Glossier has grown astronomically since its launch in 2014 as a skincare brand that was born out of Emily Weiss’s beauty blog, Into the Gloss.
The brand has expanded to include product categories beyond its initial offerings of moisturizer, balm and face masks. Now the company carries a line of serums, lipsticks, eyebrow gel, a lightweight foundation, and a highlighter stick. With each new product launch, Glossier cements its position in the cool girls’ beauty arsenal with the help of minimalist packaging and the brand’s signature millennial pink hue.
And thanks to a rapid social media–based referral system, Glossier is gaining new customers every day. In fact, it’s had to recast its projected revenue twice this year.
That puts Ali Weiss (no relation to founder Emily) in an important position as the brand’s vp of growth. Weiss joined us this week on the Glossy Podcast to discuss how scaling the brand keeps her up at night, how she’s incorporating customer opinion into business decisions and what’s next for Glossier.
Edited highlights below.
Glossier was born out of the bathrooms of Into the Gloss’s interview subjects.
Emily Weiss wanted to start a blog that got up close and personal with the beauty routines of the people she interviewed for Into the Gloss, which included women in the fashion and beauty industries. After taking time learning about the products these women used and which they were still looking for, Glossier was created as a “highly edited collection of products that would build the backbone of women’s routines,” said Weiss.
Glossier isn’t looking to be your sole beauty brand.
The team also learned from these interviews that no beauty consumer is a one-brand loyalist and that beauty routines are built from multiple brands. That was at odds with what the beauty industry pushed on women; they seemed to want to be everything to one customer—so Glossier bucked against that. Weiss said Glossier embraces that their customer will be using other products, and it uses that knowledge to figure out what it can offer to her.
The company sees itself as a brand first, a business second.
Glossier’s fast rise within the beauty industry rides on its recognizable branding. Glossier purchases come with a pink bubble-wrap beauty case and a pack of Glossier stickers. That light shade of pink is present on its site, its Instagram and its packaging. That’s no accident—the look, feel and tone of everything Glossier does comes first. According to Weiss, Glossier’s brand is the “horse pulling the cart. The business comes out of that.”
As the company grows, it has to figure out how to maintain its community-driven mindset at scale.
When it launched its face wash, the Milky Jelly Cleanser, Glossier turned to its comment feed on Into the Gloss to figure out what type of facial cleanser its readers felt was missing from the market. The final formula for the face wash was inspired by that reader input. As Glossier grows, Weiss has to figure out how to maintain that personal relationship with readers and customers on a bigger scale. Right now, she said, it’s manageable to manually read and address comments, and that’s something the brand wants to keep doing down the line.
But there will be times when the experts will have to make the decisions.
Weiss said that listening to customer feedback has guided a lot of decision-making at Glossier, but the team recognizes that the customer isn’t always going to be right. “We need to have the final say as the editors. There’s definitely a time where we shouldn’t listen to the customer because we have to trust our vision for the brand.”