THE KUMAAR FAMILY
BY HIRANMAYII MOHANAN
For the uninitiated, the Kumaar Family, born during the pandemic, is a YouTube channel helmed by Logesh and Rachel Kumaar and their two adorable sons. Their channel, featuring Malaysian-centric content as well as their daily lives is one that is relatable, engaging and makes every Malaysian proud. What started out as a passion project while having full-time jobs quickly became viral and celebrated. Merely two months after establishing their channel, they began to monetise YouTube and gave away their first pay cheque back to the community, with the stance that their success is a community effort. In the February issue, we talk to thriving YouTubers, Logesh and Rachel (via Zoom call) about their humble beginnings and all things YouTube.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. WHICH PART OF MALAYSIA ARE YOU FROM?
Logesh: I’m a born-and-raised Klang boy. I lived in Klang for about 24 years of my life and I studied at Inti Subang for three to four years. So yeah, that was a big part of my childhood, living in Klang and growing up there. Klang, like people say, feels like a different country and part of it is because it’s very community-based there — everyone knows everyone. We feel very connected to each other in a cultural sense.
Rachel: I was born in the state of Texas and grew up here in America. I moved to California when I was little and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. Our recent trip marks the seventh or eighth time that I’ve been to Malaysia and I absolutely love it. It’s my second home at this point.
JOURNEY TO THE US & MEETING YOUR WIFE
YOU MIGRATED TO THE US 10 YEARS AGO. TELL US ABOUT THAT JOURNEY.
Logesh: The journey was actually a hard one. I moved to the US alone in 2011 to pursue a master’s degree in Project Management and that was a struggle because it wasn’t just moving to a new place, but a new country — a whole new culture and way of living. When I was in my teens, it was definitely challenging. The first six months, I battled with homesickness, having no friends and just trying to survive. But the lingering thought in my mind of how my parents worked so hard to send me here pushed me and kept me going to put their money to good use. Between then and now, a lot has happened, I got a job, met and married my wife and are happy with two kids. It has been an up and down journey with lots of ups and lots of downs but looking back, I wouldn’t change anything for the world.
WHAT WAS THE TRANSITION LIKE BEING A MALAYSIAN BOY IN THE US?
Logesh: It was tough. Initially, I thought that I spoke the language so how hard could it be, right? But even the language is different because in Malaysia, we grew up learning British English and its system so there were a lot of barriers there. Then, culturally, Malaysia and America are polar opposites — it’s very different. So, I realised that I couldn’t continue living the Malaysian way so I kept my mind open to truly embrace the American culture, which has enabled me to be in the shoes of the people here and that has bridged the gap between Malaysians and Americans, for me. The experience was tough but you learn, adapt and grow as you go along.
Rachel: Living in any state in America has its own culture so I would say that Logesh is very Californian at heart.
PRIOR TO YOUTUBE, WHAT DID YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
Logesh: Well, we’re still working full time and YouTube serves as our passion project. Prior to YouTube and at present, I’m in marketing. I work for a marketing agency where I do basic operations for them and we work with lots of clients. That’s primarily my job.
Rachel: I’m a behavioural therapist and I work with children with autism. I’ve been doing it for 10 years now and I really enjoy it.
HOW DID YOU AND YOUR WIFE MEET?
Rachel: We met at church, actually. I had been going to that church for a while and Logesh was a new member there. There was a potluck the day we met and I saw him in line to get food, so I went over to say hi and he completely ignored me. That was my first lesson about Malaysians — that you can’t get in the way of them and their food (laughter ensues). After that, he finally came over to me to say hello and we talked for the rest of the evening and the rest is kind of history.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE BEAUTY OF AN INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE AND ITS CHALLENGES?
Rachel: Being able to embrace a culture, for example, the American culture, but if you don’t fully agree with something, you can sort of pick and choose which part of the culture for your whole family to embrace. So, we have that unique opportunity. For example, I love the Malaysian culture of community and the importance of family and making it a priority to gather for meals. I love that.
Logesh: With that said, there are challenges, for sure. Even if two people from the same race and culture get married, there are challenges from the different upbringings. When it comes to an interracial or cultural marriage, it’s even more challenging due to the differences. So, both parties need to be open in communication and understanding and being open in embracing the culture.
Rachel: Different doesn’t mean wrong. You can have different upbringings and views but that doesn’t mean one or the other is wrong, it’s just different and we get to discuss that and discover what works for us and our children.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND THE CONTENT THAT YOU PUT UP?
Logesh: I’ve consumed YouTube for many years and it fascinated me. Watching vlogs and getting a point of view of someone else’s life and their experiences in life truly intrigued me. So several years ago, I decided to pick up the camera and start recording and so we did, but we never actually posted them because they were so bad. But fast forward two years later to being stuck in a pandemic and working from home, I decided to take another stab at shooting a couple of videos to see where that would take us. After uploading several videos and one of them going viral, the rest is history. I feel that we’re passionate about YouTube because what we’ve learned is that we’re able to inspire, encourage and make someone happy. That kind of influence on people is huge and it’s a big responsibility and privilege. Because of that, it’s a very unique and beautiful career.
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE BETWEEN YOUR FULL-TIME JOB AND YOUTUBE?
