Inside the life of YouTuber Tati Westbrook, from her controversial friendships and feuds to her questionable vitamin brandNovember 10, 2020
- Tati Westbrook is a beauty influencer with more than 9 million subscribers on YouTube.
- She's also the owner of Halo Beauty, a supplement brand, and Tati Beauty, which sells cosmetics like eye shadow.
- In recent years, however, Westbrook has become more well-known for an internet feud and her questionable vitamin brand than she is for her makeup expertise.
- The YouTuber and her husband are now being sued by their former business partner, who claims the couple committed fraud, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty as Halo Beauty owners.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Tati Westbrook is widely known online as the YouTuber who started a feud between herself, James Charles, and Jeffree Star in 2019.
But there's a lot more to her than the infamous internet scandal. She began making YouTube videos about budget-friendly makeup in 2010, and later became one of the top influencers in the beauty space with more than 9 million subscribers at the time of writing. She even launched her own cosmetics brand in 2019.
In recent years, however, attention has shifted from the 38-year-old's passion for makeup to her controversial friendships, questionable vitamin brand, and most recently a lawsuit involving her husband. Here's what you need to know about the YouTube star.
Tati Westbrook was born as Tatiana Aleksandra Krievins.
She was born on February 14, 1982, in Seattle, Washington, to Latvian parents. She has three sisters: Larissa, Sabrina, and Erika.
She was seemingly destined for stardom, working as a dancer and actress throughout her childhood and teenage years.
As a teenager, Westbrook had small roles in commercials and on shows like "Unsolved Mysteries" and "Greek." Her sisters also acted at the time, starring on shows like "The X-Files."
It was dance, however, that she was especially passionate about. While appearing on a YouTube show called Dance Showdown in 2013, she said she "danced through" her teenage years and "loved it."
Westbrook succeeded at both dance and acting, as she said in a 2016 YouTube video, because she "had this very professional mindset" as a child.
"I knew what I wanted out of life," she said. "I thought I was gonna be super famous from the time I was 3. I thought that I was destined for success in the acting world. I was a dancer. I was like a little bitty thing, and I'd be like, 'I'm a ballerina.' I wouldn't say, 'I'm going to be a ballerina when I grow up.' I owned it."
She also developed her passion for makeup as a child, and taught herself how to be an artist.
"My love of makeup started because I was a child actress, and when I would work on set, I would kind of study how the artist was applying the makeup," Westbrook said on Dance Showdown. "I was totally fascinated that there can be this amazing transformation.
From there, she taught herself the skills she needed to pursue a career in makeup. She didn't go to college or attend cosmetology school, as she said in a 2016 YouTube video, even though she wanted to at the time. "I did not have the funds," she said.
Still, she was able to make her dreams a reality by climbing up the beauty-industry ladder. She first worked as a "perfume sample lady," then moved on to work at beauty counters in stores like Nordstrom in between a plethora of other jobs. Westbrook eventually began freelancing as a makeup artist.
Westbrook created her YouTube channel in 2010 — and she kept her full name a secret at the start of her career.
Her first video, which has since been set to private, showed Westbrook giving a tutorial for metallic, purple eye makeup. The earliest video on her channel at the time of writing is from January 20, 2011.
While viewers knew her as both Tati and "GlamLifeGuru" — the former name of her YouTube channel — Westbrook would not share her last name, Krievins, at the time.
In a 2012 video titled "Get To Know Me," Westbrook discussed keeping her last name a secret, saying: "My name is Tatiana. My middle name is Aleksandra. And my last name I'm keeping a big ole secret until I change it, which will be soon because I'm marrying the love of my life."
Her husband James Westbrook later said they thought it would be easier on fans if she didn't change her name at the start of her career.
"When Tati was gonna be in Allure magazine, they insisted on publishing her last name, and we're like, 'Well we're getting ready to get married, why not just take my last name and start using it? So that's what she did."
She met James Westbrook online in 2010, and they married in 2017.
On January 12, 2012, she uploaded a YouTube video titled "MY SURPRISE MARRIAGE PROPOSAL." In the first few minutes, she explained how she came across James on Match.com and was "really nervous" to meet him for the first time.
He proposed to her through a video he filmed secretly with the help of fellow YouTubers, and the couple went on to document their five-year engagement on her channel. They later shared a video of their Hawaii wedding on January 20, 2017.
Westbrook was close friends with YouTuber James Charles at the time, and he did her makeup on her wedding day.
Not only was Charles seen throughout her wedding video, but Westbrook also wrote a note about the YouTuber and shared it on Instagram.
"So blessed to have this amazing soul in my life ❤️ @jamescharles," she wrote. "Thank you for helping me feel so beautiful on such an important day — your talent is out of this world, but you as a person are even more impressive & special. I'm keeping you close as a friend forever. Love you so much Sister 😘😘😘 "
On YouTube, Westbrook became a consistent presence known for her makeup reviews, budget-friendly beauty tips, and unboxing videos.
When Westbrook began her YouTube channel, she often shared simple makeup tutorials and tips for buying drugstore beauty products on a budget. And even as she grew her channel, gaining millions of subscribers in the process, her content stayed consistent.
In recent years, videos showing Westbrook's massive unboxings of press packages and reviews of unconventional cosmetics products became staples of her channel. She also won one of Nylon's first Beauty Innovator Awards in August 2018.
She formed friendships with controversial influencers like Jeffree Star as she grew her YouTube channel.
Westbrook renounced the makeup brand Too Faced in 2017 after a bad experience with the brand's owner, and she also faced backlash for criticizing another YouTuber's eye-shadow palette in 2018. But aside from those two incidents, she largely stayed out of YouTube's beauty-community drama.
