YouTube star and Ipsy founder Michelle Phan is at the forefront of the social reinvention of the $39 billion cosmetics industry.
“Hi! I’m Michelle.” Michelle Phan is poking her head into a spacious room at the Ipsy Open Studio in Santa Monica, California, an outpost of the San Mateo–based beauty subscription company she cofounded four years ago. A young woman named Sophie Torres is sitting at a table, neatly arranging brushes, bottles, and tubes in preparation for a video tutorial she is going to film about hard-to-pull-off hairstyles. She is a member of Ipsy’s extended family of online beauty influencers, who, like Phan, are using YouTube, Instagram, and other social media to build careers as beauty gurus.
Phan is the biggest guru of all. Since 2007, when she started making videos of herself applying makeup in her bedroom and uploading them to YouTube, she has amassed a following of more than 8 million subscribers who tune in to watch her dreamy-voiced instructions on everything from “grunge beauty” to how to achieve the Daenerys Targaryen look from Game of Thrones. Now, through Ipsy, she’s helping others follow in her footsteps—last May, Ipsy opened this 10,000-square-foot studio, complete with 360-degree cameras, state-of-the-art lighting, and elaborate props, for its network of beauty vloggers to shoot their videos.
Torres seems a little flustered by the sudden appearance of the 28-year-old Phan and apologizes for not wearing any makeup. Phan, who’s dressed in a simple black turtleneck dress and colorful Nikes, smiles warmly. “It’s fine. We don’t judge here. I don’t have any makeup on either.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
THE ASCENT OF SARA NELSON
ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS PRESIDENT SARA NELSON HAS BECOME THE MOST PROMINENT LABOR LEADER IN AMERICA. NOW SHE’S POISED TO HELP THE ENTIRE LABOR MOVEMENT TAKE OFF.
The home-rental giant was already at a crossroads—both financially and spiritually—when COVID-19 brought travel to a halt. Now it’s looking for new purpose (and profitability) in a post-pandemic world.
Making investing accessible for everyone
APEX IS LEADING A MOVEMENT AIMED AT DEMOCRATIZING PERSONAL FINANCE
Hiring Heroes: Why Veterans Make Great Tech Employees
MILITARY VETERANS COME WITH THE SOFT SKILLS EMPLOYERS VALUE MOST, AND MANY HAVE BACKGROUNDS IN TECHNOLOGY
Forging a path to carbon transparency
HOW LOGITECH’S LOW-CARBON DESIGN STRATEGY IS TRANSFORMING AN INDUSTRY
Devil's Bargain? Not Anymore
Artists need brands for func=ding. Brands need artists for authenticity. Here's why selling out has lost its stigma.
Dance Dance Revolution
Ballet principal James Whiteside has expanded the audience for his art by pushing its boundaries.
Amber On Air
Late-night TV host and groundbreaking comedy writer Amber Ruffin explains what can happen when you think like a performer.
Bearing fruit with groundbreaking marketing
INNOVATION IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND AVOCADOS FROM MEXICO BRAND’S MARKET PENETRATION AND IMPRESSIVE GROWTH
6 CREATIVE WAYS WORKERS ARE TAKING BACK POWER
1 BARGAINING FOR THE COMMON GOOD