Michelle Phan: YouTube Makeup Guru Talks About The Rejection That Launched Her Career

Michelle Phan is one of the biggest makeup vloggers on the internet, but the YouTube megastar might have never made it were it not for a simple rejection.

Phan’s career kicked off in 2007, when she did her first makeup tutorial video. At the time, she was a student and working as a waitress, but had just been rejected in her bid to work at a Lancome counter at a department store. Phan actually made it to the last stage of the interview process, but lost the job when she told interviewers that she had no sales experience.

“I was really bummed out about it because I really wanted to work in the beauty industry, and I just love to see reactions when I gave makeovers to people,” Michelle Phan told Adweek. “I wanted to be able to do that at the beauty counter, but I guess the universe and life has different paths for you to take. That path happened to lead me to opening my laptop and shooting my first video after I got turned down.”

It ended up being quite the fortuitous rejection. Phan began posting videos on YouTube and steadily built an audience. Within two years of her first makeup video, Michelle Phan hit the big time, releasing a Barbie makeup tutorial that ended up with 57 million views.

Michelle even helped pave the way for her sister-in-law, Promise Phan, who herself has gained popularity for transforming herself into celebrities like Beyoncé and Angelina Jolie, and characters like Elsa from Disney’s Frozen.

Phan now says she enjoys challenges, including a recent Halloween-related makeup tutorial in which she turned herself into an elegant zombie.

“I was watching ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ a few months ago, and I just thought how funny would it be if I turned her into a zombie for my Halloween video? Just little things like that,” she said.

Michelle Phan has even parlayed her makeup success into a larger project supporting women on YouTube. She teamed up with the video sharing site in 2012 to create FAWN (For All Women Network), which focuses on women’s lifestyle content.

“It was a great opportunity for me to really expand my production resources and also for me to create shows that I would have never been able to create on my own. My channel, it’s still like a one woman studio, but a network, that’s when we can hire other editors and other shooters and we can like do really cool show concepts,” she said.

Michelle Phan even used FAWN to launch another makeup giant. One of the first vloggers to appear on the channel was Bethany Mota, who is now counted among the most popular on YouTube and even found herself onto Dancing with the Stars.

[Image via YouTube]