The beauty industry is a billion dollar business and the major players are more than a century old. Glossier founder Emily Weiss took to the stage with our own Colleen Taylor at Disrupt New York 2015 today to discuss how she plans to transform that industry using technology that connects women to the brand.
Weiss started a beauty blog called Into the Gloss while working as a fashion assistant at Vogue. The job gave her rare access inside the homes (and medicine cabinets) of some the most sought after celebrities and fashion icons in the industry and Weiss used that access to find out what they actually used on themselves. The blog created a loyal following – she said it now has more than 1 million unique visitors per month.
But Weiss had bigger ambitions. She launched the New York-based skincare and makeup brand Glossier as an outgrowth of the site, raising more than $10.4 million total and pulling in VC Kristen Green as the lead investor last fall. “It’s very important to me to have a female venture capitalist…No offense to the guys out there,” Weiss said on stage.
Weiss used a now classic e-commerce model reminiscent of the one that propelled Warby Parker’s success for the brand, but chose to launch it where millions of women were already interacting naturally – on Instagram.
The social media site was a natural choice for the young, female founder. “I’m on Instagram more than any other social platform,” she said. But it’s also a pretty good choice for the young, social media-savvy and mostly female audience most likely to adopt new brands. Over 90 percent of those on Instagram are under 35, and nearly two-thirds of that group skews female.
Weiss strategy is markedly different from how brands usually market products, first creating the products and then creating content. However, Weiss flipped all of that around with content first and then creation of the brand, using social media content to gain consumer feedback from the beginning. That’s an important difference in an increasingly fragmented market, vying for consumer attention – and dollars.
Weiss said she spent the first 6 months listening to what consumers really wanted from a skincare and cosmetics brand, hoping to break down barriers in what she calls the three pillars that help brands: content, community, commerce. However, data was the main focus in all of that.
Weiss will focus more on the digital product this next year and also mentioned plans to hire and expand the business, saying the need to pull in top tech talent for this next phase was a “huge focus” for her.