To meet Bobbi Brown is to feel like you are in the presence of royalty. Down to earth, dewey faced, comfortable-and-confident-but-oh-so-approachable royalty. 28 years after having her first child, Bobbi sits down with Little Spoon to open up about building her beauty empire, keeping her marriage balanced, and raising her three boys. From the highs (expanding her name into a full blown lifestyle brand), to the lows (not having time for self care… sound familiar?), Bobbi chats with us about all the lessons she’s learned as a mother and entrepreneur, and one surprising bit of advice (hint: she was winging it too, thank gosh).
Imagine this: It’s 1991, the original mom jeans are in full swing, crunchy perms are pretty much standard fare, and makeup is trending toward the flashy and bold. You would be hard pressed to find anything but a red lipstick at the beauty counter. Bucking the trend, Bobbi set out to sell a shade that was more naturally beautiful. Starting with just $5,000 of her own money and her skills as a makeup artist, she developed a line designed to embrace your genuine you. Even more impressive? She did all of this while raising her three sons, Dylan, Dakota, and Duke. “We were not broke, but we were very practical. And I had an idea for a lipstick. I never thought about a brand, I never thought about the big picture. I just thought I could probably sell this and people would like it,” Bobbi says.
The lipstick company grew… and grew and grew and grew. And so did her family. Bobbi Brown Cosmetics was acquired by The Estée Lauder Companies, and her line went global, sold in more than 60 countries.The brand would go on to launch over 30 free-standing cosmetic stores, yet somehow, Brown still maintains her entrepreneurial spirit. “It’s been incredibly fun,” Bobbi shares, when speaking of her ventures.
Uncertainty is Part of the Journey as a Mother and Entrepreneur
If it sounds like a whirlwind, it was. Her entire operation evolved from a single light pink lipstick shade into a full cosmetic and skincare line, which Bobbi dauntlessly helmed while tackling motherhood head on. “When I had my first baby, I had no clue what was going to happen. I lived in the suburbs, I had this baby, my husband was in law school, and I had an idea for a company. I had no clue how any of it was going to work. And somehow it all worked,” Bobbi says.
You know that uncertainty felt by new mamas… the one that can make you question why you did this and wonder if you can get a refund? Turns out, it’s universal. Bobbi even says so. Bobbi had her first son while working as a makeup artist to help pay the family’s New Jersey mortgage, and she soon realized that there will always be a learning curve when it comes to motherhood. “When you have a baby, you don’t know what to do. They hand you this baby in the hospital and walk out of the room… no one tells you what to do,” she says, “As an entrepreneur – I didn’t realize I was an entrepreneur then – I figured things out.” Same, same, Bobbi, I feel you.
Connecting with Children
We practically begged Bobbi to tell us how to handle connecting with our small kids and running a business, while also having time to make it to the gym more than once every 47 days. Lucky for us, she delivered. Bobbi shared several encouraging insights on raising little ones while also raising up a company. When considering how she made it work in the early years, Bobbi confessed to us how important she feels it is to live in the present, something she didn’t realize until much later. “Just be in the moment, which is not easy. I wasn’t in the moment, but I know it now….I never knew it would go by in the blink of an eye,” the serial entrepreneur says of raising her kids.
As the boys matured, so did Brown’s company, and keeping her family a priority didn’t interfere with her ventures. Trying to manage spending time with your littles and making your business dreams come true? Bobbi has been there too. There’s no magic bullet. “Honestly, priorities are everything, and there were plenty of times when the baby came with me. I have pictures of my first baby being held by talk show hosts, models, designers. I brought them everywhere,” Brown explains. “You get strong!” Well, yes, I do seem to have some newfound biceps… and I’ll admit I’m pretty into them.
And those little ones, who always seem to need so many pieces of you? They grow up, and everyone’s priorities will start to shift. “When they’re not making fun of me or laughing at me… they’re really helpful with everything from what the packaging should look like to what the marketing plan is. And honestly the most important thing – they are three nice men. They’re really nice,” she gushes. Sign me up for the Bobbi Brown fam. I’d be all in.
On Marriage and Relationships
We had to ask Bobbi about her marriage to husband Steven Plofker, because hitting the 30 year mark is relationship goals. She enthusiastically shared their sweet love story. “I think I got really lucky. I fell in love with my husband the night I met him, we got engaged three months later and married six months after that. I was pregnant on our first year anniversary. I don’t know what the answer is except that we’ve always been a couple that loves to do things together,” Bobbi says.
Bobbi loves to hang out at home and do her own thing in the kitchen (I mean, really, who doesn’t?) but her husband manages to get her out to explore. Steven’s kickback aura helps to keep them both in sync. For those of us in the trenches of new motherhood, feeling strain in every aspect of life, Bobbi’s outlook on marriage is simple and refreshing.
“It’s been 30 years, and you know, there’s always ups and down, but you learn being married for a long time, how not to piss the other person off,” she laughs.
A Mom That Really Seems to Have Done It All – We Asked Her How She Did It
During the years spent building her beauty domain, Brown found different ways to make parenting work with her lifestyle. Need to know how to make this happen? We asked her for a few tips! Do not skip this. Just don’t.
- Pick your battles, mama.
Who can’t relate to the idea of picking your battles? The real problem arises when you don’t know which battles to pick, but Bobbi suggests one straightforward technique- just reboot. “That means you might have to take some time to say- Ok, let’s press the reset button…Holding hands and putting on your seatbelt? – not negotiable. Fighting over what pants they wear to a party – who cares?” It’s the war, people, don’t worry about those battles. Focus on the war!
2. Live in the moment:
“Honestly I never knew how quick it would go. As someone who started my company at the same time I started having children, I worked really hard…I’d go back in two seconds,” Bobbi says.
Bobbi reminds us that everything is just, “a moment,” even those times when it all feels sort of impossible. “It’s a moment. Colic, being up all night, the terrible twos. It’s a moment. There’s going to be other moments, trust me. So just be in the moment… I wasn’t in the moment.”
3. Confidence comes with age:
“I don’t think there is anyone alive, especially a woman, that doesn’t have issues of feeling comfortable, and confident. It’s nothing you are born with, and certainly when you are a new mom and you’re working and trying to figure it all out, you don’t have time for yourself!”
“Being confident comes with being comfortable in your skin. You don’t get that when you’re 25, 30 years old. You don’t even when you’re 45! You get that when you’re… 50 and above.”
Beauty from Within
Bobbi’s latest baby, Evolution_18, was born In spring of 2018. While showcasing her philosophies on wellness, Evolution_18 introduces a way to target beauty concerns by focusing on inner health, something that she is passionate about. “Beauty now is really melded with health & wellness,” Brown says.
As Brown continues to expand her lifestyle brand, Beauty Evolution, she is clearly enjoying the journey back to her startup roots. When investigating what she’s most looking forward to, she answers like a true visionary. “I’m excited about things that will probably happen in the future that I don’t even know about yet,” Bobbi says.
“You don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen, you just have to think about how you can be the best at whatever you do. Whether it’s a wife, a mother, a friend, be the best that you can possibly be.”