Niki and Gabi: On building their ever-growing online empire and embracing who they are

PHOTOS: Melissa Peña
STYLING: Andrew Pedro
MAKEUP: Amanda Bourne
HAIR: Sher Vasquez
WORDS: Jasmine Perrier

They say there is nothing stronger than sisterhood. Twin sisters Niki and Gabi DeMartino from Bethlehem prove that every day. Since they took on the digital sphere, they have managed to make names for themselves in the worlds of social media, beauty, and entertainment, as viral duo ‘‘Niki and Gabi.’’ Referring to themselves as ‘‘the opposite twins’’ in regards to their different personalities and styles, the two sisters are at the head of an online empire followed by millions of teens and tween girls around the world, which they continue to grow today. ‘‘The beautiful thing about us is that we’re so different. We’ve come to accept who we are and embrace it instead of try to change who we are to fit what other people think we should be,’’ they report.

‘‘In the beginning, we were only enjoying a hobby. Posting to YouTube was somewhere we could store our videos that we would make for pure fun. There was no business intention and who we are on YouTube is who we are in real life believe it or not. So I guess who we are as people is a concept,’’ Gabi first says. Starting with a beauty channel when they were teenagers, they quickly realized that they were much more than just beauty, and eventually decided to use their platform to explore their other passions including singing, acting, and fashion. ‘‘We really wanted to show people, you don’t have to stay in one lane or just do one thing. It’s totally ok to explore other things you’re passionate and do things you love,’’ Niki reveals. Six years after they created their YouTube channel ‘‘Niki and Gabi’’ they can count on the support of 7 million subscribers and millions of followers across their social media, with whom they have developed a strong connection. ‘‘It’s a good balance. Gabi and I are really good at staying true to ourselves and making content only we want to make, that really matches with who we are and what we’re feeling at a certain time. However, if we see our audience react strongly and positively to something we do, we try to do different variations of that to keep them happy,’’ Niki shares.

We really wanted to show people, you don’t have to stay in one lane or just do one thing. It’s totally ok to explore other things you’re passionate and do things you love

Aside of their lifestyle, fashion, and comedy videos, Niki and Gabi caught the attention of their audience with their original sounds. ‘‘We actually had a singing/comedy channel where we did covers and skits in the OG YouTube days before we had nikiandgabibeauty. That channel was called 00remakegirls. We got our first audience there, which knew us for our covers. So weirdly, we started with music first, ventured into beauty, and now do both,’’ Niki says. ‘‘We’re not those YouTubers who are like ‘I have a lot of followers so I’m going to try to be a singer.’ I’ve been singing since 8, actively taking voice since 13 years old, posted singing to YouTube all of high school and majored in musical theater in college. I’m glad our audience is finally evolving to the music,’’ Gabi specifies. This Summer was marked by the release of their EP ‘‘Individual.’’ On top of duo songs through which we can notice the extent to which they genuinely complete each other, they also included solo tracks highlighting each sister’s individual music style. Gabi appeared alongside Paris Hilton in the music video of her single Flowers where she showed off her girly side in a baroque nightclub, while Niki revealed her fierce side with Let It Roar. ‘‘My favorite part about sharing our music with our audience is being able to open up to them in ways words can’t do. There’s more to a song than a statement and I really like involving them in my personal life, but in an artistic way,’’ Gabi confesses.

Whether it concerns their musical path or various digital content they produce, Niki and Gabi never stop being busy. Balancing non-stop their work as a duo and their solo projects, they shared their secret key to run such a career. ‘‘It used to be hard, but we discovered how to make schedules recently. Organization makes anything possible. It’s still challenging at times though because it feels like we’re trying to run 3 businesses and run 3 channels sometimes… which we kind of are. But it’s totally worth it because we’re always so used to meeting in the middle on the Niki and Gabi channel, but on our solo channels or songs, we can fully express who we are not as a twin,’’ Niki remarks. ‘‘We get to be ourselves on all platforms so it’s really all about just bringing a camera around with us 24/7 which is honestly pretty cool,’’ Gabi adds.

