Emily Weiss

Alexis Ohanian
Scandebergs for TIME

I first learned about Emily Weiss and Glossier from the forum r/skincareaddiction on Reddit. I remember being floored by how fanatical these Redditors were—not only about Glossier and its products, but about Emily. These people felt connected to her as if they knew her personally.

Emily is proof that you don’t need to have gone to business school to understand the fundamentals of community. She studied art in college and approached building a beauty brand with fresh eyes, and in doing so revolutionized product development, digital sales and the in-store experience.

Although my investment firm, Initialized, is not one of Glossier’s investors, Emily’s ability to build such a fervent customer base is the kind of community-building we search for every day. The Glossier community has inspired creative fan accounts and online micro-communities. The company sells only a few dozen products, yet its stores regularly have lines around the block. And interest in the brand seems to be increasing: searches for “Glossier” have increased by more than 38% in the past year, according to Spate, a consumer insights platform.

From reinventing the makeup counter to canonizing the #shelfie, Emily has helped a generation of consumers feel good about themselves—something the beauty industry has historically failed to do. She teaches us all that a relentless focus on community is what matters when it comes to building a best-in-class brand.

Ohanian is a co-founder of Reddit, as well as a co-founder and a managing partner of Initialized Capital