The Daily’s inaugural Fashion Media Awards was the event to top this NYFW. Missed all the illustrious winners from the FMAs? Fret not! Here’s the scoop on our beauty Innovator of the Year: Emily Weiss. With Into the Gloss, Weiss reinvented the high-end beauty game for a new generation of marketers and proved that quality edit still counts. Meet the new queen of the lipstick jungle!
When did your obsession with beauty begin?
In middle school and high school I would do everyone’s makeup for all the dances, but it really took hold when I was assisting on shoots for Vogue. It was eye opening to see how the hair and makeup artists worked with the photographer and the stylist to complete a whole head-to-toe look.
Did you always want to start your own site?
I think that was just a natural, if slightly surprising, evolution of my various experiences in the fashion world.
Tell us about those first few months.
I was working on the site from 4 to 8 a.m. every day, transcribing interviews and shooting people on the weekends, and really just having a lot of fun. It was super exciting, but also ‘all hands on deck.’
Lancôme was one of your first advertisers. How did you land such a major name so early in the game?
Sheer persistence! I cold called Kerry Diamond, who was there at the time, about once a week for weeks, until she finally answered and I got in there. I just showed her the layout and told her my philosophy.
Any big brands you’d still love to land?
I’d love to do something with Pantene Pro V. I think hair is such an important thing for women. Hair products are somewhat bewildering since everyone’s hair is so different. It’s almost like each woman needs her own prescription.
What was the jump like from working for a glossy to running your own site?
It was scary, but any change is scary. But I’m a big believer in no risk, no reward. I think it was the right thing for me, and it’s certainly been a wild ride.
Keep reading for more beauty dish from Weiss!
What are the major differences between working for a print magazine and a web site?
I would say the pace is very fast. We put out content not only daily, but multiple times a day. You just have to be on your toes and multitask, although that isn’t all that different from print. On a web site, you really have to be able to navigate the back end. I had to teach myself basic code.
Do you have a two-year plan for the site?
Every year there is a new platform or even a way to sort through our own data, so we like to innovate constantly. It comes down to having a great team.
What do you look for when hiring someone?
I think you have to be hungry and really want to work hard. That doesn’t necessarily mean following a prescribed way of doing things, but finding solutions and improving situations. Any kind of new media venture is all about trying new things.
How did you meet Nick Axelrod?
We were fashion assistants straight out of college together. He was at W while I was at Women’s Wear Daily. We had a water cooler friendship at those magazines, but he joined ITG last summer.
Has it been weird mixing work and a friendship?
No! Not at all! He has a fantastic eye for writing and editing and we share a lot of the same tastes.
How do your commenters shape your site?
They’re constantly giving us ideas for features. I think that’s great. I’m always getting inspired by readers and people I meet—somebody on the street or a reader I meet while I’m travelling. It’s energizing to meet people from around the world who read our site.
For your Top Shelf Posts, do those A-listers express desire to be featured?
I think it’s a combination of both us reaching out and people reaching out to us. There will always be people who see their friends on the site and will be more inclined to be featured, but we are doing outreach every day.
What does your beauty regime consist of during fashion week?
Trying to get sleep! Also, just minimizing everything. I lean towards more simple multitasking products, like suddenly a lipstick goes on your cheeks. And a little bit of mascara goes a long way.
What is a highlight of fashion week for you?
I love that you get a chance to catch up with people you don’t usually see the rest of the year. There’s a great group of beauty editors, it’s the backstage troupe that is on a totally different schedule from the front row troupe. It’s kind of an opposite schedule.
Do your friends that aren’t in the industry bother you for products?
I’m eager to tell my friends about products and things that I’ve heard about them. So many of the products I end up adapting to my own routine are taken from interviews with other women. I think recommendations are the best way to find out about a new beauty product.
How often do you have to clean out your vast supply of products?
It’s constant. You just have to clean up piles. But it’s great because I love to try things, and I’ll try anything once. This has gotten me into trouble a few times, since your skin can only handle so much.
Confession: are there any products that you would never try?
No, I would never say never about a product.
Smart move. What’s the next beauty product you’re planning on trying?
I have Maybelline New York’s new limited edition Great Lash in a number of bright colors, they’re sitting in front of me waiting for me to try!
What do you usually pick up at the drugstore along with your Maybelline products?
Paper towels and shaving cream!
Do you have any beauty editor crushes?
I have a ton of respect for the beauty editor Lili Barbery-Coulon who used to be at Vogue Paris and is now a freelance editor. And I’ve known Sarah Brown and featured her on the site because I think that she’s such an amazing curator of beauty in her own routine and in her content at Vogue.
Would you ever want to be a conventional beauty editor, one that works at a magazine?
I mean, I think I’m a conventional beauty editor, although maybe I am a new kind of editor! I love to learn and I love new platforms and new ways to talk about beauty and engage people in beauty.
Would you ever consider selling your website to a publisher?
I’m open to anything that gets the word out and engages people. I think you have to make the right decision at the right time, which is especially important since a digital endeavor is constantly in a state of change. You have to be open to starting new conversations and opening new possibilities. That’s the mentality I’ve had and what I will continue to do looking forward.
How does your beauty regime get sacrificed when you travel for work?
I don’t take schedules with beauty routines too seriously. There are so many products to try all the time, particularly with color cosmetics; I love to change things up constantly and there’s not a day that goes by that there’s not a new addition to my routine in some way. That being said, I’m not very stringent and I kind of reach for what’s closest. Particularly in the shower, where it is overflowing with products, I like mixing things up.
Can you pick a favorite interview that you’ve done for a publication so far?
Well there’s just been an article in the latest issue of Industry Magazine that my mom really liked.
Why did your mom like it?
Who really knows why moms like anything?!
But what about on your own site, who is your favorite person you’ve ever interviewed?
One of my favorites was when I talked to Iris Apfel, she’s just so cool. After you read it you almost can’t wait to turn 91! She has such an incredible spirit, which totally transcends age.
Is there anyone you haven’t interviewed yet that you would like to?
Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jenna Lyons, Daria Werbowy, Kate Moss, Jane Birkin, and the list goes on!