Glossier Founder Emily Weiss Takes Us Behind The Scenes Of Her Billion Dollar Beauty Company

Glossier founder Emily Weiss talks blogging beginnings, overcoming the word 'no' and how she manages to wind down.

Emily Weiss

by Annie Vischer |
Updated on

Glossierfounder Emily Weiss, who last week was named among Time’s 100 Next Innovators, is a figurehead for the millennialy minded company. As cult names go, beauty behemoth Glossier has reached peak reverence. The digital-first brand’s flagship store in New York has become a mecca for beauty fanatics and, this Wednesday – British beauty ultras rejoice – a pop-up store opens in London’s Covent Garden (13 Floral Street), running until February next year. Here she gives Grazia an insight into the set up, mentality and cogs behind her renowned company.

Blogging Beginnings

'I started Into The Gloss because I wanted to create a space dedicated to beauty conversation and connection. I’d been working in editorial for several years and always felt that beauty was regarded as “second best” next to fashion, which didn’t make much sense to me—we all participate in beauty, and it’s just as much a part of personal expression as the clothes we choose to wear. I saved up for months to buy a camera and started asking interesting women I knew if I could interview them in their bathrooms. Through those conversations, which usually happened while I was perched on the edge of their bathtub, I learned about so much more than just products and routines. We talked about experiences, traditions, memories, and relationships. Each story about someone’s holy-grail discovery in a French pharmacy, or a tip passed down from mother to daughter, was a testament to how personal and powerful beauty can be.'

The Big Beauty Rethink

My experience with Into The Gloss taught me a lot about the business of beauty. The industry is massive, and controlled by just a handful of legacy conglomerates who built their companies on the core assumption that brands know best. That tops-down approach felt outdated; consumers weren’t visiting department store beauty counters to learn how to apply a liquid liner or find out which cleanser they should buy—they were looking up a tutorial on YouTube or texting a friend for a recommendation. They also weren’t the beginners that beauty companies made them out to be—they had their own experiences and perspectives that beauty companies weren’t listening to. I started Glossier with a mission to give voice through beauty, and to celebrate that every individual is their own expert.

Emily Weiss

'Skin First, Makeup Second'

'Glossier has always been rooted in a “skin first, makeup second” philosophy, and we focus on creating incredible products that will hopefully live with our customers for decades to come. We’ve seen that approach resonate with a broad audience of consumers, including millennials. Something interesting we’ve seen with our younger customers in particular is this new behavior of “passing up” Glossier to older generations, which is the opposite of what’s happened with beauty historically. I love going to our stores and seeing younger customers share Glossier with their parents, and even grandparents.'

The Glossier Effect

Our community is incredibly passionate and I get Instagram messages every week from customers asking for more ways to incorporateGlossier in their lives. Some of the ideas go far beyond beauty—Glossier condominiums, Glossier athleisure, a Glossier streaming service. I can’t say we’ll explore all of that in the foreseeable future, but we’re excited to continue to create new experiences and ways to participate in Glossier.


Bringing Glossier To Life

'I heard the word “no” a lot when I first started approaching venture capital firms for funding. That wasn’t easy, but eventually I figured out that these investors were assessing whether I was the right fit for them, and I needed to do the same. When I finally got my first “yes” from Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures, I was grateful that the process had gone the way it had. She was the first person to believe in Glossier, and I knew that she was the best person to help me bring it to life.'

Staying Connected

'Nothing makes me happier than that connecting with our customers on Instagram, and in real life at one of our stores. Their passion and excitement about Glossier is what motivates me, and our entire team, to come to work every day.'

Female Entrepreneurship

'The beauty industry has come a long way in the last few years. Venture capital investment in the category is growing (it doubled in 2018 compared to the year prior) and an unprecedented number of women-led beauty companies are reaching “unicorn” status. But there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to supporting female entrepreneurship in general. Only 2.2% of VC dollars went to women last year, which is a decline from the previous year, and far fewer went to women of color.'

Making Time To Wind Down

'I try and make time for baths and meditation whenever possible.'


Hitting Up London

'We see a lot of parallels between our U.K. and U.S. customers, in the products they love and their passion for Glossier. We’re excited to spend more time with our London community, and invite them to experience Glossier in real life through an experience that’s been tailor-made just for them.'

The Future Of The Digital Landscape In Beauty

'Online beauty sales are predicted to grow by 86% in the next five years; today, they only make up about 9% of the pie. That presents a massive opportunity for a digital-first company like Glossier. Our goal is to create online experiences that are about more than just buying products. Look at the people visiting our stores—they can shop on, but wait in line because they want to deepen their relationship with Glossier and with each other. The future of beauty will be about bringing that depth of connection, conversation, and discovery to the digital space.'

The Glossier Lifestyle

'Something I thought about early on was, what if there was a beauty company whose sweatshirt people wanted to wear? What I meant by that was, what if there was a beauty company whose values I loved just as much as their products? Fast forward to today, and our customers are wearing Glossier sweatshirts, starting Glossier clubs at their high school, and making friends on the subway because of the Glossier sticker on the back of their phone. It’s another way we get to bring people together.'

Leaving A Legacy

'Our “skin first, makeup second” philosophy was considered niche when Glossier first launched. While very few brands were on Instagram at the time, high-impact makeup tutorials were taking over social media. Over the years, it’s been interesting to see our approach gradually become more mainstream; more women than ever feel comfortable leaving the house in little or no makeup, and skincare sales are outpacing makeup for the first time. We think that’s great news, not because it means that we are moving on from makeup, but because it indicates that the definition of beauty, and what it means to participate, is expanding.'

