Meet Michelle Phan, the beauty guru of Youtube. With seven million followers, she is the fourth most popular woman on Youtube. All her videos, from “Beauty Basics: Brows” to “How to Build Self-Confidence,” help her followers and fans bond with Phan on humorous or emotional levels. She truly feels like a friend, just one that is sitting behind a screen and a site.
But how did Phan achieve the success we see today? As Phan shares in her video, “Draw My Life,” her interest in art began in elementary school; it was one of her only comforts. At school or at home, Phan would draw Disney princesses and superheroes, whose influence and confidence she aspired to reflect. And as Phan grew, she began to explore other forms of art. The one that really stuck with her was makeup and the sense of confidence and empowerment that she found came along with it.
“Little by little, [my mom] allowed me to wear a little bit of [makeup],” Phan said in her video “Draw My Life.” “It was a pretty big deal for me. I loved makeup so much because to me, it was drawing. It was on my own face.”
Phan eventually went to college at Ringling College of Art and Design, where she got her first laptop. With the computer, she filmed her first beauty tutorial and posted it to YouTube. She wanted to share the confidence lent to her by makeup with other women and since she had few connections, YouTube was the most efficient place to do so.
The video quickly gained 40 thousand views and she was shocked and amazed at the positive comments she received from women all around the world. She had achieved the impossible: turned herself around and shown others how they could be confident themselves.
“I just wanted to show every girl out there how beautiful she was and how makeup can be their own superhero costume,” Phan said. “Batman, Superman, Spiderman – without their costumes, they’re still powerful, but it’s their costumes that tells the world that they’re superheroes.”
It was evident that Phan was spreading her message successfully as her channel began to gain followers. YouTube became her prime focus; it was her creative outlet. In 2007, Phan posted the video, “Barbie Transformation Video,” which got a whopping 56 million views, the most she has ever gotten out of all her videos.
Media was rapidly taking notice of her quick rise to YouTube fame. In 2010, she hit 1 million subscribers.
“Seeing the comments [from] so many women and girls from all walks of life around the world pouring in [with] all these questions, I realized ‘wow, I’m becoming [like] a big sister to these girls and I think that was really the moment when I was taken aback,” Phan said at the Streamy Awards.
However, it wasn’t enough to simply share tips and tricks. The creation of the For All Women Network (FAWN) on YouTube in 2012, allowed Phan to introduce her fans and followers to a bigger community, support growing makeup artists and still manage to keep her original channel updated.
Inspired by her followers interest, Phan co-founded ipsy.com, a beauty social networking and sampling site that, working along with Phan’s YouTube channel, has strengthened the beauty community and the idea that makeup is an expression of confidence.
“Makeup IS art—the only difference is it’s on a moving canvas that constantly changes throughout the day,” Phan explains on her website. “It’s an extension of our self-expression and a powerful tool that shapes how we see ourselves.”
YouTube has been the center of Phan’s campaign for self-esteem and self-expression. In order to reach out to even more people and further educate her current fans, Phan has written a book titled Makeup by Michelle Phan, which was released on October 21. The book is centralized on beauty, success and confidence tips, which make up the core idea of Phan’s channel.
YouTube helped Phan enhance her love of art by allowing her to share it with others, and fortified her success by providing her with a source of inspiration and support.
“Even when times were tough, my childlike spirit never died,” Phan said in “Draw My Life.” “I found that very thing that takes me to a happy place. It was art. And to others, it could be music, writing, video games—whatever it is, finding that special thing will help move you forward.”
Phan found her happy place both in art and in inspiring others with her art through her YouTube channel.