The complicated rise and fall of Glossier: ‘There were missteps and there were successes’
A new book about Emily Weiss’s billion-dollar beauty company depicts ‘a really brilliant visionary’ who was also ‘oblivious and out for herself’
In the spring of 2019, I sometimes found myself transfixed by the corner of Canal and Lafayette streets in Soho, either marveling at a line of people or in it. This was the New York headquarters of Glossier, the makeup brand of the millennial pink zeitgeist. Founded by Emily Weiss in 2014 with just four products, Glossier was – and, to an extent, still is – the purveyor of minimalist makeup in the 2010s: crisp sans serif advertising, direct-to-consumer delivery (in distinctive pink bubble packaging), a model of goddess-like, preternatural dewiness.
I wasn’t a devotee of the brand so much as a lurker entranced by its omnipresence; by way of word of mouth and online buzz, their Milky Jelly Cleanser and Lash Slick mascara found their way into my makeup bag. Their Boy Brow gel, which promised the full, fluffy arches of the era, was more than one friend’s staple product. Actually, a lot of people’s staple product – by March 2019, after a $100m series D funding round led by the venture capital giant Sequoia Capital, Glossier (pronounced “gloss-ee-ay”, as if French) was valued at $1.2bn. The company was “the one everyone thinks of as being the brand of the era”, says Marisa Meltzer, a longtime beauty industry reporter and the author of a new book on the rise of Glossier and Weiss, its ambitious, aloof and inscrutable founder who participates, albeit ambivalently, in the retrospective.Continue reading…