When makeup artist and cosmetics brand founder Bobbi Brown left her namesake company in 2016, retirement wasn’t on her mind. She was ready to start the next chapter and it appears she’s busier now than ever.
Earlier this year, she wrote an open letter to Refinery 29 restating her long-held philosophy. “I hope that women realize that makeup is meant to enhance, rather than to cover up, and true beauty lies in your health and vitality,” she said. “And, I plan to be a part of this new revolution of beauty again, just as I was nearly 30 years ago.”
Brown, 60, was in Denver recently to be the keynote speaker at the ACE Scholarship Awards Luncheon, talking about her ninth book “Beauty from the Inside Out” (Chronicle Books) and the variety of projects that are keeping her energized. Among them are a boutique hotel she’s developing in Montclair, N.J., with her husband of 29 years.
Before the luncheon, and following the VIP hour, where she posed for endless pictures, Brown sat down for a little Q&A session.
Here are some highlights.
How did you decide what you were going to do after leaving Bobbi Brown?
I didn’t really know what I was going to do. So I called Mickey Drexler at J. Crew and Richard Baker at Hudson’s Bay Company. I now have Just Bobbi concept shops in Lord & Taylor stores (Hudson’s is the parent company) that sell things I love like T-shirts, jeans and sneakers.
As a longtime proponent of natural-looking makeup, what do you think of the current cosmetic trends, and the makeup tutorials on social media?
I still love beauty and makeup and the transformation it can make in how you look and feel. But with all the videos on YouTube, there’s a lot of bad makeup being shown.
What’s your view on all the ways people can transform their appearance with injections and lasers and surgery?
I love lasers but they hurt and they’re expensive. I’ve had Ultherapy and PicoSure laser treatments. I’m not a fan of Botox, which I had in my 40s, because I didn’t look like myself when I used it. The net-net is we are all insecure and are looking for ways to feel better about ourselves. But the reality is that we obsess about things that other people don’t even notice. That’s why I’m more about taking better care of your health. I’m studying integrative nutrition. You need to pay attention to everything you put in your body.
Are you planning products along those lines?
I’m going to be doing ingestibles—not injectables. I’m working on a line of wellness drinks.
How do you eat healthy when you travel constantly?
It’s not hard if you know what you want. For breakfast, I had a cup of oatmeal with ground flax, a side of blueberries and some chicken sausage for protein.
When you started your company, did you worry about how you were going to make it in such a competitive, high-stakes industry?
I didn’t know there was a glass ceiling. All I knew was that I had to get my foot in the door. When I arrived in New York City in the 1980s there was a lot of ugly makeup, and I had no talent for contouring or using 15 shades of eyeshadow. I wanted makeup that was simple and looked like a person’s skin. I didn’t realize I was starting a revolution.
What’s the most exciting part of your life these days?
I’m the boss again; I’m in charge.
What’s your advice to young people who are just starting out and trying to make a name for themselves?
Work really hard. Be nice to everyone. Ask for help and admit it if you don’t know how to do something.
And what advice do you have for people either beginning their careers, or like you, are ready to do something new?
Find out what makes you happy and do it. Take it one step at a time. Take a risk. What’s the worst that can happen? And if something doesn’t work out, it’s a sign to do something else.
Suzanne S. Brown was fashion editor of The Denver Post and has interviewed Bobbi Brown numerous times. Michael Moore was one of Brown’s top assistants for four years and head educator for two years, traveling internationally and sharing Brown’s philosophy. He now is based in Denver and is the owner of Moore For Life.
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