What was once a tiny and mighty beauty blog called Into The Gloss has become a bona fide NYC startup: Glossier, with a ragtag team of 35+ jogging up and down the stairwell of our Soho office building, spread out across three floors. Why are we here? We're creating a new kind of beauty company from the ground up—one that acknowledges the hopes, dreams, and desires of women today, and gives them the tools (both digitally and physically) to take ownership over their beauty routines. Who are we? Well, a lot of us began like you: as readers. And we'd like for you to get to know us a little better—what we each do, where we come from, and what we're excited about. Meet Helen Steed:
'The thing that I was always good at in school was art. I was OK at everything else, but I was pretty good at drawing. As I was going through school, I thought, ‘How can you make a living being an artist?’ And my mum said, 'The only way you can make a living is by being an art teacher.' I thought, 'That could work.' Then I interviewed at a few universities—I even did some trials in the classroom—and it wasn't quite right. My art teacher had mentioned art school and that inspired me, so I went to art school and studied graphic design. After that, I did a Masters at the Royal College of Art in London, which was really great for meeting people and building connections. Out of school I worked for a few different branding agencies in the UK, and in 2000, I moved to New York.
When I moved here I had short hair—I still do—but in New York at that time, no one seemed to have short hair. I tried to get my hair cut and it was just awful, I’d obviously gone to the wrong place. Then somebody else said to me, ‘Oh, you’ve got to go to Bumble and bumble.' I knew about the brand through their products, and then someone else had told me about the work that they were doing and I thought, ‘Oh my God! That sounds like my perfect job!’ They were cool and edgy, and there was a lot of thought behind everything they made. I ended up getting the job at Bumble and bumble—I went from Design Director to Creative Director to Creative VP and was there for about 10 very fun years.
After I left Bumble, Emily Weiss reached out to me—we had a lot of shared contacts at that point. I thought she wanted to meet to talk about collaborating, but when we met, it was like I was being interviewed! Eventually she said, ‘Do you want to sign this NDA? I’m working on a project that I would love to talk to you about.’ And that was Glossier. I started working behind the scenes, trying to synthesize what Glossier was as a brand—being from the outside, I could look at the references and the ethos and say, ‘Oh, this is what's cool and different, this is real, and this is what feels like the brand we're trying to build.’ I think Emily’s vision comes from the content on Into The Gloss, by the content and audience—it’s about celebrating girls in real life, rather than telling people they need to try and be something other than themselves. The products, photography, language, everything represents that approach. It comes from a real place, as opposed to something manufactured in a boardroom or in a studio.”
Where are you from?
What do you do at Glossier?
I oversee the creation of assets for the Glossier brand, making sure everything sings together, and I also partner closely with Emily Weiss to continue evolving the brand creatively as we grow. I work with an amazing team of creatives that design products, create packaging, build campaigns, imagine physical spaces and tell stories on and offline. It's very fun!
Which products can you not live without?
Glossier Boy Brow and Perfecting Skin Tint, as well as Bumble and bumble Thickening Creme Contour. It's a bit misleading but it actually calms and shapes hair whether its thick or thin, and mine is super thick.
What’s your commute like?
My commute is a very pretty one—I live about 45 minutes north of the city, so I take the train up and down the Hudson. It's a great time to catch up on work, read theSkimm or just gaze out the window...
Current favorite song:
On Sundays I love listening to BBC 6 music while I cook—after this week's show I’m going through a bit of a Kate Bush revival!
Sunday Riley Juno Oil and two plane tickets to London.
What's your office uniform?
I love slightly boyish looks...jeans or pleated pants, sweaters and nearly always a boxy jacket. I'm a big Steven Alan and APC fan, or I'll snag clothes from my husband—he buys a lot of Japanese clothes that are cut small. Very handy.
*What's the most important lesson you've learned?
*It's important to be considerate and kind to others, and try to have empathy for what’s going on in their lives. It sounds pretty simple and obvious...just be yourself, be genuine, be present, and give a shit about those around you.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Anywhere and everywhere, from a family outing at Dia:Beacon or an early morning walk through Nolita. Though I find it's mostly the everyday things in life that can be inspirational. It's just a matter of always being curious and staying open minded to discovering and learning new stuff. That keeps the creative juices flowing.
—as told to ITG
Helen Steed photographed by Tom Newton.
Say hello to Editorial Assistant Brennan Kilbane—and get acquainted with the rest of the Glossier team over here.