Ipsy is a renewed startup, a beauty website that was founded by Michelle Phan. Ipsy.com launched in 2012; however, the company was first launched on the beta site Myglam.com. Michelle Phan conceptualized and developed the company after her makeup-tip videos on YouTube generating massive views worldwide. The original website, Myglam.com, is still an integral part of what is fast becoming the Ipsy empire. Video tutorials on makeup selection and application are also a vital part of Ipsy’s environment. The goal is to reach those looking for the best beauty advice and tips. Ipsy also encourages seasoned makeup users to share their field-tested beauty advice with others.

Ipsy's Growth

Michelle Phan released the Glam Bag subscription program in 2011 with a video on her YouTube channel. The website amassed more than 500,000 users in a short period, and the products sold out each month. Users quickly began to share their own videos relating their experiences with Glam Bag products. Within six months, the site began to experience problems because it was unable to handle the massive amounts of data associated with serving nearly 1 million customers. Phan saw an obvious need to expand to provide current and potential subscribers with the experience they wanted. In September 2012, Phan and co-founders Jennifer Goldfarb, Marcelo Camberos, and Richard Frias launched Ipsy.com. The site name was generated from the Latin root "ipse," meaning self. The idea behind the company was to encourage the exploration, growth, and beauty of each individual subscribing to the site. While Phan remains the face of the company, Camberos serves as Ipsy’s chief executive officer (CEO), and Goldfarb serves as president.

Michelle Phan debuted on YouTube in 2007 as a "makeup guru" and has created hundreds of videos and amassed more than 600 million views. Phan’s channel has millions of subscribers, and she serves as a spokeswoman for Lancôme. She has also been featured in Vanity Fair, Forbes, Vogue, and Seventeen magazine.

In May 2015, Ipsy launched the Ipsy Open Studios to help teach and develop up-and-coming beauty creators and makeup artists. These studios allow future creators to use studio space for free to practice and develop their skills. The Ipsy Open Studios forum also allows creators access to personal coaching with Phan and to conferences and networking events. Many creators are developing career-changing connections and tips and tricks that will propel their futures. This studio program is also quickly becoming a marketing tool for Ipsy and has led to a steady increase in subscriptions.

How Ipsy Works

Ipsy is a Glam Bag subscription-based program. For a subscription fee of $10 per month or $110 annually, each subscriber receives a Glam Bag, a collectible makeup bag filled with four to five deluxe-sized samples or full-sized beauty products with free shipping. Each bag is compiled to offer subscribers a complete makeup look and includes at least one product for skin, eyes, and lips. All of the products sent to users are issued based on a complete survey taken by subscribers during the sign-up process. The experience is personalized through the quiz, which determines the subscriber’s eye color, hair color, skin color, and favorite brands, including clothing styles.

Questions are also asked to garner information about users' previous makeup experiences, looks they have tried or like, and products they may be interested in but have not had a chance to try or cannot afford to try. Michelle Phan is most excited about the fact that Ipsy provides subscribers with access to brands they love and cannot afford or brands they have never tried. Ipsy began as an “invite-only” site but has grown to become a regularly featured ad on many sites, including YouTube and Facebook.

Michelle Phan and other stylists working for Ipsy regularly release makeup tutorial videos, which, combined with the Glam Bags, are designed to give the consumer a complete experience. Subscribers have access to these videos through Ipsy. Videos can also be accessed through Phan’s YouTube channel and the respective YouTube channels of other stylists. Top stylists offering videos on YouTube include Promise Phan, Bethany Mota, Andrea Brooks, and Jessica Harlow. All stylists exclusively use products delivered in Glam Bags to demonstrate how looks are created with Ipsy products. As of March 2017, Ipsy had 2.5 million subscribers.

The Future of Ipsy

Ipsy faces its most significant competition from Birchbox, a company that offers a similar service for comparative prices. However, Phan argues that Birchbox is less personalized and less devoted to building relationships with subscribers. Birchbox has been successful since its launch in mid-2010. Birchbox has received almost $87 million in venture capital funding as of 2018, but the company has not been as profitable as Ipsy, and there are rumors of a takeover. 

Ipsy may go public. Bloomberg reports that the company could fetch up to $2 billion in an acquisition.