Renowned makeup artist and the founder of the eponymous cosmetics brand, Bobbi Brown knows the importance of beauty — and how to truly define the word. In her latest book, she shares her secrets with the world.Anyone who’s spent time in the beauty departments of Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus knows the name Bobbi Brown. As the founder of a multimillion-dollar cosmetics company and a backstage mainstay at New York Fashion Week each season, Brown is an industry heavyweight. But as the woman whose company is known for its generous charitable donations (Brown herself celebrated her 50th birthday by raising more than a million dollars for the charity Dress for Success) and for creating products that give women the “no-makeup” look, her name is also synonymous with healthy beauty.
Brown began her career as a freelance makeup artist in 1980 and soon scored her first editorial shoot with Glamour magazine; shortly thereafter came her first Vogue cover (with soon-to-be-supermodel Naomi Campbell). Despite her skill as an artist, though, Brown was never completely satisfied with the products she was using. So in 1991, she developed her own line of 10 lipsticks, which debuted at Bergdorf Goodman. Fast-forward a few years, and by 1995 she had launched a complete line — one that so impressed the beauty giants at Estée Lauder that they offered to buy her company. Brown accepted, retaining full creative control over her brand.
With her latest beauty tome, Bobbi Brown: Pretty Powerful (Chronicle Books, $30), the makeup guru gives us a peek inside her world of beauty.
American Way: How is Pretty Powerful different from your other books?
Bobbi Brown: This book is all about conversations and transformations. For the past 21 years, I have listened to the stories of the women I have met in my makeup chair, and I wanted to join these women together in a book that would start conversations and inspire other women to feel better about themselves.
AW: Of the more than 70 women whose stories are told in the book, which one resonates the most with you?
BB: I would have to say Liz Murray’s has had the largest impact on me overall. She is the author of Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard, and she is without question one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met.
Bold, bright lips in matte textures
AW: Who is the most beautiful woman you know?
BB: My mother. When I was a little girl, I used to watch her put on her makeup and be in awe of how beautiful she was. She is beautiful on the inside, as well — she was the one who gave me the courage to follow my dreams to become a makeup artist.
AW: Who is the most powerful woman you know?
BB: Michelle Obama. Not just because she is the first lady but because, even with all the responsibilities she has, she remains a huge advocate for the importance of having a healthy lifestyle.
AW: What do you think is the biggest misconception about beauty among women today?
BB: Between the rampant retouching of photos and the plastic-surgery craze, we’re surrounded by unrealistic and unattainable images of what beauty should be. Those “ideals” are impossible to achieve.
AW: At what point in your career did you stop and think for the first time that you had found success?
BB: When I met a wonderful man named Leonard Lauder, and he convinced me to sell my company to the Estée Lauder Companies.
Getting to Know Bobbi BrownI will always make time for: Exercise
Favorite Saturday pastime: Bar Method and picking kale from my garden to make a fresh, raw kale salad
Right now I’m reading: Mike Wallace’s autobiography, Close Encounters: Mike Wallace’s Own Story
Last thing I bought: A pair of turquoise Vans and a nude-colored Lisa Curran bathing suit
You’ll never see me: Wear red lipstick — although I love it on other women!
Guilty pleasure: Casa Dragones sipping tequila
Right now I’m coveting: The Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag with the turquoise stripe and lining
The quickest way to my heart: Through my children