Do you remember those awkward pre-teen years? Oh man. I’ll be honest, I was no stranger to feeling like an ugly duckling myself.
When I was in junior high school, my mom bought me a book that was all about natural beauty. And whaddya know, it was written by today’s guest, Bobbi Brown! I didn’t realize it then, but that book was a catalyst that helped me see myself in a whole new light.
Bobbi Brown is a successful pioneer and prolific icon of the beauty industry. In fact, you’ve probably heard of her makeup company, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
During our inspiring conversation, Bobbi and I chat about what it was like to create a brand that emphasized natural beauty in the late 80’s, when the most popular beauty trends at that time were big, bold and unnatural. We also dive into her fearless transition from makeup artist to running an enormous global brand, as well as the strategic decisions she made that helped to set her company apart from all the other beauty brands out there.
Whether you’re a makeup fanatic, a champion for helping people feel comfortable in their skin, or an entrepreneur looking for tips from a super-savvy businesswoman, this interview is for you!
Check out the episode below:
In this episode, you’ll hear about things like…
- How Bobbi’s philosophy of natural beauty was born.
- Why Bobbi chose to resist popular trends (and how she was able to consistently stick up for what she believed in along the way).
- The unexpected challenges Bobbi ran into being the face of her own brand.
- The intricate process of selling her company to Estee Lauder in the 90’s.
- How Bobbi feels that being a female, mother and wife gave her a big advantage in building a much-loved global brand.
Some Questions I ask Bobbi…
1. What’s your perspective on beauty? What does beauty mean to you?
2. What was that like — going from running a small brand with a line of lipsticks to being the CCO of a multi-million dollar business?
3. What was it like to sell such a large cosmetics company? How has that transition been like for you?
Links from the interview:
What do you think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode. Describe a strategic decision you recently made inside your business. How did it go for you and what was the outcome?
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Thank you for listening!
TranscriptRead the Interview Transcription Here
Melyssa Griffin: Hello there Pursuit with Purpose tribe. So I feel like a lot of us go through those awkward preteen years where we just feel unattractive and awkward. I was certainly no stranger to feeling like an ugly duckling. I actually remember towering over everyone else, having acne before it’s even reasonable, and being born with curly hair that was a perpetual frizz ball because I didn’t know how to take care of it. Meanwhile, my idols at that time were people like Hilary Duff and Britney Spears, so I was surrounded by examples of these beautiful women who looked nothing like me. I’d get teased a lot for what I look like. I just had plenty of moments of wishing I had a different face and body. Around that time, when I was in junior high school, my mom bought me a book all about natural beauty which was written by Bobbi Brown. Now I didn’t realize it then, but that book was a catalyst that helped me see myself in a new light, because not only did it include images of women showing off their natural, imperfect features, but it also celebrated diverse forms of beauty in a way that I hadn’t really seen in the media so far. It just made me feel a little more normal and it gave me a hint of this new courage to feel comfortable with who I was.
Now fast forward to today and Bobbi Brown is still prolific in the beauty industry. You’ve probably heard of her makeup company, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, which was acquired by Estee Lauder in the 90s, and where she served as the Chief Creative Officer for more than 20 years. Now Bobbi Brown has moved on from her cosmetics company to start an all-natural supplement brand called Beauty Evolution, as well as justbobbi.com, an editorial and lifestyle platform. But for over two decades, Bobbi has been a pioneer in the natural beauty space, with a motto that says “the secret to beauty is simple, be who you are”. Basically, Bobbi Brown is a complete bad ass. I am honored to share her message and story with you in this interview.
Now during our inspiring conversation, Bobbi and I chat about what it was like to create a brand that emphasized natural beauty in the late 80s when the most popular beauty trends involved big, bold and unnatural makeup. We also talk about what it was like to go from being a makeup artist to running an enormous global brand, as well as the decisions she made that helped to set Bobbi Brown Cosmetics apart from the hordes of other beauty brands out there. So whether you’re a makeup fanatic, a champion for helping people feel comfortable in their skin, or an entrepreneur just looking to glean tips from a super savvy business woman, then this interview is for you. Let’s jump in.
