When Melissa Hunter takes on a new challenge, she doesn’t do it in half measures. Instead, she attacks the task from multiple angles, not just succeeding at it, but excelling all the while. When Multiple Sclerosis sidelined her from her high-powered job in midtown Manhattan, she found a new outlet for her drive and creativity with a little help from her daughter: the world of YouTube. In the four and a half years since she first started her extremely successful YouTube channel – and, more recently, a family-friendly YouTube network – she’s learned the social media/social influencer marketing world inside and out. Melissa has also become an expert on family-friendly content, the toy industry, and its brands, and she has become a much sought-after speaker and presenter on these topics for events and conferences across the country.
“If you are trying to reach children, tweens, teens, or anyone under the age of 30, you really need to be on YouTube,” says Melissa. “YouTube is where people go for information, for entertainment, for news, to vent their frustrations, and to share experiences. YT is more than just videos – it’s also a community. There is more going on than just the videos.”
Melissa has made it her mission to educate anyone she can on this topic, speaking on panels and giving presentations at places like StreamCon, ChiTag, Golin, Sweet Suite, and others. She also consults for major toy companies on their social media and influencer strategies. “I have the ability to connect quickly with an audience and put them in a comfortable place where they’re able to receive the message in a way that is just humorous enough to make the message sticky,” says Melissa of her public speaking and consulting engagements.
“I’m an excellent advocate for social media influencing, family-friendly content, and YouTube because I’ve been able to take my channel from zero to where it is today in such a short period of time,” Melissa continues. “It’s spun off to become a whole separate business with a network where I’m working with other channels and teaching them how to replicate what I’ve done.” Everywhere she goes, she shares her message on influencer marketing and YouTube with her trademark sense of humor and relatability that has made her a YouTube star as well.
Melissa and her daughter Gracie started the Mommy and Gracie Show on YouTube in June of 2012. The goal was simply to have fun together reviewing dolls that they loved and collected. Known for their catchphrase, “So profesh,” their enthusiasm, humor, and unique mother-daughter relationship quickly won the hearts of viewers, and the channel grew to become one of the top destinations for fans of toys, games and doll lines, now boasting over 750,000 subscribers and over 411,000,000 views.
At the 2016 Women In Toys Wonder Women Awards, Melissa and Gracie were named Social Influencers of the Year. They’ve also been featured on “CBS This Morning” and in newspapers around the world through an Associated Press piece that reported on their approach to partnering with toy brands and recognizing it for its uniqueness. Melissa is a member of the Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board and creates video content for their website focusing on the intersection of parenting, toys, and life on YouTube.
While she grew the Mommy and Gracie Show channel, Melissa realized the need for a family-friendly YouTube network, and Family Video Network was born in 2014. In two and a half years, the network has gone from a mere concept to a full-blown network representing over 100 family creators. FVN is a highly curated collection of child-focused and family-friendly influencers providing content that is both advertisers safe and entertaining for children and their families. FVN Founder Melissa is dedicated to using both her business brain (prior to her forced retirement, she worked at several Fortune 100 companies) and mother's heart to support the network’s roster of channels, help them grow, and connect brands with the content creators in an ethical fashion. FVN’s roster includes some of the top talent, as well as new, exciting, up-and-coming creators, in the Toy Review, Education and Family Vlogging genres. “The best part,” says Melissa, “is that we aren't just a network of family friendly influencers, we are a family of content creators supporting each other and building relationships that transcend the digital world.”
As a former competitive public speaker, debate team coach, on-air radio personality, and public speaking teacher, Melissa is a pro who can give talks to any type of audience – be it a room full of millennial moms, brand employees, social media influencers, media, or corporate executives. “What you get if you hire me is a very engaging and relatable speaker who is not overly slick,” Melissa says. “I can relate to people at all levels. I’m able to move the dial in my presentation to fit the audience that I’m in front of. I know how to speak to them, and I know how to hit the hot buttons of all the different groups that I see in a room so that everybody will walk out having connected with me in some way and having heard the message that we want them to walk away with.”