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Millennial pink, airy, minimalist: these are only a few words that come to mind when envisioning Glossier – the unicorn beauty brand that began as a blog and grew into a billion dollar company within just five years.


Emily Weiss, the mastermind blogger behind Into the Gloss and eventually, founder of Glossier, began her journey in 2014 while working various assistant jobs under Conde Nast. Consistently surrounded by makeup and skincare, Weiss gained the courage and inspiration to dip her toes into a different aspect of the beauty industry – at the helm of her own company. After dreaming up the brand image and concept, she decided to take the risk and search for funding in order to turn her dream into a tangible business. One venture capitalist later, Weiss had the funds to begin the curation and launch of four cult favorites: the Glossier Priming Moisturizer, Soothing Face Mist, Balm Dotcom salve, and Perfecting Skin Tint Foundation. What sets the products apart from those of competitors is the companies general focus on aesthetics – from the pink minimalist packaging to the fun and innovative product textures. By introducing captivating products like jelly-to-milk cleansers and aerated cream blushes, Weiss was able to generate a young and playful image for Glossier: one characterized by natural beauty and products that merely highlight your features, not disguise them. This powerful brand concept was complemented by strategic marketing and social media outreach that would target millenials and naturally generate buzz for the start-up. 


 Glossier’s success is largely due to its active blog, Into the Gloss, and perfectly curated instagram page that keeps loyal customers actively informed on all upcoming company launches and news. Celebrities like Camila Mendes, Rihanna, Beyonce, and Chrissy Tiegen have actively endorsed Glossier’s products – ranging from Camila’s signature bold brows created with the Boybrow product, to Chrissy Teigen’s Oscars glow created with a peachy, cloud-paint cream blush. At a lower price point than most makeup brands, Glossier has shifted the landscape behind the traditional, vanilla everyday makeup. The brand has developed affordable and approachable products that give your boring makeup bag a complete facelift. Sick of using the same eyeshadow? Try out the Lidstar liquid eyeshadows that provides a delicate, iridescent sheen, perfect for every day. Need a new lip gloss that will literally blind everyone you pass? Give the classic lip shine a try, it definitely won’t disappoint. By introducing products that easily assimilate into daily makeup routines and make getting ready in the morning more exciting, Glossier has discovered a unique niche for their products to thrive in. 


While the brand has been a raging success in terms of revenue, an engaging customer base, and celebrity features, it has faced an equal amount of criticism for ignoring the other side of its customer base: those with skin that desires a bit more coverage. While enforcing a brand image of natural beauty, critics argue that Glossier has ignored customers that do not fit the mold of having already perfect skin. Most of their products fall in line with the brand concept of natural makeup, but are subsequently borderline-translucent, doing very little for those with skin conditions like acne, large pores, and hyperpigmentation. In an effort to veer away from solely natural-looking products, the brand recently launched the Glossier Play line, which features tons of glitter, high shine lip lacquers, and concentrated highlighters to choose from. With the addition of this line, critics argue that Glossier has muddied its strategy. It is unclear if the company plans on only catering towards everyday makeup or transitioning into a larger-scope brand that produces products for every occasion. Entering a larger playing field comes with challenges of competition, but the 2 million loyal follower base presents great potential for Glossier, especially if the company decides to make an initial public offering, a powerful move that could generate greater revenue for the brand to create and expand. In short, by combining intriguing products with a thoughtful brand message and specific marketing strategies, Glossier struck the secret formula to becoming a unicorn beauty brand. On another note, let’s be honest, if Rihanna’s wearing the products, it’s only a matter of time until everyone else is too.


Julia is a freshman studying Marketing at the George Washington University School of Business. In her free time, she can likely be found cooking, reading, or watching Chopped.
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