What These YouTubers Did Before They Got Famous May Surprise You

Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
These days, we see beauty vloggers just about everywhere. Their faces pop up on our Instagram feeds, in the news, and even on subway posters spotted during our morning commutes.

It's not surprising that millions of people feel connected to their favorite vloggers. After all, YouTubers and Instagrammers share their lives with millions of people daily. But although it may seem like we know our favorites like we do our best friends, it's not often that we learn about what they did before we clicked "subscribe."

Some have worked in fields completely unrelated to beauty, and others fell into vlogging while between jobs. Either way, it's inspiring to learn about how content creators found their niche. We caught up with six YouTubers and Instagrammers and asked them what life was like before they rose to social-media stardom. Read all about it in the following slides.

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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Who: Laura Gurrola
What: Wedding planner

Even before amassing a whopping 2 million Instagram followers, Laura Gurrola (a.k.a. @laurag143) had a flair for all things visual. "I was a wedding planner," she says. "I got on Instagram to post the weddings I did. There are so many details that go into a wedding, so I always had a ton of content."

One day, while waiting for a bride, Gurrola noticed that her shoes happened to match the wedding's scenery. She snapped a quick photo and uploaded it to Instagram, and within a few hours, the image had gone viral. "People started asking me about shoes," she says. "So every day, I posted my shoes of the day." After that, Gurrola started using her hashtag #laurag_143 to discover new beauty and fashion talent to post on her feed. Now, she has her very own line of nail polish and is doing Instagram full-time — but hopes to take on a few weddings this year, too.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Who: Maryam Maquillage
What: Employed by the Egyptian consulate, and a Jewish nonprofit organization

Maryam of Maryam Maquillage grew up in a creative family. Her parents (both artists) expected her to go into the arts after graduating from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School (a.k.a. the Fame school), but Maryam decided to study international relations instead.

After graduating from college, Maryam worked at a Jewish nonprofit organization and even did a stint at the Egyptian consulate in New York before deciding that those career paths weren't right for her. "I was trying to find myself," Maryam says. "I couldn't express myself in the way I could when I was a kid." So, after posting a photo of herself wearing makeup to Facebook and receiving hundreds of comments and likes from her friends, she decided to start a blog. Over the next four months, Maryam blogged every single day. "I wanted to find a hobby that made me happy," she says. "I didn't think it would go anywhere." Now, Maryam is a full-time content creator on both Instagram and YouTube and has over a million followers across both platforms.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Who: Nura Afia
What: Stay-at-home mother

Nura Afia started watching YouTube videos when she was at home breast-feeding her daughter, Laila. She quickly realized there weren't many Muslim, hijab-wearing YouTubers on the site at the time. "I wanted to make videos because I felt like there might be other girls like me out there," she says. "I wanted to show people that I can still be married and a mom and do whatever the hell I want."

And that she did. Soon after discovering the beauty community on YouTube, Afia began posting videos. She even decided to apply to work at Sephora, where she still works part-time today.

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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Who: Christen Dominique
What: Worked in medical billing

Before YouTuber Christen Dominique started creating videos full-time in 2013, she worked in medical billing for over five years. "I'm a mom [and] I was going to school [and] working at the same time; things can get mundane," she says. "Everywhere I worked [people] would ask me, 'What are you doing here?'"

So when Dominique's friends encouraged her to start making videos on YouTube, she jumped at the chance. Although Dominique describes herself as shy, she fell in love with the community on the video-sharing site and quickly became obsessed with creating content. "I worked in a cubicle," she says. "I didn't wear makeup because I wanted to save my skin for the weekend, so I could film a video!"
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Who: Manny MUA
What: Student

Before becoming a beauty fanatic with over a million followers, Manny Gutierrez (a.k.a. Manny MUA) was a student studying to be a plastic surgeon. "I loved it," he says. "I know a lot of people see plastic surgery as something that is bad. I think that as long as you're changing for the right reasons, that's all that matters."

Throughout school, Gutierriez worked as a waiter before taking a job in retail at Sephora and starting his beauty-focused Instagram account. The rest? Well, you'll have to read this to find out.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Who: Leigh Ann Says
What: Administrative assistant

Before Texas-based YouTuber Leigh Ann Says started making videos, she was an administrative assistant. To pass the time, Leigh Ann jumped down the YouTube rabbit hole and ended up falling in love with a few channels.

"I just thought, Hey, why not throw my voice into the mix, and if I hate it, I'll ditch?" she says. Years later, she's still making videos, but not full-time. "I have a career outside my channel, but I often say I have two full-time jobs," she says. Thanks to an accommodating boss and supportive coworkers, Leigh Ann is able to make both of her careers work. "LeighAnnSays is like my baby," she says. "There isn't one day that goes by where I don't communicate with viewers or work on new videos. It's my passion, and I feel so lucky that I found it."
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