As an entrepreneur, beauty pioneer, mother, wife and part-time tequila lover, Bobbi Brown is living the dream. Here, she tells IMAGE how she balances it all.
From the outside, it seems like you have the dream job, but is that the reality?
I have a very eclectic, rich life, full of incredible experiences, meeting phenomenal people. But, I’m really lucky because I also have a really normal, comfortable life at home with my family. 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 find time to do it all – run a company, raise three kids, and maintain a happy marriage.
If you know what’s most important to you, you’ll always make the right decisions. Strict prioritising has been my greatest tool. My family is the most important thing to me, and I fit everything else around them.
What moments do you look back on and view as being pivotal to your life now?
One winter, while home from college, I announced to my mother that I wanted to drop out of school. She said I couldn’t and insisted that I get a college degree – and I thank her for it. She asked me what I wanted to do when I finished school, and I had no idea. Then she said something simple, but it changed my life: “Forget about what you want to do with your life – pretend it’s your birthday and you can do anything you want.” I said,
“I want to go to Marshall Field’s (a department store) and play with make-up.” And she said, “Why don’t you study cosmetics and get a degree from a school somewhere?” So I went to Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, where I majored in theatrical make-up with a minor in photography.
Greatest career advice?
You need to be passionate about your craft, and you have to work hard. Don’t stop at the first hurdle. Keep your goal in mind and move forward. And, most importantly, trust your instincts.
Top two traits you look for in an employee?
I find that if it’s easy to talk to someone and I see an openness and honesty and integrity, then I usually hire them. The most important thing is that people need to be themselves. And someone could be totally, on paper, perfect for the job, but they might not have the openness, the vision. I like when people bring energy, creativity, and newness.
At 58 years old, you don’t seem to have aged at all since you started the brand in 1991.
I’m a huge fan of healthy eating. I believe that great skin is 70 per cent what you put in your mouth and 30 per cent what you put on your face, so I eat a healthy diet so that it reflects on the outside. To me, being healthy is about incorporating a well-balanced diet and exercise into your lifestyle. It’s really about finding something you’re comfortable with that you can stick too. I find I look and feel better when I stick to clean, wholesome and unprocessed
foods: lots of vegetables, clean proteins, healthy carbs, and a lot of water. I also try to exercise every day – even if it’s just for 30 minutes. If I don’t have time to work out, I’ll take a quick walk around the block or I’ll take the stairs, instead of the [lift]. I love to start my days off with some yoga or I’ll go spinning or running.
Your greatest indulgences?
I’m not fanatical about food, but I try to make the best possible choices. I like to have a cocktail, so I have tequila or vodka on the rocks with lime juice, no sugar. I love chocolate, so I’ll eat a darker chocolate that has less sugar. I love sweet potato fries. My last meal on earth would be toast with butter or cheese.
You’ve previously described your 50s as the ‘fuck it’ decade. Can you explain?
It means, what happened? How did this happen so quickly? But there’s a certain amount of peace that comes with getting older. After so many years of aspiring to unattainable ideas, I have finally learned to let it go and relax. “Letting go” doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped caring about my face, my hair, or my body. I still care, but I’m more realistic about my expectations of myself. I’m finally comfortable in my skin – and it is such a relief. Plus, I am happy, I’m healthy and have a loving husband and family, plus a job I love … what else can I ask for?
Do you feel there’s a lot of pressure to not age in an industry that celebrates youth?
I don’t feel pressure about ageing. I feel very lucky that I feel as good as I do. And, it’s not just a gift, it’s something that I have worked on. But I do think our culture has become more open to the idea of natural ageing, and the idea that age brings wisdom, strength, and hopefully a new sense of one’s beauty. I hope more people are learning to recognise that it’s okay to age. There’s something incredibly beautiful about a woman with lines in her face.
I think we should start using the phrase “living” instead of “ageing”. Lines are proof that we’ve lived life.
How do you feel about plastic surgery?
I think lasers are incredible. But it’s ultimately a matter of choice. The danger of plastic surgery is that some women see it as a way to feel better about themselves and the truth is that self- esteem has to start from within.
Do you feel the perception of beauty is universal?
Beauty today comes in many faces, colours, and shapes. I believe all women are beautiful. And after so many years of seeing similar “cookie-cutter” beauty and fashion images, I think we are starting to see a cultural shift towards a more realistic potential for all women. We’ve definitely moved away from the idea that there’s only one definition of beauty – it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. I also think women are starting to embrace that real beauty isn’t just about what’s on the outside. In fact, it has more to do with what’s on the inside. To me, the women that are the most beautiful are the ones who have a positive attitude.
You have been married for over 25 years and said it was love at first sight. How did you know?
I was 30. I had just gotten out of a twelve-year relationship, and it was one of those nights – hair in a ponytail, flat shoes, bad outfit. I went out with friends and we met. I came home and laid in bed staring at the ceiling. I woke up and called my dad and said, “I think I just met the man I’m going to marry.” I couldn’t explain it. He hadn’t even asked me out yet.
You’ve been credited with changing the perception of what’s beautiful.
From the beginning, my mission has always been to bring out the individual beauty in every woman. I believe make- up is a way for a woman to look and feel like her most confident self. Bobbi Brown make-up isn’t about rules. It’s about options, and this is something I think all women appreciate. My Pretty Powerful campaign celebrates the beauty of real women of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds through their inspiring stories, photos and videos. My hope is that these images and the Pretty Powerful message will continue to inspire women to embrace their own inner confidence, so they shine from within.
For each Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful Pot Rouge in Pretty Powerful II sold in Ireland, the full RRP less VAT will be donated to Dress for Success Dublin, a charity that helps women get into the workforce. The limited edition Pretty Powerful Pot Rouge, €26, pictured above, will be available at all Bobbi Brown Studios and online at bobbibrown.co.uk.