Unveiling the Untold Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier

Apr 30, 2024

Glossier, a trailblazing beauty brand, completely transformed the beauty industry through its innovative branding strategies and distinctive influencer marketing tactics. This company not only redefined how businesses engage with Millennial and Gen Z consumers, but also set the standard for cultivating a devoted online following. At the heart of this remarkable success story is Emily Weiss, a former Teen Vogue “superintern” who gained recognition through her appearance on “The Hills”. With her unwavering determination, remarkable vision, and unyielding ambition, Weiss seized every opportunity and leveraged her personal experiences and encounters to propel Glossier to unprecedented heights. In the captivating book “Glossy”, journalist Marisa Meltzer skillfully weaves together insightful interviews with past Glossier team members, investors, and Weiss herself to provide readers with an intimate look into the inner workings of the company. Through this exploration, readers are granted a glimpse into the unique culture that defines Glossier, ultimately culminating in a compelling portrayal of Weiss’s journey. “Glossy” not only serves as a riveting depiction of one of the most influential business figures of our time, but also serves as a historical record of a transformative era in the beauty industry.

What led you to write this book?

I thought that there was no book about beauty that I wanted to read, and I knew that there had to be other people who were fascinated by the world of the beauty industry as it was coming into its own, and as always being seen as second to fashion in importance, and the way that the aesthetics of beauty were changing. I was also interested in the business angle, marketing, and the power behind it all.

Did you find other examples of books about female CEOs? If not, how can we change that?

Yeah, there really aren’t a lot. It’s easier to find books that are either about actual criminals or something more along the lines of “leaning in”, or books that are more spiritual or self-help, or a kind of workbook style. I think we can change that, by buying books like “Glossy”, and showing that there is an audience to read about women in business, and that there should be more women who are CEOs of companies that have household names. At this point, unfortunately, there are not enough. 

What surprised you the most while you were writing the book?

What surprised me most about writing the book was just the journey that it took me on. Usually, with a book, I like to know how it will begin and how it will end before I’m even really writing it. With “Glossy”, the story of Glossier was evolving so quickly that I was almost done, or finished with the first draft when Emily Weiss stepped down as CEO, and that that changed everything about how the book ended and really even changed how it began, so that was a challenge, but also part of what made the book really exciting.

What key takeaways do you want readers to have?

I think that I want readers to think deeply about business, about the beauty industry, and about leadership. I want them to think about how things are marketed to them, how they think about beauty in the world, and how female leaders are treated.

What do’s & don’ts can we learn from Emily Weiss? 

I think her confidence is probably the most inspiring thing to me. She was confident and assertive in a way that was firm but brave; she wasn’t afraid to ask for things, which I think a lot of women have a hard time with. I think she had a hard time with delegation sometimes and finding a trusted second in command, and that’s essential.

What are your thoughts on the future of beauty in 2024 and beyond? I thought it was interesting how you said the Glossier aesthetic defined the 2010s, but began to feel stale in the 2020s. What does the next Glossier look like? How and why did they not evolve? 

I think we’re going to see more ultra high-end and more low-end beauty lines. I think that we will begin seeing lines that are targeting Gen Alpha (the generation after Gen-Z), and I think Glossier has evolved within reason; they haven’t tried to become a completely different brand, which is smart, but they’re so specific, and I think there’s room for a brand that’s going to target people that are children now.

What do you love about the beauty industry? 

I love how it’s such a powerhouse, that a lot of people might not think about it; it’s kind of like the Barbie of the fashion industry. I love that there are products like fragrance, skincare, makeup, and for hair that are accessible, both in terms of price point, and also in terms of who you are regardless of size and shape, that fashion doesn’t always have.

What do you think Glossier would have needed to do to evolve to better fit the mood of the 2020s? 

They needed to be more focused on the brand that they were, rather than trying to start an app or a branch out into sub brands, and really what they’re doing now; there is a fragrance that people love, let’s make a candle out of it. Let’s have a lotion and a deodorant that go with it. I think that kind of diffusion is smarter and is a tested formula for brand expansion.

What are your thoughts on the demise of the “Girl Boss”, and how can we better cultivate & support the next generation of female leaders?

It’s hard because, as you know, those women were put up as leaders and they got press, which is good, but it’s also unfair that because they were in the public eye, they were targeted, and I think part of that is that we need more female leaders, need to support each other, and have a more diverse array of female leadership. The “Girl Boss” cohort that was highlighted was a pretty narrow definition of women and company, and, I think that’s part of the problem. Maybe some of the resentment or targeting came in because it seems like they were only focusing on one sort of person.

What’s next for you?

I have a book coming out in the summer of 2025 about Jane Birkin. It’s about her and the marketing of the French girl aesthetic to the world. It’s really exciting, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it. 

Where can people find you? 

People can find me at marisameltzer.com or @marisameltzer on Instagram r by googling me, and they can find my books wherever books are sold, thanks so much.

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