Global Hirings

September 11, 2023

5 mins

Teen Vogue Intern to Billion-Dollar Beauty Brand Head

From blogging to running a billion-dollar beauty empire, this is the story of how an intern passionate about beauty founded one of the most successful makeup brands in recent times. In the era where beauty influencers dominate social media, Glossier stands at the top by making products catered specifically toward millennial women.

Emily Weiss was born and raised in Wilton, Connecticut to an executive father and a stay-at-home mother. Despite the small town of Wilton not being a hotspot for fashion, Emily found her passion for it early on in her teenage years as she obsessively flipped through fashion magazines and dabbled in makeup. She even interned at Ralph Lauren for two summers as a fashion model during high school. Her passion eventually led her to study studio art at New York University. While in college, Emily continued to pursue her career in fashion by interning part-time at Teen Vogue while juggling all her classes. She even appeared on the MTV reality show “The Hills” and was known as the “Super Intern”. Emily had a set vision and was working nonstop to reach her goal of working in the fashion industry. 

Venturing into the World of Fashion and Beauty

After graduating in 2007, Emily worked briefly for W magazine before becoming a fashion Assistant at Vogue. While working as an assistant, Emily got exclusive interactions and experiences with the top fashion icons and began thinking about the lack of insight into the actual industry in the world of beauty blogs. While plenty of magazines and blogs reviewed products, few delved deep into the routines of real people, so Emily began her own beauty blog called “Into The Gloss” in 2010. "Into The Gloss" was born as a blog to explore the beauty routines of women from all walks of life. From industry insiders and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian to everyday enthusiasts, Emily’s platform captured candid discussions about beauty. She eventually left her job to blog full-time and even hired people to help scale up.

Emily Weiss, founder and CEO of Into the Gloss and Glossier.

The Blossoming of "Into The Gloss"

Not only was “Into the Gloss” a way for her to provide her readers with interesting and informational content into the secret routines of celebrities but it also provided Emily the opportunity to meet and talk with influential figures. In addition to the people she got to meet, Emily began to grow a huge user base. By 2012 it had 200,000 visitors per month and by early 2016, that number reached 1.3 million. These users didn’t just read her content but also had ongoing discussions about the pains and complaints about certain trends, products, etc. This unintentionally gave Emily key market research into the pain points of the beauty industry. Unlike big makeup brands that would only talk to consumers from a top-down approach, such as through ad interactions, Emily could understand beauty consumers directly. After learning and understanding the pains and desires of consumers, Emily decided to begin her new project.

Birth of Glossier: A Unique Approach to Beauty

Funding for her new project was not easy but after a dozen rejections from a variety of firms and venture capitalists, Emily raised $2 million in 2013 led by Kirsten Green at Forerunner Ventures. After a year, Emily began teasing the new brand on Instagram. 4 weeks later, Glossier was officially launched with only 4 products: moisturizer, facial spray, foundation, and lip salve. Within the first weeks after launch, Glossier already amassed 18,000 followers. From there Glossier continued to grow as they expanded their product line and marketing.

Today Glossier has 2.8 million followers on Instagram and has grown in all other respects. In 2021, the company raised $80 million in Series E funding which valued it at $1.8 billion. Additionally, Glossier surpassed $100 million in revenue in 2019 and expects $275 million in 2023 sales.


The key reasons for Glossier’s growth are attributed to Emily’s unique understanding of her customer base. Emily was able to understand what her busy millennial audience loved, which was minimalism while still looking fantastic. That minimalistic look, however, grew to an audience of all ages as natural-looking beauty became a more mainstream look on social media. In addition to their product line, Glossier’s marketing knew how to cater to their consumers and prioritized user-generated content. For example, they targeted their younger audience with TikTok trends or their weekly “Top 5” best posts they were tagged in. This helped them connect and give an authentic feel compared to other big makeup brands. Glossier’s growth can also be attributed to its brand ambassadors who naturally promote its products. In fact, in its first year, 79% of sales came from peer-to-peer and organic means instead of through ad clicks. This has grown to the point of Glossier having its own fan base and continues to grow in the best way possible: word of mouth. Glossier actively interacts with its loyal customer base, which not only strengthens its connection but also reveals key feedback. This way, Glossier is able to continue improving while growing its audience.

Challenges and Achieving Milestones

Glossier's time in the beauty industry has seen it experience success but also major setbacks. Over the years, the brand has faced various controversies, most notably in relation to claims about workplace culture and issues of inclusivity. Several employees have, at times, expressed concerns about a lack of diversity both in product offerings and within the corporate structure, which led to significant discourse on social media. Some customers and critics have highlighted the brand's initial narrow shade range in certain products, which seemed not to cater to a diverse range of skin tones. Furthermore, in 2020, a group of former retail employees, known as "Outta The Gloss," raised concerns about alleged discriminatory treatment and challenging working conditions in Glossier's showrooms. The brand has since taken steps to address these concerns, vowing to make internal changes and expanding its product range to be more inclusive.

From intern to CEO, Emily Weiss turned her passion for beauty into the massive success that is Glossier.While Glossier has faced its share of challenges related to inclusivity and workplace culture, these moments have also provided opportunities for the brand to reflect and evolve. As Glossier continues to grow and compete with the biggest names in makeup, it remains innovative and attuned to the ever-changing needs and voices of its community.


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