Melyssa Griffin: Hey, Bobbi. Welcome to the show.
Bobbi Brown: Nice to talk to you.
Melyssa Griffin: Very excited to chat with you. I was talking about Bobbi before this and told her that I think when I was like 13 or 14, my mom bought me her teenage natural beauty book. It definitely changed how I felt about beauty, starting at that point. So I’m really excited to chat with you today.
Bobbi Brown: You’re so pretty. It seemed to have worked.
Melyssa Griffin: Thank you. Thank you. I definitely went through my little ugly duckling phase as a teenager. The book gave me some more confidence. So I want to know, I always love knowing this about people who are really successful and think differently than a lot of others at the time. What was your childhood like? What was it like growing up and how do you think that affected the course of your career?
Bobbi Brown: Well growing up, it was actually pretty normal and pretty average. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago to very young parents, 20 and 21. I was the oldest of three kids. My dad was a lawyer. My mom stayed at home. I was just a suburban kid. As I got older, I was not your normal kid, I was much more social than studious. My friends were more important than my schoolwork.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. I feel that. Where do you feel like your philosophy about natural beauty came from?
Bobbi Brown: Well I think that self-esteem and confidence has always been something that I have dealt with. When I was in middle school, I mean you look back and you think about how you felt when you were having your ugly duckling or whatever you called it, which I doubt by the way. If you look back at pictures, I’m sure it really wasn’t there. I think how we feel about ourselves as a young adult or a pre-teen is so cemented on how the rest of your life you feel about yourself. So when I was that age, I was short, I’m still five foot tall, dark hair. I’ve always kind of struggled with 5 or 10 pounds. I wasn’t the most athletic. I wasn’t the smartest kid. I really felt insecure about who I was compared to my cool friends that were cheerleaders and they were in the school play. I didn’t really realize that I was actually really cute until years.
Melyssa Griffin: What shifted for you when you realized that? Was there—did someone tell you something?
Bobbi Brown: Yeah, you know what, I remember exactly. I remember being in seventh or eighth grade and going to see the movie “Love Story” and Ali MacGraw was the actress. It was the first time a brunette with strong eyebrows, very little makeup, was the star of this movie. It’s the first time when I looked at her, her hair parted in the middle just like mine was, I realized you know what, I could be pretty too. I don’t have to look like Christie Brinkley or Cheryl Tiegs or any of the models at the time. I could look like this natural girl and still consider myself pretty.
Melyssa Griffin: So amazing how much media affects us because I feel the same way. I was just watching “Moana” recently. I actually have very curly hair naturally and so does she. I thought the same thing, like this is the first time I’ve really seen a cartoon character that has hair that looks like mine, and maybe that’s okay. Maybe that makes me feel better about what I look like too.
Bobbi Brown: I’d love to see your hair curly by the way. You look like one of those typical California girls… long, straight blonde hair. You just get out of bed and you do this. First of all, the great thing about curly hair, you probably have a lot of hair.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, I do.
Bobbi Brown: And that’s a good thing.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, absolutely. To be honest, I think what I’ve told myself is when I feel confident enough to wear my hair curly all the time, that’s when I’ll know that I fully love myself, and that’s when I know that I am fully confident in who I am.
Bobbi Brown: Yeah. You don’t have to wear your hair curly all the time, but you have to just be comfortable with having curly hair. Honestly, I have somehow morphed into being comfortable in my own skin even on the days where I don’t feel my most attractive. I was in Florida this weekend with my husband, my son, and his girlfriend. We were out for a nice restaurant. My hair was—I don’t know how to blow dry my hair. It was wet in a ponytail, a bun, as my husband calls it, a man bun. At dinner, he looked at me and he said, “It’s not your best look.” I realized well maybe I should have taken a few minutes. He kind of bummed me out. I told him, but he’s right, I don’t look in the mirror a lot. I just kind of decided to have a good time and not feel bad about myself because I might not be feeling good that moment.
