Into the Gloss’ Emily Weiss has a sweeping vision for her new beauty line Glossier, the social brand born online that’s built on a two-way dialogue with consumers.
This story first appeared in the November 18, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Weiss told WWD that she’s raised $8.4 million in series A funding to help build and scale the vertical online venture. The round was led by Thrive Capital with participation from 14W, Manzanita Capital, WME, David Tisch’s Box Group fund, Jay Brown and Andy Dunn (existing investors Forerunner Ventures and Lerer Hippeau Ventures participated in the round as well).
“We’re rethinking beauty in many ways, from product innovation to distribution to connectivity with consumers,” Weiss said. “Glossier is fundamentally about fostering a super deep connection with women in the same way that Into the Gloss has done with women all over the world.”
Of the direct to consumer beauty brand launched on Instagram last month, Weiss called Glossier a “feedback loop” that’s inspired the development of the initial range of products: an $18 soothing rosewater face mist, a $25 priming moisturizer, a $26 perfecting skin tint and the $12 Balm Dotcom (a universal skin salve). A boxed “Glossier Phase 1 Set” of the four items retails for $80 at glossier.com.
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Weiss is obsessed with feedback — whether online through comments on the brand’s Instagram account or Into the Gloss or in person.
“We want to build up our line in a slightly different way than previous beauty companies have. We want a pre-curated approach, where we’re channeling all of the feedback we’re getting into our product development. It’s very much responsive development,” Weiss said.
Along with a team of about 20 people, she’s developed a business strategy that’s a mix of on and offline. The first pop-up shop bowed on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, which opened a week after launch on Oct. 13 and remained open through Nov. 2. On Nov. 11, Weiss hosted a one-day event at The Standard in Los Angeles which was crowdsourced via glossier.com.
A Glossier USA user-generated voting feature enabled fans to vote on where Glossier should come next after New York City. Weiss will visit cities that get the most votes and hold one-day events open to whomever wishes to RSVP to showcase and sell product. The events will also serve as castings for Glossier’s “best friends,” who are real girls the brand will feature in upcoming creative content. San Francisco and Chicago are the next cities that Weiss will visit by the end of the year.
“It’s fantastic to get it into people’s hands. It was great to get feedback. We’re a feedback-driven company. We want to be iterative and nimble,” Weiss said, noting that the greatest learning gained from the shop in New York was that people enjoyed a curated experience.
Consumers liked interacting with a beauty store that had a clear value proposition. “It wasn’t overwhelming. We had four universally flattering products and they were able to interact with real girls who were acting as shop girls and weren’t necessarily your typical beauty experts.”
Weiss — along with Henry Davis, who joined Glossier as chief operating officer in June — is looking to scale the brand over the next year. She said they have an “ambitious” product roll-out calendar — both physical and digital — which will include launches quarterly.
A limited-edition holiday product will hit the site on Nov. 24.