Bobbi Brown on Life’s Second Chapter and Launching a Wellness Brand

You probably know Bobbi Brown as the founder of one of the most successful beauty brands on the market, but since leaving Bobbi Brown cosmetics in 2016, she’s been busier than ever. She’s recently launched a new wellness line, she’s got a podcast, and of course, she’s still working as a makeup artist. Read our conversation below for some great advice on making big career changes at any age – and the one beauty product she can’t live without. 

Katie Couric: You recently launched a wellness brand — Evolution 18 — after years in the beauty industry. Why did you decide to focus on wellness, and do you think that beauty and wellness are one and the same?
Bobbi Brown: Well Katie you probably remember from when we worked at the TODAY Show together, and I was the beauty editor there. I always wanted to do segments on lifestyle and wellness from the inside out. I’m always trying to teach people that it’s not just about what you put on your face, it’s what you put in your body. So that message has been part of my DNA for many years. I wrote a book called “Beauty From the Inside Out,” which is like, 87% about wellness and teaching people how to live a healthy life, and then the rest is about beauty. I left Bobbi Brown cosmetics three years ago, and when I walked out of the door, I had no idea what I was going to do with myself, but when I decided to focus on wellness it all kind of came together. We put together a very simple, understandable wellness plan with a great price-point. And we didn’t touch the quality- we have the best quality ingredients. And I’m really proud. It’s great to be able not just to sell products to people, but to really empower people to learn about health and wellness.

Katie: You and I have so much in common (we’re even the same age!) but what really sticks out right now is that we’re both starting exciting new chapters in our careers. What advice do you have for women who might want to make a big career change but are scared to break out of their comfort zone?
Bobbi: Everyone’s different, but the first thing I tell women is that you have to first and foremost figure out your finances. Most women can’t just jump into something new like you and I did, because that’s a concern you and I were lucky enough not to have. Most women have to make sure they’re not leaving a stable job to start something new — it’s risky. So I tell them to focus on what I call the “side hustle.” While you’re at one job, you can think about other things you’re passionate about- maybe you have an idea for a product, or an app, or a book- and work on that in your spare time. I find a lot of women- certainly women our age- it’s a really cool time for us! Often our kids are grown and out of the house, and it’s a new time to take risks. I look at the second half of life as though we’re teenagers again, because it’s an opportunity to start over.

I know for myself, and I think for you too Katie, for most of our careers we were just like, “I want to get to the top, I want to get to the top.” And so we climbed the ladder one stair at a time, and you get to the top and it’s lovely… but there are so many other things up there than passion. For me, being in business, there was stress, and angst, and it’s corporate and there were so many people that were telling me what to do. So when you’re given an opportunity to start over, it’s awesome. Because you can be the boss. And you get to decide what’s interesting. So I tell myself when a new opportunity comes up, if it’s interesting, say yes. So I’ve got a lot I’m working on… I’ve got Evolution 18, I’ve got a podcast Long Story Short, I’ve got, I actually own a photo and TV studio… and then I take about four minutes a day to meditate.

Kaite: You only get four minutes to yourself a day?!
Bobbi: Haha well I’m working on that. Hey I started at three! And now I’m up to four, so that’s progress!

Katie: I know you work on some of these ventures with your husband Steven. What’s the secret to your successful marriage?
Bobbi: Well, number one, I’m really lucky. We’ve been married 30 years. I don’t just love him, I like him too. But probably the most important thing is: know what pisses the person off, and don’t do it. It sounds pretty simple, but everyone has things that piss them off. Just don’t do ‘em. Marriage can be a lot of work. But it’s worth it.

Katie: Great advice! Speaking of family — you’ve also got three grown sons. What was it like raising three boys while working in the beauty industry?
Bobbi: Parenting three boys just meant there was a lot of sporting events. Not a lot of going to the mall, or getting my nails done, or going to dance class. I am so happy to be a boys’ mom. If I ever brought any work home, especially if it was product, they just didn’t really care. Certainly some of the perks of my life they loved- like when they got to meet P Diddy- then they were happy to come along.

Katie: I know at heart you’re still a makeup artist, and I read that you worked with Jill and Joe Biden for the inauguration. Do you think you’ll work with any of the candidates this year?
Bobbi: If I’m lucky yes! But that’s a long road. Fingers crossed. I won’t name names but there are a few I would love to work with, for sure.

Katie: Is there one product you can’t live without?
Bobbi: I love coconut oil. I use it to take my makeup off at night. I use it on my skin when it’s dry, both my body and my face. I use it in my hair. It’s the biggest beauty trick I have. No matter how tired you feel, or how bad you think you look, just put a dab on and you’ll look so much better. Because often when we don’t think we look good it’s because we’re dehydrated. So putting moisture back into your skin with a touch of coconut oil will instantly make you look better. You don’t need a lot! Just a little. Then maybe just throw a touch of blush on, and you’re good to go.

Katie: Between the Bobbi Brown empire, and the books, and the podcast, and all of the awards you’ve gotten over the course of your career, what are you proudest of?
Bobbi: My children. There’s not even a question. My children are amazing. Raising them, and having a wonderful marriage, and having a good family life while I’ve been able to jump into these different things has been pretty cool. The big cosmetic company is not my defining moment. There are so many other things that are happening in my life, and that are going to happen, that I am so excited about.

Katie: That’s wonderful to hear, Bobbi! Thanks so much!