Career Code: How Emily Weiss Turned a Brand Into a Beauty Movement

In honor of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s new book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($9), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honor of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the beauty industry.

I’ll never forget my first interaction with Emily Weiss. I had been an avid (sometimes, obsessive) reader of Into the Gloss, the beauty-dedicated website she launched in 2010, since its inception. When the first rumblings of her new brand, Glossier, hit the internet, I wrote a review of their Skincare Set ($40). It’s a few, well-curated offerings that are gentle on the skin but effective. After the piece went live, Weiss penned a personal email—she was grateful for the review but what struck me the most was how pleased she was that the intentions behind the brand were palpable. That’s when I knew Weiss was all about doing things differently. 

Authenticity is a word often thrown around in our line of work, but it’s an ethos that has been with Glossier from the beginning. In an effort to make products that live with you, Weiss has researched, listened, and created a brand that is fun, easy, and personal. It’s not about perfection—though Glossier’s Mega Greens Galaxy Pack ($22) is pretty close—but more about celebrating real girls in real life. From the wildly engaged community that Weiss looks to for advice to the kitschy stickers included in every order, Glossier is making big-time waves in the beauty industry. And, breathing fresh air into our minds and medicine cabinets along the way. 

So, in order to understand some of genius that comes along with creating your own cool-girl brand, killing it in the workplace, and turning a passion into a successful career, we caught up with Weiss over email. She talked about the qualities she looks for when hiring, how to get ahead, and, of course, glowing, dewy skin.

Emily Weiss

In civilian terms, how would you describe your job?

“I’m the Founder and CEO of Glossier. What that title means changes from day to day, but I essentially work with the areas of the business that need my support and input most. One day that could be approving selects from a new campaign, the next I could be working closely with our COO discussing plans for our next fundraiser. But aside from that day to day, my role is really to picture the future for Glossier and make sure the team is on track to get us there.”

What part of your job would people find most surprising?

“I’m rarely sitting down. I prefer to be running around. Even when I have rare non-scheduled time, I like to grab coffee with someone to see how they’re doing or pop in on a project our creative or marketing teams are working on. I don’t ‘desk time.’”

What did you wear to your first job interview?

“Oh god. I don’t remember. What job?! How about what I’d wear now. If I went to an interview now, I’d wear some kind of head-to-toe monochrome situation (the easiest way to look chic) and have insanely glowy, dewy skin. I’d smell like Le Labo Musc 25.”

Emily Weiss

Who would you like to have a 30-minute meeting with?

“The late, great Steve Jobs.”

What are your go-to resources for keeping up to date on your industry?

“Instagram. That and our office Slack. My team shares all the latest news faster than I could ever find it. They keep me fresh and inspired.”

Emily weiss

What are the five top qualities you look for when hiring?
“I look for hunger—a drive to prove something. Whether that’s to yourself, your mom, your second-grade teacher. I like to uncover what motivates people and make sure that’s in line with what motivates people here—encouraging women to take ownership of their beauty routines and be the authors of their own lives. I’ve never worked anywhere where the team is as passionate about the product as they are here. I also appreciate a no-BS attitude, but you have to be a nice person. A good person.”

Emily weiss quote graphic

What do you wear to work to feel powerful?

“I feel most powerful when I’m comfortable. If I’m wearing something too delicate or precious, I’ll immediately spill something on it or spend the whole day worrying that I will. I’ve developed a bit of a uniform, and it varies, but comfort is key.”

How would your assistant describe you?


Emily Weiss

What do you do when you're feeling uninspired?

“Travel. Usually, when I’m feeling out of it, I just need to get outside of my comfort zone—to explore someplace that operates and relates to the world in a different way. It’s incredibly inspiring, for me, simply to have a conversation and learn about someone else, somewhere else, in real life, not on the internet. Everything comes back to people and human emotion. Everyone’s just doing their best.”

What's the best way to quit a job?

“Be honest. Obviously every situation is different, and so there’s no one-size-fits-all, but I always respect when people help their employer understand their motivation for leaving, and how, if at all, the company could improve. It takes a compassionate, generous attitude to do that, which is a great trait to cultivate, if you can.”

The top 5 qualities you look for when hiring graphic

What is your go-to lunch?

“I love the chicken and avocado salad or black rice bowl from Dimes for healthy lunch. When I have time to eat out, I’ll meet a friend at Peacefood Cafe near Union Square or at Sant Ambroeus in Soho if it’s something more formal.”

Glossier store

Who do you love to follow on Instagram?

@basicbitchfoundation because it’s really funny and we shouldn’t take life too seriously. @jenatkinhair because her life is cray in a good way. My niece’s private account because staying close to family keeps me grounded. @lilyrose_depp to find out what’s cool with kids these days. @brrch_floral, who we work with a lot of floral design.”

What are your morning and evening rituals?

“At night I try to unwind with a bath when I can. I also watch Amy Schumer, Broad City, Silicon Valley, or House of Cards. In the morning, I meditate for 10 minutes, which gets my head in the game. After that, my schedule varies, but I do also try to have some hot water with lemon.”

Glossier makeup set

What's the best advice you've ever received?

“I read this, so I suppose it wasn’t given to me, but my best piece of advice is: Know what you don’t know. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are in different areas and learn from them. There’s no need to ever pretend like you know it all.”

What are you working on right now that you're most excited about?

“I am excited about so many things for Glossier. Most of them I don’t want to say for fear of jinxing them, but generally, I am just so thrilled to watch our community grow and see how they live with our products.”

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