Patrick Starrr and Patrick Ta are products of Instagram beauty's golden age. Like many influencers, both have promoted other brands for years. But they're now part of a new establishment buoyed by beauty-incubator companies and investors eager to share in the spoils of the industry. Turning content into commerce, as these two makeup artists have done with their up-and-coming brands, erythromycin antibiotic is now the expected course for influencers with huge followings. Amid cutthroat competition, the Patricks have forged an enduring friendship and support system. And it's a friendship that pays.
ALLURE: Where did you first meet?
PATRICK STARRR: At a makeup convention in 2014. We knew each other through social media.
PATRICK TA: I came up to Patrick and was like, "Hi, I'm Patrick Ta." I basically invited myself to lunch.
PS: We had met a couple of times, but then this quarantine got us together. Not to say we rekindled, but I guess we picked up where we left off because we've been so busy in our careers. We see each other exercising in Los Angeles.
ALLURE: What bonds do you share besides being members of this huge beauty community?
PT: We both started our careers in L.A. We came here with the hopes of becoming makeup artists. Patrick decided to go the route of a YouTuber, and I went the route of being a celebrity makeup artist. We both have experienced such different journeys, but they are still very [much] the same. Patrick actually just showed me a video of him going to the Philippines for one of his collection launches and it made me cry to think about my family and where I come from and the journey that it took for me to get here. [Ta's parents emigrated from Vietnam.] We share that bond.
PS: Growing up gay, coming out later, being a lover of makeup, learning how to balance the personal with a professional career, how we deal with our business as a public-facing personality.
PT: I feel so connected to you because of our backgrounds. Being a makeup artist or wearing makeup isn't the norm in Asian-American families. I think that's a huge one for us, understanding the struggle and being able to say that our families are proud of [us].
ALLURE: Did your perspective on the beauty industry change when you began making products?
PT: I didn't realize how long it took to create a product. I think I took that all for granted. The hardest thing is the commentary that you get after. Basically, you're carrying this child for over nine months. And when it's born, people say that your child is ugly, or other horrible things. I also didn't really realize how much capital it took to be in a store like Sephora, [let alone to be able to sell] worldwide. [Starrr's beauty brand, One/ Size,] just launched in Southeast Asia. For the person who doesn't understand how big a deal that is… That's a huge deal.
PS: There's a lot more pressure because of who we are as public-facing people. I do have a little bit more sympathy now in speaking to my subscribers about other brands. But at the same time, it's my responsibility to remain honest to my viewers. I'm supposed to be this agnostic creature in the land of beauty. I've had my fair share of backlash in reviewing other things, but nonetheless, I learned from some of them and I'm sensitive to them. Now I sympathize with brands and how much capital and strategy it takes to execute a launch.
ALLURE: Do you feel competitive with other people in the space?
PS: It's ironic [that] as friends we're able to coexist, not just within the same distribution partner like Sephora, but in this industry together. I can speak to certain examples, like Kim Kardashian West; she's on a YouTube video with me. I'm cross-promoting her products on my platform. Same with Naomi Campbell or Ashley Tisdale or Paris Hilton. We are cross-pollinating our businesses for a better business. [Patrick Ta's] brand is all inspired by women in his life that have meant a lot to him, but also his muses in the celebrity world, Gigi Hadid and so on. And I'm an LGBTQ+ advocate and cake-loving man in makeup. We stand for different things, but again, we’re able to coexist in the beauty world. And for me personally, for Patrick Starrr, the "dramageddon" is not part of my due diligence as an influencer. It's not part of my scope of work. I'm here to do YouTube videos, remain honest, and sometimes it does carry over into your personal life. But I've come to realize that these are my peers and I have to sympathize with them behind the scenes.
PT: I am not social-first because I'm a working makeup artist. Usually, I'm traveling, just following artists around the world, and trying to create the next look. COVID [provided] time where I was able to be home and create content. I really realized the power of content and education.
ALLURE: Did you have a significant moment in your career that took you to the next level?
PT: I think it was the launch week of my brand and the support that I got. It just made me realize that the last six years of my career in Los Angeles were for something. The fact that people showed up for me, people supported me…
PS: He means celebrities. I had never seen that many. Like, trust me, as Patrick Starrr, I've seen every single beauty event there is, big and small. His was the biggest.
PT: And even the other day, we went into Sephora and there was this little girl looking at Patrick’s end cap [that's retail-speak for a product display at the end of an aisle] and he bought her one of everything from his collection. Imagine being on the other side of just being able to feel accepted and feel beautiful and feel all of that. I think that's why we both started doing makeup.
ALLURE: What would your advice be to nascent beauty founders?
PS: Like you tell a little kid before crossing the street: "Stop, look, listen." Be a heavy observer in this industry. There's always something that's gonna change. I feel like I've been late with the brand because everyone was coming out with brands in 2018, 2019. But what did I do? I stopped, I looked, and I listened, and I feel like I'm proud of what I've done this far.
PT: Continue to learn and grow. I definitely have learned a lot from the younger generation. They're about 10 years younger than me and I've never felt so old in my life. [Editor's note: Um, Ta just turned 30.] I'll go to some of these [events] with Patrick, and he's like, "Act young!"
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