Michelle Phan started slowly but steadily with her makeup channel on YouTube eight years ago. Fast forward to the present, she has over 8 million subscribers on her YouTube channel and her company Ipsy is worth $500 million. The journey to this place however was not so simple, “I didn’t have a roadmap, I just did it because it was meaningful to me and I wanted to disrupt the beauty industry” she says at the Forbes’ second annual 30 under 30 summit.
Phan realized early on that YouTube is going to be the global television of the future, for which she needs to develop a brand on the platform. She started her YouTube channel in 2007 with a natural makeup tutorial which received 40000 views in the first week. The high level of engagement she received in her first attempt itself made her realize that YouTube is her calling. She went on to do a Lady Gaga makeup tutorial and was signed up by Lancome as their first official video makeup artist. “Influence is the new power–if you have influence you can create a brand,” says Phan in conversation with television host and fashion designer Kelly Osbourne.
Ipsy is Phan’s most ambitious and successful business. She went against popular opinion while starting a subscription based beauty business, with fierce competition from BirchBox and Dollar Shave Club. Ipsy now ships over 1.5 million of its monthly “glam bags” to U.S and Canada. Phan firmly believes in the power of the internet to reach niche product markets.