Flower power: a Glossier store in London’s Covent Garden. Photograph: Veerle Evens
At Vogue , Weiss noticed something else while backstage at shoots and way indicates.” One of the things I realised really early was that at every makeup artist’s table, they’d lay out all their products from their kit, and almost half of the stuff was skincare .” She passed this on to her friends and Into the Gloss readers.” In order for your makeup to look better, start with a skincare routine. Even my friends were like,’ Oh if I want to look good, I’ll only put one over a bunch of makeup .’ I genuinely wanted to help people understand that that was a way to start a step earlier .”
I ask Weiss if she thinks Glossier is responsible for the rise of no-makeup makeup, the barely-there look.” I think some of that might be from what we’ve been doing ,” she says, carefully.” I also think that’s the way the world is moving. People are spending more time on inducing social media content, and less hour doing full faces of makeup, because there’s a new filter every day that can give you a new look .” Makeup marketings, she says, have flatlined in the US, while skincare sales are rising. Glossier, with its early focus on skincare and its positive, you-look-good affirmations, is already in the perfect place.
Weiss grew up in Connecticut, within commuter distance of New York City; her father was in business, her mom a stay-at-home mum.” I have always really liked fashion, but it was totally inaccessible for me. I didn’t grow up with fund to go buy designer clothes ,” she says. She babysat for a neighbour who worked for Ralph Lauren, and when she was 15, asked if she could intern at the company.
Later, she studied art at New York University, interned at Chanel, then at Teen Vogue . She appeared on a couple of episodes of early reality present The Hills . When she graduated she became a fashion assistant at W publication, then went to see Vogue . She was still at Vogue when Into the Gloss began to look like a success. She was running the site between 4am and 8am and eventually had a choice to make.
” There was a real fork-in-the-road moment where I merely couldn’t do both ,” she remembers.” I felt like I just had to take a leap .” Was that scary?” Not genuinely ,” she shrugs.
I wonder how much the $1.2 bn valuation of Glossier, which now applies 200 people, altered things for Weiss.” It’s a lot of responsibility, but the responsibility is to our customers and our community ,” she says, impeccably on message. She admits it’s different to how it was just five years ago, when they were 10 people in an office, preparing to press go on the early Glossier site, which had just four products to sell.” We had no idea if anyone would even care. So here you are sitting with a year’s worth of work and products and, you know, heart and soul and sweat and tears. How are the stakes any less high than that ?”
Is she good under pressure?” I think so. I have a very normal everyday life. I hang out with friends from college and we go on vacation together .” My knowledge of life as a CEO is drawn almost exclusively from Succession and those” how I do it” diaries where executives talk of moon dust smoothies and 3am workouts, but Weiss says it’s not like that at all.” On Fridays I go to my friend’s apartment and we attain pizzas with her two-year-old. I’m in my mid-3 0s, so I make sure I’m taking care of my body, but I’m not a maniacal fitness person. That’s never going to be me. I kind of just go to work and go home .”
A few days before we gratify, Weiss was named as one of Time magazine’s Next 100; they called her” one of her generation’s great disruptors” and she was asked to give a speech.” I was very nervous ,” she admits. She spoke about how the beauty industry had” historically induced people, mostly females, feel they aren’t enough”, and spoke brightly of today’s” courageous, resilient, unflappable” teenage girls.” To girls everywhere, may you know how much power you have to change the world ,” she said, finishing her speech to great applause.
The Emily Weiss I encounter today does appear to be unflappable that I assume she must have felt like a powerful teenage girl herself.” I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that .” She pauses.” I was not a popular kid. One of the things I’m grateful to my mothers for is that they always promoted me to find my voice and didn’t ever stillnes it. Even when teachers would say I was hyper ,” she giggles.” Or, you know, kids would think I was too much .” She seems momentarily reflective.” What was your question? Did I feel powerful? I think I probably did, for those reasons, even when I felt like people, or society, were trying to keep that down .”
The Glossier aesthetic, if you could sum it up, is a dewy glow, a kind of low radiance, to look as if you’ve just come in from a crisp winter’s stroll, or an afternoon in the sun. In her essay Always be Optimizing , the writer Jia Tolentino quotes Glossier as an example of the route we” idealise beauty that appears to require almost no intervention “; in many ways, you can argue that the “natural” look is harder to attain if one is not naturally beautiful to begin with.
But Weiss is nothing if not ambitious; she wants to redefine the concept of beauty itself. She returns to the shame females felt when they were showing her their products for Into the Gloss.” There is judgment or narrow-mindedness about beauty, and what that term even entails. I don’t think beauty is something anyone should feel ashamed about appreciating or recognise or demonstrating or personifying, and it has very little to do with looks at all. I think it has to do with your lived experience .”
As the days pass, more and more of my friends who live and work in the city start to mention they’ve been to the pop-up. They have diverted long runs to pass by, or sent in boyfriends for gifts, or expend their lunch breaks queuing, just to see what it’s like inside. They all want to have the experience. They all want to feel that they appear good.