January 26, 2023
Lots of people will tell you to start a blog to make some cash on the side. While it’s almost impossible to get enough traction to make it a full time income, success stories like Emily Weiss keep the dream alive.
Weiss famously worked from 4:00am to 8:00am on her blog Into the Gloss while maintaining a demanding 9-5 in the fashion industry. From there, she started one of the most successful beauty brands on the market, becoming founder and CEO of Glossier.
So how did writing articles in the early hours of the morning about beauty products turn her into a makeup mogul with her own beauty brand? Let’s see how Emily Weiss pulled it off and shook up the beauty industry.
Emily Weiss was born on March 22, 1985 in Wilton Connecticut, the land of “lacrosse players and manicured lawns,” according to her Vanity Fair interview. Her dad worked at Pitney Bowes as an executive and her mother stayed at home, working as a homemaker.
Weiss showed initiative and passion for the fashion industry early on. She interned at Ralph Lauren for two summers in high school. She also had a brief modeling career.
Throughout college, she made the most of internships and professional experiences. She worked part-time at Chanel, working on and appearing in the magazine. She spent time interning with Teen Vogue, and she also made an appearance on The Hills, playing herself opposite Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port.
In 2007, she graduated from New York University with a degree in studio art and a lot of professional experience under her belt.
Weiss entered the industry as a fashion assistant at W magazine. She also acted as an on-set styling assistant for Vogue. She worked alongside Elissa Santisi for two and a half years. Soon, she discovered that she much preferred the hands-on role of styling during shoots.
In the summer of 2010, Emily Weiss made a decision that changed her career and life forever. She decided that there was a gap in the fashion media market. No one was covering beauty products in a big way. She wanted to change that.
She started a blog called Into the Gloss that took readers behind the scenes. They got to discover all the beauty routines and tricks kept by celebrities and fashion insiders. It’s all the stuff Weiss learned when working behind the scenes at shoots. For example, she knew that Karlie Kloss was dedicated to Bag Balm ointment for her lips.
To get started, she spent $750 on a used camera and bought the domain for intothegloss.com. By September, she had the site up and running with its first post. It discussed publicist Nicky Deam’s Fashion Week survival must-haves.
But Weiss didn’t quit her job and cut ties. She still worked her demanding full time job at Vogue. To keep Into the Gloss going, she worked from 4:00am to 8:00am every day.
She called one of her most popular columns Top Shelf. She interviewed a celebrity or fashion icon from their bathroom. Included in the article were photos of their counters, shelves, and medicine cabinets. This gave readers an inside look into these figures’ personal lives and secret beauty routines.
One of the metrics you can use to judge the success of a site is how many unique visitors it garners per month. By early 2012, the site attracted over 200,000 unique visitors monthly.
In 2014, she acted on her dreams to expand Into the Gloss further. She began approaching venture capitalists to share her ideas of expanding the brand. She wanted to possibly create an Into the Gloss-curated e-commerce platform. In October of that year, Glossier launches.
It was only four products: all-purpose balm, a facial mist, a sheer skin tint, and a moisturizer. She debuted Glossier.com by promoting it on Into the Gloss.
By May of 2016, that monthly number of visitors jumped to 1.3 million. Through all this success, she continued to work at Vogue.
Only once her site hit 10 million page views per month did she decide to leave her job at Vogue. By then, she acquired corporate partnerships for the site and had hired a small staff.
Fortune’s Polina Marinova said of Weiss that she “quietly turned Glossier into one of the most disruptive brands in beauty."
In 2015, Forbes featured her on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. In 2019, she was recognized by Time as they included her in their “Next 100” list.
Since its inception, Glossier continued adding to the product line. It now includes skin serums, masks, shower gel, body lotion, fragrance, lip balms, and other skincare and beauty products.
Weiss’s years of running a beauty blog gave her all the market research she needed to get started. “I got a master’s in the state of beauty through Into the Gloss…all the weird hang-ups people have about beauty, and the double standards.”
Emily Weiss’s financial success with Glossier and Into the Gloss wasn’t immediate. When she first started funding, 11 out of the 12 firms she approached said no.
But by March 2019, she announced that Glossier officially raised $100 million in a Series D round of funding. That put the company’s value at $1.2 billion.
Weiss understands how her industry generally makes their money. “The beauty industry historically won dollars by making women feel like they weren’t enough,” she said. “When Glossier launched, we made people feel good about themselves and want the products.”
This different approach leads the company in all of its decisions. And isn’t that what makeup and skincare should be about? Shouldn’t it make us feel confident, not make us feel dependent on it? Her company’s success shows that it’s possible to build a self-care and beauty line without the marketing tactic of telling women they aren’t enough without the product.
She goes on to talk about “how beauty can start conversations, how beauty can break down walls, and how beauty is something that every single person everywhere in the world deals with. It’s really foundational to who you are and how you relate.”
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