Content creators building brands across campus

By Pryce Jamison
April 18, 2023

Cabrini graduate Ryan Byars YouTube channel banner. Photo courtesy of Ryan Byars
Cabrini graduate Ryan Byars YouTube channel banner. Photo courtesy of Ryan Byars

While balancing commitments like academics, athletics, and work, there are students around campus who have built a significant media presence. Here are some media and entertainment moguls trying to find a niche across multiple platforms and reel in followers.


Starting as a group who, several months ago, barely knew each other, has grown into a media brand called SOB. The team, whose name stands for “Stands on Business,” includes senior music industry major Aquil Fletcher, junior business management major Jehiel Tomlinson, junior graphic design major Kavon Lewis, sophomore business management major Johan Abad-Mejia, and former Cabrini student Xavier Burgess.

“We combined our minds and decided to make a channel together where we can entertain people and also use it as therapy for us because college isn’t easy,” Tomlinson said. “Us making goofy, fun videos that also entertain other people keeps us sane — It makes sure we’re having fun with life in general and not just being workaholics.”

Photo from @SOBExclusives on Instagram.

Using YouTube as their main platform, they are developing a channel with a variety of videos such as pranks, challenges, comedy skits, podcasts, and sporting activities.  

“We’re all doing different roles, and at the same time everyone is doing something the same because everyone contributes to the team,” said Fletcher. They trade places as on-camera talent in one another’s content and give one another advice no matter their role.

Tomlinson is the organizer of the group and editor of content. He also oversees the business functions, ensuring deadlines are met on time and meetings are scheduled. Burgess’ role is controlling social media accounts, including TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter.

Fletcher is the connection finder and promoter, Lewis is the graphic designer and backup editor, and the team’s newest member, Abad-Mejia, is still looking for the right role.

“My biggest thing right now is to get the young Black creators uplifted. Us doing this is a lot of growth and is really different from this new generation,” said Burgess. “If we hit home with this new generation, they’re going to see something different — they’re not just going to want to try one content or trend, they’re going to want to pick up the camera and do what they like to do.”

The group has long-term expansion plans, such as growing into a clothing brand or producing a scripted TV show. As they build their channel, release more content, and expand their team, only time will tell where they can take their brand.

“SOB is a family; we all made this group not being the best of friends, but we’re a group of people that decided to share the same goals and the same mindset,” said Tomlinson.

Just Peachhhy

Jahmeelah Ries, senior digital communication major, is a fashion-based content creator with a focus on sustainability and ethical value.

Going by the name Just Peachhhy, her media presence focuses on purchasing products from ethically-sourced clothing brands as well as promoting their creation.

Last year, after taking social media courses, Ries switched her Instagram account with 200 followers to a professional account. That’s when the spark was lit, and she began documenting sustainable outfits that she curated for the day and tagging those brands for possible collaboration.

Photo from @JustPeachhhy on Instagram.

“As I posted regularly, tagged brands, and created hashtags, my following began to grow very rapidly,” Ries said. “I’m at about 6,300 followers now on Instagram, and that has grown within a year, which is such a blessing; it’s so crazy to think there are 6,000-plus people that like my content.”

Ries also shoots videos, editing the footage to upload on TikTok.

“There will be sometimes where I talk about mental health, expressing how important it is to even take a break from social media because that can be draining,” said Ries. “Sometimes it’s just good to take a break, reset, and get yourself back in focus to be able to deliver the content that you want.”

Her advice for young content creators is straight to the point: “It’s important that you do find a niche where you can stand out and where people can enjoy your content.”

“Something like mine, which is sustainable fashion, it’s marketable and easier for brands to reach out to you because they understand where you’re coming from,” Ries said. “When they see I’m also a plus-sized creator they can say, ‘Okay, we have extended sizes, and this creator is good to market toward our plus-sized clientele.’”

Ries sees herself doing content creation full-time in the future, as she’ll be balancing that with the master’s program in strategic and digital communications that she’s entering this fall at Drexel University. Ries emphasized that no matter what, she’ll stay true to her niche and image.

“I feel that I inspire people who are like me on the daily, regarding messages I get in my inbox from other young Black content creators,” Ries said. “Even non-Black-folk content creators who may also be plus-sized, have visible tattoos and piercings, and may feel like they have to make themselves plain in order to fit into a box.”

“I can be the torch that can guide them into wanting to do the same things I like to do or even something that’s different. I just say go for it.”


Even for a student who’s balancing both academics and athletics, thinking outside the box online is a possibility. For senior communication major Ryan Byars, being a YouTuber was an interest since high school, but the fear of being labeled different while being a popular athlete made him shy away from it.

“Once I got to college I was playing video games a lot, that’s all I was doing. Basically, I was just hooping and I wasn’t going out to parties, but I was playing video games,” Byars said. “I got really good at NBA 2K20 and then I told myself I’m going to start streaming.”

What started out as just live streaming, turned into Byars editing and uploading video game content to YouTube in 2019.

“It was going well at first, but I really started popping during COVID where I was streaming eight hours a day and then uploading the video the next day, and I was doing that over and over again,” Byars said.

Cabrini grad Ryan Byars. Photo via Ryan Byars’ Instagram @showtimery

After a couple of years spent building up his video game audience, Byars recently switched his brand to irl (in real life) content with pranks, vlogs, and public interviews. His YouTube channel, ShowtimeRy, has grown to about 3,500 subscribers.

The commitment it takes to build and maintain a media brand is often underestimated, as well as the investment and sacrifices that go into it.

“You may not be able to go out to a party, hop on the game with your friends, or chill with your girl. Like, you got to edit that video because that video is not going to get done by itself,” said Byars. “And whether you’re spending money on a video or not, you still have to put money back into your channel.”

Though someone can create or pay for a logo, thumbnails, or additional graphics for their channel, Byars explained, “You got to market and network; you can’t just put out a video and say ‘Wow, this is a funny video.’” Through his Instagram and Twitter accounts, he often uploads promotions for his YouTube content.

With all these student content creators, there seems to be a common denominator: inspiring others.

“So many kids have told me that I inspired them to start YouTube, and I was that kid once who was around a bunch of athletes who just strictly played basketball. But I never wanted to be looked at as just an athlete. I don’t want to be put in that box,” ” Byars said.

“I want them to say, ‘Oh, he has a skill in editing, he has a skill in commentary, he has a skill in writing, he’s funny,’ and not just, ‘Oh yeah, he plays basketball,” Byars said. “That’s really what it’s about, inspiring other people.”

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Pryce Jamison

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