The force be­hind one of the fastest-grow­ing beauty em­pires


Emily Weiss—the force be­hind Glossier,

one of the fastest-grow­ing cult beauty brands— has a lot to cel­e­brate this year. Ear­lier this sum­mer, Glossier ex­panded its global foot­print, an­nounc­ing in­ter­na­tional ship­ping to Canada, along with the United King­dom and France later in the year. Cana­dian cus­tomers were also treated to the first-ever Glossier pop-up shop in Septem­ber, which ran for one full week dur­ing the 2017 Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

For fans, this meant no more strate­giz­ing to score prod­ucts like Boy Brow and Balm Dot­com, the cult favourite brow mas­cara and flavoured lip balm. On top of it all, the com­pany launched its Body Hero Duo in Septem­ber (part of Phase 3, which fol­lowed skin­care and makeup), in­tro­duc­ing a neroli and or­ange blos­som-scented, seven-oil body wash and rich body cream into its care­fully cu­rated ros­ter of prod­ucts.

True to its in­clu­sive, your-skin-but-bet­ter beauty ethos, Glossier made quite the noise with its Body Hero ad cam­paign. Snapped by sea­soned photographer Peggy Sirota (a go-to lens for ESPN The Magazine’s body-themed is­sues, which cel­e­brate ath­letes’ hard-earned physiques), the body-pos­i­tive cam­paign im­ages fea­ture five women of dif­fer­ent races, sizes, and body types: NBA player Swin Cash, who was eight months preg­nant at the time; in­flu­encer (and Weiss’s friend) Mekdes Mer­sha; Out­door Voices ap­parel founder Tyler Haney; cre­ative di­rec­tor Lara Pia Ar­ro­bio; and plus-size model Paloma Elsesser.

“We wanted to pro­pose a very dif­fer­ent way of be­ing naked than the tra­di­tional ‘male gaze, sex­ual nu­dity’ thing that hap­pens in pic­tures,” ex­plains Weiss of the five women who posed nude with red cen­sor bars em­bla­zoned over them. “It kind of looks like they’re all do­ing yoga or stretch­ing or do­ing sports, as op­posed to star­ing dream­ily into the cam­era and be­ing coy. They’re liv­ing their lives and they just hap­pen to be naked.”

Tak­ing it one step fur­ther, each Body Hero pur­chase comes with an ac­com­pa­ny­ing red cen­sor mir­ror sticker, en­cour­ag­ing women to proudly take their own #body­hero selfie at home. Weiss her­self even joined in on the move­ment, post­ing a top­less selfie to her In­sta­gram ac­count back in Septem­ber. “We wanted to come up with an over­ar­ch­ing theme that would re­ally en­cour­age body pos­i­tiv­ity and fun. We think ev­ery body is great, and that ev­ery­one can be their own hero,” she says. “There’s not one ideal type.”

In Oc­to­ber, af­ter much an­tic­i­pa­tion and so­cial me­dia teas­ing, the beauty brand that turned skin­care on its head also re­leased its de­but fra­grance, Glossier You. Stick­ing to the line’s min­i­mal­ist mil­len­nial-pink aes­thetic, the eau de par­fum (which mixes care­fully se­lected notes of iris, pink pep­per, am­brette, am­brox, and musk) was crafted by mas­ter per­fumers Frank Voelkl and Dora Baghriche, and is meant to emu­late the smell of your own skin— but bet­ter.

Right now, Weiss is ab­sorb­ing Glossier’s Cana­dian suc­cess, de­scrib­ing it as both great and over­whelm­ing. “For me, the big­gest take­away is that Glossier is re­ally a global brand. And I mean that not just lo­gis­ti­cally, but also the mes­sage and what we’re try­ing to do,” she says. “We take a very ed­i­to­rial ap­proach to ev­ery sin­gle prod­uct that we de­velop—make fewer things rather than many things—be­cause we want to be very thought­ful,” she con­tin­ues. “We try to think of the hard-work­ing prod­ucts that are go­ing to be the back­bone of women’s rou­tines—the stuff above the sink, not be­low the sink.”

