‘Youtube Can Make Or Break You’
Together, sisters Sam and Nic Chapman are Pixiwoo, the biggest beauty vlogging duo on the planet, now with an empire beneath them. So how on earth do they keep their feet on the ground? Lookõs Giselle Wainwright went to find out
Eight years ago, Sam and Nic Chapman started tentatively sharing their make-up artist tutorials. Fast-forward to now and the sisters have over 2 million Youtube subscribers, a massive beauty brand (Real Techniques – currently the bestselling make-up brushes in the UK, FYI) and a life that sees them travel the world to meet their fans.
When I meet them in a hip London hotel, the pair are über-glam and ecstatic to share the details of their new book Face. ‘It’s everything you need to know, for every single person,’ says younger sister Nic, 36.
Strikingly, these ladies are the most down-to-earth vloggers we’ve met, and they clearly still have a serious passion for beauty – evidenced when Sam, 39, gets her make-up bag out mid-interview so we can have a good rummage. And don’t get us started on that beauty closet – we’re dying to get in there…
Hi ladies! How often do you get asked for make-up tips? Sam: The other day in Boots there was a lady shopping for lashes. I was like: ‘Right, OK, you really want the ones with the thin seam,’ and I talked her through it. I can’t help it. You always want to help people and you don’t want people to waste their money. You’re part of the original vlogging crowd. Has it been hard adjusting to the fame side of things? Nic: I don’t really think we’re famous. S: People say: ‘You must get recognised in the street.’ Not as much as you would think. We’re a bit older, so no one stops and harasses us, whereas Jim [Chapman, their brother, also a vlogger] and Tanya [Burr, his wife] do get noticed. N: People always catch us with no make-up on. S: The weirdest place I was recognised was when I was halfnaked, getting a bra measurement done. I literally had my boobs out. Awkward! Lots of Youtubers have talked about how hard it is to stay motivated. Do you have days like that? S: There’ve been loads. Right now we’re in a really good spot, but there are times I just don’t feel it any more. N: It feels like you can dip into this industry, have a career and somehow drop out when you’re tired. Quite a few people this year have been like: ‘That’s it, I’m quitting Youtube.’ S: I still love make-up, but when you put yourself into a situation where you’re being scrutinised, obviously that makes life a little bit more difficult. You do it for long enough and you just don’t care any more. It either makes or breaks you. We’ve been poring over your new book Face. It’s incredible! What was the process like?
S: Face has everything in there that you need to know about beauty, to get the best from your products, to achieve the best finish for what you’re doing, but also tips for your mum – there’s something for everybody. Each section has a little picture of a phone – you scan it and it’ll show you a video that goes alongside it. So it’s just that little bit more interactive. N: The optimum length for a beauty tutorial is six minutes and you can’t fit all that information in. If you think about the fact that it takes us over an hour to film one, there’s an awful lot edited out, so you end up missing out a lot of key information. That’s why we wrote the book. Lots of vloggers have had help with their books. Did you write everything in yours? N: Absolutely – completely 100 per cent. S: It’s all ours. Even the design is done by my ex-partner of 10 years. One of my best friends shot the photos. We’re completely and absolutely in control of everything because we just have a vision. And because, with Youtube, we’re completely in control of it, we edit everything. Does one of you have more control or do you ever fight? You are sisters, after all… S: There was no business in our mind when we started vlogging – it was just something that we got on doing. We didn’t always get on and it brought us closer – we actually quite enjoyed doing this together. We never fight over anything now. It was definitely a different community online back then. I think people are now used to being sold to. Do you have a huge closet of make-up? S: We have a room that’s floor to ceiling boxes full of make-up. N: We have someone to organise it. S: At home I have built-in shelves: the bottom one’s skincare, then the next four shelves are for make-up, and then hair products. What make-up mistakes did you make growing up? N: Sam used to call me Casper The Friendly Ghost because I was so pale! S: She just put a lot of powder on… N: And then because of that I went orange with foundation. You’re both qualified make-up artists. How do you feel about younger, unqualified Youtubers emulating what you do? S: I don’t think they’re make-up artists – they’re social media stars and influencers. They’re two
Starting Pixiwoo brought us closer. We never fight over things now
different jobs. I don’t like it when someone’s doing it wrong, but it’s just the way it is. N: People are very good at editing things out and I think that’s a bit misleading, but as long as you’re honest I do think there’s space for everyone. Saying that, I’ve seen a lot of those Instagram people up close and it’s shocking. There’s so much make-up on that face! I can still go out after I’ve done a video. Can you ever switch off? Together: [Laugh] No! What’s next for Youtubers? N: I think that Youtube is similar to TV. What will happen is that the talent will shift and change and just evolve in the way TV has. S: You have to transcend that audience, change your content. I don’t know how you do that. We haven’t had to do it, fortunately.
Face: Make-up, Skincare, Beauty by Sam and Nic Chapman is out 20 October, £20, facebypixiwoo.com