Meet Claire Marshall: YouTuber and Cat-Mom With a Heart of Gold
by Faith Choi
Images in Story: Claire Marshall
Within an oversaturated space like YouTube, it’s a special thing to find people whose authenticity and sincerity can be felt through the screen. Claire Marshall, who’s been on the YouTube scene since 2011, has been that figure for me. She takes the time to film and edit her own videos in consistently refreshing, creative ways, even including handwritten titles and captions for an extra authentic touch. Her video, “Mary,” which addresses her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, helped and comforted me in my own situation of a family member with the same illness. The vlogs that she shares feel like genuine conversations, and based on the comments below her videos, it’s evident that her subscribers (all 973,297 and counting) realize and appreciate this too.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Claire, who talked to me about what her career has taught her, her most recent trip to South Korea, and what her handsome cat, Bruce, is currently up to.
Milk Makeup: How did you get started on Youtube?
Claire Marshall: I can’t remember how I got into watching YouTube, but I remember being a viewer first. I didn’t upload my first video until I had to take time off of work to take care of my mom in 2011. At the time, I was living in Brooklyn working as a freelance makeup artist, but I had moved back to Virginia temporarily. During the months that I wasn’t working, I decided to upload a few videos to distract myself from all of the things I was dealing with. I think my first video was actually a review on Sally Hansen [nail] strips and I filmed it on my laptop so everything was mirrored, haha!
MMU: What’s one makeup item you couldn’t live without?
CM: A good concealer! I’ve had acne since I was a kid, so I always have something in my bag to cover up spots.
MMU: How did you learn how to do makeup?
CM: I had to teach myself a lot in the beginning. As an adoptee and Korean-American during the ’80s and ’90s, I didn’t really have anyone who I looked up to for makeup inspiration. I was a ballerina for 12 years and we’d wear makeup for performances so I dabbled in it then, but it took going into my teens and suffering with acne to really get me to learn how to cover up breakouts and work with my features. When I was in my mid-20’s, I got a job at MAC and the rest is kind of history!
MMU: Is there a part of your makeup routine you can do with your eyes closed?
CM: I very much like to see everything I’m doing when I’m doing makeup, haha!
MMU: What’s your favorite makeup product?
CM: My #1 is the Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Matte Foundation! It has excellent coverage for my hyperpigmentation and blurs the appearance of my pores/scars — I love it!
MMU: You have a lot of dope tattoos on your body. Which would you say is your favorite?
CM: Again, it’s so hard to pick a favorite! Each one represents a different time and place in my life. Some have deeper meanings than others so it’s hard to choose.
MMU: What was the last movie you watched?
CM: Haha! Independence Day because I watch it every 4th of July.
MMU: What are you currently reading?
CM: Right now I’m reading two: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson.
MMU: Do you have a special talent that no one knows about?
CM: I don’t know that it’s really a talent, but I have crazy hyperextended elbows!
MMU: I saw that you traveled to South Korea recently! How was it? What was your favorite moment from the trip?
CM: It was an interesting experience! It was my first time visiting since I was adopted at 7 months old, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Truthfully, I was really nervous and I was only there for about 4 days, so I didn’t get to see everything I would have liked, but I’m glad I was able to go and dip my toes so that I can go back and explore more parts of the country.
MMU: What was the most delicious thing you ate there?
CM: I loved the street food, but also we had the most incredible fresh soy crab at Prosoycrab in Seoul!
MMU: Do you have in in-flight beauty routine? If so, what is it?
CM: For long-haul flights especially, I try to remove my makeup and apply hydrating products like masks and facial mists. Also, if I feel a pimple brewing, I keep pimple patches on hand!
MMU: After a trip or a busy event, what’s your favorite way to wind down?
CM: When I come back from traveling, I try to make an appointment for a facial. I just started doing this because my skin has a tendency to freak out after traveling, so it helps me keep it under control and relax. That’s probably the most boujee thing I do because really all I want to do when I come home is cuddle with my cat Bruce and order Postmates!
MMU: Speaking of, how’s your cat Bruce doing? What’s he up to right now?
CM: Right now he’s sitting across from me watching me type. He looks magnificent.
MMU: Which video of yours would you say is your favorite?
CM: I have a few that stand out for different reasons. “Va Va Voom” stands out because it was one of the first videos, after I started taking on YouTube full-time, that I felt really reflected where I wanted to go creatively with my content. “Mary” is also one that I hold close to my heart because I talk about dealing with a parent who has Alzheimer’s. It was something I didn’t really see people talking about, but I knew, as someone who was having to try and navigate this experience alone, that I wasn’t alone in sharing this [illness].
MMU: What has creating content on Youtube for the past six years taught you?
CM: YouTube has changed so much since I started my channel! When I started, I had no idea how to edit a video or that it would even become a job, and I think that’s why I fell in love with it. It was a raw and creative outlet I hadn’t explored which is why I was excited every time I uploaded. I did it purely for fun and my channel grew really quickly so I was lucky that I was able to make it into a full-time gig! From a business perspective, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be just starting a channel now. It’s much harder to grow and maintain an audience in a space with so much talent out there and production levels are higher, expectations are higher, etc. It’s intimidating! From a personal standpoint, we live in a very public, social media-heavy world right now. It can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you want to look at it, but probably my biggest challenge has been finding the balance between what I’m willing to share and how I want to live my life.
MMU: What’s one thing you wished everyone knew about you?
CM: That I’m just a person like everyone else.
MMU: Personally, watching your videos is always calming for me, and your sincerity and candidness makes your final products feel like a heart to heart conversation with a long-time friend. But do you ever feel scared or worried before uploading a video where you’re being so open?
CM: Well firstly, thank you so much for saying that! I’d like to think I am who you see through the screen and I hope my close friends would agree haha. But yes, going back to what I was saying about what I’ve learned after years of being on Youtube — you have to learn where to draw the line. Like anything you see online, you’re only getting a fraction of that person or that person’s experience coupled with your preconceived notions of who they are as people.
And sometimes it’s not just about what I’m sharing, but other people in my life. For example, my best friend has been in a lot of my videos but I make sure that I’m not putting too much of her business out there because she has her own life and a lot of it is off of social media. Ultimately the more you share, the more that can be judged or people will feel the need to give their opinion on. The last however many years on Youtube has taught me to think a lot about what subjects I’m willing to draw attention to because as cringe as it is to say, at some point have to accept that you are a “public figure” and you have to know your limits and accept that people will try and push you over them.
MMU: How do you hope to change or influence the Youtube space, and what do you wish for a viewer to take away with them after watching your videos? Do you have any advice for a reader who might be an aspiring-Youtuber?
CM: I think I’ve always wanted to encourage people to go for it. Dare to dream and dare to live the life that they imagine. Whether it’s to move across the country, start a Youtube channel, or visit somewhere new. At the very least, if you don’t feel like you can do it alone, do it with me. We all go through experiences in life that test us but we can get through it and come out stronger, better people. I hope that people see at least some of that in my channel.