- Erika Costell hopes to inspire confidence in those who wear clothing from her brand Akire Sport.
- She told Insider there is a pressure to look perfect, even though “99.99%” of Instagram is fake.
- Costell rose to fame as an original member of Jake Paul’s content collective Team 10.
When Erika Costell looks at the influencer industry, she sees young women holding all the power. But she still sees many struggling with their self-esteem.
“We all use FaceTune,” she told Insider. “Anything you see on here, I would say 99.99%, realistically, is fake.”
Costell is a model and influencer turned clothing designer, with 3.4 million followers on Instagram, and 4.2 million YouTube subscribers. She rose to fame in 2015 when she joined Jake Paul’s Team 10 and they embarked on a very public relationship in 2017, which was documented on both their channels. After they broke up and Team 10 dissolved in 2018, Costell became more private with what she shared online, and focused on her dream to start a business, which she’s done with the clothing brand Akire Sport.
Now, Costell, who is 28, says she sees girls who are “growing up so fast” and constantly analyzing the other faces and bodies they see on Instagram.
“They are comparing themselves to unrealistic expectations,” she said. “I feel like it’s really important for girls to just keep working hard and to try and remember as much as social media helps us, it is also very curated.”
An Instagram feed makes people’s lives “look a little bit more shiny” and their journeys “look a little bit more sparkly” than what they actually are, she said.
Costell hopes that through her brand, she can help inspire girls to be more confident.
Erika Costell launched her clothing brand anonymously this year
Female empowerment is a huge part of Costell’s brand, which she started working on in 2018, and launched anonymously in March this year. She decided not to put her name on it at first because she wanted to prove to herself and others she could succeed without the clout she’d already built.
“Nobody will be able to say, ‘Oh, well that’s just a model with a brand, that’s why she has a clothing line,'” she said. “No. I was like, I’m the investor, I’m the founder, I’m the designer, I’m the creator, I’m the marketer. I’m everything.”
The brand focuses on sports and loungewear — sweatsuits, tank tops, and bike shorts that she says are more light-wearing and better fitting than many of the brands in the saturated market. Costell, who said she is a tomboy at heart, wanted to emphasize that “sexy and confidence are a feeling.”
“I really want girls to know sexy is an internal thing,” she said. “It’s not your makeup you are putting on, it’s not your designer clothing — it’s how you feel about yourself when you wake up and do what you want to do.”
Costell became one of the original members of Team 10, who lived and made videos in Paul’s Calabasas mansion. The group was the first modern iteration of a content collective, and set up the blueprint for many generations afterward, including the mega-famous TikTok Hype House.
Back then, Costell said, she was one of only a few female vloggers in LA, which meant she was surrounded by men. But now, she said, she’s seeing a shift, with influencers such as Addison Rae, the D’Amelio sisters dominating both the internet world and crossing over to mainstream media.
“There are so many powerful females in the world right now,” she said. “I want to inspire women to just do what they want to do, regardless of what people on social media are saying, what their bank account looks like, and what they look like.”
As Costell has grown up, so has her loyal following. She has a close relationship with her fans — many of whom have followed her since the beginning. She said she hopes to encourage them to “make the first move” if they have dreams of starting their own businesses one day.
“They’ve not only seen me mature as a woman, but a businesswoman and a founder,” she said. “I feel a greater responsibility now to put something back out on my platform that’s more than just content — something that shows women that you can do anything you want to.”