Shop: Some Glossier Faves


The Best Products From Glossier UK 2022

The Best Products From Glossier UK1 of 14

Boy Brow, £14

For anyone spending lots of time using multiple products on their eyebrows, this may just change your life (or at least your morning routine). Boy Brow fills in sparse spaces, thickens thin brows and holds them in place like a gel would. It is, in essence, the ultimate multi-tasker.

The Best Products From Glossier UK2 of 14

Priming Moisturizer Balance, £23

As if in answer to our lockdown skin fatigue, Glossier has recently launched a new product that it's calling Priming Moisturizer Balance. Designed primarily for oily and combination skin, it promises to moisturise, control shine and refine the look of pores in one easy step.

Glossier Pro-Retinol Nightly Renewing Complex3 of 14
CREDIT: Glossier

Glossier Pro-Retinol Nightly Renewing Complex, £30

Meet Glossier's new skincare launch, a nightly retinoid formulated with 0.5% pro-retinol in the form of Retinyl Sunflowerate. That's a mix of pure retinol and sunflower seed fatty acids to you and me. The nourishing properties of the sunflower seed fatty acids work to counterbalance the less desirable effects often associated with using retinol products, we're talking dryness, itching and occasionally peeling. What's not to love about a new Glossier launch? At £30 this is a retinol product worth looking into - retinol buys are usually quite pricey and we rate £30 for a 35ml bottle of this one as reasonable.

The Best Products From Glossier UK4 of 14

Cloud Paint, £15

Available in six different shades, once you try Cloud Paint you may find it difficult to go back to any other blusher. It's a silky gel-cream formula that's easy to dab onto your cheeks, although you can also use it on lips or even eyes if you so wish. This tends to be one of the more hyped products from Glossier but let me tell you – the hype is fully justified.

The Best Products From Glossier UK5 of 14

Milky Oil Cleanser, £10

The Milky Oil Cleanser follows on from the cult success of the brand's Milky Jelly Cleanser - and despite being the new(er) kid on the block, its smooth and softening formula has had nothing but rave reviews. It's like a mix between micellar water and a face oil but isn't greasy and leaves skin feeling fresh and clean. It also removes even the most stubborn of mascaras in an instant.

The Best Products From Glossier UK6 of 14

Balm Dotcom, £10

If you only buy one product, make it this. The crème de la crème of balms, this hydrating skin salve does almost everything. Slick over eyelids or on lips for a dewy, natural look and apply to any patches of dry skin for instant hydration. It's a wonder, and available in seven different flavours.

The Best Products From Glossier UK7 of 14

Crème de Glossier, £29

This is just as good as the packaging might suggest. It's luxurious, creamy and dreamy – basically everything you want in a night-time moisturiser. Plus, you only need the smallest amount, so while this is one of Glossier's more expensive products (around £30) it will last a really long time.

The Best Products From Glossier UK8 of 14

Generation G, £14

Generation G adapts to the colour of your lips, meaning each shade looks different on everyone. The texture is more like a balm than a traditional lipstick, too, so you can wear it all day without worrying about dry lips or a too-matte finish.

The Best Products From Glossier UK9 of 14

Super Bounce, £24

If you have dry skin by nature, or if you feel like your skin is just in desperate need of a moisture injection, this is for you. It's a hyaluronic acid combined with vitamin b5 making it a lightweight, non-sticky serum that leaves skin feeling softer almost immediately. Ideal during or after flights and a genuine dream to slather on skin on mornings after the nights before. It also provides the perfect base for make-up.

The Best Products From Glossier UK10 of 14

Lip Gloss, £11

Just when you thought lip gloss couldn't shake off its early noughties image, along comes Glossier's version to prove us all wrong. Available in three shades – clear, holographic and red – this really is a game-changer in every sense of the phrase. Wear on its own for low-key days or layer over lipstick to up the ante.

The Best Products From Glossier UK11 of 14

Lidstar, £15

Not one to do things by halves, Glossier launched Lidstar at the Grammy Awards in 2018 on the eyelids of Beyoncé, no less. There are now six shades on offer, all of which lend a shimmery, pearly, fairly irresistible glow when applied to eyelids. In fact, it's pretty addictive stuff.

The Best Products From Glossier UK12 of 14

Haloscope, £18

This might just be the ultimate highlighter, given that it provides all the glow plus a hit of hydration thanks to vitamin-rich moisturisers included in the formula. There's three shades to choose from, all as delicious as the other. It's cruelty-free, too.

The Best Products From Glossier UK13 of 14

Glossier You, £45

Glossier's first perfume really does smell differently on everyone's skin. But if you're a fan of musky, lightly woody fragrances, you'll like this. A lot. The base notes (those woody scents) are the main attraction but the top notes that do feature are spicy and peppery, as opposed to anything floral.

The Best Products From Glossier UK14 of 14

Moisturising Moon Mask, £18

With almond oil, plant-based squalane, and hyaluronic acid, this is one seriously hydrating mask. But more than that, it includes liquorice root and lemon extract to help brighten skin, while honey and aloe work to soothe any redness. It's a lovely treat for your skin.

READ MORE: Take A Look Inside Glossier's Brand New London Pop-Up

READ MORE: I Tried Glossier's New Liquid Liner And Here's The Verdict

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us