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Emily Weiss: The Customer Is the Number-One Influencer

The founder said cocreation with customers is key to growing Glossier.

Emily Weiss’ entire beauty empire was predicated on the idea of making beauty “the main event.”

Changing the perception that beauty was the “ugly stepsister to fashion,” according to Weiss, founder and chief executive officer of Into the Gloss and Glossier, was the impetus for creating those properties. At the time (2010), most blogs chronicled what happened “from the neck down,” said Weiss, whose goal was to create a platform that documented beauty as a lifestyle and an overall part of someone’s personal style.

Glossier was really born out of that, as a way to go deeper on that mission, to really create this modern, lifestyle beauty brand and encourage women to make beauty this element of personal style,” Weiss said.

She maintained that both entities are driven by a deep connection to a digital-first Millennial and Gen Z customer base. The number-one social media platform for her brands is the six-and-a-half-year-old, which today gets millions of page views.

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“I say it’s a social platform because you can comment so we have really robust comment sections that have comments in the thousands, sometimes when we pose a question — unlike more traditional media platforms like which isn’t very much of a dialogue,” Weiss explained.

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But in the time since Into the Gloss launched, the beauty content space has become increasingly crowded, from bloggers to vloggers and even established media properties turning their focus on the category.

Despite this, Weiss maintains her approach to content hasn’t evolved. The mandate for her editorial site, she said, is to “be inspired” and to continue to create the most premium, authentic beauty content online.

Today, Weiss has a team of 95, three of which work on Into the Gloss, and a beauty line with products known to have 10,000-person waitlists. Glossier, which raised $24 million in capital last fall, maintains a showroom on Lafayette Street in downtown Manhattan that can see up to 800 visitors in a day and boasts a 65 percent conversion rate. The showroom is open seven days a week and is a “full functioning store.”

“We’ll pretty much invert the entire off-line beauty experience.…I don’t think you’ll think of it like a beauty store,” Weiss said, vague about future retail plans.

She called Glossier’s approach to product development “nuanced,” crediting a less-is-more ethos in terms of stockkeeping units. Since the company’s inception, Weiss explained the idea was to create one product at a time — adhering to her own launch cadence and calendar. Additionally, the freedom of being a direct-to-consumer brand has afforded Glossier the luxury to be “category agnostic.” She launched the line with four skin-care products, followed that up with makeup and revealed Glossier will launch two new categories by year’s end.

“Our customers are our number one influencers…For the first year-and-a-half of Glossier we spent no money on marketing… Ninety percent of our growth was owned, earned or peer to peer…Referrals still drive the majority of the business,” Weiss said, noting that cocreation with customers is integral to future growth. “Our customers are our number-one mouthpieces and evangelists, and they are doing exactly what we hoped they would: they are interpreting Glossier for their friends.”