Cult beauty brand Glossier glams up Austin with limited-edition pop-up shop
Glossier, the cult beauty brand beloved by hip millennials everywhere, is bringing its online shop to Austin IRL. On Wednesday, October 23, the retailer is opening a pop-up shop at 2000 South Congress Ave. for a limited run.
For the uninitiated, the Glossier origin story is a truly 21st century tale. The cosmetic brand was born out of Into the Gloss, a beauty blog founded in 2010 by CEO Emily Weiss. Into the Gloss, or ITG to readers, quickly gained a following thanks, at least in part, to candid interviews from fashion insiders and celebrities about their beauty habits. Part aspirational, part guide, ITG readers could read through the interviews, taking tips and purchasing products.
In 2014, Weiss received $1 million in seed funding from venture capitalist Kirsten Green and launched Glossier with four products that are still in the brand's must-have rotation: Milky Jelly Cleanser, Balm Dotcom salve, a primer, and Soothing Face Spray.
Just five years later, the company has expanded to 35 products, ranging from skincare to fragrance, and $186 million in VC funding. In 2018, Glossier reportedly earned $100 million in revenue, attracted 1 million new customers, and sold one Boy Brow (the brand's famed eyebrow gel) every 32 seconds. Not bad considering 11 of the 12 VC funds Weiss first approached turned her down.
Now this may seem like a lot of information in a story about a beauty pop-up, but it illustrates the incredible buying power of certain millennial women, as well as the success of brands smart enough to tap into that power. And there are few brands that have done it as fast as Glossier.
With 34-year-old Weiss at the helm, everything Glossier touches is tailor-made for the audience, from the stylized Instagrams to diverse skincare models to the bespoke shops that have popped up everywhere from Boston to Dallas (yes, Dallas got one first). Today, Glossier operates permanent stores in Los Angeles and New York City, the latter of which attracts around 50,000 visitors per month, and has plans to open in London before the year's end.
Moving out of the digital space and into real-world activations is critical to not only fostering relationships with the consumer, but to the company's success as well.
"Everything about our stores, from the design and layout, to our friendly Offline Editors [Glossier salespersons], is designed to facilitate discovery and conversation, and to inspire people to participate in Glossier," says senior experiential designer Madelynn Ringo.
Part of that is creating a space that "gets" the city it's popping into. For the Austin shop, for example, Ringo says the team was inspired by the roadside attractions of Texas, and the interior design also takes nods from the deserts of West Texas and Austin's colorful signage.
"Driving down South Congress, visitors will be greeted by a hard-to-miss sign, three gigantic replicas of our Generation G lipstick on the roof, and an outdoor space where they can gather and enjoy ice cream," Ringo tells CultureMap.
"One of the first things we noticed when visiting Austin was the city’s sense of community and appreciation for togetherness," she continues. "We saw people gathering in outdoor parks, music venues, and popular restaurants, and wanted to incorporate that spirit into our design."
Shoppers can peruse the Glossier line, sample and purchase products, and snag limited-edition merch designed especially for Austin. For the South Congress shop, Glossier is creating special ceramic diner mugs and donating $5 from each to RAICES, a Texas-based organization that advocates for and provides social and legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.
Glossier says it has other surprises in store for the Capital City throughout its six-week tenure, too. Locally owned Connor's Creamery will be onsite at the activation every day, and Glossier will be teaming up with Outdoor Voices for two special activations — a natural collaboration considering Weiss and OV founder Tyler Haney are frequently touted as examples of CEOs conquering the millennial market. Glossier says it will also be popping into local fitness studios for "surprise and delight gifting."
The pop-up shop is open every day October 23-December 8 from 11 am to 7 pm, except Thanksgiving Day.