It all started with one tutorial. “I was getting ready to go out one night in college, and wanted to do something different to my hair…” That tutorial snowballed into “countless hours of watching YouTube videos on all things beauty related.” For StarCentral’s Beauty Guru of the Year for 2015, Loan Pham, that one video ignited a passion which now fuels a burgeoning career.
Her YouTube channel, ‘LoanPhamBeauty’ was born last year amid the unfailing support and encouragement of her family and friends. One of her biggest supporters is her cousin, Kathy. “She basically gave me her DSLR camera to film my videos and always offer her time when I need someone to take pictures of my outfits. She is my number one fan and the first person I go to when I receive exciting news regarding my beauty channel…without her encouragement, I don’t think I would’ve had the nerve to start my channel.”
Another source of inspiration for the 28-year old books and music lover is her parents. “I get really emotional when I think of all they’ve sacrificed (time, money, vacations) to support my brother and I. They have worked endlessly and tirelessly to provide us with everything we’ve ever needed or wanted growing up…so when I’m having a bad day or feel too lazy to film a new video, I think of them and remind myself that what I have to do for my career is nothing to compared to what they’ve done and gone through for my brother and me.”
So for Loan (who also has Bachelor’s degree in Science, majoring in Biology), transforming her hobby into a full-fledged, well-paying career is enough incentive to keep going. But for her, that desire for financial independence is coupled with her enjoyment of being able to indulge her creative side. “I’m someone who gets bored really easy, whether it be a place, thing, or trend, so I really love the fact that the beauty and fashion industry is always changing. There’s always new trends or products to try out and have fun with.” One of the highlights of her career so far is “being invited and attending Generation Beauty in Los Angeles” last year. Generation Beauty is a weekend-long event, run by Michelle Phan’s ‘ipsy.com’ which brings together the leading online beauty, fashion and lifestyle gurus, their fans and the industry’s top beauty brands. “Not only was it my first big beauty event, but I also got to meet people, like Michelle Phan, Desi Perkins, and Chrisspy, who I’ve watched and admired for years.” She was also able to meet some of her viewers and other beauty vloggers at the event. “I made some amazing friends who share the same passion for beauty and fashion as I do.”
Starting something new and stepping out of one’s comfort zone is never easy. For the Vietnamese-born/US East Coast-based, self-confessed introvert “putting myself out there for millions of people to watch was pretty daunting.” Being exposed on the internet and “to show yourself in a very vulnerable way, without makeup on, isn’t the most comfortable feeling.” But she’s learned that facing down a challenge like that can bring about some pretty amazing things – “…had I not put myself out there, I wouldn’t have had the experiences I’ve had because of my channel nor would I have been able to have the relationships and friendships I’ve formed through my channel.”
For Loan Pham, to one day grow her channel into a full-time job would be a dream come true. She hopes that her channel would give her that chance to repay her parents for their sacrifice. “I hope that my career and YouTube channel allows me to take over their financial burdens and send them off on amazing vacation one day” and “I’d love the chance to work and collaborate with makeup brands and hopefully someday, create a beauty line of my own.” With her mindset, dedication and talent, Loan Pham may one day achieve just that.
‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:
1. What is the one beauty product you can’t live without? Lip balm
2. What is the most dramatic thing you’ve ever done to change your looks? I’ve had long, black hair all my life so last summer I decided to chop it all off and dye it really light.
3. What is in your makeup bag when you travel? NARS Sheer Glow foundation, Urban Decay Naked palette, Physician Formula Bronze Booster, MAC “Melba” blush, Christian Dior Crème de Rose, and Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara are always with me when I travel.
4. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? What everyone thinks is a dimple is actually a scar. I fell down some stairs when I was little and the scar just happens to look like a dimple!
5. Your best guilty pleasure… Spicy Cheetos and scary movies.