If anything is a testament to the power of the Internet, it's the success of YouTube stars like beauty vlogger Michelle Phan, style and DIY guru Bethany Mota and nerdy-chic baker Rosanna Pansino. Between the three of them, they've got about 13.5 million YouTube followers and counting. The trio was on hand yesterday evening at the Unleash YouTube event, for a brief panel and meet-and-greet with press and fans. The shindig, sponsored by the video sharing website, was a physical manifestation of the success these three have enjoyed, with stations featuring some of Pansino's deliciously creative nerd-themed treats, an upstairs lounge modeled like Mota's "bedroom" and quite an impressive spread from Phan's Em Michelle Phan cosmetics line.
The three shared stories on how they started their YouTube channels, the day-to-day that goes into maintaining fan engagement and, of course, future plans. Each is successful in her own right, but the fruits of Michelle Phan's labor are certainly a bit juicier than the rest. Check her credentials: she was the first woman to reach 1 billion views on YouTube, and today has six times that amount, along with an arsenal of over 6 million subscribers. She's got a lucrative contract with Lancôme, one with L’Oreal for Em Michelle Phan, a deal with Dr. Pepper, her own lifestyle network, FAWN (the For All Women Network) and an e-commerce site, Ipsy. On top of all that, she will be releasing her first book, Make Up Your Life, a memoir and life advice tome due out in October.
We caught up with the diminutive makeup pro to ask about her latest efforts, how she's dealt with her tremendous success and, of course, which celeb she currently has a beauty crush on.
theFashionSpot: So, tell us a little bit about your book, Make Up You Life.
Michelle Phan: The past seven years of my life have been a rollercoaster, and I've learned a lot and experienced a lot. Seeing all of my followers ask all these questions for life advice, BFF drama, boyfriend advice, even stuff like, "What do I wear to work?" I decided, you know, it's really hard for me to create videos for all of this, and I'd rather create something that is tangible. What's more tangible than a book? What's more important than knowledge? Beauty fades, but knowledge lasts forever. We pass down knowledge to our kids and future generations, and I thought this is a great way for me to pass on something beautiful to the future generation. So, Make Up Your Life is everything I've learned in my entire life to help women create a beautiful life of their own.
tFS: You've had tremendous success on YouTube. What has been the biggest challenge with dealing with all the exposure?
MP: Not having enough time. Which is funny, because time, in a sense, is made up. We made it up. I can actually have a lot of time but it's really just about managing my time. I've been really good at it this year, but I think for the longest time I was struggling with putting this video up, working on a makeup line, calling the network, and everything. My biggest problem was that I did too much at once and now, I understand the quality of taking time to do things. When people were telling me, "Michelle, you need to slow down," now I understand what that means. "Slow down" doesn't mean you should stop. It just means, slow down. And so, this year, I've been slowing down a lot and I've been noticing, wow, I'm becoming more successful because I'm slowing down. Maybe the secret to life is true!
tFS: When did you know you'd made it?
MP: I would say very recently. The college I went to, Ringling College of Art and Design, in two weeks I'm actually going there because they're honoring me with an honorary doctorate degree. I finished up to junior year, and it's funny because senior year of college at art school, you spend the entire year working on your final presentation. I decided to take a year off to pursue the Lancôme gig that I had back in 2010. I told myself after a year, I need to go back and finish college, because that was my mom's dream. For at least one female in my family to finish college. And never expecting that I would have time to go back, Ringling decided to honor me with this degree. The funny thing is, that my final project I was working on junior year was a makeup line. It's crazy… there is destiny, but I think you also have to make your own destiny. You have to truly believe in it and find all the signs that the universe gives you. So, that's what I did. I kept my eyes open, and looked for all these signs in life.
tFS: Lastly, which celebrity do you think has the best beauty game out there right now?
MP: Miley Cyrus. Her beauty game… I gotta give that girl props. I think her makeup looks really good, and it's on point. I mean, those brows are just… on point!