How Glossier Founder Emily Weiss’ Tech Dreams Derailed the Beauty Brand
In early 2018, Emily Weiss, Glossier’s founder and CEO, hired a DJ to launch her new line of makeup, Glossier Play.
The products, inspired by music, were intended to be an edgier, more maximalist spin-off of Glossier’s beloved barefaced staples.
Play was a major detour for the company. And so when Weiss recruited her close friend Charlie Klarsfeld, a DJ and music producer in Brooklyn, New York, with zero experience in creative branding, many staffers were flummoxed.
“I had my typical ‘Are you kidding me?’ Glossier reaction,” one former employee said. “Another Emily hire that makes no sense.”
It didn’t take long for things to go downhill. One former employee recalled that Klarsfeld, who was hired as a freelance creative director, “didn’t have any idea what he was doing.” He reported to Glossier’s head creative director but was given little guidance, and when he was sent to Los Angeles to lead photo shoots for Play, most of the pictures came back unusable, according to a former employee. At the same time, Weiss kept pivoting on the overall aesthetic she wanted for Play, bouncing from ’70s glamour to ’90s and early-aughts chic. The launch was only a few months out when Klarsfeld’s contract expired and the Play team was left scrambling.
(Klarsfeld, who had worked with Glossier for years doing music supervision and sonic branding, told Insider that his photos were “really just for internal use” and “although we finished out our contract before any Play campaign content was produced, they did use a range of concepts/artists/marketing ideas we had suggested for the launch and various campaign content.”)
Glossier Play hit the market in March 2019. It was a flop. Fans who had grown accustomed to Glossier’s reusable pink bubble mailer were irate when Glossier Play’s six new products were delivered in non-environmentally-friendly foil wrappings. The sparkly Glitter Gelée eye gel was made with nonbiodegradable glitter, despite employees warning Weiss of the potential for customer backlash. One year later, the Play line was shut down for good.
The Play debacle was something of an outlier for Glossier, which had been on a fast track to success since its launch in 2014. The company instantly struck a chord with 20- and 30-somethings craving change in the beauty industry — whose established players, like L’Oréal and Estée Lauder, seemed to lack diversity and rely on overly airbrushed models for their campaigns. Glossier, on the other hand, was a direct-to-consumer brand for cool young people who gravitated toward its ethos of “Skin first, makeup second.” With its baby-pink aesthetic, trendy Aperçu font, and emphasis on natural bushy brows and dewy skin, Glossier became an overnight phenomenon. And Weiss — who was already a fixture in the beauty scene thanks to her blog, Into the Gloss — became a household name. Today, Glossier is valued at $1.8 billion.
But Glossier’s financial success belied a sometimes chaotic and unstable work environment, according to 17 former employees who as recently as January worked at Glossier’s New York City headquarters. They describe a founder who sometimes overvalued employees’ social-media clout and appearance and whose yearslong obsession with transforming the beauty brand into a tech company sparked internal tensions. New hires from Facebook and Amazon clashed with veteran employees while Weiss’ nebulous vision for an in-house social e-commerce platform led to stalled progress and wasted resources, they said. (All requested anonymity for professional reasons. Their identities are known to Insider.)
Weiss’ missteps took a toll. Employee turnover became common, with 10 out of 24 executives leaving the company from 2020 to 2022 (including one who retired), five after having worked there for 16 months or less. Last year, Glossier’s US sales decreased by 26% year over year, according to Bloomberg Second Measure, and its Instagram following has steadily declined since July 2020.
On January 26, Glossier abruptly laid off over 80 employees — about a third of its corporate workforce. Most of these staffers worked in the tech department. Weiss acknowledged in a companywide email that Glossier had become “distracted” by “certain strategic projects” and had “made some mistakes” with hiring. A few weeks before the mass layoff, the company’s chief technology officer, Pawan Uppuluri, mysteriously left without explanation. Glossier currently employs just under 200 corporate staffers.
Since the layoffs, Glossier’s fate has become a topic of speculation, with articles popping up about “How Glossier Lost Its Grip” and “What Went Wrong at Glossier.” To many, the answer seems classic of the startup genre: Weiss’ company grew too fast and tried to do too much. Some former employees told Insider they see the layoffs as a sign the company is bound for more upheaval.
“Glossier is like a flashy tour bus that hasn’t been maintained properly — the wheels are a little wobbly and they need more air,” one former employee said. “The question is, will Emily stop to fix it? Or will the hype bus keep on rolling until it’s dried up and empty?”
