For many people, Bobbi Brown is a household name. It’s hard not to know who she is–years ago, she blew up the beauty industry with lipsticks before their time. Nowadays, she handles that and Yahoo Beauty at the same time. It’s hard to keep up with her, but she slowed down a little last year to chat with us all about her work as both Chief Creative Officer of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Editor in Chief of Yahoo Beauty.
It is considered risky by some to name a business after yourself. What lead to your decision to name your company Bobbi Brown Cosmetics?
My company launched as Bobbi Brown Essentials, 10 brown based lipsticks that were just that, the essentials. I created the line, so it made sense at the time to use my name.
Back in 1992, you created foundation with yellow undertones in order to cater to a more diverse market. How do you know when it’s time to do something different?
When I first started in the cosmetics industry, I couldn’t find shades or colors that looked natural or were truly skin tone correct. I also wasn’t crazy about the way they smelled. So I started mixing my own shades to create makeup that would truly match and complement a woman’s complexion. I create products to fill a void or I make existing products better.
As both Chief Creative Officer of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Editor in Chief of Yahoo Beauty section, how do you feel either position strengthens the other?
I built my brand on empowering women to celebrate their natural beauty and be their best, most confident selves. I bring that same philosophy and beauty expertise to Yahoo Beauty, an influential and vast new platform, which allows me to continue to inspire millions of women daily.
Many say beauty is subjective. How do you create well-rounded content through Yahoo’s beauty section for a wide market?
Yahoo Beauty is so much more than just a beauty magazine. Readers will find the tips, tricks and recommendations that they love, but they’ll also have access to a more holistic range of beauty and wellness content. I want women to come away from Yahoo Beauty not only with ideas on how to look beautiful, but also how to live beautiful.
Content ranges from the super-practical—how to create a smokey eye on the go; how to prepare for your dream job interview—to the thought provoking—what makes you feel confident? What does beauty mean to you?
We also look to share inspiring stories and in-depth interviews with powerful, confident women like Rula Jebreal, the Palestinian journalist/author/news anchor; Misty Copeland, the only African American ballerina in the NYC Ballet Company; and Lea Wallace, an aspiring Olympic competitive runner. Finally, we bring together experts in the beauty industry to offer master class tutorials and help answer readers’ every day beauty questions.
I’m just as passionate about food and wellness as I am about makeup. What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on it, so we share healthy recipes, advice on clean eating, thoughts on exercise and fitness, and life lessons from people who are living beautifully.
How do you foster beneficial relationships with other influential women such as the Middleton sisters and the latest face of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Kate Upton? Do you believe in the power of women helping women?
Lots of women have inspired me in their own special way. Women that come from different backgrounds are uniquely beautiful and have motivating life stories that are truly empowering.
We most recently signed Kate Upton as the face of the brand and it’s been so much fun working with her. Kate represents the brand’s philosophy of “be who you are” beauty. She is comfortable in her own skin, has a healthy body image, and is a woman who makes her own rules. She loves life, and that is what Bobbi Brown is all about.
A common concern voiced by the media since you took over Yahoo Beauty is that you may be too invested in the makeup industry to act unbiased as an editor. How do you remain unbiased in complicated situations?
I am confident that the two positions will inform and strengthen each other. Our mission is to make Yahoo Beauty a place that is positive and inspiring; it’s a magazine unlike any other. Beauty is so much more than makeup and what’s on the outside. My team and I take a holistic approach that combines what you put inside your body with how you take care of the outside. But everything is grounded in boosting confidence and helping women and men to feel comfortable in their own skin.
How do you accentuate your look through makeup while still remaining yourself?
All of the products and colors in my makeup line are created to meet a woman’s needs, not follow a market trend. The colors are made to complement all skin tones from the palest ivory to the darkest chestnut. My makeup style has always been clean, simple, and modern. It’s about creating a beauty style that works for each individual woman.
My philosophy is that a woman wearing makeup should still look like herself, only more beautiful. I travel all over the world and women always ask me how they can change what they don’t like about themselves, like their nose or the shape of their face. My goal is to help them look at it differently: I believe women should play up the features that they do like—accentuate whatever it is about them that’s unique and beautiful.
How do you remain relevant in ever-changing industries such as fashion and media?
I started my company more than 20 years with a simple philosophy: to empower women with the right makeup and knowledge to look and feel like themselves only prettier and more confident. Rather than trying to change or distort a woman’s features, I use makeup to enhance the features that make her unique. Bobbi Brown makeup isn’t about rules. It’s about options. This is something that I think all women continue to seek out and appreciate to this day.
You are already incredibly successful in the beauty industry. What made you decide to take the position of Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Beauty?
I really believe that beauty is not about looking perfect; it’s about being who you are and feeling confident in your individuality. I’m passionate about empowering women to be their own beauty experts and to feel comfortable in their own skin. My role at Yahoo Beauty is a natural extension of the work that I’ve been doing throughout my career, and a unique platform that will allow me to share my beauty philosophy with a global audience.
It’s my goal to curate smart, strong content that embraces all of the things that make a woman who she is, and that empowers her to be her best self. As Editor in Chief, I’ll focus on making Yahoo Beauty a place where women can go to feel inspired, challenged and understood; a place where women can engage in real conversations about beauty.
What does the future of Yahoo Beauty look like to you? How will it look different from other beauty publications?
Yahoo Beauty will be full of strong and engaging content from our all-star editorial team, but I know that the site’s identity will be shaped by readers. I’m so excited to see how women interact with our editorial content and with one another. I think the conversations that women have about beauty will be a central to our success, so I can’t wait for people to start talking.
What keeps you creative?
I’m continually inspired by the people around me and the places I visit. A lot of my products and shades are inspired by simple things, like the color of your lips after eating a popsicle, or the color of your cheeks when it’s cold outside. I’m a very visual person and a lot of the colors I see in my everyday life or on vacation are reflected in my products.
How do you keep with your employees and make sure your stores are sticking with your philosophies?
For more than twenty years, I’ve made every effort to empower women with the knowledge and products they need to look and feel their best. With this in mind, I created the Bobbi Brown PRO Team: an elite group of Makeup Artists who embody my same passion for teaching women to become their own beauty experts.
I’ve handpicked these artists because they excel in makeup artistry. These artists have special qualities that are important to me – kindness, enthusiasm, and integrity. They are my beauty ambassadors and I truly believe in them. This team works closely with me in order to best represent the brand at different capacities and at all levels of the industry – personal appearances, fashion shows, editorial shoots, seasonal ad campaigns, celebrity events and television. As brand ambassadors, they also function as talent lead in retail environments, artistry trainings/seminars and consumer workshops.
Gabby Malek: What is your vision or hope for girls on this earth and how do you and your company support this?
Nothing makes a woman or girl feel more confident than being educated and having the knowledge and skills to better her life, and the lives of her family and community members. Through our Pretty Powerful Campaign, we’ve celebrated the important messages of confidence and empowering women and girls through education. The campaign aims to help women of all ages “be who they are” by supporting educational or job skills training programs that provide them with the knowledge, skills and experience needed to overcome the inequities and disadvantages that far too many of them face each day.