Beauty mogul Michelle Phan explains how “ageism is broken because of the internet”

Beauty mogul Michelle Phan explains how “ageism is broken because of the internet”

Michelle Phan’s interview is part of TIME Firsts, a multimedia project featuring 46 groundbreaking women. Watch the rest of the videos at Time.com/Firsts. Buy the book at the TIME Shop.

Even though we’re many years deep into the age of Instagram, it’s still pretty amazing to see how many women have built successful careers using their platform, especially in the beauty realm. No one has revolutionized the way social media influences beauty quite like Michelle Phan, the first woman to build a $500 million dollar company from a web series.

What started off as a hobby for Michelle quickly became an opportunity for her to change her life. At a time before social media even had a name for itself, she was uploading videos of beauty tips and gaining a massive following. Now, her beauty brand, Em Cosmetics, produces some amazing makeup that will instantly become staples.

In the TIME Firsts series, Michelle Phan talks about her journey to building her beauty empire.

As the child of a Vietnamese immigrant mother, few things bring Michelle more joy than being able to take care of her.

Michelle also talks about how social media has changed the game in terms of how breaking into the beauty industry and becoming an entrepreneur has become more accessible. She says:

“Access to beauty knowledge was so inaccessible. So I started to make these beauty videos not thinking people would watch them. And they did, they caught on. The more I was able to upload and produce, the more I understood that I think I can make a business out of this.”

There’s a lesson to us all there. When you get in at the ground level, there’s no telling how much you can accomplish with hard work.

Michelle also talks about how she had to work hard to make people take her seriously as she built her business.

She says:

“I’ve dealt with a lot of people who second-guessed me, who undermined me because of my age. Ageism is broken because of the internet.”

The internet has become an equalizer in so many industries because most of us have access to it and can use whatever means available to us to create our work on a relatively level playing field. Michelle Phan is definitely is proof of that!

Check out Michelle’s TIME Firsts video and head on over to Em Cosmetics to pick up some goodies from her brand while you’re at it.

You can buy the book at the TIME Shop, here.