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Emily Weiss Gives Beauty a Millennial Makeover

By Glenn S. Demby, Esq.

Unless you’re a close follower of the beauty market, this week’s launch of the Glossier (pronounced “glossy AY,” as in “dossier”) Phase 2 Set might have escaped your notice. But while the new makeup set is no game changer, Emily Weiss, the persona behind the Glossier brand is. Weiss and the digital company she founded three years ago are in many ways the face of beauty brand building in the 21st century. Here are four reasons why.

The Digital Celebrity Roots:  Celebrity brand building in the fashion space is old hat. But Weiss is not a model, actress or even a musician; she’s a blogger. Her Into The Gloss beauty blog, featuring in-bathrooms interviews with guests proudly displaying their personal perfume and cosmetics collections, draws a million unique visitors per month.  

The Millennial Vision: The blog began in 2010 but the idea of a product line took nearly three years to hatch. Weiss recognized the need for a beauty brand geared toward millennials. “I love all my products but there has not been a brand that has come to define my generation,” Weiss says in a Business of Fashion interview.

The Social Media Launch: In 2013, Weiss decided to leverage her following to create a digital business. After raising $2 million in seed capital, she launched Glossier in October 2014, following roughly the same model used by successful new online lifestyle brands like Warby Parker, the online glasses retailer. But Weiss’s choice of Instagram—whose users are predominately female millennials—as the launch platform was positively inspired.

The Creative Model: Weiss’s inside-out approach to product development and marketing is typical of the new digital celebrity entrepreneur. The Glossier brand is built on community. The business goal is to turn community members into not only paying customers but partners in the creative process. To achieve the goal, Weiss engages the consumer at the beginning of the process; then, she creates products based on their feedback. For example, Glossier created its Priming Moisturizer, one of its first four products, in direct response to complaints about the sticky finish of the moisturizers on the market.


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