THE OUTNET’S Head of Content, Claudia Mahoney, got to spend some time with the CEO of EVOLUTION_18, makeup founder and artist, Bobbi Brown. In case you missed their inspiring live conversation, we made sure to save some of the best bits…
Bobbi: And we are live! I’m going to show you one of my first beauty tips. You see my little baby hairs? A little touch of leftover gloss usually works but my god my baby hairs are killing me.
Claudia: I’m liking that you’ve got your EVOLUTION_18 brand behind you, a giant prop of Coco Chanel and a giant bottle of Moet. That seems to me to be the best prop ever.
Bobbi: Well, I don’t drink champagne, someone gave it to me. And, the hat is signed by Pharrell.
Claudia: I mean, that’s pretty cool. Anyone else trying to do some sort of curated shelf for Zoom, you’ve completely blown them out of the water. I just wanted to start off by saying that the number of messages I received when I said that we were chatting this evening saying, ‘oh my goodness she is such a friend of women, she really champions women and always wants us to be like our best selves.’ Is that something that you’ve always had in you, have you always been a feminist person?
Bobbi: Well, I’ve never thought about being a feminist and what as a feminist means, it means you champion women so, I guess yes, I’ve been a feminist. But, how could we not all want our fellow friends, especially women to be their best selves? That’s called being human and a wonderful person.
Claudia: I know the story about the 10 lipsticks. But, could you tell people watching a little bit about your background and how you came to be this huge beauty mogul basically?
Bobbi: Well, over 35/30 years ago I was a freelance makeup artist and I could never find colors that I liked. I used to make my own lipsticks and I met a chemist one day and I said ‘wow, I bet I could make these lipsticks.’ And, I thought about nude-colored lipsticks and then I added a red, a pink, an orange — I had 10 colors. I started selling them out of my house to friends, to models, to editors. I had a new baby, I was living in the suburbs it became, as now we call it, a side hustle. Honestly, the only reason I even thought of it was because I decided I didn’t want to travel anymore with editorial shoots because I didn’t want to be away from my husband and my kid. Family has always meant everything to me.
Claudia: So, was there a point that you thought, you set off with this fairly lowly ambition which was just not have to travel so much that things snowballed and escalated that suddenly you thought ‘oh my goodness I’ve completely smashed all of my ambitions here, I’ve completely made it, I can put my feet up now?’
Bobbi: Well, I would say that’d be about now! But yes, there were always points when you’re like ‘oh my god.’ Whether it’s a Glamour Woman of the Year Award or you’re watching a movie that Bruce Weber did in your honor or, I mean, you’re at the Ambassador’s home celebrating some milestone — so many incredible things. I’ve been so lucky and so grateful. I’m just someone that is really curious, I like to try new things and I just, I don’t feel done.
Claudia: When someone is sitting in the makeup chair, there is such a trust and intimacy isn’t there? That comes about from someone touching your face and you must have got some amazing gossip and secrets over the years.
Bobbi: Well, it’s kind of like visiting a shrink when you’re sitting there without makeup and you come in in the morning and you just don’t feel good. Who you gonna talk to? You’re gonna talk to the makeup artist. So, I’ve heard lots of things. And, I think it’s one of the reasons why I’m actually very empathetic towards people is being a makeup artist. Because, I know that everyone is going through something which leads them to, you know, to who they are. And, I think it’s important to realize to everyone out there, people are going through things. Especially now during, you know, we’re all in this together.
Claudia: My next question is are you a Type A person?
Bobbi: Yeah! I mean, I’m A-. You know, in our EVOLUTION_18 brand, we launched two products while we were all in our homes. And, you know what, the amazing thing is the olden days we’d send out press releases, we’d send out press kits, we’d have parties, we’d tie little bows. You know? And guess what, we didn’t, we just did an Instagram Live, a Facebook Live and a couple ads…
Claudia: And has it been just as good, just as successful?
Bobbi: It has been just or even more successful.
Claudia: I was going to ask you about the ethos behind your EVOLUTION_18 brand. I wonder if the sort of success of the brand has been, in some ways, perfectly timed for this moment.
Bobbi: Well, I think that being in touch with what’s happening has always been something that I’ve done. Even before lockdown, I shifted from beauty from the outside to beauty on the inside. So, yes, makeup makes you look healthy but if you actually are healthy and your skin is healthy, makeup looks a lot better. So, my ninth book, Beauty from the Inside Out came out right when I left the brand and I left Bobbi Brown Cosmetics 4 years ago. So, I promoted this book and then had an opportunity, created an opportunity, found an opportunity to launch the products.
Claudia: I wanted to ask you about kind of like your business success because you’re obviously a creative but also you wouldn’t have got to where you are without having a little bit of savvy about you. Where do you think that hustle comes from?
Bobbi: Well, first of all, I learn quickly and if I don’t know something I’m smart enough to get people around me that do know. So, I make sure I do what I’m good at and you know what, it’s not so much that I’m… Like, the word ambitious just sounds like negative to me. I am curious and I like things that are not easy and I like doing things I don’t know how to do and I love when someone offers me an opportunity to do something that I have no idea how to do. I find that fascinating and interesting.
Claudia: I think there is a real thirst for connection and community at the moment. I think that everyone feels in this uncertain time in the world that maybe now actually is the moment to take the step and put into plan some plan or dreams that they’ve had. Do you have any kind of advice for people starting out?
Bobbi: Yeah, I’m not big on plans, I’m much bigger on action. You know, there’s no substitution for just doing it, you know? Just doing it. Just putting it in a bag, slapping a label on, you don’t have to do anything fancy, just start it. You have to just do it and once you start doing you have to keep doing it. You have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going.
Claudia: Do you have a sort of set style, are you someone who repeat-wears the same thing, have you hit upon a formula that is your go-to or are you prepared to experiment?
Bobbi: Well, I will experiment in different navy sweaters, different blazers! So, I love The Row, I like really simple, simple, well-made, well-tailored clothes.
Claudia: I think that I’m with you, those kind of brands like Roksanda, Joseph, The Row, they’re kind of classics. And I think that really feeds into that feeling of people wanting to make meaningful purchases at the moment. Actually, buying something that is beautifully made and thoughtfully created means that it’s going to have a place in your wardrobe for much longer, right?
Bobbi: I always say to myself ‘am I gonna wear this.. what if I was gonna go to Anna Wintour’s house and do her makeup, would I wear this?’
Claudia: I have to ask, have you done Anna Wintour’s makeup?
Bobbi: I have.
Claudia: How is that? Is that a terrifying experience or is she actually…?
Bobbi: You know what, she’s actually very lovely and yes it’s always terrifying. It’s always terrifying. I’ve worked with so many incredible women, famous and not-famous from Michelle Obama to Doctor Jill Biden to Anna to Katie Holmes to Sienna Miller. I mean, I’ve done it kind of all. And, it’s always terrifying, I’m someone that always wants to do my best job and I’m always worried that I’m not going to.
Claudia: Listen, Bobbi, we’re so, so grateful to you giving up your time and we wish you every success with your new brand EVOLUTION_18. And so many comments about how wonderful you are, how relatable, how they’ve watched all your tutorials and things and love the brand.
Bobbi: Awe, thank you so much, I know we’re at Boots in the UK!
Claudia: That’s brilliant! But thank you everyone for joining us as well, we really, really appreciate it and thanks again to Bobbi Brown, the icon as someone has just said!
Bobbi: Awe, bye guys! Goodnight everybody!