Melyssa Griffin: I love that. So I want to talk a little bit about your early days as a makeup artist. I don’t think many people know, who are listening, they might not know that you started as a makeup artist with this huge brand. So what were those early days like?
Bobbi Brown: Well the early days were really interesting because I had no clue what I was doing and I just did it anyway. So I was a freelance makeup artist in New York, and this is after I graduated college. I graduated college with a degree in theatrical makeup. I moved to New York. Yeah, I thought I wanted to work on movies. I did one movie after I graduated, a local teenage docudrama. Honestly, I was bored to death. It was just sitting around. I didn’t like it. So I moved to New York, opened up the yellow pages and started calling magazines. I would just look up in the magazines who was the photo editor, I didn’t know what a photo editor was. I just started making phone calls and going to show people my book. My book was pictures of myself mostly that I had made up and taken pictures of. It took a while to really talk someone into hiring me.
Melyssa Griffin: And you were looking to be hired to do like editorial makeup?
Bobbi Brown: Yeah, editorial. I mean I knew there was no jobs. I didn’t want to work in a department store. I didn’t want to work in a corporate job. I wanted to be a makeup artist. I read an article in a magazine about a makeup artist who was freelance, who did work with all the big photographers, did magazines, and I thought that’s fascinating. So I called her. She never called me back, but I got her answering machine that said, “For work, call my agent Bryan Bantry. So I called Bryan Bantry. I said can I come and talk to you and ask you questions. He pretty much told me the lay of the land, how things were, and it wasn’t going to be easy.
Melyssa Griffin: There’s always that one pivotal person who changes everything or many pivotal people throughout the years I’m sure.
Bobbi Brown: But honestly, I think one of the best attributes I had, and I have it today, is I’m so naïve. I’m not worried about things not working out.
Melyssa Griffin: Ignorance is bliss. And you just go for it. It’s like you don’t have the knowledge at the time to talk yourself out of it.
Bobbi Brown: And if it doesn’t work, so you do something else.
Melyssa Griffin: Yes, exactly. So okay, you were a makeup artist starting to get some gigs in magazines. How did you then transition? I know you came out with a line of lipsticks that were a little bit different than what was out there at the time. What did that look like? How was that like?
Bobbi Brown: Well first of all, at this time, it was the 80s. The 80s makeup was incredibly artificial. Most of the magazine makeup artists would do makeup and you would have to contour, you would have to do highlight, you would have to draw over the lips, all these things that I couldn’t do to make someone look pretty. I always thought the girl looked prettier when she came in without any makeup on. I loved using my makeup to make her look tanner or to have her eyes stand out. I just liked more natural. I* wasn’t popular and I even had a big makeup artist say to me, “You’re never going to work. If you want to work, you’re going to have to do this other kind of makeup.” I couldn’t do it. It didn’t feel authentic. So I somehow started to get hired by people that actually liked that look, and then more people hired me, and then magazines started writing my tips how to get the look. And then it kind of grew from there. I was known as the natural makeup artist. I would have to mix and blend all my makeup because you couldn’t go into a store and buy makeup. I remember my dad gave me his credit card. He said, “You have a $500 limit”, which at the time was probably like 2500 now. I went into the best department store which is Bergdorf Goodman and spend $500 on makeup. I got home and I couldn’t use any of it. Not one of it worked. I couldn’t get anyone to look good with it. So what I did figure out, because I’m someone that could fix things, if I had a certain yellowy, orange pigment, I could mix that with the pinky foundations and make it look like skin. That’s when I realized yellow tone foundation is what looks natural. And then one day I was on a shoot for a magazine and I was at an early Kiehl’s pharmacy, the brand Kiehl’s where it was just one pharmacy. There was a chemist behind the counter who had made a couple lipsticks and I said, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to make a lipstick.” He said, “Well how would yours be different?” I said, “Well I want to look like my lips. I don’t want it greasy. I don’t want it dry. I want it creamy. I want it to stay on. I want no scent at all. I want to make it in people’s lip colors.” He said, “I’ll make it for you.” And that’s how I started.
