“Y’all should make a video about that.” Social media celebrities Penn and Kim Holderness hear that often, whether they are standing in long lines at Starbucks to use the restroom or just taking out the trash.
The married couple, both former journalists, create personal videos and parodies featuring themselves and their two kids, Lola (9) and Penn Charles (6), based on anything from trendy clothes, snow days, Southerners, the Oscars, picky eaters, male childbirth, messy husbands, allergies, back to school, texting while driving, to asking viewers to solve an argument.
All this began three years ago when they posted a funny Christmas video called “Christmas Jammies” on YouTube in which they announced that Penn was quitting his job as a journalist to join his wife at Greenroom Communications. The video went viral capturing the attention of media and generating over 16 million views to date. It also launched the family’s career in to becoming a social media brand.
“The simple plan was that I was going to quit my job as a news anchor, join her in our basement where we had set up some cameras and some editing systems and start telling other peoples stories and as that happened, we started telling our story in a creative way and that exploded,” Penn said.
“Then all of a sudden, we have a Facebook channel and a YouTube channel and there are brands asking us to tell our stories with their products in mind and we don’t know how the heck this is still working but it is,” he added.
Recently, the family completed a series of videos to educate people on online, digital, and mobile banking for Chase and now the family is embarking on a new journey, launching their own board game.
They have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to launch a board game for families called “Family Showdown,” which includes a phone jail to lock up your phone and aims to “bring your family together in healthy fun through movement, song and creative play”.
“We have jumped off a lot of cliffs together, Penn and I, between quitting our jobs, and telling our stories and this is definitely outside our comfort zone but it (the board game) has been a labor of love,” Kim explained.
The campaign has raised $33,000 and will be running for a few more weeks.
Another exciting announcement from the Holderness Family will be coming soon.
They just got done shooting a pilot for the Food Network, which will air in December.
“It’s basically like the Griswold’s eating food,” Kim explained. “We are really excited, it’s definitely a different direction for the Food Network to take.
“Again, we are jumping off the cliff to see if it works,” she added.
So how did the Holderness family get to this point?
“The two of us have been content creators for a long time, before that was even a word,” Penn said.
Before, they started creating personal content, Kim spent ten years as a television journalist following the big stories in Florida, New York and with WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC. After Florida, Kim became a national correspondent for the syndicated magazine show Inside Edition where she interviewed celebrities like George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lopez, and Donald Trump.
Penn’s first on-air job in was in Grand Junction, Colorado followed by five years in Orlando. Penn hosted three seasons of “Designer Finals” on HGTV and hosted a college hoops show on CSTV with former Tar Heel Coach Matt Doherty. Penn also worked as a video essayist for ABC and ESPN while living in New York before returning to North Carolina where he anchored the evening news for WNCN-TV.
“Both of us were the kind of news journalists that did not like to have someone else write our stuff for us,” explained Penn. “Kim quit her job from news and became a media trainer and kind of parlayed that in to a video production company where she wanted to create content for local companies.
That was the beginning of Greenroom Communications, a full service video production and digital marketing company that Kim opened with a friend and managing partner Sharon McCloud but in January 2016, Kim and Penn made another life changing decision.
They hired their replacements at Greenroom so they could spend more time focusing on family videos. They plan to consult on an as-needed basis.
Their advice for others that want to produce family videos similar to theirs:
Penn: “Don’t be afraid to suck and fail. Also, for families, the number one piece of advice would be to make sure everyone wants to do it.”
Kim: “Just do it, even if no one is watching or talking about it. It’s an easy and cheap way to fail so might as well try it.”