CiCi Dawn has made a name for herself on YouTube by doing what 18-year-old girls have been doing for ages: shopping and sharing.
The Palo Verde High School graduate picked up on an online trend called "hauling" two years ago and discovered she had a knack for it. Since then, she's created her own YouTube channel where CiCi picks up approximately 15,000 views per video post and about 4.5 million views overall.
All because people want to see what she got on her most recent shopping excursion. That's the gist of hauling. Video bloggers, or vloggers, head out for new clothes, accessories or beauty products and share their purchases with the World Wide Web.
"It's like show and tell," says CiCi, whose YouTube screen name is thatssociciyo.
And, it's not exactly a new concept. It isn't unusual for girls and women alike to call a girlfriend over after a little retail therapy, dump out a shopping bag and maybe even model a few of the treasures. Part of the joy of shopping is sharing it with someone. But now young girls are doing it with the help of a laptop and the Internet. Fashion haulers get to show it to thousands, sometimes millions.
Dawn got her inspiration to haul from two sisters who popularized the trend, Elle and Blair Fowler (AllThatGlitters21 and juicystar07, respectively). Together, their YouTube channels have more than 200 million views. The Fowler sisters have parlayed hauling into much bigger opportunities.
The two are working on a cellphone accessory line and Elle was given a small part in "Prom," a Disney movie released earlier this year.
CiCi has set her hopes just as high. She hopes to move to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting or broadcast journalism, whichever comes first. She's already using her celebrity name, CiCi Dawn, online. Her real name is for friends and family.
If she's really lucky, she'll have even more in common with the inspiration for her screen name. Thatssociciyo comes from her resemblance to Raven Simone, the actress who starred in "That's So Raven" on the Disney channel and recently debuted her new show "State of Georgia" on ABC Family.
Her closest touch with fame thus far came this summer through JCPenney's "Haul Nation" social media marketing program. JCPenney selected CiCi as one of three national fashion haulers to launch the contest with videos in which she showed her hauling style and invited others to create videos for submission. Her work with the department store earned her more exposure and a trip to JCPenney's Dallas offices.
As a YouTube partner, she gets a percentage of the money generated from video views. She can't say how much, but it's enough to support her hauling habits.
CiCi's haul posts can range from a collective haul of many items to a mini haul with just three beauty products. Her favorite shopping destinations are Forever 21, JCPenney and Target -- all of which work well with a teenager's budget.
"It's just about trends, not brand names or labels," she says. "As long as it looks good, it doesn't matter how much it costs."
She remembers the days when her peers wanted nothing more than to own a Dooney & Bourke purse, but a change in economic times has changed all that. These days she wonders aloud to viewers that a $5 e.l.f. eye shadow palette may be overpriced.
Beauty products are just as relevant for haulers and their audiences as fashion. CiCi recently showed viewers how to duplicate Selena Gomez's look in her video "A Year Without Rain" and she hauled items she recommended for a beauty starter kit.
With each video post, she greets her viewers with a different vibrant shade of eye shadow covering her eyelids and a bright smile. She carries on as if she was having a casual conversation with a girlfriend. She says things like, "It's whatever!" and "Yeah, I don't know" between glances at herself on the monitor.
Sometimes she apologizes for the noise her two younger siblings create in the background. Other times she picks up her baby sister and asks her to wave hello to the camera. Viewers get the sense they're visiting CiCi's home, the same way one of her personal friends would do. In fact, on her alternate YouTube channel, livingwithcici, the girl talk gets shut-the-door-and-lock-it intimate.
CiCi veers outside fashion hauling and addresses such topics as "getting your period," "boy drama" and "tips for incoming freshmen" that include gems such as "Don't make out in the halls."
She also warns young girls about the dangers of online predators and offers some words of wisdom for those who encounter "girls who start drama." As someone who fields thousands of anonymous comments, CiCi knows the subject well.
"People make negative comments," she says. "Growing up, I was bullied a little. I had an 'I don't care' attitude, so it comes easy for me."
Plus her fellow YouTube haulers offer an open ear whenever she needs it. "We're a community," she says. "We're there for support."