Glossier was born from blog­turned-beauty-life­style-site Into

The Gloss, which Weiss, now 32, started back in 2010 while work­ing as an as­sis­tant at Vogue. She be­gan in­ter­view­ing women in their homes, and got them to open up about their beauty rou­tines. In do­ing so, she ini­ti­ated a con­ver­sa­tion around beauty. “The num­ber one thing Into The Gloss equipped me with is the de­sire to lis­ten, and the abil­ity to have gen­uine con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple that re­sult in re­ally in­cred­i­ble prod­ucts and ex­pe­ri­ences,” says Weiss. The web­site—which to­day at­tracts over two mil­lion unique vis­i­tors each month—also cre­ated a com­mu­nity, which sowed the seeds for Glossier’s launch four years later.

Weiss joins the pan­theon of girl bosses that have made it in the busi­ness on their own terms. For her, that’s meant an on­go­ing trans­parency around the cre­ation of the prod­ucts, along with the fund­ing process. “His­tor­i­cally, money is some­thing that women have been en­cour­aged not to talk about, and peo­ple have even been en­cour­aged not to talk about it in job in­ter­views or with their friends. There’s a stigma around money. I be­lieve that there should be far more fe­male-owned-and-op­er­ated busi­nesses, and in or­der for it to be so, you need to pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion.”

Along with her de­sire for open­ness around the busi­ness, Weiss has built an em­pire us­ing so­cial me­dia and crowd­sourc­ing. She reg­u­larly lis­tens to what hy­per-en­gaged cus­tomers want, whether it’s in the cre­ation of new prod­ucts or off­line ex­pe­ri­ences. “If you look at some of the com­mon themes among our com­mu­nity and the women who ap­pre­ci­ate the brand, it’s not just the Glossier prod­uct they love—it’s the Glossier out­look,” ex­plains Weiss. “We read be­tween the lines of [cus­tomer com­ments], and be­lieve in women be­com­ing their own ex­perts and cu­rat­ing their own rou­tine,” she adds. “Beauty should be fun and make you re­ally happy, and I hope that we’re in­volv­ing women much more than beauty brands have in the past.”

Set­ting up shop in Toronto has been just one of many ex­am­ples of rapid ex­pan­sion for Glossier. Back in New York, the com­pany has out­grown its SoHo of­fice. “We started out in the pent­house when we were just eight peo­ple pre-launch. Now the pent­house is our store and we are on the sec­ond and third floor of the build­ing—that is our of­fice,” shares Weiss. The em­ployee count has also jumped from 50 at the be­gin­ning of the year to around 110 at last count. That has meant tak­ing meet­ings in the beauty closet when needed. “It was one of many mo­ments when we re­al­ized we needed more room. How­ever, I will say that the en­ergy and col­lab­o­ra­tion from be­ing in tight quar­ters is ac­tu­ally kind of mag­i­cal.” In Jan­uary 2018, Glossier will re­lo­cate to a much big­ger space. “It’ll be less of an of­fice and more of a—well, let’s just say it’ll be a very unique type of of­fice,” says Weiss.

Weiss’s ad­mirable busi­ness savvy and pas­sion for com­mu­nity clearly sum up how she’s helped Glossier carve out such a spe­cial place for it­self, not just in the beauty land­scape, but also in the lives of its cus­tomers. And through the “real life”-driven beauty line’s ex­plo­sive suc­cess and cul­tural clout, Weiss isn’t afraid to hit pause. “We re­ally think of our­selves as, and as­pire to be, the first beauty and life­style brand,” she notes. “And as we evolve and grow, it’s very im­por­tant for us to take stock of where we are: the fail­ures, the wins—every­thing.”

Clock­wise from top left: Founder Emily Weiss; Body Hero cam­paign im­ages; Glossier Body Hero Duo, $44.

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