We always say, we don’t know how other people do it alone. I’m so glad we started this together and are going through this together, because we relate to each other in another level

Despite their successful solo careers, it would be impossible for both of them to keep moving forward without the other one, and they feel grateful to share such an adventure together and precious moments like a nomination at the Teen Choice Awards and a brunch with former First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House. ‘‘Let me put it this way; I could never do this industry alone. She’s my sister. Obviously, it’s one of those relationships where you love and hate. But I love having her by my side during momentous and huge moments,’’ Gabi admits. ‘‘We always say, we don’t know how other people do it alone. I’m so glad we started this together and are going through this together, because we relate to each other in another level. It’s so easy to feel like family or friends not in the industry understand, so having that constant person who’s going through the same thing is rare and so special,’’ Niki confirms. ‘‘Honestly, no one can make me as mad as Gab does, but no one can make me laugh as hard. Those crazy sister moments are ones for the books that we always laugh at looking back.’’

Considering they grew up from teenagers to young adults along with their fans, Niki and Gabi let us know what they have taken away from their experience so far. ‘‘Our evolution was natural. Luckily, we still have the same audience except we’re all a few years older now and new ones are joining the fam along the way and it is pretty incredible,’’ Gabi relates. Thus, their audience can expect to see content genuine to who the two sisters are. ‘‘The only constant thing is change. Trends are changing, content is changing, platforms are changing, YOU are changing, and it’s so important to let yourself, and your content evolve. We’ve been in positions where we’ve noticed something works video wise for a year, but by the following year, it doesn’t perform the same. Our audience just wants to see every phase. We used to be stuck trying to do what we thought they wanted to see, so now moving forward without content, we’re just being our 100 percent selves even if we change,’’ Niki says. ‘‘The greatest thing I have ever learned in this industry is that you can’t be so easy to trust, and in this case, I am so lucky I have my sister because she is someone I can trust. She is my family. I’m not too sure what I have learned yet from my experience because I am still learning and I’m nowhere close to where I want to be just yet, but I am incredibly thankful,’’ Gabi acknowledges.

Keep dreaming ‘til your dream comes true

Through their creative work, Niki and Gabi’s goal is to remind people they are not alone. They emphasize that they strongly want people to feel something when connecting with them. ‘‘I try to be as open and raw to my fans as possible. I tell them when I’m feeling unworthy or alone, just like they share with me. In my music, I’m the same way, but more artistically. You really have listen to those metaphors in our music because they’re pretty powerful,’’ Gabi tells. ‘‘If a video or song doesn’t make you feel any type of way after watching it listening to it, we won’t feel fulfilled as artists,’’ Niki adds. ‘‘I’d like to see more vulnerability and reality coming from those who influence so many. So many people with followers or with an audience get so caught up trying to make their lives look perfect. Coming from experience and being friends with so many in the industry, that’s just never how it is. I just hope more people feel comfortable enough to open up on their Instagrams or YouTube about how their life is ACTUALLY and maybe then their followers could relate more,’’ Gabi concludes.

Thinking about the way they envision the rest of their journey in the creative world, Niki and Gabi already know the direction they want to move forward with. Niki would like to continue seeing their brand come to life, like they were able to see with their Bellami hair extensions, Wet Weal clothing line, and EP. ‘‘We would really like to create more music together and separate,’’ she shares. On Gabi’s end, she hopes to do more music and touring with her sister. Ideally, she would like to have a taste of Broadway somewhere down the line aside from their own music. Ultimately, she hopes her work inspires her subscribers. ‘‘They have seen where I’ve come from and they have seen me overcome a lot and still come out alive and on the other side. I just hope they stay strong mentally and I hope I can be there for them with that,’’ she says. Looking forward at the rest of their journey, Niki and Gabi’s plans include a lot of touring and more original content to release. To conclude our chat, they wanted to send one last message: ‘‘Always stay true to who you are and follow your gut regardless of what other people think or say. That’s what will get you where you want to be. You have the power. Keep dreaming ‘til your dream comes true.’’

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