With Glossier, Weiss didn’t just create a company — she created a spellbinding world. “We’re selling you packaging, we’re selling you a brand, we’re selling you a feeling,” one former employee said. When Glossier first released its now-cult-favorite eyebrow gel Boy Brow in 2015, the waiting list skyrocketed to more than 10,000 people. In 2016, more than half a million Glossier fans flocked to the brand’s first New York City brick-and-mortar showroom, where lines snaked down the block. The brand’s signature ballet-slipper pink has become #glossierpink. Weiss, with her sun-kissed glow and brown balayage locks, is the embodiment of a Glossier girl. She made Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list, has more than 600,000 followers on Instagram, and jet-sets around the world all while looking as if she just stepped out of a geothermal hot spring.
Even Glossier’s headquarters on the 10th floor of One Soho Square in Manhattan oozes a sort of dreamy allure. Monochrome palettes and soft, round edges dominate the 20,000-square-foot space, which is done entirely in Glossier’s signature pale pink, red, and white, and spotted with monstera plants. The furniture, like Weiman Preview art-deco chairs, nesting tables by Gianfranco Frattini for Cassina, and a 1940s cast-iron bench, was chosen by the celebrity designer Rafael de Cárdenas, whom Weiss tapped to design the space.
Getting a job at Glossier instantly opened doors, former staffers said. Ex-employees have gone on to top-tier positions at companies including Condé Nast, Kickstarter, and the cosmetics brand Haus Laboratories. Perks such as limited-edition Glossier makeup, Aesop toiletries in every bathroom, and regular fireside chats with luminaries such as the Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and the Warby Parker cofounder Neil Blumenthal made the company even more enticing. “Having big people come in and talk to Emily and want to even give us the time of day — it really put wind in everyone’s sails and validated what we were doing,” one former employee said.
Every July, the company hosts Camp Glossier, where employees are shuttled away for all-inclusive weekends with private chefs, bracelet-making tutorials, and personalized Bruna Malucelli swimsuits. Most recently, in 2019, Camp Glossier took place at Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, New York, where a lakeside cottage for two can run more than $1,000 a night. It was the highlight of the year for many employees who got to see Weiss “let her hair down and be very fun,” a former staffer said.
But Glossier’s picture-perfect workplace sometimes felt like a phony exterior, employees said. Staff members complained that their white desks had to be bare and free from keepsakes at all times per Glossier’s “clean desk” policy.
“It’s a great way to start and end your day—and when puffer jackets aren’t hanging on our chairs there’s a lot more room to move around! In addition, guests are often taking photos of our office space,” the employee handbook says.
Inside a sprawling executive conference room that Weiss often worked from, a round, showstopping fish tank that bulged out from the wall often sat empty. “I think it had fish in it for a very short period of time before they were taken out or died,” a former tech employee said, adding that the tank had water-filtration issues. Sometimes a paper insert with a photo of marine life was placed inside instead.
“At first it was easy to get swept up,” the former employee recalled. “And then you see what’s actually going on behind the curtain, and it was not all rainbows.”
By all accounts, Weiss leads Glossier with the emphatic passion typical of Silicon Valley founders: She’s in early, works late, and wants the final say on every project, former employees said. They used words like “guru,” “idol,” and even “God-like” to describe her magnetic presence at the office, where she’s said to always greet everyone with a smile.
At her twice-monthly all-hands meetings — which switched to
during the coronavirus pandemic — Weiss had a special knack for pumping up her employees, telling them that they’re single-handedly “revolutionizing beauty.” She often compared Glossier to the US’s biggest companies, saying things like “we’re going to be the beauty version of Nike” — a sentiment she reiterated in a 2017 Domino interview, declaring, “I plan to, you know, like — just ‘dew’ it.” During several all-hands meetings, Weiss proudly described Glossier’s packages as being so desirable that porch thieves were targeting them more frequently than Amazon boxes, one former employee recalled.
“What captured my imagination about the opportunity to work with Emily from the very beginning had to do with her incredible insight and instinct around the consumer,” Kirsten Green, a venture capitalist in San Francisco who helped Weiss raise $2 million in seed funding, told TechCrunch. “She came from a place of: ‘I know these people, and I see what they want, and I see what they need, and what’s missing in the market.'”
