Glossier, the popular beauty brand led by former blogger Emily Weiss, let go of 80 of its corporate employees today, according to an internal email obtained by Modern Retail. The cuts, which amount to around one-third of Glossier’s corporate workforce, will primarily impact the company’s technology team.
“[W]e are shifting our technology strategy to leverage external partners for parts of our platform that we’re currently maintaining internally,” Weiss wrote in the email announcing the layoffs to staff.
The email recounts some of the company’s recent mistakes, including prioritizing strategic projects that “distracted” the company from its core beauty business and that executives “got ahead of ourselves on hiring.”
The tech team layoffs are notable for a beauty retailer that has often described itself as a technology company. In numerous interviews throughout the past two years, Weiss and other executives have emphasized the company’s focus on its direct-to-consumer online shipping model and obsession with iterating the customer experience based on feedback.
The company built its own point-of-sale system and commerce APIs in-house, allowing them to deliver a “seamless” customer experience, former Glossier CTO Bryan Mahoney said in 2018.
Founded in 2014, Glossier is widely touted as one of the earliest breakout successes of the DTC model, and raised its Series E last July at a $1.8 billion valuation from Lone Pine Capital, Sequoia, Forerunner Ventures and others. E-commerce sales typically account for 80% of Glossier’s revenue, the Business of Fashion reported last July.
Despite its fundraising success, Glossier’s ascent has oftentimes been far from smooth. The company laid off its entire retail staff and closed all its physical locations, including its flagship New York City store, in August 2020. It also grappled with the fallout from an open letter written by some of its employees of color sharing their experiences of enduring racism from managers in its stores, prompting a public apology from Weiss.
Nearly a year later, the company seemed to change course on its decision to double down on e-commerce alone, saying it planned to use the Series E funding to open three new permanent physical stores in Seattle, Los Angeles and London — as well as reopen its New York City location. It hoped to use the retail locations to build brand awareness and encourage customers to create content, areas Glossier became well-known for in its early days through its distinctive, millennial-pink aesthetic and clever use of social media marketing.
The company’s website currently says customers should “stay tuned” for more retail store openings this year.