Michelle Phan's YouTube Success Led to This Life-Changing Moment with Mom

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 now.

Michelle Phan's story is nothing short of inspiring.

The beauty mogul, who became the first woman to build a $500 million business from a web series, landed on Time's new series Firsts, and opened up about her journey to success and the first time she knew she was on the way to something big.

"I was very motivated at a young age to find a better life, for my mom's sake," Phan says in the video interview above. "She wanted me to be a doctor, but I didn't see myself in that future. I promised her that I would take care of her but that I would still pursue what I loved."

Phan uploaded her first Youtube video in 2007, with no sponsorship money or free products. "Social media wasn't even called social media yet," she says. "It was a place where people would just go online and congregate and share ideas and videos and content. YouTube was just my creative outlet."

Time Firsts Michelle Phan 2017 - LEAD
Luisa Dörr for Time

That changed when she got a huge offer from a major beauty brand. "When they told me how much money I was going to be making, it was so big—as much as a doctor would have made," Phan recalls. "The first person I wanted to tell was my mother. She's the reason I work so hard, and she inspires me so much."

"I said, 'What are you doing?' She said, 'Oh, I'm still at work, I'm doing someone's pedicure,'" Phan describes. "I told her that it would be the last time she would ever have to do anyone's pedicure and she wouldn't have to work the next day because I would take care of her. We both started crying. It was a moment that I'll never forget. I want more people to have moments like that."

Hear more of Phan's story—and words of inspiration for entrepreneurs—in the video at top and check out more Firsts on time.com/firsts.

Time Firsts Book Inside - Embed
Courtesy Time
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