kathleen lights interview

Kathleen Lights

YouTuber Kathleen Lights does a little bit of everything. The popular vlogger, whose real name is Kathleen Fuentes, made a name for herself in the beauty world on YouTube when she started her channel in 2013. She made her mark by focusing on affordable makeup and offering easy-to-follow tutorials that drew her viewers in because she was so fun and relatable. Now she has over 4 million subscribers and has branched out into other ventures — like her own nail polish! 

Kathleen started creating nail polishes a few years ago, but she’s also dabbled in other beauty collaborations with major brands like ColourPop, Morphe, and more. Now her nail polishes — which are vegan, cruelty free, 7 free, and made in the United States — are under her own Lights Lacquer label and have some of the most gorgeous colors we’ve ever seen! She carefully curates each color the brand releases and relies on the community of nail-polish-lovers for help! She also has a ton of fun with the names, which is easy to see when you browse through the store.

We caught up with the fun-loving beauty pro to chat about her latest nail polish collection with Lights Lacquer (including the story behind one of the colors), her passion for entrepreneurship, and so much more. Check it out and hop over to her YouTube channel and subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of her videos!

I’m obsessed with the new collection of Lights Lacquer colors — tell me about coming up with them and naming them.
I originally wanted to do a rainbow collection with the seven colors. My original thought process was to do a ROY G BIV collection. But as we started naming the shades, I started feeling a fruit vibe, especially being here in Miami and the heat! I thought juicy vibes, paired with fruit are the perfect combination for summer. And that’s why we also developed the fruit stickers to go along, making them the perfect summer manicure combo.

Also, I saw the orange is called Who Loves Orange Soda? And I know you tweeted that you felt old because your followers didn’t get the reference. For the record, I think it’s a great name and I’m assuming you’re a Kel Mitchell fan.
OMG yes! I grew up on those shows, they are were some of my favorites growing up. And Orange soda is my absolute favorite soda (even though I try not to drink it as much anymore).

You’ve also created so many other products and launched several brand collabs. Can you walk me through these and how they came to be and what you loved about them?
After working so closely with other brands such as ColourPop, Ofra, Makeup Geek, and Morphe Brushes & most recently, Briogeo, it made me fall in love with the product development process. That’s when I really decided I wanted to create something of my own. Because my YouTube focuses on makeup reviews, I decided to stay away from developing a makeup brand, so I could continue to review different brands.

I truly wanted to create something out of the box, so I decided to go with nail polish, which I absolutely LOVE & loungewear, which is my other passion my clothing line, Lights Label.

Lights Label is an accessory and apparel merchandise line that features both unique art and lifestyle products with a Latina twist. Lights Label is designed by a small group of creatives born and raised in Miami, FL. My inspiration behind the merch brand was inspired by my Cuban culture and Miami roots. Miami is a city that birthed a generation of rebellious and resilient people. The latest drop is an ode to Miami bodegas in little Havana, but helming inspiration from Cuba’s classic “La Bodeguita del Medio.”

As for Lights Lacquer, ever since I was a little girl, I have been OBSESSED with painting my nails! I have always had a love for expressing myself through polish, so it just felt right! When I was younger, me and my sister would talk about our dream job being to name nail polishes. I used to complain all the time about the nail polishes I used to my mom. There was always something about each brand that I didn’t like. She said, “Why don’t you create your own nail polish?” That’s how the idea took off.

kathleen lights interview
Images courtesy of Lights Lacquer

I’m so impressed by how proactive you are about being an entrepreneur. How did you get started with YouTube and what kept you going all these years?
I’ve been an active YouTuber since 2013. I started the channel just for fun and realized I truly loved trying & reviewing new products. I think my success is a direct result of my authenticity. The brands I work with know that being honest & authentic is my #1 priority and it always has been that way, regardless of who the brand is.

You’re obviously a beauty expert. What are your 5 or so favorite products ever?
At the moment, Glossier Brow Flick is changing my life, I love it so much! Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara. NUDESTIX Eyebrow Gel is one of my favorites. L’Oreal Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation is amazing and also the Thrive Causemetics Overnight Sensation Face Mask.

YouTube is such a packed space, but you’ve done incredibly well. How did you find your place in the influencer world?
I only work with brands that I personally believe in. I am authentic and I am honest. I am also consistent, and I truly believe all of these play a role in finding my place.

It’s obviously been a weird time in the world, namely with COVID and dealing with lockdown. How has it affected you and your creation process?
It actually hot not affected my creativity since my lifestyle hasn’t changed much since I’ve been working from home for many years and I love staying in!

I know you sometimes speak about your ups and downs — what have been your “ups” during the past few months with COVID happening?
Tik Tok is life-changing! I actually started my Tik Tok account recently and it’s now my favorite app on the planet. I can just sit there for hours and laugh so much- it brightens my mood and I love creating content on there and making funny voiceover videos.

Speaking of what’s going on in the world right now, I know you’ve been donating to BLM causes, which is so great. I also love that you’re vocal about your support for the Black community; as an influencer, it’s great to use your platform for good. Can you share a little bit about what you’re doing to keep your followers engaged with these causes?
I’ve actually been supporting black-owned brands for a really long time, before this movement. In fact, some of my favorite brands are black-owned. However, in an effort to support these causes, even more, I recently did two full-face videos using only black-owned beauty brands and will be donating the proceeds. I also want people to know that BLM is not just a one-time movement, and I definitely want to continue to support black-owned brands now and in the future.

kathleen lights interview

Okay, so you just launched the newest Lights Lacquer collection — what’s next?
We have a new collection coming out in time for fall, with 3 new fun shades. I haven’t been this excited for a collection, EVER- because the colors are OUT OF THIS WORLD.

So I’ve kinda gathered that you’re a fan of The Office. I just watched it for the very first time recently and need to know who your favorite character is. Also please tell me you were just as upset as I was when Steve Carell left the show.
OMG yes! I was extremely upset but I do feel like if they were going to put anyone else in as the boss, they picked the perfect guy. But yes- the show wasn’t the same without him. I love that he came back for the finale, it was amazing. My favorite is definitely Michael or Dwight because they make me laugh the most, they are beyond hilarious!

Anything you’ve been binge-watching lately? There’s SO much on streaming.
I recently started to watch Velvet to inspire me for a future collection that is very romantic. Ozark was amazing and I am waiting for the next season because I loved it!

Back to business: I’m sure so many of your followers aspire to be like you — what advice do you have for those who are trying to launch their own YouTube (or even TikToks and Instagrams)?
Be authentic, stay true to your audience, and being consistent with your content creation.