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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at LUM chapter.

When I say the names “Kian Lawley” or “Jc Caylen,” many people might think of penny boards, Arizona iced tea, flower crowns, and the YouTube channel Our2ndLife. However, their image has changed dramatically since 2014, as diehard current fans can attest to, and they have managed to grow themselves as people, their content, and the overall KNJ brand. They have now amassed more than 3.7 million subscribers on their joint YouTube channel, have a combined total of over 7 million Instagram followers, an extremely successful merch line, a bestselling book, a world tour, and countless movie and TV show appearances under their belt. 

So how did they manage to get to where they are today?  

Kian and Jc met like many other of social media pioneers back in the day– online. Both guys had been slowly building an online presence on YouTube, and Kian was a self-proclaimed fan of Jc’s work. In 2011 Jc messaged Kian on iChat, (Skype before there was Skype) and they became friends that way. At this point, Jc was still living in his home state of Texas, and Kian was living in Northern California. But with social media careers on the rise, both Kian and Jc decided to take the plunge and move to Los Angeles. 

They had very humble beginnings; they lived in a house with two other YouTubers, fellow O2L members Ricky Dillon and Connor Franta in a one-bedroom apartment. They would grind out solo and group content all day every day, until eventually their careers started to take off. At its height, O2L was a massive force on YouTube. The channel has almost 3 million subscribers, and they all participated in an O2L world tour, had a song written and sung about them by none other than Charlie Puth, and filmed a documentary style movie called #O2LForever. They were the predecessors to groups like Team 10 or the Sway House; they lived in the O2L house before content houses were trendy. Between the six of them they had more than 8 million loyal fans, and it seemed like it was only up from there.  

However, in December 2014, Our2ndLife came to a screeching halt. After Connor Franta’s abrupt exit from the group, the rest of them decided to disband as well and work on other projects. This is where the KNJ brand would emerge. 

Kian and Jc decided to start a joint YouTube channel in January 2015. This channel was a huge departure from O2L, at the start they had an entire film crew working on their videos with them. The two guys were heavy into acting during this time, so they filmed many skit-like videos in addition to their regular content like Q&As, tags, and challenges.  

As the years went on, their ideas became continuously bigger and crazier, and they dared to do things others wouldn’t even dare to think of. Some of these wild videos include, “We Built an Entire Bedroom Underwater,” “Walk the Plank Challenge (400 LBS of Ice in the Pool),” and “We Camped Overnight on Top of our Old House.” They’ve pushed themselves to the limit for our entertainment (and theirs) and it has definitely paid off.  

Perhaps what KNJ is now most well-known for however is their series, “Reality House.” It’s a big brother style show in which a group of influencers all lives together in a house, compete in challenges, form social bonds (or don’t), and must vote someone out every episode. The first season premiered in July of 2019, and it became their most successful series of videos to date. The first episode has an impressive five million views.  

The idea came about when Kian got a role for a movie set to shoot in Finland over ten weeks. The two usually posted as often as 3 times a week for their channel, so they knew there was no way they could pre-film that much content. After thinking about how they could get 10 weeks’ worth of content shot in the one week they had before Kian left, they put together Reality House.  

You would never be able to tell that the first season was filmed in one day. The amount of drama, surprises, and twists made for an insanely entertaining series. Crawford Collins took home the winner title and the $25,000 that went along with it.  

Season two premiered in January 2020, and it was a bigger event. It was filmed over a longer period of time, had a bigger crew, a bigger house, and a bigger grand prize of $50,000.  

Season three is the only currently airing as of November 2021, (they had to put a pause in filming it due to the pandemic). And somehow Kian and Jc have pushed themselves to higher heights. Once again, the house was bigger than season 2, and so was the prize. The contestants are competing for $100,000, and although we are only two episodes in, the drama has already begun.  

On top of this, KNJ releases new merchandise with every series, including sweatshirts, sweatpants, T-shirts, socks, notebooks, mugs, slides, bags, hats, and even doormats. They are active on their individual and joint social media accounts- always interacting with fans and viewers. During the pandemic, both Kian and Jc amassed over 20,000 subscribers on both of their separate Twitch channels, which landed them both in a top 15 spot of the over 9 million streamers on the platform. They have remained extremely humble and kind, constantly appearing in friends’ videos and other content. Jc has started an extremely successful clothing line called Tïxxo, in which he is the main designer and brand owner. Kian often sells custom clothing pieces on Depop, and has appeared in movies such as The Chosen, Shovel Buddies, and Before I Fall, and TV shows like Zac and Mia. 

The two of them have been some of the few YouTubers I have followed consistently, since about 2013. They are some of the most genuine, hilarious, and talented creators out there, and I know I’m going to be supporting them for a long time. If you’re just hearing of them for the first time or haven’t checked up on them since the O2L days, I encourage you to give their new shows on YouTube a try. All their videos come from their own brains, and all of the execution comes from their own pockets. I think they deserve all of the support they can get.  

Follow @KianAndJc on Instagram and Twitter, as well as KianAndJc on YouTube. Check out Season 3 of “Reality House” streaming now.  

Maria D'Agostino is a graduate of Loyola University Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a double specialization in Journalism and Digital Media. She served as the Editor in Chief of Loyola's Chapter in 2023.