The media was recently set ablaze by the announcement that Kylie Jenner was on track to becoming the youngest self-made billionaire, particularly because of conflict surrounding the use of the phrase “self-made.”
Although there is no doubt that Jenner’s product line, Kylie Cosmetics, has been an enormous success, many argued it was impossible for someone with as successful and famous a family as the Kardashians to be self-made.
Jenner’s brand is her identity, which, after all, is what made her famous long before the creation of her own cosmetics company.
Controversy aside, another rising star in the beauty world is beyond scrutiny in regard to her success, and it doesn’t get much more self-made than beginning as a blog.
Less than eight years ago, Emily Weiss, a graduate of New York University’s studio art program, started the beauty-centric blog, Into the Gloss. As of the present, the blog has birthed a brand name that sells out products in weeks and is forced to keep thousands on a waitlist.
Weiss, at the young age of 33, was recently named in Fortune’s “40 Under 40,” and in June, she partnered with Katrina Lake, a female powerhouse from the fashion industry.
In February, Glossier procured $52 million in funding, in addition to earning more than three times its revenue from 2016. According to Fortune, Glossier, which has only existed as an official beauty brand for around four years, is already worth $390 million.
Weiss created Into the Gloss, the blog that led to her success, in 2010. Into the Gloss was centered around her experience assisting incredible females in fashion, such as fashion news editors Jane Keltner de Valle (formerly Teen Vogue and currently Glamour) and Elissa Santisi (formerly Vogue and currently Harper’s Bazaar).
She assisted with fashion shoots because she had originally hoped to become a stylist, but the contact with glamorous makeup artists and models instead became fodder for her blog. Weiss interviewed women such as Karlie Kloss and Sally Singer, focusing on their beauty routines, favorite products and makeup needs.
Into the Gloss quickly grew into a YouTube channel as well, and the revenue from the brand allowed Weiss to make a bold move that shifted her focus. She founded Glossier, a beauty brand that began as a small skincare and makeup website offering direct-to-customer purchase of items tailored to customer interests.
Weiss made a key decision to market her beauty care as minimalistic, simple, aesthetic and extremely social media friendly. Her use of Instagram and other related platforms to interact heavily with customers, especially loyal followers that trickled over from her blog, made all the difference.
The entrepreneur’s primary concern was creating an experience that felt more personal and connected between provider and consumer, a move that relied more on social media presence than other forms of advertising. In turn, Weiss created a cult following that promoted Glossier by word of mouth better than any other method of advertising.
“It doesn’t matter anymore what a brand says about its products. It matters what the customers say about the product.” Weiss said, accrediting social media to the rebirth of marketing that she championed with Glossier.
“People have become obsessed with sharing their experiences. As a result, people are looking to other people, and not to experts.”
In one example of how Weiss used the shift in marketing to her advantage, she took a poll on social media and Into the Gloss, asking various questions about what people wanted in their cleanser. Weiss even asked people to name a celebrity that they thought would best represent clean and clear skin.
She then used customer input to create Milky Jelly, an official Glossier cleanser. The product was a hit, and customers’ loyalty was strengthened by the clear importance of their input.
People buy Glossier because of the quality of the products, the glowing customer reviews and the social media presence that sells itself; not because of the name behind the brand.
Weiss used effective marketing moves to build a brand that has its finger on the pulse of customer needs, and her success in the booming beauty industry is truly worth the title of self-made.