Khaby Lame was born in Senegal in 2000 and moved to Italy with his parents when he was a year old. He has spent most of his life in public housing.
Two years ago, Khaby lost his job as a factory worker.
Today he is one of the faces of a major rebranding by luxury retailer Hugo Boss and allegedly worth $5 million.
So how did he accomplish all of this in less than two years?
By posting videos to TikTok.
At first, like a lot of TikTokers, Khaby created clips of himself dancing, watching video games, or doing comedy stunts. He then began making fun of the life-hack videos that flood social media platforms — reacting to them with a wordless shrug or a look of exasperation — and he struck a chord.
He now has more than 130 million followers on TikTok, the second most of any TikTokers.
Apparently, the videos caught the eye of someone at Hugo Boss. Soon after, Khaby made his runway debut during Milan Fashion Week, with the outing translating to 4 billion impressions across a variety of social media platforms within four days. He then signed a multi-year partnership deal with Boss that will also include a co-designed capsule collection.
While he’s not yet an Italian citizen, he speaks fluent Italian and said he considers the country home. He’s applied for citizenship and as he awaits the process to go through, he said it’s been hard for him to travel to events in the United States and other countries on his Senegalese passport.
Here is a small sampling of his TikTok videos (most are less than 30 seconds each):
*image from D1SoftballNews