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The Working Class Brit Behind Viral Rich Kids Of Instagram Page

The Working Class Brit Behind Viral Rich Kids Of Instagram Page

The Rich Kids of Instagram brand may be infamous for its extravagant and ridiculous displays of wealth, but it turns out that the man behind the page actually comes from much humbler beginnings - having grown up in a modest bungalow in the Midlands.

James McLeod Ison, 27, set up the page - which is now called Rich Kids of the Internet after a slight legal hiccup - back in 2012, having managed to make a success out of Instagram while the site was still young.

Before that, however, James was living with his mum and grandparents in Leicestershire, knowing he wasn't from 'the wealthiest of backgrounds'.

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"I shared a bunk bed with my mum until the age of 14 - in a two-bedroomed bungalow with my grandparents - so it was an interesting start," he told LADbible.

From an early age, James knew if he ever wanted anything, he'd have to go out there and earn the money himself.

"I'd go to the local car boot and I would buy and sell whatever I could get my hands on," he said.

"I did that for a number of years - getting up at 3.30 in the morning on a Saturday. It was absolutely tragic, after a week of school. I had no social life.

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"You were so dependent on the weather, and if it rained, no one would go to the market, so I'd end up coming home with like £5 if I was lucky. And then if it was sunny and I had a good day I'd maybe come back with £100, which in those days, when you're like 15 or 16, is a lot of money."

Credit: James McLeod Ison
Credit: James McLeod Ison

After doing that for a couple of years, eBay came along and soon James realised he could sell 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year, anywhere in the world.

He said he mostly he flogged iPhone cases, adding: "It got to the point where literally my living room was almost like a warehouse - there were so many packages everywhere. You see these images online where people who order too much on Amazon; well, I was effectively Amazon, it was awful!

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"During the summer when I wasn't at school, I got my two best mates back home to help me out. They were loving life because I was able to pay them, and we were able to just have fun. Four or five hours a day we were just putting things in packets and dropping them at the postbox or post office."

James kept that going until he went to college for his A Levels, before eventually heading off university to study Economics.

He continued: "When I was at uni, Instagram kind of was just in its infancy - I think it was maybe like one year old. People were still uploading photos of their food and holiday photos, so there wasn't an influencer market that we have today. It was very, very different.

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"And I remember just sitting there thinking, 'Oh okay, maybe it'd be cool to have a couple of profiles that are something that people are interested in'.

Credit: James McLeod Ison
Credit: James McLeod Ison

"And I must have created about 10 profiles, all to do with luxury - I did really random things like watches, dogs - just trying anything I could to just see if it would go viral and see if I could get followers out of it.

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"I never thought it would actually become almost a job or its own market or career."

One such profile was, of course, Rich Kids of Instagram, which James set up with two partners in the United States who remain anonymous.

James said: "The account started in 2012 and within literally six weeks it was trending all over the world. Then eventually it became almost this like trademark, and there was the Channel 4 show; there's been loads of different shows after it as well like Rich Kids Go Skint.

"It's just this concept of 'Rich Kids' online, which all really started from this one Instagram account, which is absolutely crazy."

The brand grew so big, that it has since expanded into a luxury travel business and 'concierge' service, meaning now James isn't just about posting about affluent lifestyles, but also making them happen.

This might involve exclusively booking out the restaurant at the Eiffel Tower for a client last minute (for the princely sum of around 28,000, we should add) or hooking someone up with the market's latest designer handbag.

However, the real estate market is where the 'biggest ticket items' are, with James adding: "I can't tell you what we've sold or who we've sold it to, but at the moment I'm working on a deal for a penthouse in central London and the property is just under £60 million ($74.9m).

"So if we're able to get our client to buy it, we'd earn between one-and-a-half to two percent on that... You're talking over a million quid in commission."

Not bad for a kid who used to make the odd fiver at the local car boot sale, eh?

You can follow Rich Kids of the Internet here.

Featured Image Credit: James McLeod Ison

Topics: Instagram, Daily Ladness, Community

Jess Hardiman

Jess is a journalist at LADbible who graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Film Studies, English Language and Linguistics - indecisiveness at its finest, right there. She also works for FOODbible and its sister page Seitanists, which are both a safe haven for her to channel a love for homemade pasta, fennel and everything else in between. You can contact Jess at [email protected]