This profile is part of the Glossy Pop Guide to Influencer-Founded Brands, covering the fashion, beauty and wellness companies started by people who built their careers on social media. More from the series →
Often considered the first YouTube beauty influencer, Michelle Phan unintentionally went viral after posting a makeup tutorial in 2007. Her overnight success was the first of its kind for beauty YouTube, especially because few users of the platform were posting beauty tutorials at that time. Phan would post a variety of makeup tutorials, like DIY beauty hacks and beginner-friendly makeup routines. As her following grew, she expanded her platform beyond YouTube and co-founded Ipsy, a beauty subscription program, in 2011. A couple of years later, in 2013, she founded her cosmetics brand, EM Cosmetics, with L’Oréal — a first for an influencer. Phan’s brand offered a blueprint for the future era of influencer-brand collaborations. Phan has since acquired EM Cosmetics from L’Oréal and continues to post beauty content across various platforms for her loyal community.
Who: Michelle Phan (Em Cosmetics)
What are you known for & how did you get your start?
I am a creator. In 2007, I posted my first YouTube makeup tutorial and because nobody else was doing this at the time. I went viral overnight and grew a following from there. I was the ‘first beauty YouTuber,’ and my tutorials included beginner-friendly makeup tips, DIY beauty hacks, dramatic transformations and more. As my platform grew, I looked for more ways to share beauty beyond the YouTube platform. I founded the beauty subscription program Ipsy in 2011 as a way to sample amazing products. Next, came my own cosmetics brand. When EM Cosmetics launched in 2013, I was the first influencer to launch a brand with L’Oréal, and this model created a blueprint for many other creators to follow. [Editor’s Note: Phan has since acquired EM Cosmetics, and the brand is no longer a part of L’Oréal].
What’s the brand: Makeup
Find it: EMCosmetics.com
Why did you decide to bring a brand into this crowded marketplace?
I wanted EM Cosmetics to be an extension of my personal philosophy on beauty. The brand relaunched at a time when matte complexions, bold brows, over-lined lips and liquid lipstick were taking over Instagram. With EM Cosmetics, I was able to share my point of view as a brand founder by focusing on innovative formulation and timeless techniques over trends.
Best seller: Lip Cushion Tinted Lip Luminizer in Magic Hour
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