Melyssa Griffin: That is so cool. What I love about that too is that initially you heard from this big name makeup artist, you heard from people like you’re never going to make it if do this thing that’s different, but doing the thing that was mainstream felt inauthentic to you. So you still did it. And then people started popping up saying like this is what we’ve been waiting for, this is what we want. I love that lesson of just knowing that even if there’s a lot of naysayers, there’s so many people who are probably quiet, waiting for thing that you are yearning to build. So I think that’s beautiful.
Bobbi Brown: Thanks.
Melyssa Griffin: So were there any makeup trends, as you’ve now built Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, were there any makeup trends or products that other people were, at your company were pushing on you over the years that you resisted?
Bobbi Brown: Well, there was many. I sold the company after four years. I stayed with the company 22 years. I’m hopefully—you know that I’m no longer with the company, right?
Melyssa Griffin: Right, yes.
Bobbi Brown: People still don’t know. I’m like I hate you tell you in the middle of an interview, but yes there was—are you kidding? There was, everything was always—I don’t want to say a struggle or a fight, but I always believed in what I believed in. There was plenty of people, whether they were marketing people or other people that said we need this. There’s no way I was doing contour, no way I was doing the trend of lightning the skin like in Asia, there was no way. So I was constantly sticking up for what I believed in and adapting the trends to make it work. For example, when BB cream first came out, it was all the rage. Everyone needs a BB cream. When I saw BB cream for the first time, I said no way. BB cream, which a lot of people don’t know, was originally called blemish balm, and it was created by a plastic surgeon to cover all the redness after surgery. So it was basically cake. I said there’s no way, but my product development team said to me, “What if we Bobbi-ize it?” I said okay go ahead. They worked on it. They got it looking like skin and we became the number one BB cream and got all these awards. It was way too strong for me to wear because I just don’t like foundation. So I didn’t like the look of it, but women that did like foundation, it was a more natural version of it.
Melyssa Griffin: I like that it was the top selling one. It’s almost like you’re just proving that women want to look like themselves, not this fake, processed version of themselves.
Bobbi Brown: They do. I always said I didn’t invent makeup but I reinvented it. I would take things that didn’t work and fix it. Being an entrepreneur, that’s what I do. That didn’t work, how do I make it better? These are things that always have to be in your mind when you’re an entrepreneur.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, absolutely. So I mean I would think that being in the beauty industry for over 20 years, your perspective, even coming in as somebody who loves natural beauty, wants to spread that message to people. I would expect that being in the beauty industry for so long, your perspective may have changed or evolved in that period of time. Was there any evolution or difference between the beginning and maybe now?
Bobbi Brown: The beginning and now is the same, and I’ll get to that. The beginning of my journey, while I was at the company, when you are part of a corporation and you have numbers to make, and you got to figure out how you you’re going to grow the business and how you’re going to keep on top. We went from the number one line in some stores and then we weren’t anymore, and then things changed. So you always had to figure out how we could stay competitive. For me, it was about sticking to what I believed in, but knowing what the market wanted. So I would always try to adapt the opportunities. I hate calling them trends because trends to me are just stupid. But I would adapt the opportunities to okay how do we do it our way. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it might not work and then we do something else, but I was very, very, very focused on making the numbers, growing the brand and competing with not just the big companies which I did early on, but then all the newer companies that came in and then the digital companies that came in. So you were constantly having to look at yourself and figure out how you could be better than anyone else. And now that I left the company and I’m resetting my entire brain, how I look at the makeup industry, the beauty industry, I’m kind of back to where I started where I think most women wear makeup so they don’t look like shit. You just want to look better. You want to look like a better version of yourself. That’s really it. There’s days we wake up, we’re tired. There’s days we wake up, we feel great. You want to be able to use makeup to work with your mood, but mostly to work with how you feel about yourself. And that leads to confidence.
