. This is why when one of them is affected by external factors, your business as a whole suffers. In cases when a business doesn’t rely heavily on the reputation of its owners, a damage control strategy might restore a lost reputation, but what happens when a business’s success and existence depends on the credibility of one person and how they’re perceived by their audience? This is the case with influencer brands.
This time, we’re going to explore the phenomenon of influencer businesses examining the case of American YouTuber Trisha Paytas, using it as a cautionary tale of why credibility is the foundation of every brand, and what small business owners can learn from it.
The Influencers’ Brands Era
Whether we like it or not, influencers are not going anywhere anytime soon, and they’re milking their time in the spotlight by diversifying their ventures beyond “influencing” their audiences to buy products from brands they work with. Some are even pitching their own products and founding their companies.
From fashion, makeup and skincare, to jewelry and tequila, influencers are launching products of their own virtually daily, and we wouldn’t bother to talk about it if most of these business ventures didn’t come with a high dose of controversy and scandal that go beyond the gossip and the tea.
An influencer that could be the synonym of scandal is Trisha Paytas, a YouTuber that became famous for their signature videos on their kitchen floor, mukbangs, and very public mental breakdowns that have been entertaining their fans since 2006. Currently Trisha’s main channel, blndsundoll4mj has 5 million subscribers. They also have an ASMR channel with 395.000 subscribers, and a family channel where they post videos featuring their husband and daughter with 1.44 million followers.
Trisha Paytas: the Embodiment of Controversy
Trisha, who uses they/them pronouns, was originally a YouTuber, and is now also a singer, performer, author and has launched a handful of companies. It seems every time they announce a new business venture people talk about it, for better or for worse. (Mostly for the worse.)
With Paytas being as prolific as they have been with their business endeavours, we can’t cover every company they’ve launched in a single blog, which is why we’re going to focus on two of the most relevant to our topic of branding lessons for small businesses: The Glitter B*tch Box, and their skincare lines.
The Glitter B*tch Box
At some point in 2019 Paytas came up with the “Glitter B*tch Box”, a subscription box with the promise that everything in the box would have glitter in it, and that every item would be curated and hand-picked by Paytas themselves.
The critics didn’t take long to arrive and say that the box was filled with cheap, poor quality products, and soon enough people started to find the same things that came in the box on AliExpress for $1 or less. The fact that the box was sold at $60, and Paytas claimed that the items in the box had a $150 value, made many of the buyers feel scammed, and the reviews reflected that:
Most of the people that bought the box to support Trisha noticed that it was obvious that the products in the box were far from being carefully selected, instead they looked as if they were tossed on it randomly to be shipped.
We don’t have to analyse the Glitter B*tch Box much to theorize that it was a mere cash grab, used to take advantage of the popularity of subscription boxes at that time and the loyalty of Trisha’s audience. If you put your face on a product and draw in people to buy it, they will start to associate the experience they have with you. If the experience they have is described as “cheap”, “disappointment”, or “misleading”, what do you think people will start thinking about you, and everything you do?
If this subscription box had been made by a regular Joe, they would be out of business for good by now, but when it comes to influencers like Trisha Paytas with a massive following of mostly young, sometimes gullible people, you may have more cards under your sleeve to play.
TrishSkin: the Skincare Line Nightmare
Oh boy, did Trish have some cards left. One of the preferred business lines to launch by an influencer is skincare, Trisha is no exception to this, and has had a few forays into the skincare industry.
“Feel Like Trish” was the first skincare line Paytas launched, where they sold products ranging from bronzers to lube. This line is currently unavailable, and it is unclear what happened to it. Paytas never said why they stopped producing these products, and their audience didn’t seem to care either, so Feel Like Trish was forgotten without much repercussion.
Paytas’ next skincare business was the opposite. Saying that it was a disaster is an understatement. They launched “TrishSkin” in partnership with the beauty company Glow Skin Enhancement in 2021, with seven products at a price of $199 that were a “miracle for the skin” quoting Trisha’s own words.
Paytas went big with the promotion of TrishSkin, making a commercial in which they appeared with a flawless, highly-edited and full makeup face, talking about the wonders the products did to cure her acne prone skin.
To make things worse, some of the customers reported having chemical burns after using the products. The myriad of hateful comments for Trisha and Glow Skin Enhancement didn’t stop until they retired the products from the market.
Lessons for All of Us
Overall, the people who were affected in one way or another by these products maintain they never received the proper treatment they deserved as customers, and the TrishSkin saga died down without Paytas being held accountable for anything that may have happened.
The TrishSkin case is a good reminder that all businesses owe their existence to their customers. This should be common sense, but Trish’s case teaches that once you lose your credibility, especially if your brand depends on your reputation as a public figure, you lose it forever.
TrishSkin has proven to be permanently damaging to Trisha Paytas’ reputation, because Paytas just announced yet another skincare line, partnered with none other than Glow Skin Enhancement, and things are not going well.
ASMR Skin: Trish Reaps What They Sowed
Yes, Trisha Paytas thought that it was a smart idea to do the same thing all over again, with the same “professional” partnership, but with a different name. ASMR Skin was launched on the 9th of January 2023, another line with seven products currently being sold at $143. And well…the audience reaction was expected by everyone but Trisha apparently.
This time it seems people are not buying it, literally. The disappointment and skepticism have spread among Trisha’s fans, and it’s only natural. Trish’s image and credibility is now attached to the unpleasant experiences of past disastrous business ventures, making the success of any future business endeavour almost impossible, even if they come with their best intentions at heart.
ASMR Skin is still very recent, so we can’t tell how it’ll go in the end for Trisha, but judging from the comments, Trisha has cried wolf to their fans too many times already.
Credibility: the Lifeblood of Every Brand
Any small business owner aspiring to build a strong, long-lasting brand, has to take their credibility seriously. In order to build it, businesses don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but simply use common sense and consistently provide top-tier products and services alongside with the customer support that gives their clients the respect and care they deserve as a reward for having chosen buying from them instead of the competition.
The process to build credibility seems simple, but it takes time (most of the time years) to actually make a name for your business that evokes trust in the mind of your audience. It may be tempting to say that Trisha Paytas case is extreme, but in the influencer economy we’re living in, Trish is just one example of the many problematic brands that other influencers are creating. Some of them are actually decent companies created with good intentions, but unfortunately many are money grabs influencers come up with to take advantage of their loyal followers.
What small business owners with honest intentions to provide value can do is to learn, both from the good and the bad, and build a company their customers would be proud to buy from and support.
Here are our top takeaways from the Trisha Paytas drama:
- Be careful with whom you associate: investigate anyone you partner with to make sure they are properly qualified to offer services in your business area, and that you are aligned on how you reply to customer concerns;
- Take care of your clients: reply to customer concerns publicly with an apology, but don’t get into the details in front of an audience. Immediately after making a public statement addressing the issue, contact the person privately and offer proper customer support; and,
- Think of the long run: even if a sketchy offer is popular at first, the damage to your reputation is likely to cost more than you make from it.