Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
Ebony and Denise weren’t planning to launch a family YouTube channel.
They weren’t really planning to launch a channel at all.
When they created a YouTube account, it was to share one eight-minute video celebrating the fact that then-president Barack Obama, having been re-elected for a second term in office, was the first U.S. president to publicly announce support for the LGBTQ+ community. Ebony and Denise, who are both from the Bronx and met on MySpace, uploaded their clip thinking it’d just be a way to mark the historic occasion.
And it was!
But then their daughter stole the show.
As it turned out, not very many people focused on the whole Barack Obama part of their video. Instead, all eyes were on their infant daughter Olivia, who sat cradled in their laps while they chatted to the camera. The comments section flooded with questions: Were they both her mom? How could a kid have two moms? How did they have her? Was she adopted?
Not every response was chill, but the more viewers reacted to their video, the more Ebony and Denise realized that there was a genuine knowledge gap. Back then, it was still very much the days of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and resources about the LGBTQ+ community could be scarce for people outside of it. Folks truly didn’t know what two-mom families could be like, or how people in same-sex relationships could have kids.
Putting their video on YouTube had given Ebony and Denise an opportunity to close that knowledge gap by sharing their experiences.
So that’s what they did.
Over the past decade, Ebony and Denise–under the moniker Team2Moms–have uploaded nearly 800 videos about their lives with Olivia and their two sons, Jayden and Lucas. Ebony has been working full-time on the channel for years, but it wasn’t until recently, when YouTube Shorts helped their channel explode from 100,000 views per month to more than 55 million, that Denise resigned from her job as a network specialist to join her wife in running Team2Moms as a career.
We’ll let them tell you all about it below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little bit about the two of you—where you grew up, how you met…
Ebony: Oh, absolutely! I’m Ebony, I’m one half of Team2Moms, and Denise and I have been together for approximately 16 years, married for almost 11 years. We’re both from Bronx, New York, and we met through, actually, a social platform known as MySpace. She sent me a message, “Can we be friends?” And literally 16 years later here we are with three children.
Tubefilter: What did the two of you get up to before you launched a YouTube channel? Did you have other jobs, did you go to college?
Ebony: I have my bachelor’s of science in forensic science. I formerly worked with the NYPD in New York City as a criminalist, which is a forensic scientist.
Denise: I have a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and my former position was network specialist for a telecommunications company.
Ebony: And now we are full-time content creators!
Tubefilter: Where did the idea come from to start a YouTube channel?
Ebony: So we started back in 2012, and we did not have the plan or desire to become where we are today. At the time, when we uploaded our first video, it was the year where former press president Barack Obama was reelected into his second term. And he was the first president during his speech to publicly announce his support for the LGBTQ+ community. So that was a big, huge milestone for our community. And we just wanted to make a video about how exciting and how much hope that gave us for our community as a whole.
We just wanted to just scream that to the mountains: a president, a president of the United States, has publicly announced his support for our community. And so when we filmed that video, we had Olivia sitting on our laps, and somewhere in the video, we said that this is our daughter, that at the time we didn’t really realize that this type of representation wasn’t common.
And once that video was up, nobody paid attention to the Barack Obama part, everybody was just focused on our daughter.
Denise: “How did you have her? How can two women be her mom?”
Ebony: And there was this explosion of curiosity, with a little mixture of hate, and not understanding how this is and how we came to be as a family. And in our lives, everyone was so filled with love. Our families, our moms, just love us. we just thought we were like a normal lesbian couple.
So we knew that a lot of people didn’t know about the process [of having a child] or how to go about it, because the resources weren’t really available. And that’s how we started originally, as “Olivia has two mom,” because we really felt we were only gonna have one child and that’s it. Then, as time went on and we decided to expand our family, is when we decided to change our name to Team2Moms.
Tubefilter: Was there anything that prompted you guys to take YouTube from a hobby and have it be your full-time careers? A specific moment where you were like, “Okay, we have enough support, it’s time to do this full-time?”
Ebony: I went first. I left my job first, and it was definitely a leap of faith. There was nothing that prompted it. It was just truly a leap of faith. My wife was extremely supportive as she continued in the corporate world to balance what this journey would be, just to make sure, she was our safety net. And she just resigned at the end of 2021, last year. Like she just did. We have built such a strong community that now we felt truly comfortable to do this full-time.
Of course, there’s always a fear. There’s always a fear behind leaving your corporate job to do this full-time. But this time we felt pretty stable.
Tubefilter: As you know, your channel has really taken off over the past couple of months. Do you know what the catalyst was? Was there a specific video that took off, or was it just across the board?
Ebony: I think once we changed our style of how we present our content on YouTube, specifically with the introduction of Shorts, it really started to take off. The specific Short to really go viral was a video we did with one of our sons, Lucas, where he’s just answering a question of who had who between Denise and I.
And he just says, you know, “It’s simple, this is Mommy, this is Mama. Mommy had my sister, and Mama had my brother and me.” I think it’s almost like 10 million views. It really took off on all of our social media platforms.
So that was the turning point, literally a few months ago, where we realized, “Oh, the success of short-form content is very achievable on YouTube. And we’ve been consistent with the short-form right now and just really in awe with the success and how our community is growing and our channel is growing.
