In 1991, makeup artist Bobbi Brown shook up the beauty industry when she launched a beauty line with the goal of helping women look more like themselves. It was the opposite of the garish, heavy-handed makeup approach that was the signature of the 1980s. It was an instant hit. Four years later The Estée Lauder Companies acquired Bobbi Brown Cosmetics propelling the brand to global success until 2016 when Brown left her namesake company.
This month, Brown makes her return to beauty with an innovative makeup line Jones Road. Brown combined her expertise as a makeup artist to develop a clean beauty line, that is high-performance, cutting edge, and can only be ordered online. Each product is designed to be used in multiple ways, multiple places, with colors combined and layered. Jones Road invites the DIY creativity that has taken hold in the beauty world since influencers and YouTube began leading the way. Brown understands that a younger generation of women are no longer going to the makeup counter to learn a paint-by-numbers way to apply makeup. Jones Road speaks to that creativity, with Brown connecting directly with her audience via social media tutorials and conversations.
Despite the pandemic Brown went ahead with launching Jones Road this month. For Brown, the timing of a brand that’s about authentic beauty seems completely aligned with our current stay-at-home lives. “Everybody’s at home and they just don’t want to be overly made up,” she says. “They want to look a little better, but what they really want is to feel great.”
Bliss: You left Bobbi Brown Cosmetics in 2016, what made you want to launch a new beauty line?
Bobbi: When I left the brand I really did not think I was going to go back into beauty. I did all these other entrepreneurial endeavors. I opened The George hotel in Montclair. I launched a beauty and health website called JustBobbi.com. I started a wellness line Evolution_18. And I just went back to being a makeup artist. I did the India make up show. I did MasterClass. And getting back into it, I just saw there was a hole, there was an opportunity for something new. When I think about makeup, basically I have evolved and the healthier I become on the inside, the less makeup I need, the better I look. I just feel so much more authentically me. I’m not looking to create a makeup brand that’s based on trends or what the market is saying. With Jones Road, I wanted to create a clean beauty line that was also high performance. I also wanted to make products that are easy to customize to create whatever look you want in order to feel authentically you.
Bliss: Jones Road feels really unique. It doesn’t look – or act – like a traditional beauty line. Is that what you were going for?
Brown: That’s the only reason that I’m so excited about being in the space again, because I do see something to reinvent. The truth is I hate the way makeup feels, so this whole line doesn’t just look good on people, it feels good. I’ve never seen another product like Miracle Balm. It adds a little color, moisturizes and reflects light so it adds a hint of glow wherever you need it – cheeks, eyelids or lips. You can apply it as a bronzer, lip color, corrector or eye shadow.
Bliss: You spent almost two years as the Editor in Chief of Yahoo! Beauty. How did that experience inform your perspective on beauty and your place in the industry?
Brown: No one has asked me this and I think it is really important. 2014 was the beginning of things being done differently in the beauty space. Things were starting to change in retail and things were getting tougher. And you can’t take a big giant shift and turn it around. Influencers like Michelle Phan were creating their own lines. Glossier launched their line. Jen Atkins started hers. Little by little, all these brands started just popping up and were completely different. They were not in stores. They were based around content and likes and followers. And I just thought “Wow.”
Bliss: Why did you choose to launch Jones Road Beauty right now, despite the COVID pandemic?
Brown: The most interesting thing about the timing is that this is a brand based on feeling better, not just looking better. And that is what people are looking for right now. Everybody’s at home and they don’t want to be overly made-up. They just want to look a little better and feel great.
Bliss: There is a bravery in stepping into the beauty world again after having made such a big mark. How are you feeling right now about making the decision to launch in this space again?
Brown:. I have this insatiable curiosity that makes me want to keep exploring. And I have a new joy. My friends all say “I’ve never heard you with so much joy in your voice every time I talk to you.” And the truth is, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. One of my friends is playing bridge, one is driving cross country to see her grandchild, and you know what – I am doing exactly what makes me happy. No one in their right mind at 63 years old is going to launch a cosmetics brand – or anything! But I don’t feel 63.
Bliss: I love that you didn’t let anything, especially age, hold you back.
Brown: I think that with whatever you do, you have to be like “Okay, where am I now?” I don’t feel bad about not being where I’m not. I’m not going to feel bad that I’m not 30. A lot of people in my life, tell me to say ‘no’ to things. I tend to say ‘yes.’ I like things that are interesting, and I really like a challenge.