How would you start a billion-dollar company?
I doubt your answer will be to start a blog.
But that’s exactly what Emily Weiss did.
In 2010, she started a beauty blog called Into the Gloss and grew it to over 2 million monthly visitors.
From there, she created a beauty products brand called Glossier, which became a $1.2 billion beauty products company.
Her success came as a result of a few key things that she understood about using social media and building a unique brand online.
Let’s dive deep into Emily Weiss’ story and see what lessons we can learn.
Starting a Beauty Blog
In the summer of 2010, Emily Weiss started a blog to share her knowledge of the beauty industry.
At the time, she was an editorial assistant at Vogue. She bought the domain name intothegloss.com and launched her website.
Weiss felt that women were left out of the conversation when deciding what beauty standards were. She wanted women to have real input in creating beauty products.
The idea for her blog was for it to be a platform that gave women a voice to talk about beauty, not a products company.
Legacy fashion brands spent millions of dollars in ads, promoting their products to women, but never used social media to get closer to their customers.
So what did Emily Weiss do?
She leveraged the power of social media to grow her blog by engaging women to build a community of beauty enthusiasts.
She would wake up at 4 am every day to write, edit and publish her content before going to work at Vogue. She published three times a week and her site grew fast.
Less than two years after launching, Into the Gloss hit 4.5 million monthly page views and over 2 million unique visitors.
The site’s stylish, minimalist design aesthetic and its celebrating beauty secret articles were extremely popular with readers.
With over 2 million monthly visitors and over 120000 followers on social media, Emily knew she was onto something.
Though she didn’t originally plan to start a beauty products company, it had dawned on her that beauty products were the way to go.
To do this, she needed funding. So she started hitting on the doors of venture capitalists.
In 2013, three years after starting her blog, Emily Weiss secured $2 million in funding from Kristen Green, founder of San Francisco-based Forerunner Ventures.
From there, she got to work. She partnered with a chemist to develop her first line of beauty products, which led to the creation of a sister brand called Glossier.
The Growth of Glossier
By 2014, Into the Gloss had begun to more closely resemble a real fashion magazine rather than an upstart beauty blog.
The very first product Glossier developed was a moisturizer that wouldn’t aggravate acne.
They tested the product, and it was well-received in the market. Then they developed a line of four products.
In 2016, Glossier opened its first retail space, a showroom on the sixth floor of the company’s Manhattan headquarters.
The brand had grown and become widely successful among millennial women.
As of the time I write this post, Glossier’s Instagram account alone boasts over 2.7 million followers.
According to PrivCo, they value Glossier between $1 billion and $10 billion.
Lessons to learn
Regardless of what industry you are in, there are so many lessons we can learn from Emily Weiss’ story.
Use the power of social media to build your brand
While most legacy beauty brands were focusing on paid advertising to attract customers and build their brands, Emily used social media in a smart way to do the same.
By doing so, she kept customer acquisition cost very low, which helped to grow the brand faster.
For a competitive industry like the beauty market, Emily could not afford to compete with giant beauty brands to get customers for her product. Building a brand on social media was the cheaper way to go.
Build a community before building a brand
Emily Weiss built her blog IntotheGloss into a platform a community for women to share their stories and talk about beauty.
This community gave her knowledge of what women really wanted in beauty products.
Offer value before putting products on the market. Once you build trust in your audience, the sale becomes a byproduct.
If you already have an audience online, engage them to become active participants instead of passive observers.
A small engaged audience is worth more than a million that engage with your content.
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