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Michelle Phan

YouTube Star, Founder of ipsy

HERE’S WHAT BOTHERS MICHELLE PHAN: when creatives start out, they need money — money to film, edit and produce content. It doesn’t matter if you’re a burgeoning YouTube star or an avid blogger; you need resources, and they’re expensive. It’s not uncommon for content creators to sign away part of their brand in exchange for access to these tools, part of a creator-unfair system that’s devastatingly behind the times. 

Enter Phan, entrepreneur, beauty creator and shimmering unicorn of a human.

She opened ipsy Open Studios (ipsy OS) in 2015 to address this problem, providing content creators with cameras, studio space, mentorship and more. For free. The best part? No contracts and no strings attached, enabling creators to retain 100% control of their content. And while it’s currently geared toward beauty influencers, ipsy OS already has more than 10,000 members and counting.


Phan provides creators with resources — no strings attached.

“Open Studios is a collection of the things I wish I’d had when I was starting out in the early 2000’s: equipment, studio space, mentorship, analytics tools to grow my social following. I know that if I needed those things, it’s a good bet other people need them, too. So, why not empower creators by gifting them the necessary tools and asking for nothing in return?”

So, what exactly is ipsy OS?

“We’re different because we’re free, and we don’t require contracts. Creators retain 100% control of their channels and content. In that way, we serve as an inspiration and a resource — not a leech… Which is pretty radical when you consider most people, especially in Hollywood, don’t give something for nothing. There are a ton of people looking to profit off young creators, and that’s what I’m trying to stop.”

And how is ipsy OS different?

Michelle Phan - YouTube Star, Founder of ipsy

“When creators start out, we need resources — the resources to film, edit and produce content. Those things can be really expensive, so, it’s not uncommon to sign away part of your brand in exchange for funds or access to these tools. But let’s be real: these contracts rarely benefit the creator; they benefit the money man. I’ll see things like a well-hidden auto-renewal clause that keeps creators on the hook long after they intended — that fear of repercussion is what we’re trying to disrupt.”

Profit off creators how?

“Yes. The influencer community is very close, and we talk a lot about the issues in our community… I always hear the same complaint: there are a lot of shady humans looking to take advantage of young creators. People want a piece of our puzzle, and it’s our job to protect one another.”

Is it really that bad for young content creators?

Michelle Phan - YouTube Star, Founder of ipsy
There are a lot of shady humans looking to take advantage of young creators... It’s our job to protect one another.”

[Laughs] “That fulfillment thing is a big part of it! To support someone like Desi Perskins, who is an international success. Or Christen Dominique, an inspiring young mom. But it’s also an opportunity for me to meet and identify top talent who could be a fit for our brand in the future.”


Fulfillment aside, what do you get from ispy OS?

“It’s a simple application. When you apply, our dedicated team evaluates creators against a predetermined set of criteria: quality of content, publishing frequency, traction, level of engagement. As with all creative endeavors, it’s about finding the right fit… But when we find a relationship, we’re looking to make it long term.”

Ok, we're in. How do we join?


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