That's why many of the influencer's fans were surprised when she publicly confirmed her friendship with Jeffree Star, a controversial makeup mogul known for his feuds and scandals. And because both Westbrook and Star were friends with Charles at the time, they occasionally shared glimpses into their friendship online.
She launched her vitamin company Halo Beauty in February 2018.
In a YouTube video announcing her brand, Westbrook said that while she knew a lot of fans were expecting her to create a makeup or skin-care brand, she instead opted to make a "hair, skin, and nail booster" supplement that she described as "the perfect vitamin."
The supplements are said to deliver smoother skin, stronger nails, and hair growth within three weeks. They're also free of soy, gluten, and sugar, and are vegan and cruelty-free.
People shared mixed reactions in response to the vitamins.
At the time of writing, Halo Beauty's original, pink supplements have hundreds of five-star reviews on Influenster. Some people have said their skin began to clear while using them, and others credit the vitamins with giving them soft, growing hair.
Still, some people aren't convinced. Not only are supplements not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but research also shows that vitamins like those from Halo Beauty can be "ineffective and in some cases harmful," as Insider's Julia Naftulin previously reported.
"Outside of simply being ineffective, supplements can cause adverse side effects," Naftulin wrote. "Every year, around 23,000 Americans go to the emergency room due to a supplement-related incident."
Despite the success of Westbrook's brand, supplements led to the demise of her friendship with Charles.
On May 10, 2019, Westbrook uploaded a 43-minute long video called "Bye Sister" to her YouTube channel. She said in the video that she'd be ending her longtime friendship with Charles because she was "completely blindsided" when he endorsed Sugar Bear Hair — a direct competitor of her Halo Beauty brand.
The falling out turned into a public feud that captivated fans and fellow influencers, like Star.
Hours after Westbrook released "Bye Sister," Charles apologized in a video of his own called "Tati." However, Star then ignited the feud once again by saying in a tweet that Charles was banned from his home and "is a danger to society."
Star never produced substantive evidence to back up his claims, and later said during an appearance on the "Mom's Basement" podcast that he didn't know if a recording he claimed to have from an alleged victim of Charles' was real.
Westbrook responded to the backlash once more on May 16 in a now-deleted video called "Why I Did It …" — in which she said: "I do really want the hate to stop. I want the picking sides and the abusive memes and the language and all of that, I really hope on both sides it can stop."
Some influencers, like Gabriel Zamora and Nikita Dragun, came to the defense of Charles, who defended himself in a video titled "No More Lies" on May 18. In the video, he said: "I have never and would never and will never use my fame, money, or power to manipulate or get any sexual actions from a guy. That is disgusting, it is not me, and the fact that Tati brought this up blows my mind because she knows the real story."
He also directly addressed Star in the video, saying the beauty influencer's tweets and private messages to him were "hurtful, defamatory, extremely excessive," and "based on lies."
Charles said that he stands by his previous apology to Westbrook, and thanked both her and Star for taking some responsibility for their feud. Still, Charles shared screenshots showing that Tati and her husband did not respond when he tried to address their argument privately, and said one of the "most hurtful" things Westbrook did was publicly criticize his mother's parenting.
Charles' reputation ultimately took a hit as a result of the feud. He lost 3 million YouTube subscribers at the time, and some people even destroyed his merchandise.
All three YouTubers seemingly came to an agreement by March 19, when Westbrook and Star shared separate statements about how they'd no longer discuss their feud.
Westbrook later launched new supplements and a variety of cosmetics products under a different brand.
In late October 2019, she released the Textured Neutrals eye-shadow palette, which has received rave reviews from fans and influencers alike, under a new brand called Tati Beauty. The YouTuber also hinted that she had 30 other makeup palettes in the works during a 2019 interview.
She then went on to release the Blendiful makeup puffs in January 2020, and three new supplements with Halo Beauty.
She took a two-month-long break from YouTube starting in May 2020, and came back at the end of June with another explosive video about Star, Charles, and Shane Dawson.
On June 30, 2020, Westbrook uploaded a video called "BREAKING MY SILENCE" in which she apologized to Charles and said Star and fellow YouTuber Shane Dawson "manipulated" her into speaking out against him in 2019 because they viewed Charles as competition.
As Insider's Kat Tenbarge reported at the time, Dawson and his fiancé Ryland Adams denied Westbrook's claims. Star, on the other hand, released a YouTube video on July 18 in which he also apologized to Charles and said his lawyers were looking into their options.
Westbrook has not posted on her YouTube channel or other social-media platforms since releasing her video.
Now, the YouTuber and her husband are being sued by their former business partner.
On October 20, 2020, Halo Beauty's cofounder and co-owner Clark Swanson filed a complaint through the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County, as Tenbarge previously reported.
The lawsuit claims Tati Westbrook and her husband James committed fraud, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty, causing Halo Beauty and Swanson to suffer financially. Swanson is seeking more than $25,000 in damages.
According to the court documents, Swanson claims that by selling beauty products and planning others under the Tati Beauty brand, the Westbrooks had gone against their agreement to "make Halo Beauty the umbrella brand for all of Tati's future product lines, including cosmetics, skin care, and fragrances," as Tenbarge wrote.
Tati and James Westbrook's lawyers, as well as representatives for Tati Beauty, did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment on the lawsuit, and Halo Beauty declined to comment.
Tati, James, and their brands have not yet filed a counter-complaint, though their lawyers did respond to Swanson's claims with a letter, which was shared exclusively by YouTuber Emily D. Baker. She said at the start of her video that she obtained the 188-page document from one of Tati's lawyers.
The letter says Swanson was an "unreliable and unproductive" business partner, that he wasn't truthful about his wealth and experience in the nutraceutical industry, and that there's no documentation to back up Swanson's lawsuit, among other claims. Swanson's lawyers did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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