Any attention from Weiss was treated like currency, former employees said. When Weiss once complimented an employee who had tried on Glossier’s discontinued eyeliner, the employee went on to receive a flood of
messages from colleagues oohing and aahing at the woman’s moment of adoration. “I was like, ‘What the hell? Like, it’s not Jesus that just came down from heaven,'” the employee, who no longer works at Glossier, told Insider. “But people acted like it.”
Many employees had been following Weiss’ blog and Instagram account for years before working alongside her and coveted her approval.
“There are people who work there who are honestly huge fans of the brand. People come and they already have this emotional investment in the brand, and Emily Weiss is the messiah,” another former employee said.
Breaking into Weiss’ inner circle of trusted confidants was viewed as the ultimate achievement. Nicknamed “The OGs” — or original gangsters — by staffers, the crew of mostly white, waifish women with sizable Instagram followings was there from the beginning, working for Into the Gloss and later helping Weiss bring Glossier to life.
They came to work wearing things like Mejuri hoops, Row and Réalisation Par dresses, and heeled ballet flats, and they were all, of course, flawlessly barefaced. They got to go to lunch with Weiss, make homemade pasta with her after work, and post pictures at parties together on the weekends. “There was this favoritism and weird cliquiness to it. It was just like, ‘Oh, you’re friends with Emily on Instagram and if you follow each other, you’re in the good and you can get away with murder,'” a former marketing employee said.
Several former employees said they noticed a distinct “Mean Girls” atmosphere at Glossier headquarters. “There was a girl that sat on the marketing team that looked at another girl and said, ‘She shouldn’t be wearing those trousers,'” a former freelancer said. “That was really tough because I was like, I feel like I’m in school again.”
If fitting in at Glossier could be tough, getting hired there could be even tougher. Numerous former employees described Weiss’ interview process as intense. She insisted on giving the final stamp of approval to every new hire up until 2018, including those in departments like tech and human resources that were outside her expertise.
In October 2016, Weiss interviewed a recent college graduate for the role of social-media manager. The candidate recalled that she and Weiss were seated across from each other in a glass-walled conference room when Weiss skimmed the candidate’s résumé and frowned. “Oh, they didn’t tell me you worked at Brandy,” Weiss said, referring to the one-size-fits-all clothing store Brandy Melville. The candidate had worked there for two years as a store manager. “Unfortunately, we don’t hire Brandy girls here,” Weiss said, according to the candidate.
Stunned, the young woman stiffened in her chair as Weiss explained that Glossier — which sees itself as a women’s-empowerment brand — didn’t agree with the morals of Brandy Melville, which sells only the equivalent of size small. Then she abruptly ended the interview. “I was crushed,” the young woman said. “I tried to tell her I don’t own Brandy Melville and I don’t stand for those messages, but she already kind of checked out.” She and another woman said they left interviews with Weiss in tears. Weiss declined to be interviewed for this article, but a Glossier representative told Insider the company “doesn’t have a policy against hiring employees from any company, including Brandy Melville.”
Many of those who were given the green light by Weiss said the initial thrill of joining Glossier could quickly wear off as the realities of startup life set in.
A lack of growth opportunities, poorly defined roles, and a frequently understaffed human-resources department made employees feel in the dark and frustrated. Staffers said that even after Diane Vavrasek implemented an advancement structure upon being hired as chief people officer in late 2019, promotions and raises were still often delayed or overlooked because manager turnover was so high.
One employee said she had been promised a promotion for months when her manager left the company in 2019. When she told her new boss she was due for a promotion, the manager said it couldn’t happen, as no one could vouch for her prior performance. The employee voiced concerns to human resources, but nothing happened. “It was like I was talking to a black hole,” she said. Another employee said that on their last day at Glossier in 2019, HR didn’t even bother to reach out for an exit interview.
“The exit interviews have been in place since before 2019, but we have improved our processes for consistency over time,” the Glossier representative said.
Some felt that going to human resources at all would be fruitless. “There was no execution,” one former employee said. Numerous past employees pointed out that the former head of people and culture, who left in 2019, was just out of college when she built the department in 2014. “It just didn’t feel like there were any adults in the room you could safely go to,” one employee said. Glossier began recruiting more-seasoned HR leadership when it hired its first vice president of people in 2018 and its first chief of people in 2019.
Meanwhile, the company continued to spend thousands on opulent weekly flower arrangements decked out with feathers and even peaches from Brrch, a favorite of Kim Kardashian’s. The largest, most showstopping arrangement was placed in the bathroom, which three former employees said they had viewed as particularly insulting.
