Growing up in Westerville, Ohio, beauty influencer and blogger Marianna Hewitt had never met anyone else who looked like her. The only half-Asian girl in her school, she didn't have a relatable peer, much less a role model.
Marianna's mother lived in Europe, and although they were close, she had to rely on her father to show her the beauty ropes. And, since he wasn't exactly an expert in applying makeup, he did the next best thing: "he took me to the MAC counter when I was really young and had one of the girls there show me," she says. "I actually still have one of the brushes he bought me because I just can't get rid of it."
From that moment on, Marianna knew she wanted to empower other young women through the world of style and beauty, and vlogging was the obvious answer. After all, this future GirlBoss was taking selfies before selfies were a thing. "We had a camcorder and I used to walk around and record my family," she says. "I was always interested in taking pictures and sharing my life. It's always been who I am, I just never knew it would become a job."
In 2009, shortly after graduating college, Marianna moved to Los Angeles and took a job in public relations. In between, she continued to tell her personal stories, using YouTube as her platform. "I recorded trips with my mom and my friends on my YouTube channel. Through sharing my travels, I started sharing my entire life." But fitting it all in required late nights and 4am wakeup calls.
Seven years and 173k subscribers later, Marianna's YouTube channel is reaching young women in small towns just like the one she grew up in, and their excitement and energy is what shapes her content. "Seeing the response from women and girls is so inspiring. I love that I can affect their lives in a positive way, whether it's with a product, motivational tips, fitness, or just helping to boost their confidence levels."
And when it comes to confidence, Marianna never dwells on what critics and internet bullies have to say (and she's had her fair share) . "People can be really bold behind a keyboard. Someone recently wrote on my picture, 'Oh my god, you're so fat, you're so ugly.' Well, that's your opinion. If I wasn't someone who's confident in myself, that could be really hurtful, but I just try not to let it affect me. Usually, people will stick up for me in the comments section, which is really great to see." And most importantly, she's learned to embrace her uniqueness." The things that made me different when I was younger are the things I love about myself now that I'm almost 30," says Marianna.
Armed with serious determination (and her OG makeup brush), Marianna's next mission will be to build a women's network to help young girls find confidence and chase their dreams. "I want to have a place to motivate other women where they can read tips online, watch seminars, and even host them in person. I've been so lucky in my own success, I want to share what I've learned," she says.
We're thinking that this next venture is exactly the kind of resource high-school aged Marianna would have loved, and with any luck, she'll inspire other young women to realize that life's biggest challenges are 100 percent #worththewrinkle.
Follow Marie Claire on Instagram for the latest celeb news, pretty pics, funny stuff, and an insider POV.