Mar 1st, 2021, 01:30 PM

#BoycottGlossier: Controversy for Millennials' Favorite Beauty Startup

By Abby Wright
Image Credit: Liubov Ilchuk on Unsplash
Multiple ex-Glossier employees have come forward with allegations of racism, discrimination, and poor working conditions against the popular makeup brand.

Glossier was created in 2014 following the success of founder Emily Weiss’s blog, "Into the Gloss", and has since built up a cult following on social media. The brand has also been praised for redefining the beauty industry, marketing towards millennials with pink, minimalist packaging and practicing a direct-to-consumer business model. Although still a startup, the brand reached “unicorn status” in 2019 after being valued at $1.2 billion (€1 billion).

However, despite its millennial pink, people-based approach, multiple ex-Glossier retail employees have come forward to claim that this outward appearance is not indicative of the company's values. The Instagram account cleverly named Outta the Gloss (@outtathegloss) features an open letter from anonymous ex-Glossier employees recounting their experiences working for the company’s flagship location in New York City; the letter includes statements speaking out against racism brought on by visitors of the store as well as a frustration with the management team. Incidents reported in the letter include, “repeatedly permitting a woman to enter the store whose sole engagement was with Latinx workers, who she would disparage as "illegals"” and management who refused to fire a manager who “would routinely confuse BIPOC editors’ names.”

Since the posting of the letter, other employees have reached out to Outta the Gloss to share their experiences working for the company. According to a former employee based in Los Angeles, Glossier was “very concerned about negative Yelp reviews so they wouldn’t dare stick up for their employees.” Another testimony from an interviewee for Glossier’s Atlanta pop-up shop recalls “…the hiring managers expected to attract a good percent of BIPOC shoppers…they were visibly uncomfortable with this forecast.” 

Following the initial post of the letter in August, Weiss and Glossier have both released statements in response to Outta the Gloss. However, while both statements acknowledge and apologize for racism within the brand, Outta the Gloss recognizes them as, “a drop in the bucket with respect to the work that must be done.” The account has since demanded changes in dialogue, human resources, retail management, work environment, and pay. Glossier has not reached out to the account publicly or privately, and Outta the Gloss has since pushed its campaign to boycott the brand.

While Outta the Gloss acknowledges that some of these experiences can be expected while working in retail, this begs a bigger question: why is this the standard retail workers are forced to tolerate at all?

“These Instagram posts made me think about how it’s just a general understanding that retail workers are treated so badly, and that’s just how it is because the customer is king. And I’m thinking about why that’s the norm that we accept.” says AUP student Nike Hartmann.

“I was reading through the comments and people were saying, 'Oh, you got mistreated by a customer - you obviously haven’t worked in retail before,' and stuff like that. I’m wondering why is that acceptable? Especially since people are already going through their own individual hardships because of their sexual orientation, or their gender, race, or anything – the workplace shouldn’t be another place where life is made hard.”

As of December 9th, 2020, Outta the Gloss has confirmed that Glossier has not privately reached out since their response in August. The account plans to continue its campaign to #BoycottGlossier until the brand meets their demands to ensure a more inclusive workplace for all its employees.