One former tech employee expressed frustration at the company’s extravagant spending when she hadn’t gotten a raise in 18 months.
“My joke,” she said, “was that on my last day I was going to mash one of those orchids with my hands.”
Weiss introduced herself to the world on a 2007 episode of MTV’s “The Hills,” a hit reality show about the lives of a group of 20-somethings in Los Angeles. She was cast as the prim and proper “super intern” from Teen Vogue, sent from New York City to teach the show’s cast the meaning of hustle. In one scene, Weiss — with her pin-straight hair and prim black turtleneck — schools her California-girl costar Lauren Conrad in the meaning of chinoiserie.
That same year, off-screen, Weiss graduated with a degree in studio art from New York University. She continued climbing the magazine ladder, working as a fashion assistant at W Magazine and as an on-set styling assistant at Vogue. One summer, while Weiss was lounging on the beach in Connecticut with her mom and dad, an executive at the tech company Pitney Bowes, she hatched the idea for Into the Gloss.
Weiss launched the website in 2010, buying a digital camera for $700 and waking up at 4 a.m. every day to write before going to work. The site gave readers a peek into the real-life beauty routines of high-profile women, including Karlie Kloss and the J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons. By early 2012, Into the Gloss had more than 200,000 unique visitors a month. Weiss knew she was onto something, and she wanted to give the beauty world something she thought it was missing: no-frills makeup and skincare products designed with input from customers. Looking to capitalize on the community she’d built, Weiss came up with the idea to sell beauty products under the name Glossier.
“I had no idea what I was doing. I was 28 years old. I didn’t have an MBA. I went to art school,” she told The Cut in 2018. Weiss shopped her ideas around to 11 venture capitalists in 2014, all of whom declined. Eventually she caught the attention of the San Francisco venture capitalist Kirsten Green, at Forerunner Ventures, who helped her raise $2 million in seed funding later that year.
Weiss launched Glossier with only four products: a moisturizer, a facial spray, a sheer foundation, and a lip and skin salve called Balm Dotcom, all of which sold for under $30. Armed with a built-in fan base and a plethora of marketing research from her years of beauty blogging, Weiss opened Glossier’s first office in SoHo later that year.
In the early days, Glossier was a place where creativity and playfulness flourished. Weiss liked to ask prospective employees their zodiac signs during interviews and expounded on how compatible — or not — they were with hers (Aries), former employees said. Horoscopes were torn from a magazine and hung in the elevators each day, and when employees moved to a new office on Spring Street, a sage smudger came to cleanse the space of negative energy, a former tech employee said. Weiss even personally invested in the astrology app Co-Star in 2018, according to Vanity Fair.
As Glossier grew in popularity — the number of unique visitors to its website reached 1.3 million by 2016 — some employees felt that Weiss, though well intentioned, could be out of touch. “I’d be working so hard, making like $60,000, and she just posted her outfit with Balenciaga and Prada and tagged all the brands,” the former marketing employee said.
In 2016, Weiss’ Into the Gloss blog post about her wedding preparations for her short-lived marriage to the photographer Diego Dueñas went viral for its sheer excess. In the post, Weiss broke down the months of dieting, exercise, facials, and serious cash that she said went into getting ready for her wedding day, including 21 days without dairy, gluten, sugar, alcohol, and coffee and a round of hydrocolon therapy to finish it off. Despite all her efforts, she still wasn’t fully satisfied. “Did I go overboard?” she wrote. “Perhaps. Was it high maintenance? Maybe. I did spend an inordinate amount of the fall on my back. But, it worked. I was 8/10 happy with how I looked…pretty good!”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Weiss and her current fiancé, Will Gaybrick, fled with their puppy, Ruby, to Northern California, where Weiss would sometimes Zoom into all-hands meetings while out soaking up the “plant medicine,” as one of her Instagram posts called it. “We were all trapped in our NYC apartments, and she was off hiking and enjoying nature,” a former employee recalled. “She’d call into meetings on a hike or with the entirety of her large, airy living room on display showing off the cute puppy.”
She was sometimes perceived as tone-deaf in other ways, too. On certain occasions, Weiss made comments that led employees to question her understanding of issues surrounding race. In one instance, Weiss was in a meeting with the tech team when she pointed out how “we don’t have any people of color in here,” one former employee recalled. Another employee, who is Asian, corrected Weiss and said they identified as a person of color. “Emily was like: ‘Really? You identify as a person of color?’ And she’s like, ‘Yes,'” the former employee, who attended the meeting, said.
