A group of Ipsy stylists and founder Michelle Phan. (Photo: Ipsy)
Michelle Phan and Ipsy, the subscription sampling service and online beauty community she founded in 2011, seem to be following in the footsteps of Smashbox Studios, which earlier this year opened its renovated production space to beauty content creators. The YouTube star — whose company ships more than one million “Glam Bags” a month to subscribers and recently reached $150 million in revenue — just announced news of her own: a multi-platform concept called Ipsy Open Studios that is meant to champion beauty creators everywhere.
Ipsy OS is made up of beautiful skylight-lit studios in Santa Monica, California, that come with all necessary lighting and audio equipment, an edit suite, props and even wardrobe, plus a team on hand for teaching and assistance. “I’ve seen there is a huge need and hunger for a space like this for beauty creators who have the drive and the talent but they don’t have the know-how,” says Phan. “They don’t know how to start, how to shoot, how to film or even be part of a community because they’re in a place where there are not a lot of beauty creators around them. So we’re really giving them a place to call home.” In the past Ipsy’s stylists primarily used the space, but as she says, there are a lot of people who, with a little education and the right tools could create significantly stronger, higher quality output.
It sounds too good to be true, but these facilities, along with one-on-one mentoring with Phan — who in 2013 launched makeup line em Michelle Phan with L’Oreal — and other workshops, content, programming and industry and networking events, are available totally free. All a beauty creator needs to do to take advantage is to apply on ipsyos.com. The gratis services, says Phan, are because “we want to give back to these incredibly loyal creators and followers and community of people who just want to create.” In just hours following her video announcement on May 29, there were already more than 1,000 applicants.
That said, Phan stresses criteria for acceptance in the program is not tied to numbers of followers. “For me that doesn’t really matter,” she says. “I’d much rather see how talented this person is, what their creativity level is and also how consistent they are in uploading, because that shows me they’re self-motivated, hungry to learn and that they’re going to be working.” Participants can also be active on any platform, from traditional blogging or vlogging on YouTube to posting on Instagram, Vine, Snapchat or Phhhoto, which Phan herself is on now and compares to Instagram three years ago. Once a creator is accepted, they’ll be able to book studio time and also take part in the suite of other virtual technology tools the platform offers.
One of those is a tool to run giveaways — ever a source of headaches for YouTube stars especially, on whom the website started cracking down to prevent them from collecting followers and comments as criteria to enter to win. “Giveaways are a huge pain point to beauty creators and we can provide it because it’s part of our bigger story and the bigger way of building community,” says Marcelo Camberos, Ipsy CEO and founder. “If you’re not in LA and you’re just getting started but you’re producing really consistent content then you can access hangouts with Michelle to get some education, and access these tools that allow you to get there more quickly.”
Ipsy founders Marcel Camberos, Michelle Phan, and Jennifer Goldfarb (Photo: Ipsy)
Additionally, Ipsy OS offers ways for creators to meet brands to partner and potentially earn with. “Another example of a tool would be finding people to collaborate with, Tinder-style, where you can be prompted [to meet] people that might be a fit for your type of content. You can decide, ‘I really want to do a collaboration with this person because it gives me followers,’” says Camberos. Phan adds that the studio will also connect the community with local photographers who “just want to shoot beautiful things, because oftentimes a lot of them end up doing campaigns and commercials and just want to have fun and play.”
In addition to the studio facilities coming at no cost, Phan stresses that Ipsy also exercises absolutely no creative control over anything produced there. “We’re not pressuring you into using X number of products or blacklisting any brands,” says the digital trailblazer. “It’s open ceiling, whatever you want to create, the more artistic and creative the better. We want to provide the tools to help bring their vision to life.” And while there’s no ownership claim on what’s produced, the Ipsy team does plan to help promote the work. “Ideas are already ticking — that’s what we do best,” says Phan.