Bobbi Brown Cleans Up + Gets Back to Beauty
May 5, 2021
You might think that if you'd built a game-changing business into large global brand and successfully sold it to a powerful conglomerate, you'd sit back, put your feet up and bask in your success, rather than launch a parallel business in a now saturated market-place with a smaller team.

But then you're not Bobbi Brown. The iconic makeup artist and beauty founder largely responsible for the no-makeup makeup revolution, is now taking on the clean beauty space with her new line, JONES ROAD. Here, she shares how mastering product is the key to success, why clean beauty, and how going against the grain can be your best path forward.

You recently launched JONES ROAD, your newest clean beauty skincare and makeup line after leaving your eponymous brand in 2016 (now owned by Estee Lauder). What does it feel like to be back in the beauty business? It feels incredible. I’m so proud of the brand we’ve created, the team we’ve built, and the game changing products that have honestly replaced everything in my own bag.

When you conceptualized JONES ROAD, what did you want to do differently than before? I’ve always said the world doesn’t need more beauty products, just better products. JONES ROAD is a collection of the products I wanted for myself because I couldn't find them anywhere else – an edited indispensable collection of clean, high-grade formulations designed for all ages, skin types and skin tones. It’s the culmination of my 40 years of experience as a makeup artist and product developer. It’s also a reflection of who I am today.

Why did you decide to make it clean + sustainable? What are the economics of being eco-friendly? If we try to eat all clean organic foods, why wouldn’t we want to put clean ingredients on our skin? When I created JONES ROAD, my goal was to create the clean beauty products I wanted and couldn’t find in the market. The Credo Clean Beauty standards are the most stringent, and that’s the bar I wanted to hold ourselves to. JONES ROAD products are made without 2,700 potentially toxic ingredients, including parabens, phthalates, sulfates, PEGs, cyclic silicones, BPA, and EDTA.

Be the best at what you do— nothing gets you more noticed than beating out all your competition.

Given the current influence of social media, how did you look at your launch differently? How has customer engagement changed when it comes to beauty? Now, business is done differently because of the rise of social media and e-commerce. JONES ROAD is a scrappy startup. We have a small team. We’re using social as a major part of our marketing strategy and we’re selling DTC. That’s the modern way to launch a business now.

Do you think there is customer crossover between your original brand and your new one? What was the best tool to bring customers along to your new venture? There’s definitely crossover— I’m so grateful to have a dedicated following, especially one that is multigenerational. The best tool in bringing customers over has been digital messaging through press and social media. The more people know about JONES ROAD, the more they want to get involved.

What are the positive aspects of today’s beauty marketplace? What are the negatives? There’s never been a better time to be in the beauty industry. I’m amazed by how innovative the products are becoming. My favorite face cream, Augustinus Bader, uses technology from burn victims and my friend Tina Craig just created an arm sculpting compound. There aren’t any limits, which is so exciting.

Advice to a beauty company on how to position themselves for acquisition: Don’t even think about acquisition. Just be the best at what you do— nothing gets you more noticed than beating out all your competition.

Favorite part of your job: Seeing the products come to life. I’m formula-obsessed. We’ll get hundreds of product submissions and sometimes still need more to make it perfect. Once it’s there, I just want everyone else to love it as much as I do.

A business mistake you made and what you learned from it: I’ve definitely hired some of the wrong people along the way. But it's all a learning process— I don’t consider anything a failure.

Common founder mistakes: Moving onto marketing or other parts of the business before mastering the product. The product is what sells.

What do you attribute to your success? Being naive and curious. I always think things are going to work out. And if they don't, I trust that I’ll pivot accordingly.

Career highlight: I’m fortunate to have had a bunch of career highlights. Being named the Beauty Editor of the Today Show and Yahoo, being appointed by President Obama for the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, and doing Dr. Jill Biden’s makeup for the 2008 inauguration are some of my tops.

A business culture priority for you now is: The pandemic has taught me the importance of taking things down a notch.

Your advice on how to give and receive feedback: I’ve always been a very curious person, naturally open to feedback. When giving feedback, be honest but compassionate. When receiving it, stay confident but open minded and flexible.

Was there ever a time your career was at risk? If yes, how did you overcome it? When I first started out as a makeup artist, my minimalist style was definitely not a trend of the time. Instead of being bummed about not getting jobs, I honed my style even more and trusted my gut.

Women on your radar: There are quite a few. Dr. Jill Biden and Michelle Obama will always be two women I admire, my Aunt Alice as my go-to for advice, and all my mentees with growing businesses— Helena and Feven of 241 Cosmetics, Alicia of Range Beauty, and Deepica of LiveTinted.

Productivity hack: Have everything you need at your fingertips, everything from cut up fruits and vegetables to a comfortable work setup.

What motivates you? Being endlessly curious and wanting to solve problems. Every product I’ve created has come from a need— I couldn’t find any high-performing clean beauty products on the market, so I created my own.

How has motherhood impacted you both personally and professionally and your reflection on motherhood at this stage in your life? Becoming a mother taught me how to be an entrepreneur— I had to figure it out, prioritize, and make sure I was able to be at the board meeting but also the holiday singalong.

Looking back, I’m so grateful that I always put my kids’ important dates on my calendar so I didn't miss out on the parent teacher meetings or playoff games. I did miss out on some fabulous photo shoots and trips, but it was definitely worth it.

Find Bobbi Brown on LinkedIn.



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