Sisters take their YouTube success to Seventeen

Marci Gore • Jul 17, 2009 at 12:00 AM

It was just about a year ago when 16-year-old Elizabeth “Blair” Fowler, began experimenting with makeup and looking for online reviews of beauty products. This led Blair and her older sister, Elle Fowler, to the beauty community of YouTube.

YouTube is a video-sharing Web site that allows users to upload and share videos.

Blair, who lives in Kingsport, is a rising junior at Dobyns-Bennett High School and Elle, 21, is away at college. Elle and Blair are the daughters of Dr. Scott Fowler, a physician with Holston Medical Group, and Melisa Fowler.

“My sister and I were just starting to get into makeup and finding out that there are more brands than just the drugstore ones. So, we were looking online on Google for reviews of different mascaras, and we stumbled across someone who had an actual video, describing the mascara and we were like, ‘Oh, this is so cool!’ So we clicked on it, and we found out that YouTube has an entire beauty community that is dedicated to just these types of reviews,” said Blair.

Both young women decided to try their hands at creating their own YouTube beauty channels. So using webcams, and doing their own filming and editing, together the two of them have posted nearly 200 videos on YouTube, offering makeup tips, tricks, tutorial and product reviews.

As a result, both ladies have become well-known YouTube beauty personalities.

So much so that Blair says she can no longer walk through an airport without being recognized by her fans.

The numbers, which change daily, speak for themselves. With Blair’s more than 50,000 subscribers to her videos and Elle’s 63,000 subscribers, they’ve garnered quite a following.

Blair and Elle’s YouTube Channel pages have each reached more than 2 million views. A Channel page is where viewers can learn more about the girls, such as contact information, recent activity, subscribers, favorite videos, and can even leave comments for these two “beauty gurus.”

Their Internet fame has led to both girls being featured in the August issue of Seventeen magazine.

“Seventeen found us on YouTube. They saw our videos and then decided that there were so many YouTube beauty girls out there that they wanted to do an article on some of us,” said Blair.

The staff of Seventeen chose 10 young women to be the magazine’s “Beauty Smarties.” Ranging in age from 16 to 22, these YouTubers offer advice on everything from getting flawless skin, to looking date perfect, to eyebrow shaping, to getting perfect lips.

The two sisters were contacted about appearing in Seventeen on the same day. At the time, the magazine staff did not realize the relationship between Blair and Elle.

Blair’s mother, Melisa, says she found out about her daughters’ magazine opportunity almost at the same exact time, even though both girls were miles apart.

“Blair was leaving D-B after school and turned her phone on and saw that she had an e-mail from Seventeen. She got in the car and called me and said, ‘Mom, you’re not going to believe this!’ And at the same time I’m getting a call from Elle saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, Mom, you’re not going to believe this!’” Melisa said.

Blair’s Seventeen feature is how to “Look Pretty for School,” and explains how to use makeup shades of purple and pink to create a subtle look.

“[My feature] explains how to have a very soft, neutral look for school using pink and purple. You might think this would look crazy and wild, but it’s so soft, it just gives you a chance to wear colors, but in a neutral way so that you’re not feeling all crazy about it,” she said.

Blair said ever since she was a little girl she wanted her mom to put blush and lipstick on her, but, she says, her real passion for what she is now doing didn’t manifest until she got a bit older and started learning how to properly apply makeup.

“I mention in my videos that what gets me up in the morning is that I get to go put my makeup on and do a different look everyday. It’s just a lot of fun for me,” she said.

Blair said she’s overwhelmed by how many times her videos have been viewed and by how quickly this has all happened. One video that features an everyday hair tutorial has been viewed more than 600,000 times.

Although not sure exactly where this venture will lead her, Blair says she does know she definitely plans to go to college.

“Maybe this might lead into a career someday. I don’t even know. But I don’t think I’ll be doing YouTube when I’m 35 years old,” she jokes.

She says her videos, though, have led to some possible product endorsements.

But, for right now, being featured in the popular teen beauty magazine is a major milestone for Blair.

“Just being 16 and able to say you were in an issue of Seventeen magazine, is already the biggest dream I could ever wish for,” she said.

Two different looks and outfits were done for the photo shoots at Seventeen, Blair said.

“I did my makeup for one look and a makeup artist did the other one, and they ended up choosing the one I did to appear in the magazine,” she said.

Blair says she and the other “Beauty Smarties” will appear in future issues of Seventeen.

Viewer requests are how Blair says she gets a lot of the ideas for her videos, many of those being from her international fan-base.

“I have so many people from the [United Kingdom] and Canada that just can’t go to the same drugstores that we have here. They will tell me they are going to a party or a graduation and they are looking for certain products or want some help on how to do their makeup. So, I try to find inexpensive products for them to use that can be purchased and shipped internationally online,” Blair said.

She won’t call herself a “professional,” but instead, Blair says she just uses various sources to try to stay well-informed.

“I have learned a lot about makeup through other YouTubers. There are a lot of other girls on there who are actual makeup artists, and they do videos. I watch theirs, and I figure stuff out from their videos,” she said. “I also go to makeup counters, and I’ll ask the girls working, ‘Seriously, can you teach me how to do this so I can teach everyone else?’ So, no, I’m not a professional. I’m totally learning along with everybody else.”

How often she’s able to post new videos is “random,” says this busy teenager.

“Sometimes I’ll get in moods where I’ll do one a day for nine days and then I’ll get in moods where I’ll skip a week and then the next week I’ll do two. It’s really just what I have time to do,” Blair said.

By putting herself out on the Internet, Blair says she realizes she has opened herself up to criticism, but tries not to let it bother her.

“I have so many people who leave me positive comments, saying things just simply like, ‘When I have a bad day I can go watch one of your funny videos and it makes my day better.’ Just for the people like that, that’s totally fine, and I can put up with all the haters. They really don’t faze me. I can just click ‘block’ and that’s the end of them. I think it’s kind of funny, actually, that they spend so much time on someone they don’t even know,” she said.

Though she says a couple of her friends are very supportive of what she does, there are others who don’t really get what all this is about.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand the aspect of what I’m doing and think I’m just going on YouTube putting up videos of me putting on makeup and that I’m doing it for no reason other than that. That’s not it,” she said.

In a time when it seems there aren’t many positive role models for young girls, Blair said she hopes she comes across in her videos as someone her fans can look up to.

“I hope that my videos show that you don’t have to be one of those girls that think it’s cool to go out and party because I definitely don’t. You don’t have to do that to fit in with the crowd,” she said. “If you try hard enough, you can find something you like to do, like I have. For me, trying different looks and putting on makeup, it’s just a lot of fun.”

Blair’s YouTube Channel address is http://www.youtube.com/juicystar07.

Elle’s YouTube Channel address is http://www.youtube.com/allthatglitters21.

The August issue of Seventeen is on newsstands now.

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