Glossier founder Emily Weiss cracked the code on creating a social-media fandom machine

Emily Weiss raised $34.4 million in funding after converting her beauty blog following into a cosmetics and skincare juggernaut.
CREDIT: Meredith Jenks

It would pain the executives at Estée Lauder and L'Oréal--having poured hundreds of millions of dollars into celebrity ad campaigns--to learn how effortlessly Emily Weiss gets Millennials excited about one of her company's new products. With names like Wowder (face powder) and Cloud Paint (blush), "now girls are Googling our trademarks," trying to sleuth what Glossier's next release might be, explains Weiss, the founder and CEO of the breakout beauty upstart that experienced 600 percent year-over-year growth from 2015 to 2016.
CREDIT: Glossier Instagram
An effortless aesthetic is initially what attracted such a devout following to Into the Gloss, the former Vogue assistant's blog, where she spilled secrets like how to get dewy skin. Then in 2014, Weiss surprised her readers by launching a beauty brand, which is driven by an enviable fandom machine: Every time New York City-based Glossier unveils a product, a brigade of devotees flood social media with a collective gush. Weiss is channeling that passion into a new "representative program" of some 500 Glossier enthusiasts who earn a commission for the products they sell. Says Weiss of her ambitions: "The goal is to become the Nike of beauty."
Editor's note: The following is an additional excerpt from Inc.'s interview with Emily Weiss on her company's product launch strategy.
Weiss: Glossier is based on the word "dossier," and we treat every product like it's a new issue. It's almost like, depending on what you're reading or what you collect--whether it's a series of Harry Potter books or a series of Vogue magazines--it creates this sense of community around this history and legacy, and one built on the next.
We've never launched two products in the same way. With Wowder, we basically did what maybe no brand would normally do. It became a treasure hunt, where our fans were like, "What is this Wowder that we see all of our favorite makeup artists and YouTubers using? Where is Wowder coming from and why can't I buy it? I'm Googling and I can't find it."
In October, we're launching perfume called Glossier You, and our customers are going to be really intricately involved in the launch. It will launch on the website, but the prior month we're sending samples in every single order that goes out. Hopefully, our customers will smell it and take pictures of it and make content around it. So Glossier customers are really becoming co-creators in our campaign of actually bringing this fragrance into the world, which is a totally different approach than we did for Boy Brow or concealers, so everything, every launch, is pretty specific.
We are all about making girls happy, that's why we are here. We want to make amazing things that really have a great impact, even beyond product efficacy, but really in your day, in your life.