SXSW: Glossier’s Emily Weiss on Building a Beauty Empire
By Sarah Owen

How a digitally savvy beauty brand is cultivating the ultimate online community. WGSN’s Sarah Owen reports live from SXSW

Mar 13, 2016
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With the initial intent of rethinking, reclaiming and redefining beauty, Emily Weiss – former styling assistant at Vogue – launched Into the Gloss from her apartment, as a team of one.

Today she manages 40 staff who work across her beauty products company Glossier Inc., and use Into the Gloss as their corresponding editorial platform. During her SXSW session in Austin, she offered insights into how the time-tested marketing mantra that “sex sells” is being replaced with the belief that “self sells”. Here are a few highlights from her Q&A with Who What Wear co-founder, Katherine Power.

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On tapping into her community: “We don’t want people to feel involved, we want them to be involved. We like to think of all of our channels, including Into the Gloss, as social channels. For product ideation and creation, we get so much feedback from UGC (user-generated content). There have been such amazing ideas, catchphrases or hashtags that girls are just generating on their own.”

On a less is best approach: “Most traditional beauty companies launch their brand with 80 SKUs but the problem is it forces the consumer to choose again. We decided to make it a slower process so we can build our customer and community base along the way. Glossier is kind of like this snowball, with people joining and shaping us along the way.”

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On putting customers first: “We do a lot of offline activations. Glossier aims to be a total experience that brings community together and allows people to actually talk. We’re exploring offline a lot through our showrooms that we have in our office. We’re launching phase two (which will be make-up) on Monday and so we’re having a party for just our community members. We’re inviting our 80 most-engaged customers to come there first.”

On being your self: “Today, I don’t think women want to become someone else; I think they want to be their best self. I think a lot of traditional beauty marketing is outdated. Glossier wants to celebrate this idea of freedom and wherever you’re at today.”

On the future of Glossier: “We’re thinking a lot about retail and international. We’ve set up the brand life in a set of chapters, so Glossier is a play on Dossier. So phase one was always skin care, phase two is our take on make-up, and phase three will probably go into body and beyond.”

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