The beauty community is in for another blow after it was revealed that popular brand Makeup Geek will be closing its doors next month.
Marlena Stell, OG YouTube beauty guru and founder of Makeup Geek, made the announcement on her channel, citing supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic as the main reason for the brand’s closure.
“I know in my soul that Makeup Geek shouldn’t be my ultimate goal,” says Marlena. “I was 28 when I started the company, now I’m 42. I’m at a different stage in my life.”
The makeup mogul went on to say that she believes Makeup Geek should be a “learning opportunity” for her, both on a personal level and as a business owner. Finally, she thanked her customers, employees and other influencers for the years of support.
Marlena also clarified that she will continue to create YouTube content.
The California native started her YouTube channel as a hobby back in 2008 under the name “Makeup Geek” while working as a music teacher. Within a year, Marlena’s channel became one of the biggest beauty channels on the platform, racking up hundreds of thousands of views per video. Despite her success, Marlena felt that she and other beauty gurus missed an opportunity to capitalize on her product endorsements.
“Immediately after launching my YouTube channel in 2008, things really took off. In addition to the application tutorials, I have always reviewed products very openly,” said Marlena forbes in 2015. “I was frustrated because I kept mentioning cosmetic brands and boosting product sales but not making any money from it. There are commission affiliate programs today, but they didn’t exist back then.”
In 2009, Marlena quit her job as a teacher and launched makeupgeek.com as an online beauty retailer and educational center. After years of research and testing, the founder released her own range of products under the Makeup Geek umbrella in 2012 – becoming one of the very first influencer beauty brands and changing the industry forever.
“I crowdsource products and ideas from my audience,” Marlena said of how she used social media to promote the brand in those early days. “For example, when we launch a new eye color, we run a competition to name the shade – and the winner receives a gift from the product line. It really fosters a sense of community and validates ideas before we produce them.”
Makeup Geek received rave reviews and quickly developed a reputation for high quality and consistent products – a far cry from so many influencer beauty brands today.
As the brand grew, Marlena eventually placed more emphasis on building a business that wasn’t centered around herself as an influencer. By 2015, the creator was reportedly making $1 million a month on Makeup Geek.
However, success did not come without challenges.
In 2018, Marlena spoke about the brand’s struggle to stay relevant amid the boom in the YouTube beauty community, claiming that the top-tier beauty influencers were charging $60,000 per sponsored video.
“Our name wasn’t talked about much and the reason for that was that we didn’t get endorsements from influencers because we didn’t pay the huge amounts of money [they ask for]’ she said in the controversial video. “We don’t have $60,000 to pay someone for a video and those are the prices we got.”
A year later, Marlena added herself to the beauty community drama when she shot an hour-and-a-half video calling out Jaclyn Hill for shady business practices and cuts in her product development. While Marlena’s video was a reaction to Jaclyn’s infamous lipstick gate, many felt it made Marlena bitter at the success of other influencers. The video has since been deleted.
Regardless of the few bumps along the way, there’s no denying that Marlena Stell and Makeup Geek paved the way for an entire industry by forever changing the way beauty, social media, and creators interact.