Robin James, AKA A Man For Himself, started his channel back in 2011. In a few short years he’s gone on to make YouTube his career and win a prestigious award for Best Male YouTuber with InStyle. When we meet, Robin is just as charming and warm as he appears on camera.
We sat down with our new favourite grooming guru to chat about his extensive career in television, being shot by Rankin and his plans for world domination.
WTU: You’ve had a pretty extensive career in television production, tell us a bit about your background.
Robin: My first job was at Channel 4 and it was for a reality TV show called Seven Days made by the production company behind Gogglebox. Sadly the show didn’t do well… think it was just too ahead of its time as it used a lot of social media. Working at Sky was also really fun cause I used to do like red carpet reporting and used to do stuff from Fashion Week and go to parties all the time!
WTU: What does YouTube give you that the media career doesn’t?
Robin: I started my post grad in broadcast journalism I was really interested in reporting, producing and shooting… I wanted to do everything. But obliviously when you get into a job there’s only so much you can do of everything, whereas YouTube allowed me to create and craft something from absolutely nothing. There was like no brand guidelines and I didn’t have to sign anything off, so it was a creative outlet. YouTube gave me complete freedom.
WTU: People associate the grooming and beauty side of YouTube with females and it’s clearly not true as we’re seeing more and more men kind of push through. What do you think has been holding that kind of area back?
Robin: My audience is 93% male so it’s like pretty hefty and it’s mostly 18-35, although there are younger ones. With women and girls its so out there, there’s always adverts for brands and it’s more discussed but guys don’t necessarily discuss it. I think there has been like a societal change and a sort of shift in things becoming a little bit more sort of accessible and acceptable.
WTU: And your channel wasn’t always A Man For Himself, right? You had a bit of a rebrand like Estee Lalonde.
Robin: I came up with the name The Utter Gutter when I lived in Glasgow. There was a club night called Utter Gutter and I liked that alliteration. It means nothing but my thing is men’s style and grooming and when you look at a brand or a magazine you should kind of know what it’s about from the name.
A Man For Himself was the first thing that came up. I was on the phone to my mum and I was taking about the rebrand and I said ‘Oh Ikea was awful today, it was like every man for himself’ and my mum said ‘A man for himself! That’s the name you should have!”. I went and checked all the social media and URL names and they were all available so I got that all sorted in August and I got a designer to do all the branding and relaunched in October 2015. My channel’s still small enough to be able to change something without it feeling like a huge deal.
WTU: So what’s the long term for you, your channel and brand?
Robin: I thought I’d be worried jumping ship from a full time job to YouTube but I’m actually surprised at how relaxed I am! In terms of the long game, I suppose I’m just seeing what works and it’s quite a nice experimental phase for me trying different types of content and working with other creators. I would the production side of my channel to grow so that the content evolves. But if it doesn’t work I’ve had a media career that I could quite easily get back in to, I hope!
WTU: How has working with Style Haul helped you elevate your channel?
Robin: When I first joined there was just Style Haul US then Style Haul UK came on board and they’re really great. I work quite closely with the team and they do everything from setting interviews up but also deal with the commercial side. They’ll have brands going to them and saying we’ve got this campaign if you’ve got people that might be able to work on it then come to me. Working with them means I don’t have to deal with any of the dirty money side of things!
WTU: Finally, what are your plans for the end of the year?
Robin: I think not being bankrupt by the end of the year would be cool! I was saying to my friend that I have Lidl mince in the fridge but I’m like drinking champagne everyday at events so it’s like the everything looks like it’s great but it isn’t. More subscribers would be great too, I’d love to reach the 100,000 mark.
Hollie: We’re sure you will! Thanks so much, Robin!