With more than eight-million subscribers to her channel and a $500 million empire, it’s hard to believe that beauty vlogger Michelle Phan uploaded her first makeup tutorial to YouTube just eight years ago. Explaining that she wasn’t sure what her trajectory would behold, the gorgeous businesswoman spoke candidly about the industry.
Speaking to Kelly Osbourne at the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 summit in Philadelphia on Thursday, the 28-year-old revealed how she has worked over the last few years on building her brand, despite initially not having a business plan.
“I didn’t have a roadmap,” she confessed. “I just did it because it was meaningful to me and I wanted to disrupt the beauty industry.”
Michelle admitted that when she saw the success of her first tutorial on natural make-up, which currently counts 1.1 billion lifetime views, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in the world of beauty vlogging.
“Within the first week, 40,000 people watched it and hundreds of comments came in,” she explained. “And that’s when I realised I found my calling.”
She added: “I thought, if YouTube is going to be the global television of the future, I need to build my brand here.”
Since then she has gained legions of fans who avidly follow her videos – her Barbie make-up tutorial was the most watched video on YouTube.
Away from her camera, Michelle works tirelessly on building her company. Not only has she signed deals with cosmetics giant Lancôme and L’Oréal, but in 2012 she founded Ipsy, a subscription beauty sample business – which last month added £65.6million to her fortune.
“Influence is the new power,” she declared. “If you have influence, you can create a brand.”