Emily Weiss Steps Down as Glossier CEO: How Female Founders Are Unfairly Scrutinized

When Glossier founder and now former-CEO Emily Weiss stepped down as head honcho at the company, all the beauty girlies (read: me) were devastated. Why was she leaving? Will this have greater implications for the beauty world? Will Glossier survive?

The media spun into a frenzy. Early reports implied that Weiss was “leaving” in connection to a string of company-wide layoffs. Subsequent think pieces implicated Weiss in the demise of the millennial girlboss era which hit its peak in 2020-2021.

But Weiss’s move actually felt more genuine than any other Founder/CEO statements. While other women of her generation in her industry — those so-called toxic girlbosses like Leandra Medine-Cohen of Man Repeller or Audrey Gelman of The Wing — were pushed out of their leadership roles due to scandal and bad press, Weiss’s departure is not as sinister. In fact, Weiss ushers in an era of community-minded leadership, handing the baton to her successor and paving the way for brands like MUTHA.

Why Emily Weiss Left Glossier

Weiss’s Glossier started as the blog Into the Gloss, and her reign ended that way too. Her blog post signaled a new stage for the brand. It read: “Every year I reflect on Glossier, and specifically, the ever-evolving role of the CEO in our young company’s lifecycle. I check-in and ask myself the same question: Am I the best person to lead the company, for where we are and where we’re headed? And if not, who is? This year, as has often been the case with some of our proudest and most pivotal moments at Glossier, a person inspired a new direction: her name is Kyle Leahy, and I’m thrilled to announce that she’s stepping up into the CEO role.”

Honestly, this is one of the most graceful exits by a CEO I can imagine. Weiss stays true to the brand, celebrates her successor, and does so with no trace of ego. Take note all you founders out there — and not just female founders. But the media’s attempt to single out any malevolence in this celebratory moment — Weiss is stepping down to focus on her family — says a ton about the scrutiny successful women face.

Why Glossier, and Emily Weiss, are so popular

Weiss didn’t merely come up in the “Millenial Girlboss Era” … she kind of started it. Glossier’s impact shamelessly inspired female founders everywhere to take their books and blogs and turn them into verifiable e-commerce empires. But Weiss was there first and is one of the most authentic of those early unicorns. Glossier ushered in the era of millennial pink. The accompanying blog, Into the Gloss, popularized the idea of a “skincare routine.” But its biggest impact was how beauty brands market to customers.

Weiss pioneered a “girl’s girl” approach to beauty. Rather than billboards and ads, not to mention entire stores geared towards shopping for the male gaze, Glossier refused to market to insecurity. Glossier encouraged its audience to feel confident — even before they’d purchased one product.

Sure, neither the brand nor Weiss are perfect. Glossier products have been called glittery Vaseline, and some think they’re but overrated marketing. There was also upset at the company’s layoffs this year. However, Weiss has also been an example for similar companies. Glossier was one of the first stores to shutter fearing Covid concerns — weeks before the first quarantine periods in 2020. They also support BIPOC-founded beauty brands through grants and promotion, using their platform to promote underrepresented groups.

Why Emily Weiss is Beyond a “Girlboss” Prototype … Even if she Kind of Inspired It

And while there are many potential complaints raised by the Girlboss era Glossier helped catalyze, it would be reductive to view Weiss as only that. In fact, isn’t her move the exact antithesis of Girlboss values? If that era was defined by female CEOs using the aesthetics of feminism to advance their own careers and personal power, doesn’t Weiss’s move go against the grain? While Glossier is still a major player in the industry, Weiss isn’t thinking of her own position. She’s advancing someone else’s career and genuinely considering why she’s not suited to whatever new era we’re walking into.

Articles about Weiss should be about how she was an industry force and graciously paved the way for so many. These pieces ought to touch on corporate feminism, toxic workplace culture, the evolution of the Girlboss in this new generation. But any articles out there about Weiss do not make these points. They’re shallow analyses that are mere clickbait fodder.

Other “takedown” pieces of more problematic women in her industry — those who actually embody this stereotype — were bolstered by a history of transgressions. Weiss isn’t perfect — and a little bit of skepticism is always valid for owners of major corporations (you know, eat the rich and all that) — but the scrutiny on Weiss exemplifies how women are treated in business and in media — even when they do things right.

Female-Founded Brands Who Do It Right: MUTHA Beauty

Glossier is entering a fresh moment, which can only mean one thing — so is the rest of the beauty industry. What we can anticipate is that the latest season brings brands that raise the bar for inclusion, diversity, and sustainability.

Brands like MUTHA aren’t just peddling vats of glittery vaseline — don’t get me wrong, I still use Glossier Boy Brow but … sometimes one needs a bit extra. While Glossier pioneered the era of women feeling fine about their own looks, MUTHA takes it a step further and inspires them to just feel good, period. And, in turn, provides the confidence and capacity to share that feeling with others.

“We’re on a mission to nurture you,” MUTHA claims. “When you feel your best, you unapologetically radiate that power and love to those around you — especially to your children, whether they’re little or not so little. This insight is what inspired our founder Hope to take care of herself and her then-pregnant body by making her own stretch mark salve. Other mothers quickly took notice of her self-caring impulse and beautiful creations and for good reason. Hope wasn’t all talk. She took action and created something that represented her highest belief.”

MUTHA believes that to be your best as a human, you must take care of yourself first.

Plus, their products are made of high-quality ingredients, accompanied by a kick-ass aesthetic. Starting with their initial offering, MUTHA™ Body Butter, the brand has grown into a line that supports women at all stages of their lives, makes premium skincare, and donates to global nonprofits that aid in maternal health.

It’s time to explore MUTHA beauty now.

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