Now Reading
Pioneer Influencer Beauty Brand Makeup Geek To Close After 13 Years

Pioneer Influencer Beauty Brand Makeup Geek To Close After 13 Years

The beauty community is facing another blow after news that beloved 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 as a result of the pandemic as a major reason for the brand’s closing.

“I know in my soul that Makeup Geek wasn’t meant to be the ultimate destination for me,” Marlena says. “When I started the company I was 28, I’m 42 now. I’m in a different stage of my life.”

The makeup mogul went on to say that she believes Makeup Geek was meant to be a “learning opportunity” for her both on a personal level as well as a business owner. She finished by thanking her customers, staff, and fellow influencers for 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 had become one of the biggest beauty channels on the platform, bringing in hundreds of thousands of views per video. Despite her success, Marlena felt there was a missed opportunity for herself and other beauty gurus to capitalise on their product recommendations.

“Immediately after launching my YouTube channel in 2008, it took off. In addition to doing application tutorials, I have always reviewed products very candidly,” Marlena told Forbes in 2015. “I was frustrated because I mentioned cosmetic brands all the time and drove product sales, but I didn’t make any money from it. Today there are commission affiliate programs, but those didn’t exist back then.”

In 2009, Marlena quit her teaching job and launched makeupgeek.com as an online beauty retailer and education hub. After years of research and testing, the founder released her own product range under the Makeup Geek umbrella in 2012— becoming one of the first-ever influencer beauty brands and changing the industry forever.

“I crowdsource products and ideas from my audience,” Marlena said of how she used social media in those early days to promote the brand. “For example, when we launch a new eye color, we hold a contest to name the shade— and the winner receives a gift from the product line. This really drives the sense of community, and also 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 put more emphasis on building a business that didn’t center around herself as an influencer. By 2015, the creator reportedly grossed $1 million monthly from Makeup Geek.

Success did not come without its challenges, however.

See Also

In 2018, Marlena opened up about the brand’s struggle to remain relevant amidst the YouTube beauty community boom, claiming that the top-tier beauty influencers were charging $60,000 per sponsored video.

“Our name hasn’t been talked about a lot and the reason why has been that we haven’t been supported by influencers because we haven’t paid the massive amounts of money [they ask for],” she said in the controversial video. “We don’t have $60,000 to pay someone to do one video, and that’s the rates we’ve been given.”

A year later, Marlena inserted herself into beauty community drama when she made an hour and a half-long video calling out Jaclyn Hill for shady business practices and cutting corners with her product development. While Marlena’s video was a response to Jaclyn’s infamous lipstick-gate, many felt it painted Marlena out to be bitter about the success of other influencers. The video has since been deleted.

Regardless of the few bumps along the way, there is no denying that Marlena Stell and Makeup Geek paved the way for an entire industry by changing the way beauty, social media, and creators interact forever.

Scroll To Top