Let’s go back in time a little bit… back to 2016.
Though she was not a podcast listener herself, some of Jackie Johnson’s friends were starting podcasts. One in particular, Georgia Hardstark (the now-famous co-host of the My Favorite Murder Podcast) encouraged Jackie to think about starting her own show.
“In my head, I had these voices saying, ‘Everybody has a podcast! Nobody’s gonna listen to yours.’ Unfortunately, a lot of us have to deal with those voices. But then, a few other people started telling me I should do something—start a YouTube channel, and all these other things. At the time, I was about to get married, and I’d do these big rants on Snapchat about how I couldn’t believe the caterer screwed things up and other messed-up things that were happening during my preparation for the wedding. That’s when another friend said I needed to get this stuff out there. I thought, ‘Okay… maybe I’ll do a podcast.’”
Knowing that just about everyone in the L.A. comedy world had a podcast helped Jackie get clear on how starting her own show made sense. Thinking it would be fun, she began pitching it around.
“I didn’t want it to be just two funny people talking. I wanted to have a point of view. I wanted to have attitude. I grew up around glamour and beauty. I even used to do pageants as a child, but that’s a whole other conversation. I was also a sorority girl in Texas. So I came to realize that beauty is something that a lot of women have come to me with questions about, and we’ve had amazing conversations. I love chatting with my friends about their self-care, their beauty, the products they use for hair color and on their nails. So I said, ‘Why don’t I do that?’”
Jackie has always found abbreviations funny. Natch Beaut worked for the name of her show, because it encompasses natural beauty, which in Jackie’s view, is something we all have inside. Some people think that Natch Beaut is short for “natural beauty,” meaning natural products. Although she does talk about natural products, she also talks about chemical products, so it’s not an accurate translation. Again, it’s really about the natural beauty in all of us.
For the first iteration of the show, Jackie wanted a slumber-party vibe reminiscent of her youth growing up in the 90s and the early 2000s. Back then, magazines were all that was available for learning about beauty, products, and the soon-to-be-released in the beauty industry. Ultimately, though, the show became so much more. Like Asian fusion food, Natch Beaut is a feast of information, education, and edutainment all wrapped up in one hilarious comedy show. In fact, it’s really comedy, but also fashion and beauty.
“At the time, it was pure marketing strategy. I said, ‘Do I want to be the beauty-est comedy show or the funniest beauty show?’ I knew that the category would lend itself to a specific audience, and the comedy category was very popular… saturated. As I mentioned previously, I thought everyone I knew in comedy had a podcast, and then, it became everyone I know literally. I think my aunt is starting one next week!
“When I did my research, I looked at the arts chart and the beauty chart specifically. There was really only one or two other beauty shows, and both were completely opposite of what I was trying to do. They were beauty editors, professionals in the space, interviewing editorial people, the style-wise, brand owners, and others in the space. And I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to come in hot. And I’m going to be a non-expert enthusiast chatting with other people in my area.’ I wanted to bring on comedians, artists, and other performers and talk to them about the question, ‘What does beauty mean to you?’ I went opposite of what everyone else was doing at the time, so that’s why I ended up in the art category. It was a strategy, and I believe it worked.”
Not only did the strategy work, but after only three episodes, Jackie was able to monetize the show. As an actress and comedian who landed in L.A. in 2006, she was no stranger to “side jobs,” like being a celebrity dog walker, waiting tables at Cheesecake Factory, and doing eyelash extensions for a period of time while in between acting and comedy gigs. When she discovered that she could generate revenue from ad placements, she decided to go all-in on Natch Beaut. It became her full-time “side job” that ultimately morphed into a small business (in addition to her acting and comedy).
“Going in, I was very naive. I thought everyone made their living from podcasts. I know now how insanely fortunate it is to make even one dollar doing a podcast, but back then, I went in going, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna make my living doing this. I’m gonna buy a mansion. I’m gonna be well-known.’ There’s really one reason that this show took off—the My Favorite Murder Podcast. When I started Natch Beaut, I was on the same network as My Favorite Murder and a few other really large podcasts totaling hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of downloads a week. Because I was on that network, they did a lot of cross-promos. Having my voice in pre-roll ads for Natch Beaut on some of the largest podcasts in the world inspired people to come over and listen to me. Getting on that network was key.
“Your next question is probably gonna be, ‘How’d you get on that network?’ I had guested on several other shows before I started my own. And the person who owned the network then had seen me do my thang and slay on other people’s podcasts. When I emailed him and said I was interested in starting a show, he took a chance on me. And that’s hard to do. I didn’t have a big following. I probably had 1,000 Instagram followers. So I had no proof of concept yet. But they believed in me and gave me a chance. I will always be grateful for that.”
Natch, Jackie is grateful, and what a beaut of a show she’s faithfully and joyfully produced over the last five years! It’s a beautiful thang, when you can celebrate the natural beauty in everyone, have fun being funny, and get properly paid for putting yourself out there as a performer.