A 21-year-old make-up lover from Jersey has opened up about about the highs and lows of her accidental journey to becoming a TikTok star... from dealing with school struggles and social media threats, to mingling with celebrities in LA.
Laila Paul is one of the British Isles' most successful content creators in the make-up and skincare industry, boasting almost 1.5 million followers and over 40 million likes on TikTok.
However, the future did not always look so bright. Growing up in Jersey, Laila struggled at school and was constantly anxious about her future career prospects.
With two doctors for parents, she put a lot of pressure on herself to be successful but traditional ‘academic’ subjects didn’t come naturally to her.
Laila explained that she first heard of Tiktok through her younger sister and her university friends, who used the app to record videos of themselves dancing.
@lailapaul7 Get unready with me X @loccitaneusa ad #fyp #grwm #viral ♬ Escapism x Streets - FYP ????????????
After studying at Beaulieu Convent School since she moved to Jersey at the age of nine, Laila found herself at the University of Brighton studying Law.
“I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after school, so I don’t know why I chose to study Law,” she admitted. “My parents didn’t care what I studied, but they had always encouraged me to go to university to get some experiences outside of Jersey.
“I think I just picked Law because it sounded like a sensible career path, but I actually found it really hard.”
When her university friends would record videos of them dancing to post on TikTok, Laila said that she would “always sit in the corner out of the way”.
Pictured: Laila moved to Jersey at the age of nine, and attended Beaulieu Convent school until she was 18.
“I just didn’t get it,” she laughed. “I remember thinking: ‘I’m never getting this app, it’s so weird!’”
However, like many other youngsters, Laila was eventually lured into the addictive world of Tiktok during the first pandemic lockdown in 2020.
Back in Jersey and stuck indoors, there wasn’t much else to fill her days with.
It was then that Laila began to realise that there was more to the app than just dance routines, but her first viral video happened completely by accident.
She explained: “My mum has an aesthetic clinic in Jersey, so my first video that went viral was actually just a meme of her doing my lip fillers.
“I thought nothing of it, I don’t even know why I posted it but it slowly started getting views and my first reaction was: ‘Oh no, my mum’s going to kill me!’”
Pictured: At the time of writing, Laila had 1.4 million followers and 40.8 million likes on Tiktok, but her social media platforms continue to grow rapidly.
In just one day, that video was watched but over 50,000 people.
Excited by the accidental success, Laila headed to Superdrug to get loads of makeup and skincare supplies to create more videos.
She said: “I don’t really know what my thought process was at the time. I was so young and I didn’t even know that much about makeup or skincare.
“I just knew that I wanted any videos I posted to have an element that made people think, ‘What is she doing?!’ to encourage more views.”
Laila’s second Tiktok video quickly hit one million views, and trademarked her now iconic style of showing crazy skincare and makeup trends.
“I’ve always been really creative and art was the only subject I liked at school,” said Laila. “I did enjoy doing my makeup but I never thought I wanted to be a makeup artist, it just kind of happened.”
Hooked, she began posting videos on her Tiktok account once a week and amassed more and more followers.
Pictured: "I feel like I’m living in a fairy tale!”
Laila was soon approached by makeup and skincare brands, including Rimmel London, who wanted to work with her to promote their content.
She said: “Back then, I remember being so excited to be earning about £200 to 300 per Tiktok video. It seemed like a crazy amount of money when I was only 16 years old, I thought it was so cool!”
Laila added: “It’s really crazy that the TikTok niche I accidentally picked is one of the biggest ways to make money online - makeup and skincare is huge.
“People who are fashion influencers struggle to make as much money from it, but make up and skincare is incredible. It’s crazy to me!”
Forging any career path at such a young age is difficult, but Laila faced additional challenges with the lack of advice available about working in the relatively new industry of content creation.
“I was so young, and I took everything on myself,” said Laila. “I didn’t have a manager back then, so I was having to negotiate all of these sponsorships and brand deals by myself.”
She added: “It was really hard because no one really knows anything about a career in social media!
“When you google it, it doesn’t tell you how much you are expected to charge the brands and there’s nothing to do with contracts. All of that stuff is such a big deal, which I didn’t realise before.”
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Now represented by Outreach Agency, Laila has been offered some amazing opportunities and experiences offered to her due to her TikTok success.
She has recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles for the launch of Mac Cosmetics’ new ‘Hyper Real’ skincare range, where she was the only UK content creator to be flown over to attend the exclusive launch event.