Melyssa Griffin: Did you ever come to a point where you thought that getting women to wear makeup was going against your message or that people should just not wear makeup at all?
Bobbi Brown: Never. I’ve always, always believed in makeup, hair, adornment, anything to be able to make you feel better about yourself. I’m a very simple basic person but I know that there’s days where I just need some color in my cheeks and there’s most days where I need some concealer or corrector under my eyes. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with myself. I don’t want to look overdone.
Melyssa Griffin: Right. You just want to look like you.
Bobbi Brown: I just want to look like me and I want to look good. I’ll throw on some sparkle if I go to a friend’s wedding and black eyeliner. I just tried for a month to do the lashes that everyone’s doing, the individuals that stay on so you don’t have to wear mascara. I’m never doing that again. All my lashes fell off. Now I’m letting them grow back.
Melyssa Griffin: No way. Do you put them on yourself?
Bobbi Brown: No, you go and you get them done. There’s all these lash and people…
Melyssa Griffin: Oh yes, I know what you’re talking about.
Bobbi Brown: It’s blowing up. It works for some people. It honestly was too heavy for my lashes. My lashes broke. All right, that’s not going to happen.
Melyssa Griffin: So you were talking about you as a makeup artist and then launching and running this big brand. Was it your dream to become an entrepreneur?
Bobbi Brown: 100% not. If someone had shown me a future ball that says okay here’s your future and you’re going to have a billion dollar brand, you’re going to have your calendar book six months to a year, you’re going to be in demand, you’re going to have to do all these thing, I would run the other way. While I was building this brand, I was also building my family and my life. I lived out of the city. I married the man of my dreams. I had three kids. I was always balancing how can I do everything. My husband has always been a great role model for me. I usually picked my family over anything else, but it was a struggle. It wasn’t easy.
Melyssa Griffin: How did you get through that? Because I find I have a boyfriend and a dog, and I find sometimes running my own company, that it’s really challenging with how busy it gets. How did you work through that?
Bobbi Brown: He was a really—he is a really good role model, but especially in the beginning, why do you have to be in every meeting? Why do you have to go just to be seen? Why do you have to do that? Why do you have to do that? I realized he’s right. So I stopped going to events at night unless it was a friend of mine who was being honored. I didn’t need to just be seen or I had a commitment to the corporation and they really wanted me to do something. I left my office at 4-4:30 and came home for dinner with my kids. I scheduled my exercise in my calendar because it was important for me. Even though I was the Chief Creative Officer, I also was the spokesperson. I needed to look put together from time to time and it wasn’t easy. So I started to take care of myself. No one says it’s easy, but I made sure to do the things that really mattered.
Melyssa Griffin: I like your point of—because I feel like, you started as a makeup artist and then you’re running this enormous brand. I feel like your business would demand different things of you as the CCO at those different levels, so recognizing. You mentioned that you recognize I don’t need to go to every event, I don’t need to be in every meeting. I think there’s a mindset shift that needs to happen for entrepreneurs when they do grow their business, of what’s needed for me at this point and what can I not be doing any more that’s taking away that fire from me.
Bobbi Brown: Right. And also if you don’t have the time to kind of reset yourself, how can you be creative? And then problem solve, like we would sit in meetings. There was always issues and problems. We’d sit in these big meetings and everyone would be talking, and some people upset, some people great ideas, and you’d leave the meeting with kind of a solution. But then I would get in the car and go home, and all of a sudden, I would think about the meeting and I would say oh my God, this—I have a great idea and I would call someone, because just removing myself from that, is what really gave me the clarity. Also, most of my creative ideas, because all the products were based on something in my life, whether it was travel or color in a woman’s face, they all came out of me. There was no teams telling me what the season should be. I never got those ideas sitting in our office, never ever. I got them from stones in the ground when I hiked or how the sunset on my kid’s cheeks or the popsicles they ate. So nothing in the office is a really good thing.
