All over the nation and across the globe in places like Brazil, Portugal and even Israel, 19-year-old Christian Garcia is known as an “influencer” — someone who earns quite a bit of “likes,” to say the least. The older folk may not know him or understand what he does, but those between the ages of 12 to 20 know all about his online escapades.
“We have fun,” said Garcia, who will answer any question about his work by tapping on his phone — which (by the way) is signed by pop idol Selena Gomez. He holds up the screen and says, “Here, let me show you.” He scans colorful photos of himself in front of a candy pink flamingo background or surrounded by the dazzling colors of the Cambria Christmas light tunnel. Some are of him and his other famous YouTube or Instagrammer friends. One is with Demi Lovato. THE Demi Lovato.
Garcia, an Atascadero resident, had just returned from his weekly trip to L.A. to film at the YouTube studio with his agent and go to the same Sunday church service that Justin Bieber goes to.
Garcia was tired and wanted to play with his pet bunny and hang out with his sister, but that didn’t keep him from laughing his easy laugh and giggling at just about everything. Garcia — friendly, likable, downright irresistible — has figured out how to live a joyful, unconventional life as an online personality.
But as much as his business is based on self-promotion, Garcia remains humble to the fame, using the virtual stage as more of a way to spread good vibes. He is a faithful Christian and starts the day in prayer. He will be the first to say he feels compelled to make the world better by living in kindness.
“It’s like people will see the fruits of what you’re giving the world,” he said. “If you’re being rude behind closed doors, it will show. It’s better to be a good person in general. You never know when someone is going through something. And it could really impact them.”
Garcia has the social media empire down to a science and the young entrepreneur is thriving on several platforms. With more than 350,000 Instagram followers, more than 100,000 views on each of his popular, kid-friendly YouTube videos, and a half-a-million followers on Snapchat, his goal this year is to reach 400,000 on Instagram, buy himself a Mercedes G Wagon, travel the World, and make more YouTube videos for his channel.
Eventually, he’d like to help out his family to reciprocate all the support they’ve given him.
Mostly, however, he wants to be a friend to as many people as possible. He said he didn’t have many friends when he was growing up, so he would like to make that time up. He believes in positivity and the power of good intentions and that “everything happens for a reason.” He wants to inspire the next generation. At the cusp of Generation Y himself, his target audience will be the Z Generation as well.
“I want to be your friend,” he said. It’s that simple.
Garcia likes to share “fun facts” about himself to connect with others. He is “obsessed” with local coffee shops like Scout Coffee Co. (#2) and their fabulous latte art. He’s sponsored by Lemonade (the brand) so that’s what he drinks in all his Instagram posts. He loves acai bowls, California donuts (especially the Panda one, he says you can only find in L.A.), bright colors – especially when it comes to tie-dye, and positive thinking. His likes and obsessions set the trends in the social media world, which is the reason “influencers” like Garcia, and his good friend, Karina Garcia, gather sponsors.
The other Garcia (not related) and Garcia made collaborated on a DYI Starbuck Ombre Slime video that amassed 164,000 views on YouTube ten months ago. His other popular uploads were “The Real Meaning Of The Holidays and Christmas” and “Things to Do This Winter.” He’s very proud of his #14,219 popularity rating on the Famous Birthdays app (https://www.famousbirthdays.com/people/christian-garcia-instagramstar.html), which rates the most popular entertainers according to fan votes (rather than corporations).
And though he never planned the path his life has led so far, he’s enjoying the ride and making the most of it. He’s working on a worship album with his sister and a devotional book chock-full of advice for young people. “I’m actually doing what God’s calling me to do,” Garcia said.
Garcia said he wakes up each morning telling himself it’s going to be an amazing day that inspires people. “It isn’t about me,” he said. “It’s about what God is sending me to do. My mindset is: ‘What good are you going to do for somebody?’ How am I going to show God’s love to somebody today?”
Garcia is also known in these parts. He is an Atascaderan — He went to Monterey Road Elementary, Atascadero Junior High, graduated early from AHS and Del Rio.
“All of the teachers at school follow me on Instagram,” he said with a laugh. He said all their support has been “mind-blowing.” Garcia likes to give back as well. He said, “Those types of things make me happy. And so he helps out with Lighthouse events and volunteers with and Santa’s House in SLO.
Garcia’s family consists of Omar, his father, who works at Atascadero State Hospital, and his mother Alejandra. He has two sisters: Denise and Lucero.
Garcia said his family has believed in him ever since he was young. By age seven, he was singing at local county fairs around the state.
His first big break was competing on the Latin-American version of the “X Factor” at age 11, when he made it to the final 60. After that, he said his sister Denise (age 16) urged him to start making videos and his dad bought the siblings a camera to film videos.
“Back in 2014, YouTube was not popular for Millennials,” Garcia said. “It wasn’t a thing.” But his sister, his biggest cheerleader, took him to downtown SLO and ordered him to make a video. Garcia’s first video was entitled simply, “How to have a better day.” The video presented some straightforward advice: Get outside. Read a book. Talk to a friend.
“It skyrocketed,” said Garcia, who said the video received 30,000 views, making it onto the “popular” page. Garcia’s fans are mostly teens. Last summer he showed up at the Ravine Water Park for a “Meet and Greet” and about 40 kids showed up to meet him. His YouTube channel aims for the 12 to 14-aged crowd. His Instagram is more for young teens.
“My YouTube thing started blowing up and I started collaborating with other YouTubers,” Garcia said.
Garcia and his YouTuber friend Karina Garcia soon found themselves on Good Morning America explaining the whole ‘slime’ trend.
Nowadays Garcia’s YouTube channel is signed by BroadbandTV. He said the agent who signed him helped him learn about business — something he had no idea about before. “I was just walking in deep waters,” he said. But the YouTube staff saw his potential as an influencer.
“You have to have a lot of faith in yourself,” said Garcia to those who want to try their hand at social media. “You have to believe in yourself – You need a ground to stand on. Because if you forget where you came from, that’s not good, so you have to learn a lot before getting into this.”
Garcia patiently explained the intricacies of making money on YouTube. He said getting “views,” not subscribers, brings in the payments. He said people who have millions of subscribers may only be getting 100,000 views. But for each 1,000 views, he said, YouTubers make about $3,000. Social media can be a lucrative business for a young man like Garcia. He said just last year he made $30,000 on YouTube alone. He also consults for SLO county businesses looking to expand their social media presence. With Instagram, Garcia collaborates with different brands as an ambassador (basically sampling the products on his various mediums). He will be starting a campaign with Calvin Klein starting this summer. But Garcia said he would like to be more financially stable. He said the PayPal payments are pretty up and down. He’d like to be in the same position as some of the top “influencers,” who are making a typical year’s salary in just one month.
“There’s money and stuff — but if you just focus on the money, it’s not going to make you happy,” Garcia said. “If you really love social media, pursue it and you will have it. It happened with me. It could happen with just anyone. But you have to really love it. I’ve seen people get into this and they’re just doing it for the wrong reasons. I love showing positivity. Social media is bringing up the next generation. They’re the ones who are going to be taking over... They’re the ones who are going to be changing the world. That’s why I believe if you show positivity, many young kids are going to see that.”
Garcia’s next meet and greet will be in Pismo Beach. Check out his Instagram page for more information, coming soon. He will be hosting a talk on social media for students at Paloma Creek High School, 10801 El Camino Real, Atascadero on June 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for students. For more information on Christian Garcia’s work, visit his Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/chrstiangarcia/ or YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCII_W2TS5KzuDijaugBaF7g
photos courtesy of Christian Garcia