Graduation is the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new one, and no one is more ready for the change than the proper kid of Proper Kid Problems.
Dean Zacharias, a senior and the mastermind behind the viral social media accounts, said the brand will mature as he moves on to a new era in his life. After four years, he said the accounts will reflect his post-grad interests.
“We all peak at things we do, but we should never peak as an individual,” Zacharias said. “We reach that glass ceiling, and it’s time to move on. That’s scary.”
Scary or not, Zacharias said he is determined to slowly change the tone of his content to reflect his genuine personality, rather than using strategic ploys to earn ever more followers, like he has up until now. He said he aims to make his blog more than just about fashion and an elite lifestyle.
For now, Zacharias said he will continue to work on Proper Kid Problems, although he is planning on scaling back the operations while he prepares to enter the workforce. He said that he is currently unsure of his future as the proper kid.
“Proper Kid Probs is still to be decided,” Zacharias said.
Currently, Zacharias includes Proper Profiles – a series that features other bloggers or style icons around the city – trend highlights, monthly playlists, advice columns, and food and drink reviews on the blog and social media accounts.
Next year, he said he will spend less time on his website and social media accounts, while working full time as the community manager of IVY – a location-based app for people in the same area to share news or meet one another.
Zacharias first registered the Proper Kid Probs Twitter handle in the summer of 2012 simply because he was bored after his high school graduation and wanted to tweet things people in his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn. would appreciate.
“I haphazardly created this Twitter account,” Zacharias said. “It was a joke. It really was a response to there’s nothing else out there that relates to who I am.”
There was certainly an appetite for Zacharias’s personality online: 1,500 people followed within the first month. From Twitter, Zacharias added Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts before he created his own website.
Proper Kid Probs matured throughout its four-year lifespan. In the beginning, Zacharias said he was an amateur and learned much of what he does now by tinkering with different social media platforms, photography and basic coding.
“When I was younger, the content was much more authentic and raw, and a lot less curated,” Zacharias said.
As the blog aged and the followers accumulated, however, Zacharias said he was seduced by the numbers game of social media and wanted more and more readers and followers.
Zacharias moved away from topics of personal interest to focus on men’s fashion and trendy must-haves. His social media handles were plastered with coordinated outfits, brand names and photographs of upscale locales.
He started getting calls from brands like Brooks Brothers to tour their company in New York, offers for sponsored content, compensated trips, interviews with national magazines and invitations to exclusive parties.
Proper Kid Problems also became a source of steady income for Zacharias, with sponsored content, outreach and collaborations with companies or other bloggers, and paid social media lectures.
After about a year and a half of VIP treatment, Zacharias said he was forced to scale back his operations as a junior to focus on his double major in finance and marketing. After taking a step back from his blog, he realized he wasn’t proud of its superficiality.
“The content and the voice had become very basic,” Zacharias said. “I kind of saw that, and that wasn’t me. I’m a very opinionated person with no qualms about who I am and what I think. I like to make waves.”
More recently, he said he focused his content more on current affairs, discussion topics and advice to college students, which is more similar to what he wants his blog and social media accounts to be like after graduation.
“Making a difference in people’s lives – that’s more valuable to me than any kind of paycheck, article of clothing or comp’ed trip,” Zacharias said.
Although creating a known brand will always be an incredible achievement, Zacharias said he hopes Proper Kid Problems will be just one accomplishment of many as he moves on to bigger and better things.
“Proper Kid Probs is through at the end of the day,” Zacharias said. “That’s not what I want to be known for.”