Sean McLoughlin (@jacksepticeye) has two decades of experience in the internet spotlight. His 29.4 million YouTube subscribers see him as a pioneer of video game content on the platform who has published multiple videos a week since 2007. But his videos are just a small part of his overall empire.
He’s raised money with his annual Thankmas stream, bringing in over $10 million in 2022 alone, released the 2022 autobiographical documentary “How Did We Get Here,” tackled high-end fashion by launching his brand Cloak in 2018, and launched his own coffee brand Top Of the Mornin’ Coffee in 2020.
It’s been a busy week for McLoughlin. On April 17, he started his own podcast with Ethan “CrankGameplays” Nestor. On April 18, he announced a new comic book venture alongside the publishing company Bad Egg.
“I’m in a very fortunate position that I can jump in and try out things with an audience already, and I don’t have to worry about going to market and finding people to help fund it or anything like that,” McLoughlin told Passionfruit.
Three years ago, McLoughlin had the idea for starting his own brand of coffee after wondering what more he could do outside of the realm of YouTube. After knocking around some ideas, Top Of the Mornin’ Coffee came into the conversation, which stems from McLoughlin’s “Top Of the Mornin” catchphrase that he says at the start of every video.
From there, the idea picked up steam, with McLoughlin’s love of coffee and a desire to learn more about the caffeine space driving his ambition.
“I think it was just something completely different than I had done before,” McLoughlin said. “A lot of the other stuff I had done outside of my channel was merchandise-based or clothing-based, and I thought it was just such a cool idea to try something else that I knew nothing about.”
Learning the complexity of a coffee business wasn’t easy—he had to figure out how beans are roasted, discover the type of blends he and his audience would like, and had to break a few cold brew bottles along the way. The initial test run in 2020 sold hundreds of thousands of bags of coffee, and it was clear that the brand needed to be taken outside of the Jacksepticeye fan base.
McLoughlin was introduced to consumer products entrepreneur Hugh Thomas, who is now CEO of Top of the Mornin’ Coffee. With 12 years of experience, he’s worked with brands like Heinz and Vita Coco and wanted to help bring this coffee brand to a wider audience.
“Bringing his vision to life was just something I really wanted to do,” Thomas told Passionfruit. “It’s really interesting to be able to build a brand that has an audience that you can speak to so easily, … get live feedback from, learn from, listen to.”
For decades, it wasn’t uncommon to see a celebrity’s face slapped on a pair of sneakers or on the front of a cereal box. With Top of the Mornin’ Coffee, Thomas is hoping to “take the creator brand to the next level” and create a product that’s more than just a creator’s name slapped on a label.
From coffee to comic books
Coffee is far from the only new space McLoughlin wants to break into. On April 18, he announced a collaboration with Bad Egg, a comic book publisher that works with streamers and content creators.
Bad Egg’s first project was Godslap, a collaboration with gamer Charles Christopher White Jr (@penguinz0), known better to his 12.8 million subscribers as “MoistCr1TiKaL.” McLoughlin wasn’t involved but was impressed by the project.
Robert Meyers, Bad Egg’s director of publishing, told Passionfruit the gaming world is adjacent to the world of anime and manga, hence the new partnerships. “There’s already a cross-pollination of interests right there. … So far, it’s been a really pretty natural easy step.”
After the success of Godslap, McLoughlin brought some written material that Meyers could use as “springboards” to tell a larger story. The first couple of artists to help with the comic’s story development that Meyers reached out to were already aware of McLoughlin’s channel, telling him that they kept it on while drawing for the comic book.
As for the release date, title, and scope of the project, McLoughlin said it’s still too early to tell with the project in its earliest stages. Right now, McLoughlin said he is just focused on creating the best stories he can in preparation for the comic book’s release.
“I’m not trying to rush straight to the finish line,” McLoughlin said. “I want to flex out this world and see what it has to offer first, and see what kind of themes we can explore in it, and give people more to chew on.”
Turning passions into business ideas
Over the past 16 years, McLoughlin has slapped his brand on a variety of merch. There’s been t-shirts, figures, high-end apparel, slippers, holiday sweaters, and so many more that even McLoughlin said he can’t recall how many he’s made over the years.
In the early days of YouTube, creating merch, or even taking sponsorships, was considered a taboo practice that McLoughlin remembers was “seen as a bad thing.” But as the market has become more saturated with creators and YouTube is seen as an actual job, audiences have become more accepting of merch and sponsorships.
“I think people celebrate that now instead of looking down on it,” McLoughlin said. “Instead it’s like, we can go do this thing together, and we can be on this journey together and have fun with it, and it doesn’t all have to be about money all the time.”
It seems like in today’s creator ecosystem nobody is just a content creator anymore. Entrepreneurs, philanthropists, documentarians, and style icons are now the same people who publish videos vlogging or playing video games. MrBeast’s Feastables chocolate bars and Logan Paul’s Prime Energy Drink have flooded store shelves and are now some of the most popular items around.
“Maybe one day we can be in a store, that would be cool,” McLoughlin said. “I’m more focused, and I’m only doing the things that I really want to do, and it keeps me locked onto that. I think it’s a much easier thing to do than it would be if I was trying to do a million other ones.”
As for the future of his coffee and comics, McLoughlin said it all remains up in the air. But he does have high hopes for where his ambitions can take him. Considering his entrepreneurship raised millions for charity, brought him internet fame, and allowed him to play Mario Kart with Jack Black, there’s no doubt he can do whatever he sets his mind to.