INTERVIEW: BOBBI BROWN, FOUNDER, WRITER, ENTREPRENEUR
words by JVB • Fashion
She may no longer be at the helm of her eponymous make-up line, but with a wellness brand, website, podcast, and boutique hotel on go - Bobbi Brown is proving her story is far from done.
At 61, Bobbi Brown isn’t resting on her laurels. If there’s anything she’s learned over the years, opportunity isn’t waiting around the corner -- you go after it. After leaving her namesake brand after 25 years, the mogul is all about reinventing and redefining herself.
JVB: You were with your eponymous line Bobbi Brown for over two decades, how did you see the beauty industry evolve from then, to now?
BB: I love seeing so many young entrepreneurs emerge and build exciting new brands. It reminds me a lot of what I was able to do early on in my career. Entrepreneurs like Emily Weiss of Glossier, Jen Atkin of OUAI, and Jeff Raider of Harry’s are really changing the way we consume and think about beauty and self-care. Consumers are also becoming savvier — they want to know everything that is in the product, where it comes from, who makes it, even down to the packaging.
JVB: You left the company in 2016 - how hard was it to walk away from a company you founded, built, and watched grow into a billion-dollar global brand?
BB: Leaving the company that I founded came with a mix of sadness and excitement. It gave me time to reflect on my experiences being an entrepreneur, creative, beauty expert, health and fitness advocate, author and editor-in-chief. In doing that, I saw an opportunity to create all of these new ventures.
Three years later, I have a hotel, The George Inn, in my hometown of Montclair. I started a brand of supplements, EVOLUTION_18, that is all about beauty from the inside out. And I’m sharing the best of beauty, wellness, travel, and style on my website justbobbi.com. It’s opened a new chapter of my life and so far, it's been an exciting ride.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but I try to tackle things one by one. It’s important to remember it will all still be there tomorrow. I also understand the importance of doing nothing. I try to give myself time to recharge, whether its a vacation with my family to my favorite place, the Bahamas or going out for a walk to clear my head. I know I won’t be able to do it all if I’m running on an empty tank.
JVB: What was it like to transition from a career in beauty, into writing? And even real-estate development/interior design?
BB: When I started my brand, it wasn’t just about teaching women about makeup, but teaching them that beauty really begins with what you put inside your body and how you feel. Writing books felt like a natural way to share this message. I’ve been really lucky to partner with so many talented writers for my books. I can’t type, so I did a lot of the writing on notepads from the backseat of the car to and from the office.
My husband, Steven Plofker, is a real estate developer and when I left Bobbi Brown, he asked me to help him on his newest project, restoring an old inn in Montclair, New Jersey. We have always done everything together, from starting my cosmetics company to designing the packaging. We love a great one-of-a-kind boutique hotel and this was an opportunity to create our own. We also happen to be very compatible when it comes to aesthetics, so the idea of designing a hotel together just seemed to make sense.
JVB: What is your secret to growing a successful business or brand?
BB: Don’t think about it, just do it. If it doesn’t work out, find another way. Don’t give up.
JVB: You have an enviable and aspirational career, what have been some of your more cherished highlights?
BB: A moment that always stands out for me is working with Naomi Campbell and Patrick Demarchelier on Naomi’s first Vogue cover in 1989. It happened to be my first Vogue cover too! I did a lot of beauty spreads with Vogue over the years that I am really proud of.
There were also moments like doing makeup for L’Wren Scott’s show at London Fashion Week, doing makeup for the Biden’s during the inauguration, and celebrating my 20 year anniversary at Bobbi Brown with a film by Bruce Weber. I’ll always cherish these moments.
JVB: What is your beauty routine like now? Do you have favorite products/beauty secrets you are willing to divulge?
BB: It’s really simple. Most days I don’t even put on mascara. For the days that I do, I like RMS Lip2Cheek, it’s a buildable stain that you can use as blush or lip color. I’m also really into apricot oil. I put it everywhere — hair, skin, nails. It’s good.
JVB: How would you describe your personal style?
BB: Classic and comfortable. Over the years, I’ve learned what works for me. I love a good blazer, a skinny pant, and a white shirt. I’m much more of a sneakers girl.