Michelle Phan grew up in California with her Vietnamese parents. The classic American immigrant story of the impoverished but hardworking parents who toil to create a better life for the next generation was marred, in Phan’s case, by her father’s gambling addiction. The Phan clan moved from city to city, state to state, downsizing and recapitalizing and dodging creditors and downsizing some more. Eventually, Phan found herself sleeping on a hard floor, age 16, living with her mother, who earned rent money as a nail salon worker and bought groceries with food stamps. Throughout primary and secondary school, Phan escaped from her problems through art. She loved to watch PBS, where painter Bob Ross calmly drew happy little trees. “He made everything so positive,” Phan recalls. “If you wanted to learn how to paint, and you wanted to also calm down and have a therapeutic session at home, you watched Bob Ross.” She started drawing and painting herself, often using the notes pages in the back of the telephone book as her canvas. And, imitating Ross, she started making tutorials for her friends and posting them on her blog. Drawing, making Halloween costumes, applying cosmetics—the topic didn’t matter. For three years, she blogged her problems away, fancying herself an amateur teacher of her peers and gaining a modest teenage following. This and odd jobs were her life, until a kind uncle gave her mother a few thousand dollars to buy furniture, which was used instead to send Phan to Ringling College of Art and Design. Prepared to study hard and survive on a shoestring, Phan, on her first day at Ringling, encountered a street team which was handing out free MacBook laptops, complete with front-facing webcams, from an anonymous donor. Phan later told me, with moist eyes, “If I had not gotten that laptop, I wouldn’t be here today.