Melyssa Griffin: It’s like those intangible things that it’s hard to quantify, but they make a difference. So you brought up earlier when you first introduced your line of lipsticks, launching Bobbi Brown Cosmetics at Bergdorf Goodman. How did you get that deal with such a huge department store as your very first foray into cosmetics?
Bobbi Brown: Kind of the same way that other things have happened in my life. I had started these lipsticks out of my house after I had my first child. I was still commuting to the city, doing catalogue work and editorial. One day, I went to a party, someone’s friend—I don’t even know who they were, in New York. I lived outside in the suburbs. I said to the woman, “Thanks for inviting me.” I said, “Hi, I’m Bobbi.” I said, “What do you do?” She said, “I’m a cosmetics buyer at Bergdorf Goodman.” I said, “Oh, I’m a makeup artist and I just worked on this line of lipstick.” She said, “Wow, that’s so cool. Tell me about them.” I told her about them. I sent her the things. She brought it in and they said all right let’s try it, let’s take it. So that’s how I got that. I also was really lucky because another time, I met a woman on the beach. I said, “What do you do?” She said, “I’m a book agent.” I said, “I’ve always wanted to do a book.” And that was my first book. Another time I met someone in an elevator and I said, “Hi, what do you do?” She said, “Oh, I work for a cosmetics manufacturer.” Honestly, I met a grandmother at a book signing in Florida and she said, “I’d love to see you on the Today Show.” I said, “Yeah, it’s one of my dreams.” She said, “My grandson is Jeff Zucker, he’s the executive producer.” I’ve been pretty lucky.
Melyssa Griffin: Do you think it’s luck? Like what do you chalk it up to? Is it luck? Are you a good networker? Is it fate?
Bobbi Brown: I think it’s a combination of everything. I have gratitude because I do think I’m lucky, but I think I’m open. I’m really open to interesting things and ideas. I’m not afraid to communicate with someone. You never know where things are going to lead you.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. I feel like there must be some level of assuming that every person you meet has some value or some just—they’re worth talking to.
Bobbi Brown: Everyone does and I don’t care if you are an Uber driver, a taxi driver. I talk to everyone because I find people’s stories really interesting. You get a different perspective on life. When I was win the lipsticks, my market research was in the park with my kids, the moms and the nannies. The nannies were from all over the world. So I had very nice global group of women.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. I like that. I feel like I have the best conversation with my Uber and Lyft drivers too. It’s like the most interesting people drive for Uber and Lyft. It’s kind of amazing.
Bobbi Brown: And you know what, when you’re in an elevator, guess what? Just say hi to people. People get in elevators and they just stand there. I know it’s only a second, but hi, that’s all. You don’t have to have any other conversation, just say hello.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, you never know where it might go. I like that. So in those beginning days of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, were there any decisions or choices that you felt help to separate you from other cosmetic brands out there?
Bobbi Brown: Like every single one of them.
Melyssa Griffin: What were some of those key decisions?
Bobbi Brown: Well some of the things, like I never wanted the artist that sold my makeup to be on commission. I wanted that salary to be enough, and that worked in the beginning. I also didn’t want them—I didn’t want to train them to sell. I wanted to train them to teach people to be their own makeup artists. No one else did that back then. I also made decisions that I wanted to call the colors exactly what they looked like -blue, purple, dark brown. Those kind of things.
Melyssa Griffin: Not hot rod red or fantasy purple.
Bobbi Brown: When I was on television or did any kind of press, I never wanted to sell my products, but I would teach. I would say use a brown eye shadow, use a beige shadow. I had colors that were that. So that was really helpful. For me, just being authentic and being real has really, what’s worked in my life.
