Trevor McFedries & Sara Decou are the co-founders of Brud and the creators of the first computer-generated social media influencer, Lil Miquela, in 2016. She has since amassed a large social media following and has donned brands including Chanel, Burberry and Fendi. Though McFedries and DeCour have stated that influencer is of an ambiguous ethnic background, Lil Miquela echoes the typical “Instagram look” and style: plumped lips, bold brows complete with an urban aesthetic. While at first glance, Lil Miquela appears interchangeable with any teen-trendsetter on the platform, a closer look at the upper portion of the model gives away her evenly mid-toned CGI skin. In 2018, Brud secured a $6 million in venture capital funding as a response to its success with Lil Miquela on Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud .
Before creating Brud, a creative agency specialising in robotics, artificial intelligence and their applications to media businesses, McFedries was known professionally as Yung Skeeter and worked as a DJ, producer and director for acts like Katy Perry and Steve Aoki. Winning the “People’s Choice Award for Best DJ” in 2008, he has also performed at music festivals, including Lollapalooza and Coachella. Sara DeCou who completes the duo, was listed on the Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for consumer technology in 2019, though she remains cryptic about her occupational history prior to founding Brud.
Miquela Sousa, better known as Lil Miquela, is a 19-year-old, Los Angeles-based, half Brazilian and half Spanish avatar. Since 2016, the virtual social media influencer has gained over 1.5 million followers, released a Top 10 Spotify single, posed wearing brands from Chanel to Vetements, and collaborated with labels like Off-White, Proenza Schouler , Moncler and Prada, whose Instagram she took over for Autumn/Winter 2018 to livestream the show via a drone. She has also appeared on the cover of 032c, Wired and Highsnobiety, and was featured in editorials for V magazine, Paper magazine and W Magazine. In September 2018 she became an arts editor at Dazed Beauty.
Lil Miquela has marked a new era in AI, dubbed by some as a genius marketing initiative, while younger users look up to the figure. Lil Miquela has posted photos of herself walking at runway show events that have sparked criticism among followers in efforts to delegitimize the CGI software. In late 2018, the British Fashion Council included Lil Miquela in its line-up of New Wave Creatives, alongside other digitally-native celebrities such as model Luka Sabbat and fashion critics Tony Liu and Lindsey Shuyler of Instagram handle Diet Prada.
Though Lil Miquela’s exact purpose is to question social norms online platforms, her creators have voiced their philanthropic agenda, donating sponsorship revenues to social causes such as the LA-based California Wildfire relief fund and the Black Girls Code NGO. Brud has since created other virtual Instagram influencers, namely Bermuda Blawko, with which Lil Maquela has staged multiple social media feuds compromising hacking between the accounts and love related drama. Blawko documented the strife between the figures in youtube vlogs. In 2019, Lil Miquela added a new job to her resume: musical journalism, as she posted a series of photos at the festival, and interviewed the Latin reggaeton singer J Balvin.