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Lehi mom's hit Web videos make for good hair days

By Cathy Allred

Daily Herald

Published: Monday, Sept. 5 2011 8:32 p.m. MDT

Mindy McKnight braids her daughter's hair. The McKnights developed a popular YouTube channel with dozens of hairstyles.

Associated Press

LEHI — Mindy and Shaun McKnight live in a quiet middle-class neighborhood with manicured lawns and stucco home exteriors in northwest Lehi. Their family of eight is a bit large by today's Utah County standard, but nothing extraordinary.

But the family's claim to fame comes a daily routine that most families go through — doing the girls' hair every morning.

"I think it's crazy," said Shaun McKnight. "It's exciting and fun. I mean, who knew? I don't think any of us knew two years ago where this would be going."

The McKnights recorded those moments — 120 hairdos — and posted the photos on a blog at www.cutegirlshairstyles.com early on. They later uploaded videos to YouTube.

"It's the YouTube site that is getting all of the national attention," said Shaun McKnight. "We never even checked for several months until YouTube sent an email that 'we noticed your videos are getting a lot of use, we want to advertise on them.' We thought it was a joke."

To date, they have had more than 33 million views on YouTube and their Facebook page has approximately 30,000 "likes" and 7 million page views.

"How-to is a huge and fast-rising category on YouTube, with some channels enjoying audiences of tens, or hundreds of millions," said YouTube spokeswoman Abbi Tatton. "The 34 million views for CuteGirlsHairstyles demonstrate just how well viewers around the world respond to clear, well-made instructional videos."

CuteGirlsHairstyles was featured on the YouTube home page on May 25 after winning the most votes in the "On the Rise" program that features up-and-coming YouTube channels. The Partner Program is YouTube's way of sharing advertising revenue with its most popular and successful video creators. There are 20,000 YouTube partners across the globe earning revenue from their videos.

YouTube splits the revenue generated by the ads with the partner, giving the partner the majority of the share. The more the videos are viewed, the more revenue is generated. According to Tatton, hundreds of partners are making more than $100,000 per year and thousands are making more than $1,000 a month.

The pathway to success began for the McKnights when they had twin daughters 11 years ago. Mindy McKnight said she had dreamed of doing her girls' hair and dressing them up. With the addition of another daughter, the stay-at-home mom decided to take pictures of the hairdos and place them in a photo album, so she could refer to the different styles in the future.

When her older daughters began searching through the album to find the do they wanted, the book became worn. So in 2008, she uploaded the photos onto a blog site with step-by-step instructions and photos and videos so the girls could choose without damaging the record.

Her daughters weren't the only ones looking at the site. Mindy McKnight's blog evolved into teaching moms how to do their little girls' hair in less than five minutes. The project has become a group effort.

"On the blog I'm the writer, he is the videographer," she said. "I'm more the creative side and he's the business management side."

Her husband has also become involved as part of their "Daddy Dos" section, featuring easy and quick girl hairdos for dads to do. Shaun McKnight leaves for work after each day's dos are done; he's a business development director for a supplement company in Provo.

"I think the nice thing about it is, it is time you would spend together anyway," Mindy McKnight said of their morning routine. "They're quick, anyway, under five minutes."

She said it takes them about 20 minutes to do four of their five girls' hair in the morning.

"Actually we make a pretty good team," she said. "We work well together."

Because of the exposure, their family is recognized wherever they go, even on vacation out of state. Their celebrity status draws offers from teenagers wanting to be adopted into their family and success stories from moms and dads globally about the hairstyles.

And the site has appeal beyond moms and dads — lately, teens seem to be searching their site for help doing their own dos.

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