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In 2013, Laura Lee was living in Alabama, working as a full-time medical assistant and taking night classes for marketing. And that’s when she had a “what the fuck am I doing with my life?” moment”, as she tells it.
“I didn’t want to do any of those things,” she said. “So I thought, ‘I have a great idea. I’m going to create a YouTube channel and stop everything. And that’s exactly what she did.
At the time, there weren’t many YouTubers posting about beauty, she said. “I had seen Candy Johnson, and I think Nicole Guerrero was at the time.”
So she bought a “really bad refurbished camera off eBay” and started making beauty videos – and she was immediately hooked. Today, Lee has 1.8 million Instagram followers, 4.5 million YouTube subscribers and 593,000 TikTok followers. She also has her own cosmetics brand, Laura Lee Los Angeles.
We caught up with Lee and, of course, took a look inside his DMs.
Given the many social media platforms today, how much content do you create?
“I make two YouTube videos a week for my main channel. I make one podcast a week with my best friend Manny MUA. I do 3-4 pieces of in-feed content for my Instagram every week. I try to do three TikToks a week, tweet every day, and IG Story every day, seven days a week. It’s a seven-day-a-week job.”
How did you start doing makeup?
“When I started, I was like, ‘I’m so good at makeup. I’m killing my looks. I need to get this stuff online. It was like my thought process. And looking back, I literally had no idea how to wear makeup. But I feel like if I hadn’t been delusional, I never would have made it. It was this delusional confidence that I had, where you couldn’t tell me my makeup was terrible.
What would you have liked to know about makeup back then?
“I wish I had known that less is more. In 2016, 2017, 2018, all these years, I’ve done so much makeup. That said, it was very popular at the time – heavier makeup and huge, thick eyebrows. I wish someone had come up to me and said, “Less is more.” It will be so much better with a little less. But stay, Ultimately, makeup isn’t just about looks, but it’s about being creative and creative. And I really hope people do it for fun and enjoy it.
Tell me about your brand.
“I launched my first product in October 2017. It was an eyeshadow palette that I launched with my makeup brand, Laura Lee Los Angeles. Once again, I fell in love with creation. And that was just another outlet for me, because I didn’t do it under another company or with a big investor. Literally, my husband and I did it all on our own. It was called Cat’s Pyjamas… and it was a bit rough. Looking back on it. I’m like, ‘Wow, you really needed a team.’ And then my second product after that was the Nudie Patootie pallet, which [defined] the aesthetic of my brand that it still has, in 2022.”
What was wrong with that first palette?
“The outside of the palette was all shimmering silver, and then the inside was flowers. So that doesn’t even make sense. And then the name of the palette was Cat’s Pyjamas, which is a term meaning that it’s the best of the best – but no one knew about it, and so they didn’t know why there were no cats on the palette.
If you could only keep one product from your brand and one product from another brand, what would they be?
“From my brand, the Nudie Patootie – our OG, our classic. It’s a huge nude palette that has all the colors you’ll ever need, and it’s so easy to use. We’ve been selling it for years and people love it. It’s our #1 seller.
And right now I’m so obsessed that I can’t wear makeup without Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze. This is the product I use to create the bushy brow. I’ve tried a million of them and honestly this one is the best.
What is the last product you completed?
“I just like to completely clean my Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream. It comes in the purple jar. For example, I took my small acrylic nail and scraped the bottom of it. Let’s go. And for the makeup, I just finished the Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder.”
On social media, who would you like to be your best friend?
“Hannah Brown of ‘The Bachelor.’ OWe are both from Alabama. We are both huge Alabama football fans. She seems like a really happy, giddy, funny girl. And I just feel like we could be best friends.
Who do you follow to stay up to date with the latest news?
“My friend Karine, @iluvsarahii. AAnd I get inspiration for Jess Hunt’s makeup, fashion, hair. You would be obsessed with her. I’m like, ‘Can you live in LA, so we can hang out?’
Of course! Have you tried his Refy brand?
“Yes. I literally ordered everything. It’s really good. And she’s so pretty. I love her aesthetic. I love her clothes. I love her eyebrows. I love her makeup line. I like everything.”
What’s the last message you recorded?
“I save a lot of things, [because] of all Instagram updates. I’m like, ‘Can we just relax for five minutes?’ I saved that Reel from Joyjah.
I really like how she made this reel. And I love her makeup. And I love how she showed off the outfit while she was out. I saved it for inspiration.
Is there a meme that you think best describes your life right now?
“Oh! This meme of Adam Sandler literally walking down the street in New York City looks crazy. And everyone’s like, ‘How I think I’m going to dress in the winter, versus how I really dress .”
What is your guilty pleasure?
“Honestly, ‘Entertainment Tonight.’ He gives me all the celebrity gossip, and it’s really fast. Plus, it’s posting northwestern. Kim’s daughter has a TikTok, and it’s so funny, because she posts things that are definitely not not supposed to be published. Like, she walked into her mom’s room when Kim was in bed with her phone. She was like, ‘Mom, I’m live.’ And Kim said, ‘You’re not supposed to be on it. You know better.” It was hilarious.”