Sunday 19 August 2018

Meet the Irish YouTubers who have hit 1.5 billion views, all thanks to your kids

Little Kelly and Sharky welcomed Santa to Dundrum Town Centre this week
Little Kelly and Sharky welcomed Santa to Dundrum Town Centre this week
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Even if you don't recognise their faces, you probably will - if you're a parent - recognise their voices.

Dublin couple Kelly (20) and David (27) are the faces behind Little Kelly and Sharky, two superheroes of the world of Minecraft whose videos have reached 1.5 billion views on YouTube.

Minecraft is a computer game beloved of over 70 million children and adults worldwide which allows them to construct entire worlds block by block.

Kelly and David have over 3 million followers combined and their team, which has grown to 45 in just two years, create several videos a week featuring magical worlds and characters of their own creation.

It sounds like a dream job for anyone with a creative mind and childlike enthusiasm for life but it has been a gruelling grind getting to this point.

Making money from YouTube takes time and energy and when they started off working with Kelly's brother and a small team of seven they would often spend the night sleeping the office, "seven of us huddled around 5 computers sleeping on the floor", says David.

Little Kelly and Sharky welcomed Santa to Dundrum Town Centre this week
Little Kelly and Sharky welcomed Santa to Dundrum Town Centre this week

In a previous life David worked for Joe Duffy Motors while Kelly dropped out after her first year in college to make Minecraft videos.  It was a risk, but one that has paid off, although they're still working around the clock.

"Friends might call us after we’ve finished at the office to come out for a drink and we’re like, 'no, we're too tired' and they're like, 'How can you be too tired? All you did all day was play computer games!' but of course there's more to it than that."

Given recent reports about content which is unsuitable for children being easily accessible on YouTube under the guise of familiar characters and other children's entertainment, Kelly and David are conscious of their responsibility to create content which is child-friendly.

They say they have not had any negative reaction from parents, rather the opposite.

Little Kelly and Sharky welcomed Santa to Dundrum Town Centre this week
Little Kelly and Sharky welcomed Santa to Dundrum Town Centre this week

Kelly reveals that some parents joke that they are sick of their voices as they're always on the background at home somewhere.  On a more serious note, however, they say that some children have gained confidence from watching their videos.

"It is so rewarding when you get feedback and hear from fans and kids and even parents and hearing about how we impact on their children's lives in such a positive way," says David. 

"And how we gave them confidence to do something they didn't have the confidence to do like somebody might not be very social at school yet they have this whole community at home on YouTube and friends who interact with each other on other sides of the world.

"It's definitely the most rewarding career we have ever had."

Kelly explains that they have a fan base of children from countries all over the world, but "they all have each other as a community, as best friends, and they never would have met if it wasn't for the fact they watched our videos.  That's something we can take pride in.

"And knowing they're 100 per cent safe as well, knowing we only promote good comments on our videos.  We have no negativity and we always try to keep it super clean in the comments but it's also somewhere they can express their opinions."

Until recently David and Kelly have remained rather "isolated" behind the camera but they say they're now open to any other opportunities that may come their way be that TV or something else in the world of children's entertainment.

"This journey we're on now has taken us to places that we never thought we would be able to achieve and we're very lucky," says Kelly.  "We're not saying no to any opportunities coming our way."

Little Kelly and Sharky were out and about this week to welcome Santa to Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin for the festive season.

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