By: Alyssa Saunders

When was the last time you heard a makeup artist say “shit” multiple times in a video?

Most YouTube makeup artists are pretty great, but let’s face it-they can be boring. These artists tend to be bubbly and even a little prudish,and their picture perfect faces and cutesy backgrounds can come off as kitschy. The videos start to look the same after a while. To people who may not have the time, money, or simply aren’t interested in doing overly complicated looks, these sort of tutorials aren’t very interesting. Where’s the realness? Where’s the rawness? Where’s the fun?

That’s where Ahliyah Brown comes in. She started her own YouTube channel a few months back, and she already has nearly 20,000 subscribers. She’s a childhood friend of mine, and I’m not a huge fan of makeup, but her videos are so entertaining it’s hard not to be titillated. She curses, she talks about smelly vaginas, and she includes her mistakes in her videos. She even has a video dedicated to using dollar store products (part of her “Cheap Hoe Chronicles”). And her 5 minute Makeup Challenge she did while drunk has over 250,000+ views and counting.

I was able to talk to her about her growing success and her future in makeup, as well as what she loves about the YouTube platform. She’s definitely not your typical YouTube makeup artist, and she wants you to know what makes her different.

  1. Tell us about yourself!

My name is Ahliyah Brown, also known as Fleek by Ahliyah. I have bought and branded that name, it is my intellectual property. I am an up-and-coming beauty influencer and a businesswoman. I love makeup and the norms it defies.

  1. What inspires your makeup tutorials?

Beauty trends inspire a few of my makeup tutorials, such as my 5 minute makeup challenge. Consumers love watching trendy videos, and it is evident in the views that  those trendy videos receive, thus I strategically observe as to what style of makeup is popular at the moment and I use that to my advantage.

  1. What do you like about the YouTube platform you use to do tutorials?

I love the potential of getting a renowned brand’s attention. I love the response I receive, both positive and negative. I created quite a stir with my drunk version of the 5 minute makeup challenge and I felt like I passed my first milestone with my platform. It’s crazy to think about how many people I’m reaching.

  1. What is your goal for the future?

My goal is to build an empire. I already have a million-dollar idea that I plan to execute when the time is right. Everything I’m doing on my channel is strategic; I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m not aiming to be like every other beauty channel you see on YouTube. I will be a household name one day. Believe that.

  1. What is your target demographic?

To be honest, I haven’t even thought about that. I aim to reach those who want to watch a raw person, a person whom they can relate to. I want my viewers to be like, “Wow, she cusses like I do. She messes up on her eyeliner like I do. She’s flawed like I am.” I don’t want to put on this front like I’m a perfect YouTuber with a perfect life, waking up in a million-dollar home with wealthy materialistic things. I want to be relatable and reach those who want to watch a person they can relate to.

  1. How do you teach people who don’t use a lot of makeup or aren’t particularly good at it (like me)? 

I like to teach in a very humorous way. I’m aware not every viewer is going to be skilled in makeup, so I aim to break down terms and dumb-down the diction as well as make it fun to watch and listen to. I try to explain what I’m doing in a non-formal vernacular. I may slip in a few curse words or two. I’m not perfect either, nor do I aim to be.

  1. Is there a theme to your videos?

My theme is raw humor. I want you to laugh at least once in every video. I also aim for you to be taken aback by my informal vernacular at least once as well. I’m breaking boundaries and defying gender norms. I curse, I make sexual jokes, and I’m socially un-ladylike.

  1. What sets you apart from all the other makeup tutorials on the Internet?

I do not care if you don’t like me or that you think that I’m too profane for my content. That’s what sets me apart. I am raw. I am unfiltered. I am defying what a beauty channel should be about. I can do what any other YouTuber can do, but I can do it much more raw, and much more relatable.

  1. What has been your proudest moment as a makeup artist?

My proudest moment would had to have been when I color-matched a client of mine PERFECTLY! In the makeup artistry world, color-matching is what differentiates you from the skilled makeup artists to the amateur makeup artists. Color-matching is a skill.

  1. Is there anything that frustrates you as an artist? Is there something people constantly get wrong about makeup?

It frustrates me when people place rules on how makeup should be. For example, some people think women who wear makeup think they’re ugly without it, which is very false. Makeup is an art form. Makeup is a creative outlet. Just because I wear a full face of makeup doesn’t mean I’m not confident without it. Another thing that frustrates me is when people think makeup is solely for one gender. I know a plethora of men who are very skilled at makeup and love the art form just as much as I do. Makeup is more than just applying it: makeup is a profession, a career, a lifestyle.

  1. You got over 19,000 subscribers to your channel in just a few months, with just a few videos- that’s amazing! What do you think attributes to that success? 

Actually, I gained 10,000 subscribers in one week, and altogether gained 15,000 subscribers in one month and some change. What an accomplishment for me. I have had a few fellow YouTubers tell me that I have grown really fast. I think my 5 minute drunk makeup challenge partially attributed to my growth as well as my rawness and unfiltered personality. I market myself really well and have learned a few strategies that have helped me with gaining a genuine audience, which have benefited me tremendously.

  1. Where should a person who is just getting into makeup start?

They should start by first getting their name out there. Post on Instagram and Twitter frequently. Transition into posting consistently. You have to start from the bottom. If you want to earn every ring, work your way up to the top. Gain recognition.

  1. You also do videos on other stuff, like healthy vaginas. What made you want to do that?

I feel there are women out there who are afraid to admit they have an odor of some sort, and if they admit they have an odor of some sort, other women will laugh and make fun of them. I wanted to speak up and address that every woman has experienced an odor of some sort, and I wanted to give tips on how to combat any odor since no one really speaks up on it. That particular video was me speaking up on a hushed subject. That’s another thing that sets me a part: I want to say what others are afraid to say. I want to speak on embarrassing matters and turn them into humorous subjects.