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Add Glossier to the small list of women-led startups that have achieved unicorn status

Add Glossier to the small list of women-led startups that have achieved unicorn status
[Photo: courtesy of Glossier]

Glossier certainly lives up to its hype: On Wednesday, the direct-to-consumer beauty brand became the latest unicorn. The Wall Street Journal reports that the makeup and skincare behemoth is now valued at $1.2 billion following a $100 million Series D.

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The latest flush of cash comes from Sequoia Capital, the venture firm behind Airbnb, The Wing, Good Eggs, and dozens more startups. Sequoia also previously invested in British beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury.

Emily Weiss founded Glossier in 2010 as a beauty blog before selling skincare essentials in sleek, minimalist packaging. Dubbed an Estée Lauder for millennials and “the Nike of beauty,” the online retailer branched into brick-and-mortar stores and expanded into more verticals such as fragrance. It’s built a cult following with more than one million social media followers.

Earlier this month, the company launched an entirely new makeup brand called Glossier Play, focused on bold and dramatic cosmetic products.

“At Glossier, we own all of our distribution channels, which sets us apart,” Weiss told Fast Company. “We have a much more direct channel of communication with our customer. Estée Lauder doesn’t own beauty counters, and L’Oréal doesn’t own drugstores.”

Glossier grew 600% between 2015 and 2016. And last year, the company generated more than $100 million in sales.

When asked if she has IPO plans, Weiss told the WSJ: “We are certainly in a position where … we are able to do that.” She did not, however, offer any details beyond that.

Of the roughly 130 VC-backed unicorns in the United States, only 14 have a female cofounder, according to a 2018 report. Globally, the numbers aren’t much better: There are 23 female founders out of 239 billion-dollar VC-backed companies.

Weiss addressed the lack of female representation during an interview with Recode in January. She noted that the total number female CEOs in public companies decreased in 2018, while 2% of venture dollars went to female entrepreneurs.

“We have such a long way to go,” she said. “For me, I don’t spend too much time thinking about that, I recognize the responsibility I have as a female CEO, but I really just focus on continuing to build a great company that brings a lot of joy to people. I’m just going to keep doing that.”

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