Denys Sokoriev is the Content Production & Operations Manager for Trend Media, LLC, the production company of “Vlad & Niki,” the world’s number one YouTube boy’s channel. Sokoriev is responsible for the development, production, and post-production of content for the successful brand, which has more than 180+ billion views from 330+ million global subscribers.
Sokoriev, a native of Ukraine, is the point person who oversees each video from inception to the edited final product. His additional responsibilities include all company hiring, procuring state-of-the-art production filming equipment, building sets and props, and handling travel to far-flung shooting locations like The Maldives, Mexico, The Bahamas, Vail, and Dubai. All of the content is localized on 21 channels and translated into 18 languages.
We asked Sokoriev about his journey from Ukraine to Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, where he now lives and works overseeing production of Vlad & Nicki.
Grit Daily: Vlad & Niki has more than 330 million subscribers worldwide. What makes it so popular for so many children in so many different countries?
Denys Sokoriev: I believe the main reason that “Vlad & Niki” is so successful with children is that we are creating entertaining, engaging content. All children, regardless of where they live, want to have fun, and kids consider Vlad & Niki their friends who they are playing along with. In each video, Vlad, Niki, along with their younger brother Chris and the help of their funny mom Victoria are genuinely having fun tapping into their imagination, creativity, and adventure, so the kids watching at home are having fun too. We have built an audience one child at a time and are responsible for creating quality content with learning themes that will be applicable to any geographic location. When Vlad, Niki, and Chris like a story idea and enjoy filming it, their enthusiasm translates on-screen, inspiring the kids and their families to watch.
Grit Daily: The number of subscribers to Vlad & Niki has doubled since you joined the production company in 2021. To what do you attribute that rapid growth?
Denys Sokoriev: There are several reasons that “Vlad & Niki” is so popular. The videos are engaging to watch, educational, and spark creativity in kids. We take ordinary ideas, such as playdates and family outings, and supersize them into extraordinary adventures filled with bright colors, special effects, and high-energy music that kids enjoy. There is a sense of wonder, awe, and relatability that Vlad and Niki, and their family have with their audience.
Our goal is to design stories and create fun but not too slick-looking sets, making the atmosphere more organic and giving parents the feeling that they could create a dynamic play atmosphere for their kids. At the end of the day, “Vlad & Niki” started as fun home videos that just happened to go viral on social media. We never lose that sense of family togetherness, especially with their mother; Victoria’s funny mom character is incorporated within the videos. So, parents can feel confident that their kids are watching content that shows strong family bonds and teaches their kids good character-building and organic lessons.
Grit Daily: You are the Content Production & Operations Manager for Trend Media but it seems you do everything to make the show happen, except appear before the camera. You do the hiring, purchasing production equipment, building sets and props, and handling travel, which I gather is quite extensive. How do you juggle all those roles?
Denys Sokoriev: I am blessed to work with Sergey and Victoria Vashtekov, Vlad and Niki’s parents. They put a lot of trust in my creative and decision-making abilities, and I have grown into my role at their company Trend Media LLC, with their guidance and confidence in me.
Honestly, it’s not always easy because I wear many hats. It is a lot of work to plan and execute the “Vlad & Niki” content production because we never settle for doing less than our best.
We are creating stories and designing practical sets that need to work, but also scouting locations within their neighborhood where we can shoot. When we travel to other cities and countries, we need to find family-friendly destinations that would make bright, colorful content, develop storylines that play into the location, and hire local production people to assist us with shooting. But when we see the final product, and it gets a great reaction from the audience, there is no better feeling. You forget all about the difficult parts, especially when a video has more than millions of views. It is so gratifying when you know you made a child smile and helped teach them their numbers or letters. I take great pride in the content we create, which motivates me to do my best in all my roles.
Grit Daily: You were a railroad worker in Ukraine at one point. How did you get into production of a children’s show on YouTube?
Denys Sokoriev: I took a somewhat circuitous route to get where I am now. After graduation, I started my career by working with a railroad company to pay the bills, but I always thought of myself as a creative person. I was always creating and telling stories as a hobby. My sister encouraged me to move to Dubai, UAE, where there would be more creative professional opportunities. Once living in Dubai, I began working with a content production company and eventually met the Vashketov family through that company. They were looking to hire a person with a unique set of skills, someone who was a creative storyteller but had engineering and production experience, too, and I was the person who fit their requirements perfectly.
Grit Daily: Where do you see the future of children’s content going?
Denys Sokoriev: Streaming services have changed the game for children’s content. Sergey and Victoria are the perfect examples of how everyday people can make videos, put them on YouTube, and succeed. “Vlad & Niki” shows that with plenty of imagination, ingenuity, and hard work, you can create content that people across the world love. You don’t need a big studio or production company to achieve success anymore, and I think that is the most exciting thing about working with “Vlad & Niki.” I believe we will continue to see more home-grown kid content achieve massive levels of success, and that’s inspiring to me.