YouTube star Michelle Phan launches her ICON net­work

The China Post - - ARTS - BY ALI­CIA RAN­CILIO

Even first lady Michelle Obama has asked YouTube star Michelle Phan for beauty ad­vice.

“She asked me what kind of pow­der I liked,” Phan re­called in a re­cent in­ter­view. She trav­eled to Tokyo last month with Mrs. Obama as part of her “Let Girls Learn” cam­paign, which en­cour­ages ed­u­ca­tion around the world.

Phan, 27, her­self has made a ca­reer out of shar­ing her beauty tips. She be­gan by post­ing makeup tu­to­ri­als on YouTube in 2007, just two years af­ter the video site was founded, and to­day has 7.5 mil­lion sub­scribers. She has a sub­scrip­tion makeup busi­ness called Ipsy (“with more than 100 em­ploy­ees and we’re go­ing to be mak­ing over US$100 mil­lion this year,” says Phan). Now, she’s launch­ing her own on­line net­work of orig­i­nal con­tent called ICON. It fea­tures other fe­male Web per­son­al­i­ties hand-picked by Phan, who share tips on ev­ery­thing from fash­ion and beauty to DIY projects.

ICON, avail­able on YouTube, its own app and with plans for Roku and other stream­ing plat­forms, is now avail­able in the U.S. and United King­dom with plans to ex­pand to Asia in the next few months.

“We’re plat­form ag­nos­tic,” said Phan. “We’ll go wher­ever our au­di­ence is.”

Phan re­cently chat­ted with The As­so­ci­ated Press about ICON, keep­ing up with tech­nol­ogy and the pres­sures to post. An­swers have been edited for length.

As­so­ci­ated Press: Some peo­ple are in­tim­i­dated by all the dif­fer­ent apps and so­cial me­dia sites like Face­book and SnapChat out there. Are you? Or do you see it as op­por­tu­nity?

Michelle Phan: I cel­e­brate new­ness! It’s in­cred­i­ble what the In­ter­net has done to widen the mar­ket space not only in pro­duc­tion but en­ter­tain­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and me­dia. I re­ally be­lieve in the dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion. The industrial revo­lu­tion jump­started our econ­omy. Now we’re en­ter­ing into the dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion where this will re­ally change our econ­omy.

AP: Your YouTube pop­u­lar­ity has given you a fol­low­ing, and I’m sure that means pos­si­ble dollar signs to busi­nesses and other brands. Has it been dif­fi­cult de­cid­ing what the right fit is when choos­ing part­ner­ships?

Phan: I’ve had times where I’ve part­nered with some­one who wasn’t right for me at the time. It all comes with ex­pe­ri­ence. Fail­ure is part of the process.

AP: You’ve man­aged to stand out among the mil­lions who post videos on­line or are try­ing to build a fol­low­ing. Not ev­ery­one would share their se­cret to suc­cess. Why are you giv­ing oth­ers a plat­form on ICON?

Phan: The In­ter­net has widened the mar­ket­place so much that you can re­ally own a mar­ket that’s niche. I have a niche mar­ket, and I have mil­lions of fol­low­ers who sub­scribe to my chan­nel or who buy my prod­ucts. I re­ally be­lieve there’s no com­pe­ti­tion on­line be­cause you can re­ally own a mar­ket that’s very spe­cific to you.

AP: What’s the one big­gest mis­take made by peo­ple who want to be­come an In­ter­net per­son­al­ity?

Phan: The first mis­take is they want to do it for money. Peo­ple for­get the In­ter­net is open 24/7. There’s a lot of pres­sure to main­tain and upload on a con­stant ba­sis so if you’re not pas­sion­ate you’re go­ing to burn out re­ally fast.

AP: Have you ever been burned out?

Phan: Yeah, but that was mostly be­cause I was stretched re­ally thin. A beauty com­pany wanted me to make 10 videos and a jew­elry com­pany wanted me to make videos. Ev­ery­one wanted a video from me. Peo­ple of­ten times see me as tal­ent which is fine but what I’m very good at is strat­egy and mar­ket­ing.

AP: Have you be­come care­ful about what you say you like be­cause it be­comes an en­dorse­ment when you’re a public fig­ure?

Phan: No, I’m very au­then­tic with what I like. I keep it real with what I’m us­ing and where I’m buy­ing it from.

AP: Would you ever charge to view your con­tent?

Phan: It de­pends. If it’s con­tent peo­ple are al­ready watch­ing for free, no. We have to un­der­stand that we’re in a gen­er­a­tion where peo­ple ei­ther want things for free, or they’ll watch with ads or to pay a very low cost.


In this Tues­day, March 31 photo, the YouTube per­son­al­ity best known for her makeup demon­stra­tions, Michelle Phan poses for a por­trait in New York. Phan launched a dig­i­tal life­style net­work called ICON.

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