Tubefilter: You also have a TikTok with 5.8 million followers. What’s your strategy there? Do you film different videos for YouTube and TikTok or do you crosspost?
Ebony: We make life easy. We distribute the same content across all our platforms at different times. It’s just, it’s simpler, it’s efficient—especially for our lifestyle, you know, moms. So it would be like nearly impossible to create different content for each platform. We just cross-pollinate the same videos at different times. We realized there’s a distinct audience on each platform, and yeah.
Tubefilter: Can you talk a little about that? What are the differences you notice in audience?
Ebony: I think the difference is not necessarily demographically. I think it’s just interest-based. Some people prefer one platform over the other platform, but in general, our demographics is from like 18 to 45. A great deal identify with some part of the communities that we represent—the Black community, the Hispanic community, being women, being moms, being parents, and being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
So we have this diverse audience in itself of being a diverse family. And I think it just comes down to preference of some people preferring to watch content on YouTube versus TikTok versus Instagram Reels.
Tubefilter: Clearly, with three kids, you guys are incredibly busy. What does the average day look like for you right now?
Ebony: The average day is actually quite normal, with the addition of creating content. We get the kids ready for school, and while they’re at school we’ll try to get a lot of work done on the business side of social media. Emails and all that great stuff. We’ll film content. If it’s content with the children, we take one to two days during the week, whether it’s a weekend day and one weekday, because we definitely want our kids to focus more on just being kids and in school.
We create content in bulk. Since we’re doing mostly short-form content, we can film like five to seven videos in one day and then stretch it out for the week so that we’re not constantly filming every single day.
For us, it creates balance to be able to just say, “All right, let’s dedicate these days to just film.” We don’t even include, like, if it’s five to seven videos, it’s not like all the kids are in all five to seven. We break it up. We really try to keep it light. I don’t ever want it to feel, especially for our kids, like a job job. And then they start to hate it and don’t like doing it, you know? We just wanna keep it fun.
Tubefilter: We noticed you do a fair amount of sponsored content. Do you remember when you first started getting sponsorship offers?
Ebony: We’ve been on social media for probably about eight to nine years now. I feel like we’ve been getting offers since the very beginning, since the very first year we started.
We’ve found a lot of success in partnering with brands and being able to work creatively and kind of share how we want to do it and what our messaging is with brands. We’ve been doing it for quite some time. Now, I will say it picked up immensely in 2020. The volume of opportunities we get increased in 2020.
Tubefilter: Did you notice a lot of different companies, first-time companies reaching out to you?
Ebony: Yeah. We’ve worked with all different types of brands, mostly those that are in the family parenting space or lifestyle space, things that we actually use, things that we actually enjoy and love. We are quick to turn something down if it doesn’t make sense, if it’s not something we believe in, or if they have shown that they haven’t support any of the communities that we represent.
Tubefilter: What else has changed? So that’s changed for you since 2020, you’re getting a lot of new offers. What else has changed for you in the past year or so as, as your presence on YouTube and TikTok has grown?
Ebony: Being able to do it now full-time, together, is the major change for our family. That’s pretty much what has changed the most, just being able to be full-time now, doing this together as a family and being part of some cool, amazing, dope projects.
What else? It just allows us to actually parent more, if that makes sense. We are fully accessible and available, if our children need to come home from school—like, for example, one’s home right now. So that’s definitely one of the perks that now that we’re both full-time doing this. It allows us to be more present and available for our children, in every aspect.
Tubefilter: What has the rise of short-form content done for your family? If you’d had to continue making only long-form YouTube videos, do you think the trajectory of your channel would be dramatically different?
Ebony: Great question. That’s a good question. I just think as a whole social media is tapping into a greater interest in short-form content, whether that’s a goood thing or a bad thing is up for discussion, whether people’s attention spans are decreasing…
But at the same time, it’s so easy and convenient to make short-form content for a family with three children. I think overall it has changed everything. From when we first started on YouTube to now, I think this is now a different era of time. Whether it will remain this way, who knows? I think long-form content is still very relevant, especially for specific niches. We have to go in more depth and explain things in a longer way. And I think those are still doing very well. I think that short-form content is just an additional way to make content, and not the only way to make successful content.
Tubefilter: We also hear from lots of creators that it’s very much more accessible to a lot of people, because you don’t need thousands of dollars in camera setup, or expensive editing software.
Ebony: That is another major thing. I mean with phones nowadays and just make something and knock out five to seven short phone videos in like an hour, really. It’s just so much more productive for us, at least at this time, but we definitely are going to still champion and get back into long-form.
Tubefilter: Do you have any plans for that? Are you planning an educational series, or are you just planning to do whatever comes up?
Ebony: We plan to do almost like a podcast, dialogue long-form where Denise and I discuss relationships, have conversations about parenting…It’s more sitting down and having intimate conversations directly with our audience, in a long format.
Tubefilter: What else do you have planned? Is there anything cool you can talk about that you guys are planning to do?
Tubefilter: That’s very cool.
Ebony: Yeah. Vacation. We definitely learned that as much as we put in hard work and our kids are in school, we have to take time to relax. So…vacation! Mental health is real. You have to take care of yourself. Self-care. Self-care. That work-balance life.
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