By Chris Olsen
“When they published it, I died,” Emily Weiss said about her first experience with Vogue magazine as a “Clueless”-loving teen. Like the movie’s beloved main character, Emily had a passion for clothing, accessories, hair and makeup; she spent hours poring over fashion magazines. When Vogue featured a fashion spread with one of her favorite models donning what she considered tasteful short skirts, Emily decided to write in and say thank you. Only she never thought she’d see her letter in print.
A few years later, she found herself sharing opinions with the fashion magazine again—this time in a more official capacity. She began working as an intern and with the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue. Emily, who learned the value of hard work from her parents, took the opportunity to show the magazine’s leadership what she was made of. She rolled up her sleeves, tackled every task head-on and eventually moved into a full-time fashion assistant position. And in the wee hours of the morning, Emily also started working on a side hustle—her blog, Into The Gloss.
Emily would visit the homes of people she admired, dig in their drawers and cabinets, and reveal their makeup and skincare products on the blog. Readers loved it. Emily also offered something other bloggers weren’t providing at that time—an inclusive platform for real women to have conversations about their beauty routines, talk about the products they were using, and share reviews and tips. Emily became a brand influencer and the blog evolved into a lucrative business for her, so she made it her full-time job.
Gathering intel from hundreds of thousands of followers, Emily recognized the beauty industry was ready for disruption. It was dominated by men, most of whom struggled to truly understand the products and shopping experience modern women were looking for. Millennials in particular weren’t interested in going to the mall to buy beauty products; they wanted to shop online. Emily decided to take a leap and launched her own direct-to-consumer cosmetics brand, Glossier, in 2014.
The foundation for Emily’s company has always been technology and data. From the start, she has believed in empowering women to influence the brand. Glossier’s products have been developed not based on what she thinks her customers want, but with information received from her loyal followers. And Emily engages them in every aspect of product development, from ingredients to packaging.
While Emily continues to explore ways to use technology to engage with and support women in getting the products they want and simplifying their beauty routines, she’s also committed to not using technology in some aspects of the business. Glossier doesn’t alter the images of models and customers who use and promote its products. Instead, Emily is challenging the industry by using real images of beauty, without airbrushing or Photoshopping.
Photo: Getty Images
About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.