Melyssa Griffin: I like that. Do you feel like you’re a natural teacher? Do you love teaching?
Bobbi Brown: I am. I am a natural teacher, yes. Not everyone wants to learn.But I am. Especially now that I meet so many young girls who are starting their own businesses, and trying to teach them the things that no one really taught me and that I learned myself. I do.
Melyssa Griffin: I feel like you touched on a couple of things that are really important now and things that a lot of our listeners are doing or wanting to do in their business, which is teaching in some facet. A lot of people who listen are online course creators, coaches, consultants. And then also authenticity of just finding ways to be yourself rather than following the chain or trends of what other people are doing. Did you ever find that there was any struggle or difference being a female running such a large company?
Bobbi Brown: I never ever felt that being a female got in the way. As a matter of fact, I always felt being a female, being a mother, being a wife, only helped in all situations, even in a big boardroom. Once I got over feeling comfortable in my outfit, was I wearing the right outfit, once I set down to actually discuss what we’re talking about, it was always really clear to me. There were times where I didn’t agree with what they were saying. I had no reason at all to argue with them. I just said that’s a great idea and I just did what I wanted anyways.
Melyssa Griffin: I like that. You just listen politely and then you just do whatever actually feels good to you. I enjoy that. Okay, so I’m personally curious about having a brand that was under your own name and actually selling that brand too. So my brand is under my name too, Melyssa Griffin. It definitely has its own set of challenges being the face of a brand. I struggle with it sometimes too. I’ve read that you did struggle with it a little bit too. Were there any challenges that you ran into as the face of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and especially now after you’re no longer with that company?
Bobbi Brown: Well certainly in the beginning, it was very weird. You walk in stores and you see it, and it’s not easy, but you deal with it. I was the kind of person that would walk in and see all the things that needed to be better. So I didn’t always notice the big giant names. I noticed if the font was in the wrong size or the lighting was bad. I think that the responsibility of having your name, means that not only do you have to be involved in every detail, be involved in the day to day, and at the same time knowing who to hire and what to do to make sure you have the right hires, and sometimes you make a mistake. Certainly selling my name wasn’t an issue. I never thought I would walk away from the brand, and when I did, it was very strange. It’s been a year and a half, and it’s fine. I’m overjoyed, the way everything turned out. I couldn’t be happier that I have a whole new life, because I really thought the rest of my life was going to be trying to fix something that I didn’t have power to fix. Anyone that sells their company, they’re not in charge anymore. You can only be in control of so many things.
Melyssa Griffin: Right. I’d love to hear more about that. What was that transition, what is it like actually? Because you’re probably still going through it, of selling such a large company. It almost seems like, especially because it has your name, that it would be like this kind of loss of identity or transition. What was that like for you?
Bobbi Brown: I sold the company 22 years ago, now 23 years ago. After the company was four years old, I sold the company, I sold my name. I even sold my likeness when it came to cosmetics. So it was never an issue for me because I was going to be there forever, but when the decision was made mutually to not be there anymore, it was weird. I didn’t know what was on the other side of this amazing journey. I had nothing to compare it to. It wasn’t an overnight decision, but the final decision happened pretty quickly. And so when you walk away and all of a sudden everything on your calendar doesn’t exist anymore, but the good news is all of your things you were worried about, doesn’t exist either. That just left your body, all the stress. But if I didn’t leave and really take a step back, I wouldn’t realize all the things that I’m able to do. Since leaving the company, I launched my 9th book and I did a whole book tour, “Beauty from the Inside Out”, which is not what you put on your face but what you put in your body which is what I always tell people. I opened a store within a store at Lord and Taylor called the Just Bobbi shops curated store. Then I created the experience and decorated, designed a hotel that’s opening hopefully next month in Montclair, the George Inn. That’s been incredible. I’m launching a site called justbobbi.com which I’m really excited about. It will have all of my archives, all of my interviews, plus some new content. The last thing that I can actually talk about is products are coming out, not makeup products, but wellness products. It’s going to launch on QVC the end of March, beginning of April.