Logesh: It’s tough. The first six to seven months was a real struggle because we did everything ourselves, from shooting the videos to editing and creating the subtitles. Our work-life balance was really affected so in month eight or so of doing YouTube, we decided to hire a team to support us through this. We now have an editor, someone who does the subtitles and a manager. By having a team, making YouTube videos has become more sustainable and we can focus on what we’re passionate about — documenting our lives and having a good work-life balance.
YOU STARTED YOUR CHANNEL IN MAY OF 2020. WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE RECEIVING YOUR FIRST PAYCHEQUE AND BEING ABLE TO MONETISE YOUTUBE?
Logesh: I was blown away. I couldn’t believe it, especially since there are so many people who put up videos for so long before finally being able to monetise, while we were able to monetise pretty early on. It was a wow moment because that meant there were many people who watched our videos and we had a small income from it. It was momentous and that’s why we decided to give away our first paycheque because it was so beautiful that it’s a community effort. It was overwhelming to receive a paycheque so early on and at the same time, we just wanted to give back to the community. We want to use this platform to make a difference. If we were doing this solely for the money, we would be burnt out. So yeah, we try to give back as much as we can.
CREATING ENGAGING CONTENT ISN’T EASY. WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS IN CREATING CONTENT FOR YOUR CHANNEL?
Rachel: I feel like it varies week by week because we shoot content during the weekends. Sometimes, there are long stewing ideas of deliberating content that we want to shoot and other times, it’s the night before but we always try to think through what’s interesting, what the audience would care about and what we like too. We have an ongoing joke at the moment that our lives would be very boring without YouTube, especially during the pandemic since with two young children, we would have been inclined to stay at home but YouTube has forced us to venture out and experience new things. So, we plan our content based on what’s interesting to our viewers and us.
Logesh: It has to be a good balance of stuff that we enjoy doing and what our audience wants. That’s how we try to formulate our ideas. For example, we love instant noodles and it’s something we eat off camera so we know our audience loves that too, so it fits.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A BALANCE BETWEEN SHARING ON YOUTUBE AND STILL HAVING SOME SENSE OF PRIVACY?
Rachel: That’s a great question because we always talk about what we share and what we keep private. I feel like it’s always a conversation and there are always moments too which we want to savour and capture for the audience, so it’s about finding that balance. But I feel a big part of it is having some boundaries and not crossing these, especially with our sons. We don’t do things for views or make them perform for the camera. That is just our life. If they want to be on camera, that’s great but if they don’t, that’s perfectly fine too. It’s also kind of how we shape our content — we don’t force anything on our kids or our audience.
YOU’VE CHECKED SO MANY MILESTONES THROUGH YOUR YOUTUBE JOURNEY, FROM BUYING YOUR WIFE HER DREAM CAR TO MOVING HOUSE AND THE BIRTH OF YOUR YOUNGEST SON. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OR REFLECTION ON YOUR JOURNEY THUS FAR?
Logesh: The first thought that sprung to mind is that YouTube has given us a bit more joy and excitement in our lives. I’ve always thought that I want to leave a legacy behind when I leave Earth. It’s pretty unbelievable that I get to impart some positivity now. So reflecting back on our journey, I’m thankful that I’m able to do this. It is a great privilege and a wonderful opportunity where people have placed us on a platform and supported us through this entire journey.
Rachel: I think a neat part of it since our videos are vlog style is that we’re documenting our lives and it serves as a digital scrapbook that you can look back on. Funnily enough, I didn’t want to vlog about me being in labour and the birth of our son Kyren because it was that fine line between privacy and sharing. Then, Logesh suggested we just film it and if I didn’t like it, we didn’t have to upload it. So, we filmed it and I love having that memory, hence I agreed to post it. And I’m so grateful for having that memory because we have that experience documented. That’s another advantage of having these milestones documented, to look back on.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BEST COMMENTS THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Logesh: There’s so many nice comments that we’ve received. I would say that 99.99 per cent of our audience leave the sweetest comments. I know it’s a cliche to say this but we do have the best followers in the world. They’re so sweet and encouraging. So, I can just pull out one comment.
Rachel: There is one comment that sticks because it happened not too long ago. So, in our videos, Logesh usually says, “What’s up fam or Hi fam, welcome back,” and the comment that they loved was that Logesh calling this a family. And I love that because they have been following our journey through the highs and lows and in light of everyone on Earth, we’re sort of connected to one another, so that really stuck with me. Our goal with YouTube is to connect and relate to people and this comment kind of summed it up beautifully.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE YOUTUBERS AND WHY?
Logesh: Yes, Casey Neistat. I used to watch his videos almost everyday. He is an amazing storyteller — he has a wonderful way of sharing his stories, his videos are so engaging and part of the reason why I’m a YouTuber today is because of him. If I hadn’t watched those videos, it’s highly unlikely that we would have The Kumaar Family channel.
Rachel: It’s so funny, I’m probably the worst YouTuber because I don’t watch much YouTube. I really like watching shorts or DIY things. I really enjoy watching Che Nom and her recipes. As a Minah Salleh, I’ve followed her recipes and made decent Malaysian food, mostly kuih and desserts.