“It was absolutely incredible,” gushed Laila. “I though London was cool, but LA is mental. It’s literally full of celebrities and I just took my mum along as my plus one. It was so fun, and she absolutely loved it!”
Pictured: Laila recently had the opportunity to take her mum to LA to attend a Mac Cosmetics launch event.
Laila has also been invited to a trip to New York with Benefit in March, but has even bigger plans for the future long-term. Her ultimate goal is to found her own skincare and makeup brand.
Laila said: “I can’t just be creating videos for my whole life, obviously I need to move forward with it. I feel like I’m now at the stage where that could start happening within the next few years.
“Brands pay me to advertise their products, so I could definitely do it for my own thing!”
Although Laila is living the dream in London now, she worked incredibly hard to get to where she was and is frustrated by people who don’t view social media content creation as a ‘real job’.
She said: “People think it’s easy to just post a video, but they don’t realise how hard you have to work and how mentally strong you have to be.”
“I grinded so hard to get to where I am now,” added Laila.
“It took a lot of work to get to a million followers. Even now, it sounds crazy saying that number out loud. I feel like I’m living in a fairy tale!”
@lailapaul7 Testing out the new Hyper Real High-Performance Skincare range from @maccosmetics #MACHyperReal #MACSkinArtistry ♬ Get Hyper Real™ - MAC Cosmetics
However, Laila admitted that she is glad she launched her TikTok account when she did, as she believes it would be so much harder to start out now.
“The competition now is massive!” she said, but explained that this drives her to work even harder.
“Everyone is lovely and it’s always a really nice environment at influencer events that I go to, but it can definitely be competitive,” Laila said.
“I feel like I produce such a niche style of video that no one else really does, so it doesn’t worry me too much. It’s just really fun to learn from other people with more followers.
“I love the element of healthy competition - it motivates and stimulates me to be better.”
Pictured: "It’s always a really nice environment at influencer events that I go to."
Although she now has a “incredible” management team around her, Laila had to essentially be her own manager, marketer, contract negotiator and financial advisor when she first started out as a young teenager.
“Some of my old schoolteachers ask still my little sister when I’m going to get a ‘real job’ which is annoying,” she laughed. “I don’t think they realise how hard I’ve worked behind the scenes for the past few years.”
Laila added: “The older generation just don’t understand, I’ve basically given up trying to explain what I do.”
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Despite the glitz and glamour, a career in social media can also attract a lot of unwanted attention in the form of online hate.
“Some of my comments are horrible,” admitted Laila. “People literally tell me to die. But I’m the type of person to just think that hate means more views, so thank you very much! I don’t really care, I just want to post my video.”
However, for others, it isn’t as easy to ignore the constant negativity.
Laila explained: “A lot of my friends in the industry are really affected by the hate. You do have to be quite strong, or it can really take a toll on your mental health.
“Most content creators are young, so having people constantly calling you fat really sticks at the back of your mind.”
Pictured: Laila's favourite part of her job is all of the amazing events she gets to attend.
However, Laila expressed her appreciation for having an amazing support system around her, with a family and boyfriend who are “so proud” of what she does.
“My dad is obsessed,” she laughed. “He supported me even when I had zero followers.”
Being an online star doesn’t make you immune from the usual pressures of moving into adulthood, which Laila found to be especially heightened when growing up on an island.
She explained: “Being from Jersey is so weird because everyone knows your business and it’s such a small place. It can be really toxic if you fail, because it feels like everyone knows and everyone is looking at you.”
“I think’s that’s why everyone in Jersey sticks to doing finance and follows the same path,” she added. “There’s surprisingly few content creators from the island.”
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For those looking to follow in her footsteps, Laila says that her biggest piece of advice is to “stop being scared of what other people think”.
“The people talking about you are just insecure in themselves,” she said. “If you choose to do something different and be creative, it’s amazing! You get to do a job every day that you actually love to do, and have complete control over when you do it.”
Laila added: “I was so worried all the time when I was younger. I wish I could go back now and tell myself: ‘You don’t have to be worried because look now!’.
“I feel so empowered looking back on everything I’ve achieved now, so my advice is just keep going and be consistent.
"If you just post and post, one video out of the ten you’ve done will do really well and that is what will get you to where you want to be.”
You can follow Laila on TikTok HERE or on Instagram HERE.
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