Twenty-seven-year-old Patrick Starr – born Patrick Simondac – explains in his own words how he turned his love of makeup into a YouTube empire complete with international business trips and 1.8 million subscribers.
Growing up, we didn’t have cable – and we didn’t really have internet, so I watched the local channels. That meant reality shows like America’s Next Top Model or Miss Universe or The Swan. I loved The Swan. I loved all those kind of shows.
I also studied classical piano. I even taught piano lessons in my teens. I loved playing the piano. It was like auditory art. I would be my friends’ accompanist for the choir, for musicals, for singing competitions.
In high school, I started doing photography and doing headshots for my friends doing theater. It was then that I realized I could Photoshop makeup on to the computer to eliminate blemishes, add blush, contour and shape brows. And that was basically the spark for my interest for makeup.
I’m the oldest of three. My brothers Peter and Paul and I were very good, Catholic Filipino boys. My parents weren’t afraid to discipline us, but I wasn’t rambunctious. I would just spend time with my brothers, my family. But I’ve always been a busy person. While I was in school, I would do piano, swimming, tennis, go play golf with my dad, then come home and practice Photoshop, then homework. I loved being busy.
After high school, I worked at Panera, I was a freelance photographer, I also did hair and makeup and worked at MAC Cosmetics. At the same time, I was doing my undergrad for nursing. I was planning on having a entering a steady line of traditional work.
One day in February 2013, I woke up depressed because I hadn’t been assigned any hours at MAC. Working gave me an excuse to wear makeup all the time and for it to be ripped away … I needed a reason. I needed some place, somewhere to wear my makeup, so my artistry wouldn’t deplete itself and my technique wouldn’t go away. So that’s when I started my YouTube channel.
My first video was my daily glam makeup routine. I had been making a ton of videos at home but they were filmed it on my Nikon D90 and I didn’t know how to format it properly on YouTube, so it came out really blurry. But I worked at it and I got better.
But things really took off for me when a girlfriend of mine decided to introduce me to this other YouTuber near where I lived in Orlando. She was like, “OMG! This girl, I did her nails on Sunday. You want to come with me and surprise her?” And I was like, “Oh my God!” Her name was Talia Joy. She had 1 million subscribers and had, like, 13. Her perseverance through her cancer was so inspiring that she had gained notoriety, even getting featured on Ellen DeGeneres’s show as a Covergirl. She said makeup was her wig.
When Talia passed away, my video was the last video on her activity feed. So when millions of people went to her channel to share condolences, the first thing they saw was my wing eyeliner and red lip video. My friend said that Talia left me a gift on this earth. I get so emotional just thinking about it. I wish I had spent more time with her. My last memory of her when she asked me to get her makeup at MAC because she was in the hospital.
I always knew I could turn my name and my brand to a business and be a successful entrepreneur. But my mom is a nurse and is very practical minded. She would say, “Patrick, go after your dream, but you need a steady job. Can’t you just be a nurse?” My dad is an entrepreneur was like, “Okay, this is business. You need A, B, and C.” so I learned a little bit of both – to be an ambitious multi tasker like my dad, but also steady like my mom.
I had to work hard to prove that makeup wasn’t just an outlet to be gay. I wanted to show that I’m an educator. I’m talented. I’m an artist. I really wanted to prove to my parents – both immigrants from the Phillipines – that I, as the oldest child, could go to school and pursue something greater than what they’ve ever dreamed for me.
YouTube had changed my life. It’s creative. It keeps me busy. I’ve been able to acquire beautiful relationships with major brands. But I think what really clicked for my parents was me going to the Bahamas with Benefit Cosmetics. They were like, “Why? Did you win a contest?” I had to tell them, “No. This is my job. I’m marketing. They want me to post pictures on Instagram to be in the Bahamas. That’s all it is.” They still asked, “Why?” I said, “Why? Because I’m popular!” It was a very funny way to introduce my job to them.
If you saw the text from my mother now, you would cry or just laugh because she is the most sentimental woman ever. She says, “I am so proud of you. God has given you this gift.” She’s just so proud. It’s awesome. It’s completely surreal that I’m able to show my parents that I’m an example to my siblings and I’m able to inspire others.