These days, news can be broken pretty much anywhere. Instagram has a faster chance of reaching me than CNN, and if I really want to know what’s going on, I refresh my Twitter feed. We’ve often used Into The Gloss as a medium to give you insight into our world: why we don’t ship internationally yet (but will in the future), why we’re sold out (we’ve gotten better...always room for improvement!). Also very important information like when to give up on eyelash extensions.
So after a summer spent gearing up for and raising a Series B round of financing, we found ourselves sitting around a table wondering where to break the news that Glossier has two new investors and a fresh $24 million in the bank to put to work. The answer was pretty obvious: right here. Including you is what we do.
The Series B fundraise marks the third time in three years that I’ve asked total strangers for money so I can build what a lot of people thought was a Crazy Idea. Except this time around, the idea of a digitally native, community-driven beauty brand didn’t seem so insane—and that’s because so many of you have proven that it’s not. A quick recap of our funding history:
2013 Crazy Idea Scale: 10/10
Props to Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures (one of the few female venture capitalists in the space) for being the only person in the world to offer to lead our first round, the “seed.” Everyone else said no. This was before Glossier had a name or any products to speak of. I just knew in my heart of hearts that the beauty industry could do better, that they were underestimating how smart women are and where they were communicating with each other. I also knew that to build a product company from scratch, it would take money up front. How much money, and what kind of money (bank loan? Parent's loan? Venture capital? Private equity?) is a unique decision for every business. We wanted Glossier to have an excellent customer experience and reach as many of you as possible from day one, so we went with venture—the stuff fast-growth, tech-enabled companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are made of.
Kirsten wrote Glossier’s first check of one million dollars; I gave her a piece of the “company.” She said—not with words, but with her eyes—I’d better make something good with it. (For the record: Kirsten said the same thing to Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, and Jet.com. Good eye.) That seed money went to, for example, leasing a proper office, retaining a chemist, buying inventory, building tech, and hiring 10 or so people.
2014 Crazy Idea Scale: 8/10
Right around the time Glossier launched, we raised a Series A round of funding from new partners who typically invest a bit more money in companies that have a product that people want. The reason for the 8/10 on the Crazy Idea Scale is that Thrive Capital offered to lead this round before Glossier even launched. We’d made four products—the Phase 1 Set—but didn’t know if any of you wanted them yet. Thrive took a chance and led an 8.4 million dollar round of investment anyway, which was more money than I'd ever seen in my life. Thrive invested in Warby as well, and Harry's, and a little app called Instagram. Our A money got us to today: two more floors of office, 40 more employees, 10+ more product launches, and a robust, real business able to support strong US demand.
2016 Crazy Idea Scale: 6/10
A Series B round says, “You've got a good chance of really making something of yourself.” This time, hundreds of thousands of customers later, very few people told us no. The $24 million comes via a round led by IVP, a firm in San Francisco that’s invested in Twitter and Snap, with support from Index Ventures. Eric Liaw, who championed the deal with Roseanne Wincek, invested in every round for The Honest Company dating back to before its launch. I knew he was our guy when he texted me a #maskforce selfie with his face covered in the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack as we were getting to know each other.
Now, something Henry Davis, our President and COO and my fundraising roadshow partner-in-crime, always says is that "money raised isn't success, it's FUEL for success," and this is true. This cash infusion will help us see through our vision of Glossier becoming a truly global community. That means launching products in two new categories, opening permanent retail (see photo above—more on that soon), and yes, finally going international. We’ll continue to invest in new technology, because we think every woman should have the ability to be connected through her beauty knowledge, opinions, products, and routine.
Of course, I have to remind myself that we are just over two years old, and to look at the time it’s taken iconic companies like Estée Lauder, Apple, and Nike to become what they are today. There will be stumbling blocks. But something I repeat to our now 55+ person team, something I believe in, is that "Glossier is cult, it's not niche," and that's because we believe in the democratization of beauty. Glossier was created not to be for a privileged "some" but for an activated "all"—and we are still early in our journey to fulfill that promise.
Thank you for being a part of this story—the reason for our being—and for writing this book with us. I believe it's still only just the beginning.
Founder & CEO
Photographed by Tom Newton.