Many employees said they respected that Weiss always made sure Glossier’s ad campaigns were diverse, as well as how she handled complaints detailed in a 2020 Fortune article about customers of color being discriminated against in Glossier’s retail shops. Weiss quickly posted an apology on her Instagram page acknowledging that the company had “failed to ensure that all voices are heard.” Glossier pledged $1 million in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, allocating half of it to organizations fighting racial injustice and the rest to grants to Black-owned beauty businesses. Last year Glossier renewed the grant program.
“She was open and genuinely trying to learn new things,” a former employee said, noting that Weiss would sometimes schedule one-on-one meetings with employees to learn more about topics she didn’t fully understand, including race.
Nonetheless, many employees still felt that Glossier’s inclusive ad campaigns were in direct contrast to the level of diversity at the office. One former freelancer, who is a woman of color, said she turned down a full-time job at Glossier for this reason. The freelancer said she told her manager that the company didn’t “practice what it preaches internally” and that its commitment to diversity felt more like a “facade.”
The Glossier representative told Insider that as of February, 48% of the company’s corporate employees “identified themselves as people of color.” (This data was self-reported by employees, the representative said, with 83% choosing to participate.)
When a receptionist — called “first-impressions coordinators” in Glossier parlance — came to work in a flannel shirt and tennis shoes with her hair in braids, her boss took her to the side and reprimanded her. “She told me, ‘I need you to dress more in the Glossier way,'” the receptionist, who is Black and who later left the company, recalled. “I was just like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And she was like: ‘I think you know what I mean. Just look around.'”
The former receptionist viewed the exchange as containing coded, racist language.
“I was really just shocked and annoyed that it was happening in a space that was as quote-unquote progressive as they claim to be,” the receptionist said. She said she didn’t report the incident to HR because she feared that doing so would make things worse.
“We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind and this behavior is not reflective of our company values,” the company representative said.
Four years after Glossier’s inception, though, the company was still soaring. In 2018, as millions of dollars from investors kept pouring in, Weiss was more determined than ever to take Glossier to new heights. The answer seemed obvious to Weiss: Build a digital social-media platform where customers could shop and interact with one another, á la Facebook and Instagram.
An in-house tech team set to work on the platform, and Weiss began courting Keith Peiris, a former product manager at Facebook and Instagram, to helm the project. The two met for a chat that involved “a lot of tequila,” a former tech employee said Peiris told her. Peiris, who started in July 2018, was among the first to join Glossier from a major tech company. “He felt like Emily’s shiny new tech checkmark,” one former tech employee said.
Peiris entered with gusto. He was tasked with firing the product manager who had been working on the platform and tossed all the team’s ideas. “He’d be like: ‘Why haven’t we done this? Why haven’t we done that?’ And it’s like, we’re not Facebook. We were a 5-year-old beauty e-commerce startup that hasn’t had the resources or the buy-in to be able to do the proper work to build up this infrastructure,” a former tech employee said.
“When Emily trusted people, they had the agency to do whatever they wanted,” the former tech employee said. “They had the ability to operate unrestrictedly because of their backgrounds and pedigree. There was a blind faith that anything they did would be right.”
In the following months, Glossier hired at least three more employees from Facebook. Previous staffers began to feel undermined and grew resentful of the new hot-shot Silicon Valley faction, who tried to retrofit what worked for them at Facebook, Amazon, or Instagram.
Transforming a company that specializes in beauty products into a tech enterprise is bound to trigger growing pains, Camille Samuels, a partner at the venture-capital firm Venrock, told Insider. “Any time you change the fundamental definition of what a company is, it starts to mess with certain people who thought they were joining one mission and instead are joining another,” Samuels said.
It’s also unusual for a company to branch out so drastically and shed its existing advantage, said Jorge Guzman, an assistant professor at Columbia Business School who teaches entrepreneurial strategy.
“When you look at some big successful companies, you actually see huge consistency from when they started to where they are,” Guzman said. “If you try to find what Amazon.com was doing when it was founded, it was basically doing what it’s doing now.”
Weiss’ “blind faith” wasn’t always enough to keep talent around. Peiris left after only six months for another job as head of product at Citizen, and one of Glossier’s other Facebook hires, Maykel Loomans, who was head of product and design, replaced him. On several occasions, he bragged to one employee about appearing in Weiss’ Instagram stories. Loomans stayed only a year, leaving in the fall of 2019. Internally, “everything felt like it was unraveling,” another former tech employee said.
