Nearly three years in the making, I am so happy to welcome you to Glou Beauty.
We are the first beauty company to approach sustainability by not selling anything to consumers, but rather recirculating all the great stuff that's already out there.
Every function, feature, and filament of Glou has been informed by beauty consumer behavior. The differences between our platform and others are subtle, but if you've ever shopped an online marketplace, after one visit to Glou you'll see we've truly created something really special.
I hope you love it.
- Karen Lee
Founder & CEO of Glou Beauty
My end goal and the mission of Glou is to ultimately change consumer culture from one of hyper-consumption to that of conscious-consumption. The fantasy of being able to be transformed by a thing you’ve purchased is both a fascinating phenomenon to me and a pastime I have engaged in (or fallen victim to?). However, this kind of behavior is at odds with sustainability. Quitting anything cold turkey doesn't work. So, if we can’t flip a switch to get people off their shopping addictions, maybe we can help them shop better.
What does that mean? It means disrupting the feedback loop of supply and demand. If we focus on rehoming what we already own, as consumers, we generate less market demand and in turn signals manufacturers to produce less for next season.
Reduce comes before reuse which comes before recycle.
As far as sustainable beauty companies go, we’re the only ones focused on the first two.
The climate anxiety I faced while working in retail really pushed me to think about what change in the industry means and where it comes from.
I went home on countless occasions feeling helpless, angry, and deeply unsettled about the sheer amount of garbage that I threw out during my shifts. Like every item comes wrapped in plastic, cushioned by Styrofoam, inside a cardboard box which is inside a bigger cardboard box. Literally everything.
I realized that consumers don’t know about the extent of how much landfill is generated through retail stores when I heard a customer say, “I prefer to shop instore because I hate how everything online comes individually wrapped in plastic bags.” Well, the stores get the same product, we just take it out of the plastic wrap for you, hang it up, and make it look pretty. The end consumer doesn’t see all the stuff that gets thrown out during daily operations.
Not to mention there are truly unethical practices surrounding destroying perfectly good merchandise if it’s not selling, or a brand recalls a product and decides it’s cheaper to take the financial loss of that product than to redistribute it. And the people at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy are pretty much helpless to do anything but comply with “company policy”, lest we lose our minimum wage jobs. So, it comes back to the end-consumer doing the one thing that speaks loudest to the people at the top, impacting their bottom-line.
I had always wanted to work in fashion or retail in some capacity but what I learned is that change is near impossible with the endless bureaucracy in big companies. I don’t have the time or patience to work my way up the ladder to be heard. The most efficient way to affect change is to do it yourself.
the "aha" moment
Okay, so it wasn't so much a moment as a series of moments.
A project in grad school kickstarted an insatiable curiousity about beauty products. I went from not knowing what bronzer was to being able to competently decipher an ingredients list. I couldn't afford most products at retail price, so I signed up for lots of subscription boxes. After a few months I developed an anxiety about my pile of stuff because I didn't want it, but it also felt wrong to just throw it away (it was almost all new!).
I discovered that there were hundreds of thousands of women buying and selling their beauty products through social media, but I was flabbergasted by how many hoops people were willing to jump through to complete what should have been a simple, straightforward transaction.
Throughout the months I was supposed to be looking for a job, I couldn’t stop thinking about how there were millions of women wanting to do something with all the beauty products they’ve accumulated and don’t have a chance of actually using up within its useful life. All the existing alternatives were failing them in a major way. There was this ginormous industry that didn’t have a marketplace to facilitate these transactions. I wouldn't shut up about this and how I would go about solving it, so after my mom got bored of me ranting about the same thing over and over my mom gave me the kick in the butt I needed to do something about it.
And thus began what I thought would be a fun lil one year feasibility project. Lol. Hindsight is a funny thing.