Bobbi Brown talks about her career, current projects and the importance of caring for skin from the inside
There are not many names that are more iconic than Bobbi Brown in the beauty industry. Yet, in 2016, she stepped down from her role as Chief Creative Officer of her namesake brand, and in 2017, set up Evolution_18, a wellness label that works on beauty from the inside out. The irony is not lost on Bobbi. But health and beauty are two things, she says she always felt strongly about. Bobbi’s ‘less-is-more’ approach to make-up was evident right from when she started her brand. In 1991, she launched a line of lipsticks that imitated the natural colour of lips, and retailed them out of Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.
“When I was pregnant with my first child, I realised I didn’t want to travel as an editorial makeup artist anymore. Thanks to my years of experience on set, I came up with a simple idea for lipstick that actually looked like the color of a woman’s lips. I started by designing 10 brown-based shades that could be blended and mixed to create unique and individual hues. It was a simple concept, but one that seemed revolutionary at the time. I expected to sell 100 lipsticks in the first month and ended up selling 100 on the first day,” recalls Bobbi, who is in India as part of the India Make Up Show, curated by Brothers Incorporated.
From there, the brand grew into a phenomenon, and became the go-to for achieving the ‘natural’ beauty look. “I have always believed in individual beauty. It’s not about someone else’s ideal but is about being healthy, and happy, and unique — that makes someone beautiful. Make-up is meant to enhance your natural features, not cover them up. It should make you feel good and it shouldn’t be something you use because you think something is wrong with you,” shares Bobbi in an exclusive interview with Indulge.
Having started her career as a freelance make-up artist, who worked with numerous celebrities, models and fashion magazines, Bobbi has seen the industry transform and adapt, from the loud and dramatic ’90s to the more classy and subtle aesthetic we are accustomed to today. It could be argued that it was Bobbi Brown that really opened up the industry to make it more inclusive, by catering to a wider range of skin tones and ethnicities with an extensive line-up of foundation and lip colours.
“I worked in the heart of the fashion industry where models were emerging from all over the world and I understand what it took to include a range for all skin colours and textures. I hope all brands are discovering that you can’t just put the bestsellers in. You need something for everyone. And it goes beyond having an expanded shade range. You have to represent diverse voices through campaigns and on social media, and also consider them when you’re running a focus group and collecting feedback. Just because you have 55 shades of foundation, doesn’t mean you’ve solved the bigger problem of inclusivity,” she tells us.
Keeping it as natural as possible, being comfortable in your own skin and promoting inclusivity are paramount no doubt, but with Evolution_18, Bobbi is sending out a strong message, that what you put inside is much more crucial to what you look like on the outside. A collagen-based collection, some of the key products of Evolution_18, include an effervescent tablet made with hyaluronic acid to boost the skin’s moisture and a collagen and protein powder that benefits hair, skin, and nails, and gives you energy. “I think the clean beauty movement has been huge. People are starting to realise that what you put inside your body is just as important as what you put on it. It’s really cool and I think it’s going to continue to grow,” shares the American entrepreneur.
Down to brass tacks
In the age of the millennial, where instant gratification is the norm, Bobbi, who built an empire from scratch, is glad to see that young people today are willing to put in the hard work to make a mark in the competitive beauty industry. “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 and Jen Atkin of OUAI are really changing the way we consume and think about beauty and self-care,” enthuses Bobbi, who reveals that some of her favourite moments from her career include working with Naomi Campbell and Patrick Demarchelier for a Vogue cover. “It was Naomi’s first Vogue cover, in 1989. It happened to be my first Vogue cover too! I did a lot of beauty spreads with the magazine 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 and the Bidens during the inauguration that I will always cherish,” she says.
At the India Make Up Show, Bobbi will host a workshop on make-up techniques and share her journey, from a freelance make-up artist to a serial entrepreneur. “I have wanted to come to India for a long time. I want to experience all that India has to offer,” she shares. Post her visit, it’s back to building her brand, Evolution_18, besides creating and curating content for her online magazine justbobbi.com as a working make-up artist, working on her podcast Long Story Short and creating new experiences for guests at her hotel, The George in Montclair, New Jersey.
What got you interested in make-up?
I fell in love with make-up and beauty as a young girl. I have vivid memories of watching my mother getting ready to go out and doing her make-up. When I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I kept coming back to make-up. I studied theatrical make-up in school and afterwards, I worked as a freelance make-up artist in New York City. I learned a lot of technical skills studying make-up in college, but it was the hands-on experience that really shaped me as an artist.
Products you swear by...
RMS Beauty, Pat McGrath, Kosas, Nudestix
Your go-to beauty look...
I’ve always been a minimalist myself. I usually do my own in 10 minutes or less. My basic routine is a little black eyeliner, a coat of mascara and a touch of blush. It adds a little more definition and color to a nude face. You’ll look healthy, natural and ready to go.
We read that you have decided to give up high heels for a bit. What was the reason behind this decision?
Over the years, I’ve learned what works for me in terms of style. I love a good blazer, a skinny pant, and a white shirt. And I realised that I’m much more of a sneakers girl. I’m all about comfort, so I’m not missing the heels right now!