But Glossier was on the rise. The company surpassed $100 million in sales in 2018, and in March 2019 it raised $100 million in a fourth round of funding, bringing its valuation to over $1 billion and catapulting it to unicorn status.
Weiss continued to focus on hiring big names in the tech world, specifically from Amazon, to improve the website and help launch the community platform. “They were really trying to bring in the best talent to come in and sort of culturally run it like a tech business,” one former marketing employee said.
Weiss hired a fresh crop of tech heavyweights to fill out the C-suite, including two former Amazon staffers: Melissa Eamer, who spent 19 years at Amazon and worked as the vice president of sales and marketing, as chief operating officer; and Pawan Uppuluri, who spent 14 years at Amazon, as chief technology officer. She also hired Vanessa Wittman, the former chief financial officer of Dropbox and Oath, as chief financial officer, and Diane Vavrasek, the former vice president of HR at Jet, as the chief people officer, rounding out the all-female ranks. In an October 2019 profile, Weiss told Vanity Fair: “People often ask, ‘Are you a tech company? Are you a beauty company?’ And I say, ‘Yes, we are.'”
Meanwhile, plans for the digital community were in flux. First the platform was supposed to be the Reddit of beauty, then an app, then web-based. “It just looked like a homemade Facebook with beauty products and filters,” one employee said. Progress was sluggish, and employees said they had to basically start from scratch with each new hire. “It was so unclear what the goal of it was that it became harder and harder for me to do my job,” one former tech employee said. “Over time, it felt more and more like it just wasn’t working.” Both Eamer, the chief operating officer, and Vavrasek, the chief people officer, were gone by 2020.
In 2021, Weiss lasered in on the community app. Every quarter, management announced it would be launched within months, but its debut kept being delayed. The project changed hands at least five more times after the departure of Loomans, the head of product and design. Weiss was unhappy with the prototypes, which she said didn’t meet her standards, former employees recalled.
“Every person who touched that project, it was a death sentence,” one former employee said, adding that a majority of them quit or were pushed out. At the same time, Weiss’ vision for the social community wasn’t clear, leaving staffers confused on how to execute it. The former employee said Weiss would just repeat “a people-powered ecosystem” over and over again.
Rhonda Shrader, the executive director of the Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program, said Weiss probably felt outside pressure to evolve, and quickly. “Once you start taking money from investors, the company is not yours,” she said. “You have to meet those hypergrowth targets. You can’t just do what you want.”
Glossier’s website was also experiencing major issues. The site was buggy and problematic. Basic things like saving customer details, sending automated text messages, and adding videos were difficult or sometimes impossible.
Guzman, the Columbia professor, said there were some advantages to building a commercial site in-house, like tailoring specific functions and aesthetics to the brand. But competing companies like Kylie Cosmetics, which launched in 2015, have successfully outsourced to e-commerce platforms like Shopify from the start.
At 9 a.m. on January 26, employees received an email from Weiss. Glossier was shifting its tech strategy to “leverage external partners,” she wrote. Eighty employees, most of them in tech, were being laid off.
And the community app that Weiss had spent nearly four years and so many resources building? It was out the door, too, employees told Insider.
“We have also made some mistakes. Over the past two years, we prioritized certain strategic projects that distracted us from the laser-focus we needed to have on our core business: scaling our beauty brand,” Weiss wrote, citing hiring as another issue. “These missteps are on me.”
A few days later, slides from an internal meeting obtained by Insider reiterated, in plain terms, the company’s new direction. “We are not a tech company,” “We are not building a destination for beauty discovery,” “We are replatforming our site,” read the statements, which were underlined to emphasize the point. Two employees told Insider that Glossier had finally decided to outsource its web operations to an external e-commerce company.
Some staff members were shocked. The pivot wasn’t just in a new direction; it was in direct opposition to the tech-focused future Weiss had been pushing. Glossier’s meteoric rise paired with Weiss’ lofty dreams seemed to buckle under the stress. But Weiss maintained that refocusing Glossier’s core mission would lead to “more clarity, alignment and effectiveness moving forward — all things that our team members have been asking for,” as she wrote in the email to staffers.
“When you dig down underneath to why the company was functioning in the way that it was, I think it was growing too fast,” a former employee said. “Emily created something so successful that she’s still trying to figure out how to harness it. But you have to ask yourself, ‘What kind of company do you want to be?'”
Additional reporting by Tanya Dua