YouTube star reveals secret to connecting with millennials

YouTube star Michelle Phan's global plans
YouTube star Michelle Phan's global plans   

With 7.4 million subscribers and more than 1 billion views on YouTube, Michelle Phan has built herself quite a following over the last eight years. In addition to her successful online presence, Phan has a line of makeup at L'Oréal, a music venture that promotes artists on social media and a deal with content distributor Endemol for an online lifestyle channel.

Phan is certainly not your average YouTube sensation, though.

While she started out as a 19-year-old waitress who couldn't get a job at a makeup counter for lack of sales experience, the digital star is now looking to further her growth plans with her cosmetic subscription service called ipsy.

"My goal now is to continue expanding my business, here stateside, and also globally," she said in an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Alley." Having already met with tech investors in Beijing, a move toward the Asian market is high on Phan's to-do list.

Who inspires the makeup mogul?

Phan said her role model is Elon Musk. "He is a very brilliant forward-thinking business man," she said.

As she scales her presence and brand, she says her primary target audience remains the same: Millennials.

Her advice to big brands and networks attempting to hit home with them?

"It's not about production," Phan said. "It's about having [a] connection and having that two-way dialogue and relationship. Millennials want to be spoken to, they want to be heard and they also want to have that dialogue."

Interestingly, the YouTube star is not content with just being a star on that service. In a continued effort to expand, Phan is not opposed to branching out onto other platforms to meet the needs of her followers.

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"Facebook is now becoming very popular for video search and video content. Right now there's no monetization, but I wouldn't be shocked if they enabled monetization for content creators because that will enable more people to upload more original content on Facebook," she said.

Any big brands licking their chops to acquire Phan's brand in an effort to attract young people shouldn't get too excited. She said her freedom and ability to expand on her own terms trumps any potential deal that could stand to limit her creativity.

Sorry, big brands.