Kyle Kuhns was named to to the Forbes Top 30 under 30 list (Submitted).
When Kyle Kuhns graduated from McNary High School in 2011, he was unsure of what he wanted to do with his life.
Now, Kuhns is founder and CEO of XX Artists, one of the biggest marketing agencies on the west coast, representing names such as Robinhood, Brie Larson and Jennifer Hudson as well as YouTube, Lilly Singh and NBC Universal.
After the company raked over $1 million in revenue in 2019, Kuhns ended 2020 by being named to the Forbes Top 30 under 30 list of entrepreneurs who are transforming marketing and advertising.
“It's a huge honor. I feel like it's a reflection of my team more than anything else and it's definitely beyond what I ever imagined in this realm,” Kuhns said.
XX Artists is a boutique digital marketing agency located in Playa Vista, CA. that provides social marketing services. Their goal as a company is to be an extension of their clients' teams, creating community through content and executing strategies that bring brands to life on the internet by delivering tailor-made, end-to-end digital marketing campaigns.
Kuhns has also expanded the platform to include business verticals such as social marketing, creative services, talent partnerships and music digital.
Even after three years, Kuhns still has moments of being starstruck by a number of his clients.
“It's a bizarre feeling to represent people that you are huge fans of but it helps me do my job better. Everyone we work with is a normal human like anyone else,” Kuhns said. “I'm grateful that I have a staff that helps these people elevate themselves and their brand.”
After graduating from McNary, Kuhns planned on going the collegiate route, attending Chemeketa Community College for two years, then transferring to Willamette University after receiving a partial scholarship. But after a year at Willamette, Kuhns decided that he needed to change things up. His plan was to take a year off school and live in Los Angeles to figure out what a possible career would look like.
Kuhns eventually got the opportunity to work as an executive assistant to the CEO of Le Chef Costumier, a costume company in Southern California. Along with being in charge of projects and contract management, Kuhns also did some marketing for the company, and discovered that he had a gift.
“Even though I had never really thought about marketing as a career, I realized that there was something here. I’m good at it and I enjoy it,” Kuhns said.
Kuhns began to take one to two days per week to start marketing independently. He started off by representing the Salem band, My Brothers and I, and did social marketing for YouTube Premium — formally known as YouTube Red.
Kuhns began to develop a passion for content creation, platform management and bringing ideas to life online. After working for Sony Music Entertainment in digital strategy and content production for a little over a year, Kuhns officially launched XX Artists in 2017.
“I just knew I wanted the company to be and said yes to the opportunity,” Kuhns said.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been rough on numerous businesses throughout the country, XX Artists has continued to thrive.
“We were well positioned to ride this out, mainly because people stopped going out and instead were spending a lot of their time online — most social platforms have seen growth during COVID,” Kuhns said.
After another successful year, Kuhns is hoping to expand his staff from 35 employees to 55 in 2021.
“I just want to continue to work with cool brands that are creative and look at the internet as an experiment,” Kuhns said.