She credited with changing the landscape of the makeup industry. When everyone was doing bright blue eye shadow in the 80’s, Bobbi Brown was nailing neutrals, when the heavy makeup of the 90’s came calling, Brown didn’t sway, sticking to her aesthetic of natural is best. After starting out as a makeup artist, Brown has created one of the world’s most popular beauty lines and while she was on a recent visit to Australia, we were lucky enough to quiz her about her company, her makeup must haves and who she looks to for inspiration.
You worked as a makeup artist before starting your own business. What inspired you to create your own makeup line?
After graduating from college with a degree in theatrical makeup design, I headed to New York to fulfill my dream of working as a professional makeup artist. It was the 1980’s and the look of the moment was loud, garish, and overdone. I soon became frustrated by the lack of flattering makeup on the market.
A chance meeting with a chemist at a magazine photo shoot changed everything. I had an idea to develop a flattering lipstick, and it became reality with the creation of Brown Lip Color. Nine other brown-based lipstick shades followed soon after. With this set of ten lipsticks, a woman could create an infinite number of wearable shades, just by mixing and blending them.
I debuted my line of lipsticks in 1991 at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City – and it was clear that a beauty revolution was underway. Women seemed to really embrace these uniquely flattering shades and my realistic approach to beauty.
What were some of the challenges you face when starting your business and how did you overcome them?
In the beginning, it was a challenge to manage the business and start a family at the same time. Over time, I’ve learned to try to find time to do it all – run a company, raise three kids and lead a happy marriage. If you know what’s most important to you, you will always make the right decisions. It’s not always easy but I’ve been strict on prioritizing what’s most important to me. For me, that’s my husband and three sons.
You are known for embracing a natural makeup look which celebrates individuality and resists catwalk beauty trends. Why have you decided to build your brand around this concept?
I believe that makeup is a way for a woman to look and feel like herself, only prettier and more confident. My goal is to help women look and feel like the best versions of themselves. Rather than trying to change or distort a woman’s features, I use makeup to enhance the features that make her unique. Bobbi Brown makeup isn’t about rules. It’s about options. And this is something that I think all women appreciate. We’re all about makeup artistry, and giving a woman the tools and knowledge she needs to be her own makeup and skincare expert.
You’ve chosen beautiful, strong women such as Katie Holmes and Kate Upton to represent your brand. What do you look for when you are selecting ambassadors for Bobbi Brown?
My philosophy is about embracing who you are and using makeup to play up your natural features so I would want someone who really embodies that. First and foremost, it’s important that whoever represents Bobbi Brown Cosmetics is a great role model for young girls and women around the world.
What are your makeup bag must haves?
I like to apply a few of my staple products every morning, before work, but I’m not afraid of going bare-faced, especially on the weekend. I keep my beauty routine really simple – it takes less than 5 minutes. I layer a couple of moisturizer to keep my skin soft and plump and then I apply Creamy Concealer, black mascara, Pot Rouge and Lip Gloss. With these easy to use products, I look healthy and refreshed. When I have more time, I like to use Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner to line my eyes.
What’s your number one beauty tip?
Don’t leave home without concealer. Concealer is my ‘desert island’ cosmetic—I wouldn’t dream of living without it. When used correctly, it instantly makes you appear awake and refreshed, no matter what’s going on in the outside world. To apply, use your finger or a brush to apply concealer designed specifically for the under-eye area. It’s meant to lighten so it’s important to use a skin-tone correct formula that’s one to two shades lighter than your foundation.
Who are your beauty icons?
My mother was a huge role model. She was the most beautiful woman I knew. I grew up watching my mother carefully apply her makeup in the mornings and before parties. My early memories of watching my mother apply her white eye shadow and false eyelashes in her blue gilded bathroom are still with me. I always hoped that I could half as glamorous and fresh-looking as she was. She taught me that confidence is the compelling aspect of real beauty.
Growing up, Ali McGraw also had a huge impact on me. The movie “Love Story” in which she starred will always be one of my favorites. Growing up, everyone wanted to look like actress Cheryl Tiegs – tall and blonde. When I saw Ali McGraw in “Love Story” that all changed for me. She had beautiful dark hair, thick brows, a natural sophistication, and was smart and confident. She instantly became my role model.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
If I wasn’t a makeup artist, I’d like to be a nutritional chef.
You are one of the most successful business people in the world today. Do you think being a woman has impacted your success either positively or negatively?
Women aren’t afraid to speak up, start their own businesses and forge ahead. Today, there are many more female role models for young women who want a career. This wasn’t the case when I first started.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc, has been at amazing mentor to me. Leonard is incredibly charismatic and friendly with everyone he comes in contact with. When Leonard gives speeches and he talks about his close relationships with people, I can promise you that everyone in the room thinks he’s talking just about them. And I’ll never forget one of the first thing he said to me when I first became part of the Esteé Lauder family; He said, “as your boss the best you can do is travel the world, but as a mother you need to be home for your kids.”
You inspire a lot of people with your hard work, dedication and intelligence. Who inspires you and why?
My husband continuously inspires me. He has always been there for me.
What exciting things do you have planned for Bobbi Brown?
My plan for the future is to continue doing what I love – empowering women through my products, beauty tips, and more. Helping women is my passion so I plan to keep helping women look and feel the best. I am dedicated to using my resources, passion and energy to raise awareness and affect meaningful changes. I love taking on new projects and finding new ways to help women feel empowered. I’m looking forward to finding new ways and channels to help spread my message.
Bobbi Brown is available to purchase in-store and online at Myer.