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If you want to observe how devoted the beauty community is, all you need to do is head to the newly opened Glossier flagship store on Lafayette Street in New York’s hip SoHo district.
In case you’ve never heard of the brand, Glossier is a textbook example of a success story – founded in 2014 as an online direct-to-customer company, it quickly took the world of beauty by storm. If you were a fan of The Hills back in the day, you might remember Emily, the intern working alongside Lauren at Teen Vogue – well, she’s the mastermind behind this powerhouse.
Interestingly enough, when she initially pitched her business idea to 12 venture capital companies, she was met with a negative response from 11 of them. Since then, she has gone through four rounds of funding, raising a whopping $100 million. Currently valued at $1.2 billion, Glossier has become a cult beauty and skincare brand worldwide. With the recent opening of its permanent stores in LA and NYC, the company decided to venture into the unknown – the world of offline.
In hindsight, I wish I had done some research before visiting the Glossier flagship, as I had little to no idea what to expect. As I was about to find out, queuing outside the store is an inherent part of the Glossier experience. First thing I saw as we turned the corner was a massive line of girls excitedly chatting with each other and checking their phones. “Surely, that can’t be the line just to enter the store…”, I mumbled under my breath. Except it was, and it kept growing by the minute.
For a moment there, I was conflicted about whether I should stick it out or give up and go get some coffee instead. Ultimately, the curiosity to see and swatch the products I’ve been eyeing up on their website won. My boyfriend agreed to wait for me in Kaigo Coffee Room across the street (he swears it’s one of the best, if not the best coffee he’s ever had, so here’s a pro tip if your S.O. needs to kill some time while you shop), and I promptly got in line hoping it would move smoothly…
With rope barriers and security guards outside, it felt a little like we were waiting for the most anticipated launch of the season. The fact that you can’t see what’s inside the store from the street only adds to the secrecy and helps build up the excitement. 30 minutes later, I was finally invited inside. I ascended up a grand red-carpeted staircase and made my way to the second floor of the penthouse ready for a unique shopping experience.
And a unique shopping experience it most certainly was… As I soon came to discover, everything inside the Glossier flagship is very on-brand, from the soft pink plaster wall to the ribbed cylindrical podiums on which products are displayed. Glossier employees donned in pastel pink boiler suit uniforms are roaming around the room clutching their iPads, ready to answer any questions you might have.
What immediately caught my eye was the amount of people chilling on a red sofa placed on the far side of the room. I wasn’t sure if they were waiting for something or simply making the most of their shopping experience – either way, I was impressed with how the brand manages to captivate its customers.
I started making my way around the room, stopping at nearly every table to swatch and play around with the products. Many of them feature the same items, which definitely comes in handy if too many people are huddled around one station or the samples have run out. The platforms are ribbed to fit the cosmetics on display, and unlike any other store I’ve ever visited, the Glossier flagship has no boxed products on show.
There is also a separate room with a sink area where you can try Glossier skincare, as well as a room dedicated to their famed product – Boy Brow*. I wish I’d had more time to inspect both (those life-size Boy Brow sculptures look really cool), but seeing as my visit already took much longer than expected, the main room had to suffice for now. Again, unlike in many other stores, there were no employees hovering over me or intruding, which allowed me to take my time and look around in peace.
Once I’d made my decision, I started looking around for hints on how to place my order. As it turned out, all you have to do is flag down one of the associates and let them know what you would like to buy.
Much to my disappointment, shopping at Glossier is a cashless experience. I had a lot of spending money left and I was ready to drop some dollar before flying back home, so finding out I had to use my card was less than ideal.
I was worried it would take long to process my order, but the entire experience was as seamless as can be. The associate took my personal details and entered my order into her iPad, I swiped my card… et voilà! I ended up getting fewer products than I intended to, but at least it gives me yet another reason to come back to New York!
I was asked to wait for my goods by the pick-up counter, which was one of the coolest concepts I’ve encountered. I lined up next to the other girls excitedly watching pink plastic bags descend down a conveyor belt from some kind of magic factory upstairs. After 5 minutes, my name was called and I received my Glossier goods in their signature pink bubble wrap ziplock bag with free stickers inside, which is an Instagrammer’s dream. At first glance it might not seem like a very environmentally-friendly option, but I will definitely get a lot of use out of the bag during my future travels.
Overall, would I recommend visiting the Glossier flagship? Yes. Even if you’re not into the actual products, it is worth visiting just for the atmosphere and unique retail experience, although you need to brace yourself for the frustratingly long lines.
Would I go back? Again, the answer is yes. As convenient as online shopping is, there’s nothing quite like being able to test out the products or get colour matched in store. However, I’ve learned my lesson and in the future, I will definitely devote a larger chunk of time to my visit and come prepared with my card. I have already made a list of products to try (Stretch Concealer*, Boy Brow* and Mask Duo* – I’m looking at you).
Have you ever tried Glossier? What are your favourite products? Also, if you would like me to review my Glossier collection on the blog, drop me a comment down below!