I uploaded my first video in 2007. Social media wasn’t even called social media yet. It was a place where people would just go online and congregate and share ideas and videos and content. YouTube was just my creative outlet. I didn’t have sponsorship money, I didn’t have people giving me free products. I had to go out and buy my own makeup products.
I was very motivated at a young age to find a better life, for my mom’s sake. She wanted me to be a doctor, but I didn’t see myself in that future. I promised her that I would take care of her but that I would still pursue what I loved.
Then I got this really amazing offer from a big beauty brand. When they told me how much money I was going to be making, it was so big—as much as a doctor would have made. The first person I wanted to tell was my mother. She’s the reason I work so hard, and she inspires me so much. I said, “What are you doing?” She said, “Oh, I’m still at work, I’m doing someone’s pedicure.” I told her that it would be the last time she would ever have to do anyone’s pedicure and she wouldn’t have to work the next day because I would take care of her. We both started crying. It was a moment that I’ll never forget. I want more people to have moments like that.
Phan launched the beauty subscription company Ipsy and the beauty brand EM Cosmetics.