Regarded as the one of the first ever beauty bloggers to gain celebrity status with paychecks to match, beauty blogger Michelle Phan gained YouTube fame almost overnight. However, her journey to building a Million Dollar Brand wasn’t paved with roses.
Born in 1987 to Vietnamese immigrants in Boston, Massachusetts, the family was forced to move around a lot due to her father’s rampant gambling problem; he always gambled away their rent money. Due to this, she grew up living on food stamps and sleeping on the floor. Meanwhile, she was often the victim of bullying at school due to her her Asian heritage and resorted to drawing and painting to cope with it. However, her life soon changed when she was accepted into Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. Though the family could barely afford to fund her education, they decided to sell many of their possessions and even put in money that was meant to go towards furniture for their home.
In 2005, she started a beauty blog while still at college and later used the laptop provided by the University to upload YouTube videos in 2007. Within just a week, she received over 40,000 views. By 2011, she was a household name in America and also started her own online beauty community called Ipsy. In 2012, Google offered her $1 million to create 20 hours of content and her videos were watched over 1 billion times. In 2013, she hit the jackpot when L’Oreal collaborated with her to launch a makeup line. In 2013, she released her own book titled, ‘Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success–Online and Off’. She won the People’s Voice Webby Award for Best How-To & DIY Channel in 2015, something fellow bloggers only dreamt of.
However, in 2016, she battled depression and decided to take a complete break from YouTube and social media to focus on her mental health. In 2017 with a net worth of over $50 million, she made a comeback by releasing her own affordable makeup brand and will soon resume making videos.