Melyssa Griffin: Wow, you’re a busy lady.
Bobbi Brown: That’s what happened this year.
Melyssa Griffin: Wow, that is very cool. It’s almost like you left the company and then just had this explosion of all the things that maybe you’ve kind of been pushing down over those years.
Bobbi Brown: Oh, 100%. First of all, even having lunches and dinners with people and breakfasts that I never was able to. I find that so many other entrepreneurs and interesting people that I find fascinating, I’ve been able to have relationships with. It’s amazing the difference now. When I started as a young entrepreneur, no one was helping you. Now everyone helps everyone. There are so many—gotten names of so many amazing places and so many people that we just all share. It’s a really nice network and I’m really proud to be part of it.
Melyssa Griffin: That’s very cool. So you’ve been really happy with this transition it sounds like.
Bobbi Brown: I’ve been really happy. I try not to follow what the brand is doing because it’s not the same place where I worked. It doesn’t look the same. It doesn’t feel the same.
Melyssa Griffin: That must be a challenge.
Bobbi Brown: Well it took a while for me to even be able to talk about the brand without my kind of choking up, but I am so separated from it because it’s such a drastically different place. The things I see are not anything to do with what I believed in, and that’s fine. Brands take different turns all the time. Lots of people sold their namesake brands and the brands live on.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. It sounds like you’re still perpetuating that philosophy and message that was always at the heart of the brand in these other new ways that you’re creating.
Bobbi Brown: Well exciting for me is that I could really go back to talk about my love of simplicity, my love of empowerment, my love of confidence, my love of feeling good in your skin. But now it’s not just about the makeup you put on your face, it’s a whole holistic approach. That’s what I believe in.
Melyssa Griffin: You mentioned holistic and you also mentioned that you’re talking more about what you put in your body, how that affects beauty and confidence. Can you talk a little bit about that and what that looks like for you?
Bobbi Brown: Well I know for me when I am rested and I exercise and I have a little bit of time, I feel really good about myself. When I’m stressed and overwhelmed, not so much. So health and wellness is really important to me and a lot of the products are lifestyle inspired to help those kind of things. So that’s really cool. I just really am most excited that I feel that right now I’m the boss again. Being an entrepreneur is being your own boss. I like being in charge, can’t help it.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. That would be a difficult transition I feel like if I ever had to do that too.
Bobbi Brown: I always tell anyone that sells their company, there’s great things about it, but there’s also things you have to give up. You have to you know what those things are and know when it’s time to leave.
Melyssa Griffin: Right. I like this holistic approach because it’s taking those pieces of what you’ve always done with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and natural makeup, and now just adding all these other elements of exercise, health, eating healthy. Just create this natural beauty from the inside out, which is what you say. So I love that. So I’ve got one final question for you Bobbi, that I love to ask all of my guests. That is, what do you feel people should do to live more meaningful and fulfilled lives?
Bobbi Brown: Well I think there’s no question besides taking care of yourself, because if you don’t feel good in your skin, you can’t live your best life. Honestly, try to get out of yourself and try to be the best friend you could be, try to be a friend of strangers, give back. I’ve always said the more in life you give back, the more you get. So just be the best person you could be. It’s not about giving money. It’s about listening. It’s about giving your time. Some people just need to be heard.
Melyssa Griffin: It’s about saying hello to the people in the elevator with you. I like that. Awesome, amazing. So where’s the best place for people to go to find you? Is it justbobbi.com?
Bobbi Brown: We’re taking emails at justbobbi.com, so when the site launches. Justbobbibrown on Instagram, is probably, you could see every single thing that’s happening. George_Inn, which is the hotel is another Instagram. Stay tuned because there’ll be other things coming.
Melyssa Griffin: Awesome. Thank you so much, Bobbi. You’re wonderful.
Bobbi Brown: Nice talking to you. You too. Thank you.