When hustle meets determination, perseverance leads the way. Maintaining a positive brand reputation decade after decade means focusing on being conscious of one’s brand. Bobbi Brown, a business mogul, understands not only how to build a legacy but how to build thriving companies.

Most know the infamous entrepreneur from her company Bobbi Brown Essentials, which was acquired by Estee Lauder in 1995 with having Brown continue to run and operate the brand. After stepping down in 2016, Brown has been expanding her influence into the wellness lifestyle sector with her new company, Evolution_18, that launched in the spring of 2018 with a debut on QVC. The brand is a collection of highly effective, simple formulas that are designed to target a wide range of beauty concerns. Although her focus is still on having women feel comfortable in how they dress and wear makeup, Brown is concentrating on having women feel beautiful on the inside.

“It was certainly something that was not the easiest thing [pivoting],” Brown explains, “but it was something that I really wanted; I really had to do because I stayed with the company for over 25 years. It was time for me to be the boss again, and time for me to do the things that I thought is a better direction. It was certainly a moment of, ‘okay, now what?’ Then I quickly started working towards having a lifestyle brand, which to me, is everything from what you put in your mouth to a website; we have a hotel and we have a photo studio. My new brand is definitely more lifestyle-oriented.”

What started out as a passion for makeup turned into the foundation of a legacy. “I did both [makeup artist and being an entrepreneur] at the same time,” she laughs. “Now, the younger kids call it a side hustle.” After moving to New York City in the 1980’s, she began working as a makeup artist. It wasn’t until 1990 when Brown met a chemist that changed the whole trajectory of her freelance makeup artist career. She expressed to the chemist how she was looking for makeup that expressed a more natural look. Brown and the chemist designed 10 shades of lipstick, which debuted at Bergdorf Goodman under Brown’s company Bobbi Brown Essentials. Even as her popularity as a makeup artist expanded, she still was in the business of selling lipsticks. “I was still working as a makeup artist,” she shares. “Then I pivoted spending more time on the makeup company. How much time I spent on each thing just shifted.”

In addition to starting her wellness brand, she also curates her website, justBOBBI, worked with her husband, Steven Plofker, redesigning and opening The George, which is a design-minded boutique hotel and has published her ninth book. “In retrospect, it’s easy to talk about,” Brown shares. “When you’re in the middle of it, especially when you’re in the suburbs having children and creating a life here and running into the city doing work as a makeup artist, everything is kind of a blur. I just always believed that what I had to offer was worth telling people about. It was better than anything I ever used before, So, for me, it was just something I was passionate about, I believed in and it was just part of my normal conversation.”

Over the course of her career, Brown has become a mentor. “I’ve had to learn patience,” Brown smiles. “I had to learn how to teach a lot of young people that work for me how to do things that took me years to learn, and had teams of people do it. Now, my job is to teach, ‘this is how we do it. Take a step back. Let’s look at this. Let’s make decisions the right way. And, let’s go forward.’” 

Brown’s confidence developed over the years. She realized that dressing in what made her comfortable, which is causal and comfortable, didn’t diminish the businesswoman she is today and has been over the past 30 years. As her confidence continues to develop and she continues to pivot, she focuses on these following steps:

  • Make sure you have enough money in the bank to pay for the essentials before pivoting. Transitioning is difficult as is it, let alone having to worry about the first couple months of bills.
  • Keep in mind that success doesn’t happen overnight. Focus on where you want to be, eliminate the white noise and keep moving forward.
  • Remember that you can always press the reset button. Don’t get stuck on one idea. Keep your mind opened to every opportunity.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences,” Brown concludes. “I love to give back to young founders. What I really like to teach them is that it’s not a race. They should breathe and slow down to make sure that what they’re doing and how they’re doing it is better than anything else that’s out there. Don’t be competitive because some other similar entrepreneur has faster success. It’s about the long game.”


Photo Source: Bobbi Brown