Bobbi Brown: Nude lipstick and life lessons

Bobbi Brown’s mother would not let her quit college. After dropping out of three schools, Bobbi’s mother sat her down and asked, if it was her birthday and she could do anything she wanted, what would it be.


“I’d want to go to Marshall Fields and play with makewww.c2montreal.comp,” Bobbi replied.


Well, there you have it then, said her mom. There must be a college where you can study makewww.c2montreal.comp.


And there was. It was at Emerson College, where Brown found herself, found her people, and her passion. She was going to be a makewww.c2montreal.comp artist. Her fate was set (with a light dusting of translucent powder.)


Bobbi Brown didn’t rise up the ranks right away. There were many a set back (and many no call-backs). She moved to NYC where the fashion industry was booming, cash was flowing and the scene was hot (God bless the 80s). She did everything she could to cultivate a good name, a strong portfolio (often doing makewww.c2montreal.comp for free) and great karma by saying yes to whatever came her way. It was in this space of yes that she landed her paying gig with Glamour magazine. Going on to paint the faces of numerous camera-eating glamazons (paging Jerry Hall), Bobbi grew to understand that her niche was not in the cherry red lips and dramatic contouring so in vogue at the time, but in a more natural look. A look that went on to define the 90s.


Her “a-ha” moment came when she realized she was always searching for the basics in her jam-packed makewww.c2montreal.comp kit. While on set or on location, she really only needed one taupe liner, one bone eye shadow, or one nude lipstick to make her faces pop. She met with a chemist, completed her first line of ten essential lipsticks, and began selling them out of her basement. Well, from the lips of Bobbi to the ears of God, one could say, as the brand soon took off. A mention in Glamour rolled into a trial at Bergdorf’s then tumbled into selling product at Neiman’s and finally somersaulted Bobbi Brown into the other bastions of high-level retail clamoring for her goods. Leonard Lauder rang to tell her that she was bludgeoning the competition (re: him), and asked if he could buy her company. After exacting the condition of complete creative control, Brown finally conceded, and began to climb the tall corporate ladder of big-business cosmetics.


Unfortunately (or fortunately?), corporate life isn’t for everyone, and Brown asked for things to change. She moved her creative nexus to SoHo, and dispensed with the suits and ties. She put her head of marketing in charge of things and started having a manicurist come visit the office loft once a week. Dogs and children were made welcome, as was the yoga instructor who still swings by to give Brown’s staff a good stretch.

Ultimately, the tell-it-like-it-is Brown trusts her gut when it comes to doing business and hiring the right people. She offered up these tenants for journeying on the sometimes arduous road of creativity and commerce:


1. Never underestimate common sense

2. There is no such thing as no

3. Details make up the big picture

4. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it—just move on

5. Keep your eye on the road and don’t look at the competition


Also, as a last note, Brown added these words to live by: “Don’t ask for permission. Just beg for forgiveness later.”