Born from beauty blog Into the Gloss, Glossier’s rise to success has been unconventional, to say the least. It goes like this…From Into the Gloss’s wonderfully voyeuristic Top Shelf features (a look into the beauty cabinets of the rich and famous) founder Emily Weiss was armed with a wealth of insight into what the “coolest girls on the internet” loved, hated and needed. Furthermore, a community began to form in the comments section where readers shared their thoughts on the products called out in the features, providing Weiss with more brilliant insights.
This inspired Weiss to start her own beauty brand, Glossier. With a successful media channel under her belt and a ready-made fan base, the product was already off on the right foot. But of course it still needed to be good – and it is.
The success of the brand has been astounding; it’s grown from selling three items in 2015 to selling over 30 now. Its mission statement is “We’re laying the foundation for a beauty movement that celebrates real girls, in real life. Because “beauty” should be fun, easy, imperfect, and personal. Above all, we believe that you give life to products-products don’t breathe life into you.”
Everything from the conversational TOV, to the fun emoji-speckled website, un-photoshopped imagery and artful social-media campaigns, feels so right for now. Hence the anticipation around the brand’s first UK pop-up was huge and it was hyped all over social, internet and print media.
At first, we thought the choice of location was an odd one. Although Portland Place is only a 10-minute walk from Oxford Street, it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of one of London’s main shopping districts, plus it definitely doesn’t benefit from the same sort of footfall. However, on arrival, the elegant street with its wedding cake-like Georgian townhouses, rows of Plane trees and quintessential Victorian lampposts exudes a type of Richard Curtis-esque loveliness that the main thoroughfares just cannot compete with, so it was instantly clear why the American brand had chosen this most English of locations.
Inside one of the street’s grand corner townhouses, the pop-up’s vibe was more members’ club than store, and it felt exclusive enough to be special, yet still warm and inviting – something that would have been hard to achieve in a normal shop. The interior, with its sweeping staircase, spectacularly high ceilings, elaborate stuccoed detailing and twinkling crystal chandeliers made for a glamorous setting that perfectly matches Glossier’s tasteful, yet unashamedly feminine brand identity. Furthermore, the brand has such a loyal following that footfall wasn’t really an issue. So, on second thought the location made perfect sense.
Adding to the beauty of the space was an abundance of Instagrammable flowers in full bloom that cascaded down the staircase, adorned the magnificent fireplaces and tumbled out of slender vases. Downstairs a waiting room’s plush furniture harked back to glamorous 1970s boudoirs, and its walls were hung with striking campaign imagery and dramatic photography. In rooms painted ‘Glossier pink’ and white sat sleek display units with gaggles of women gathered around the delectably packaged pink and white product. From the looks on their faces, it felt like everyone sampling the tubs of heavenly scented face masks, tubes of thick balms, pots of glowy concealer and bottles of gloopy of moisturiser was thinking the same thing, “have I died and gone to Glossier heaven?”
Bringing some Parisian nightclub vibes to the space…the brand’s debut fragrance was showcased in a decidedly moodier room, lit by red lights and clad in mirrored walls. Perhaps this was to match the slightly spicy scent? Maybe not, but it was cool anyway!
The cash-free purchasing was quick and easy. Assistants in pink boiler suits (love!) processed all the orders on iPads, which could then be collected at the front desk 15 minutes later.
Every aspect of the pop-up had been carefully considered, from the painless purchase journey to the beautiful setting that worked in perfect harmony with the equally gorgeous product. It really felt like the store was designed to make customers feel happy – even the mirrors, scrawled with phrases like “you look good”, solicited mini ego boosts to anyone who walked past (and great selfie opportunities). With each purchase, customers received a bag of prettily packaged goodies – playful stickers, a cute snatch and sniff card (remember those), a teeny vial of the new fragrance, and a dollop of the much-lauded Milky Jelly cleanser. It was a truly joyous experience and we all left with smiles on our faces and product in our hands!
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By facing up to some hard industry truths and focussing on uncovering and communicating authentic USPs to audiences, we believe beauty brands will be able to connect in deeper, more meaningful ways.