Leadership Lessons: Emily Weiss

Leadership Lessons: Emily Weiss

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Emily weiss in office

Emily Weiss is that very impressive type of nerd. An example of where focus, work ethic and self-belief can get you.

You may not have heard her name and looking at her picture you could be forgiven for thinking she is your fairly run-of-the-mill glossy New Yorker. However, today she’s known for being a bit more than that. She is the founder and CEO of Glossier; a beauty brand which seems to have experienced that ‘overnight success’ start-ups dream of.

As I write this, the brand is reported to be worth over $34million, three years after its inception. Emily is the brains (and beauty) behind its creation and supercharged growth. So how did she get here? What secrets lie behind her success and how much dedication does it take to create a brand of that scale in 2018?

Her first appearance in the public eye was through a cameo in US reality TV show ‘The Hills’. Emily features in one episode in 2007, where she is described by a slightly intimidated Whitney Port as “super-intern”. She comes across as very committed to her role at Vogue and fairly confident. With little interest in being a reality star, she turned down a bigger role in the show, choosing instead to remain at the iconic magazine, first as an intern and then as a fashion assistant. Yes, she interned and was an assistant for years, which is an important insight into her work ethic and ability to think long term. You don’t get paid well as a Vogue Intern (approx. $1.5k per month). Its fair to assume that MTV had a lot more to do with funding Lauren Conrad‘s lifestyle than Vogue. On this period of her life, Weiss said “You have to be a sponge, you have to be respectful, you have to roll up your sleeves. I really earned my right to be there. I was just like, ‘Put me to work. I love work!’”

Over this time her interest in beauty grew leading her to launch an online blog titled ‘Into The Gloss‘ in 2010. She grew this over three years by getting up at 4am and writing for 2-3hours before going to work. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for socialising but paints a realistic portrayal of how much input is required to get a ‘side-hustle’ off the ground. Amy Astley, the former editor-in-chief who hired Emily at Vogue, described her as “an old soul” in a way reminiscent of other young and successful people such as Lena Dunham. Glossier launched in 2014, initially with 4x products and the blog became a platform to showcase the brand. As a key marketing tool, Glossier sent stickers out with products which consumers could stick on their belongings. This use of a badge created a cult like connection to the brand and allowed users to become walking advertisements, empowering them to spread product news. Describing the brand building process, Emily explains: “I wrote out, ‘Here are all the things we need to launch: website. Chemist. Office space.’ And then I just checked them off, one by one. Put all the balls in the air. Got pregnant with Glossier. Incubated. Gave birth to four beautiful products.”

Famed designer Diane Von-Furstenburg said in her autobiography, “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become.”From what I’ve read, I think the same can be said of Emily. She worked very hard with consistent intention giving her the aura of someone successful, before she had the credentials to be in Forbes. To secure the necessary investments to grow Glossier, she presented to 12 venture-capital firms, receiving 11 rejections. The exception which mattered came from Kirsten Green who said her investment decision came from a gut instinct about Emily’s character and determination.
“I’m a big fan of learning.” “I know what I don’t know”. “I didn’t write about beauty or how to blog before I set up Into The Gloss.” – Emily Weiss in an Interview with Forbes, 2015
If, like me, you agree she’s done something right, below are a few more insights into her routine and drivers. The kind of intimate details I find interesting… enjoy!
Morning Routine (now she has employees and can sleep in past 4am)
“I wake up around 7:00 a.m. and make hot water with lemon. When there’s time, I meditate for 10 minutes or check out anything that’s been posted under #glossier on Instagram. I get ready fairly quickly; usually wash with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser followed by Priming Moisturizer & Perfecting Skin Tint. Finally, I put on a bit of Benefit Hoola Bronzer and Glossier Boy Brow on then head to Maman for an almond milk matcha latte before my final stop — our offices in Soho.”
Wellness, Diet and Exercise
Beyond the 10minutes of meditation, Emily seems to take a fairly French approach to health. Her exercise regime typically consists of twice weekly Barre classes and as she explains, “I’m the kind of person who has a chocolate croissant for breakfast and then a green juice for lunch, and I’ll think I’m all good.” If her Grub Street week is anything to go by the below seems to be a typical food day:
Breakfast: Large Americano & Chocolate Croissant
Lunch: Flourless nut bread w/ smashed avocado AND Flourless nut bread w/ homemade Nutella
Dinner: Pasta w/ tomato sauce, and an Aperol Spritz.
Final Lessons
– She works bl****y hard.
– She’s always been open to learning and trying things; Emily isn’t climbing up the career ladder in fashion any more but without those years interning at Vogue, I doubt ‘Into The Gloss’ would have been such a success.
– She seeks alone time’: “I ate by myself, which I do fairly often…I usually have back-to-back work meetings, and there are some times where I can’t check my email or Instagram until 7 p.m., so I’ll use that time to catch up.”
– She recommends reading Ben Horowitz’s book ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’.

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