From Tanya, with love
PUBLISHED: 05:26 27 April 2015
Archant © 2012
Tanya Burr's passion for fashion and make-up has helped her become one of the stars of the internet. Camilla Davies meets the YouTube sensation from Bramerton.
Charming and gregarious both behind her webcam lens and in person, 25-year-old Tanya Burr belongs to a new breed of Norfolk entrepreneur: YouTube vloggers (video bloggers).
Her online make-up tutorials have built Tanya a massive social media following, not to mention a business. She has come a long way in a few short years since attending Long Stratton High School and then Notre Dame Sixth Form in Norwich. Deciding not to go down the university route, she took a make-up short course instead, and began working on a beauty counter in Jarrold’s city centre store.
“It began when my fiancé’s sisters (Samantha and Nicola Chapman, together Pixiwoo) taught me how to do make-up – they’re make-up teachers – and they said that YouTube would be a great outlet for me to try out the different make-up looks I was learning,” she explains. Sam had started uploading make-up tutorials in the early days of YouTube, from her Norwich home. With sister Nic – both are experienced make-up artists – she created the Pixiwoo channel on YouTube which became hugely successful and led the way for a generation of vlogging stars.
Tanya, from Tasburgh near Norwich, began chronicling her beauty adventures on YouTube in 2009 and within months had amassed an army of eager followers. “I started with my make-up tutorials and then I started to diversify my content. Now I do anything from baking to ‘following me around on my day’ videos with a handheld camera.”
Championed by big brands, the likes of Mulberry and Topshop, as well as her (mostly under-20) online audience, ambitious Tanya has quickly become a brand unto herself. Saying she “always dreamed big,” she does admit: “I never knew that this would be my life.”
On the guest list for red carpet events like the BAFTAs, Tanya’s charm lies in her bright, breezy and relatable on-screen attitude. Her long brunette locks and glossy lips are now even more recognisable; her face is on the cover of her bestselling hardcover book, Love, Tanya. In January, she launched her own range of lip glosses and nail varnishes, Tanya Burr Cosmetics, sold through Superdrug, and she’s even got a fashion brand in the works. With over six million online hits a month and an ever expanding empire, this Norfolk girl is dreaming even bigger – she wants a whole make-up counter!
“I would love to see Tanya Burr Cosmetics have enough products to have a whole make-up counter,” she smiles. “At the moment it’s quite slow because I do everything myself – although obviously I have people make the product for me. Because I’m so involved in the design process there’s only lip-gloss and nail varnish. But in the next few years I want to have made some eye shadow palettes and blushes – enough for that counter...” And this entrepreneur plans to spread her wings beyond the online community. “I am looking into the best acting classes in London at the moment,” she hints - though, with her wedding to fellow vlogger Jim Chapman, from Wilby, near Attleborough, on the horizon, she has a busy year ahead.
Thanks to the internet, Tanya is recognisable from Jersey to Japan, but she’s loyal to her Norfolk upbringing. “Some of my favourite memories are playing with my friends outside,” she reflects. “I guess I had a simple upbringing, so it’s nothing too crazy to talk about. It was more just hanging out with my friends and going on bike rides.” Hers was a rural childhood: “I imagine with a city upbringing you would be in the house a lot more, whereas I was outside all year round, I lived in a quiet cul-de-sac so we would play outside on the road all the time.”
While today’s London lifestyle looks all glitter and glamour from the outset, sustaining an online following is a hard graft, and she tips her hat to both her parents for instilling in her a strong work ethic. “My dad worked as a lorry driver and whenever he had any spare time he used to do art classes so he learned how to make things out of wood with a lathe in our garage. He used to sell them and always encouraged me to work hard.”
Tanya is grateful for her family’s continued support: “They’re always there at every launch I do – at my make-up launches and my book launch. They’ve always encouraged and believed in me. They are just so excited.”
Norfolk can boast internet home-grown success not only in Tanya Burr, but her close-knit circle too; namely her fiancé Jim Chapman, whose vlogs have topped the one million subscriber mark, and his sisters, Burr’s original inspiration. Jim’s twin brother, John, is a personal trainer who vlogs as The Lean Machines. “We’re all so dedicated to our careers and we all really have a good work ethic and that’s helped us get to where we are today,” she says. Homebird Tanya often returns to her Norfolk roots. “I love going to Holkham beach, or somewhere like the Hoste Arms for lunch.” That, and the retail scene, including “Topshop and Lush in Norwich and Anna in Burnham Market”.
With power, they say, comes responsibility, and Tanya is aware of her status among a younger following. “It’s an honour to be considered a role model,” she says, firmly. “I was in Norwich recently and I had a mum stop me in the street and say ‘My daughter is too shy to come up to you (her daughter was 15) but I just want to say thank you so much for being such a good role model for her. I feel confident in her watching your videos, I know that you’re just going to be a great role model for her’.”
And Tanya has a message for EDP Norfolk’s readers of any age who are looking to feel great. Because while she’s made a career from her love of make-up, confidence is more than lipsticks and powder. “My message about make-up is that it is great and can make you feel really good about yourself. Make-up is fun and I love putting it on and trying all the different products, but I also think it’s really important to be confident in your own skin. I often do videos with no make-up on and it’s really not as scary as you think. I’ll often go to meet friends for lunch with no make-up on and you should just try it – it’s not as scary as you think. It’s really important that you love yourself and feel confident in your own skin and not feel the need to cover up all the time.”
Tanya demonstrates that make-up is not the making of a woman; but if you play it right, it can be the foundation of a successful online career.
Love, Tanya by Tanya Burr is out now (published in Michael Joseph hardback, £12.99).