Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Beginning today, Glossier will open the doors of its New York City headquarters to the public, inviting customers to try its products out in the space they were dreamt up. For the uninitiated, Glossier is the online beauty brand born out of Into the Gloss, the widely-read beauty site started by Emily Weiss in 2010 as a passion project outside her day job at Vogue. Like the blog it was born from, Glossier lives online, selling a tightly-edited selection of its own affordable skin care products, like an $18 face mist, and "skin-first" makeup, including a $26 tint. The company launched in October and has since raised $8.4 million in funding, with Weiss topping Forbes' 30 Under 30: Retail and E-Commerce list.
Glossier has flirted with brick-and-mortar retail before, including a three-city tour timed to the holiday season. At the launch of a pop-up with Nasty Gal in Los Angeles last month, Weiss told WWD that a permanent store is "something we're really eager to pursue." Online businesses dipping their toes into offline waters often use office space as a retail testing ground: Warby Parker, Bonobos, BaubleBar, and others have all welcomed customers to their HQs in similar ways.
The Glossier approach is titled Summer Fridays, a once-a-week affair that will end September 11th. All of the brand's products are on display to try and buy, but transactions at the cash register—or on the Square reader—aren't the pop-up's highest priority. We sat down with Weiss at the Soho showroom to talk about the importance of customer feedback, and why she commissioned the artist Grace Villamil to transform a conference room into a trippy, Mylar-covered "escape room."
How did you decide to open the office to the public, and what's the benefit of having people in?
We've always wanted to have as many touch points as we can with customers. We had a really successful pop-up downstairs in an old Fed-Ex store when we launched last October. The dream for us was to do that again and have sort of a work and meet-and-greet space; a fluid space where collaboration can foster and we can meet people not just who want to shop, but also who are just really excited about Glossier and what we're building.We're so influenced by people. So much of the origin of Into the Gloss was learning about beauty through real life and seeing different women's personal style. The lifeblood of Glossier is interacting with our community.
You've done pop-ups in other cities, too—Los Angeles, Chicago—I'm sure those were valuable learning experiences. What makes this one unique?
Yup, they were great. What's great about [pop-ups] is that anyone who comes and wants to purchase product walks out with that product right away. You can get any of the Glossier products here.
Our creative team sits up here, too. We wanted to basically open up our whole word. It's not really just a store.
We worked with a friend, Grace Villamil, an artist who I discovered last summer and have been wanting to collaborate with. I went to art school and I love supporting female artists. We had the opportunity to create this really incredible escape room.
Tell me more about the escape room.
She basically transformed our conference room into this multi-sensory installation. You become teleported into this totally different headspace. So much of what we're building at Glossier is about encouraging girls to live in the present and be okay with wherever they're at in life, not ascribing to this "having-it-all" arrival of yourself. A lot of women are on the hamster wheel trying to become better and better, and I wanted to create an oasis and a respite where, for a minute, you're just sitting comfortably with yourself, almost in a meditative state—to be able to just chill and be you. For five minutes or ten minutes or half an hour, come sit on our deck, hang out and look at some top shelves we've recreated from Kate Young, Lisa Eldridge, and Sophie Buhai.
Left: a display at the showroom; Right: the roof deck
It seems like this is a brand immersion space, but it's also going to solve the problem of people having to return the skin tint colors, because they're in here trying them on, instead of trying to guess through their computer screen.
Yeah, exactly. Most of what we do is informed by requests from people. So many people have said, "I see your banner in New York, can I come try your products, I'm not sure what color I am," or "I'm on the fence, so I want to see if this moisturizer works with my skin, I want to touch things." So that's why we did it—so you can touch and feel beauty products and come into our brains.
It's a very personal space, it's not really work and sales, it's almost like this is a giant mood board for the company we're hoping to build. We want everyone else to come be a part of it and help build it with us.