by Jessie Ammons
In a saturated digital era, it’s refreshing to see positivity go viral. One example is the sensation of the Holderness family’s online videos. Two years ago, the Raleigh family created a silly digital Christmas card featuring the foursome dancing in matching pajamas and lip-synching made-up holiday lyrics to the tune of Will Smith’s Miami. It took off – as in, more than 16 million views on YouTube – and helped Kim and Penn Holderness launch Greenroom, their own digital marketing company. Now, the couple also spends their off-time creating more funny, family-friendly videos with their children, Lola and Penn Charles. “This is the most fun either of us have ever had doing our job before,” Penn says. “It’s as much fun as it looks like.” On April 30, they’ll raise the bar on affable absurdity by leading a charity 5K where participants are encouraged to wear pajamas and underwear.
With backgrounds in television journalism (Penn spent years as evening news anchor at WNCN and Kim was an on-air reporter in Florida, New York, and in Raleigh at WRAL; she was also a national correspondent for Inside Edition), the Holdernesses (or Holderni, as they like to say) knew what they were doing when they posted the family dance video two Christmases ago. “To be perfectly honest, we were hoping to promote our company,” Kim says. She had recently started Greenroom and was working on it full-time, while Penn was still at WNCN.
“We thought we could get a few hits (on the video) and draw attention to our work in video production and digital marketing.” The viral fame that resulted far exceeded their expectations: They’ve been featured on Good Morning America, Today, The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed, among other popular media outlets. Last year, they collaborated on a commercial for Target. “It’s completely changed our lives,” says Kim, and it also successfully boosted their Greenroom gig. “Our business is growing like gangbusters and doing amazing work.”
The couple believe that with attention comes responsibility. Part of why they returned to North Carolina from New York almost a decade ago was to raise their children near Penn’s family in Durham. He cites both of his parents as inspirationally community-minded, especially his father. “I’ll never live up to him,” Penn says. But they do their darndest to try. “We do as much charity work as we possibly can,” Kim says. Their criteria are good-spirited, like their family videos. “The more ridiculous the better for us. What we look for is something the entire family can get involved in and understand.”
This month, they’ll emcee and participate in the Socks and Undie 5K Rundie. The run benefits Note in the Pocket, a nonprofit founded in Raleigh to give children barely-used donated clothing. “Note in the Pocket delivers clothes as an outfit,” says Kim. “It’s really discreet, so children don’t have to be self-conscious about getting a handout. It’s a beautiful organization.” As an awareness tactic about what a difference clothing can make, the 5K encourages runners to wear only socks and underwear. “Penn is wearing boxers and socks and nothing else,” Kim says, “but I plan on wearing an actual outfit that covers me, with underwear on top. It’s a hilarious race idea.” Join in the fun on April 30. Who knows? You may end up with a cameo in the background of the next viral Holderness video.
Learn more and sign up for the 5K at noteinthepocket.org, and follow the Holderness family shenanigans at theholdernessfamily.com.