Bobbi Brown on living through the pandemic
Scroll through Bobbi Brown’s Instagram profile and you will instantly have a smile on your face. An iconic name in the field of make-up, who has since ventured into wellness and hospitality too, the posts ooze instant positivity. We reached out to her for her coping mantra and her take on the effects of the pandemic on the make-up industry in general.
First things first, how has life changed in the lockdown? When did you realise the magnitude of what has hit mankind? What kept you sane?
When the lockdown was announced and all my appointments, lunches, and in-person appearances were cancelled, I was able to step back and evaluate what really matters. Now I’m trying to keep everything simple. I’m doing housework between the Instagram lives and Zoom calls. My family bonds over food, so we cook epic meals together every night. And I have virtual weekly cocktail nights with my friends.
We are all viewing life through a whole new prism where we are reviewing what we really need or want. How are you looking at life right now?
Like I have in many other cases, I turned to someone whom I admire and trust: my dad. After the pandemic hit, he told me that although you don’t always have control over what happens in the world, what you do have control over is your own attitude. What I need —and I’m sure what others need right now — is positivity.
Is there anything you have discovered about yourself in this time alone? Anything you managed to pull off that you thought you won’t ever be able to?
I’m learning how to be more flexible now than ever. My brand EVOLUTION_18 launched two new products, Energizing Chocolate and Relaxing Vanilla, both during the quarantine. Because I was sheltering in place at home, my son Cody filmed me for a Facebook Live on launch day. I couldn’t get the packaging from the manufacturer, so I just used a clear jar with the powder in it.
Have you resumed work? What is your coping mechanism to return to a life post-lockdown?
I don’t have a single hobby (my son Duke even recently took me paddleboarding to see if that would stick). For me, the work never stops —because I genuinely love it, and I have the smartest and scrappiest team. I’m not one for unnecessary meetings, but during the ones we do have I’m always struck by how confident and dedicated they are.
What was your biggest worry as a make-up professional when the pandemic hit us? Was it different from being a hotel owner or the other entrepreneurial hats you wear?
As a make-up artist at heart, I was really worried about my people: the photographers, hairstylist, manicurist, and stylists I work with, as well as other make-up artists who are unable to do what they love and support themselves. For my own team, I’ve been trying to set them up with projects at home, such as mailing new product for photographers to shoot in their living rooms. I’m also part of initiatives to raise funds for artists out of work, such as Support Creatives, which provide stability and well-being for professionals in the beauty industry.
You did post a quick make-up video in the initial days of lockdown, sending out the message of positivity. What have some of the women who have reached out to you been telling you about the power of make-up, especially in these times?
What I’m hearing a lot and have noticed myself is that some days it feels great to not wear much make-up at all—though before the pandemic, I rarely ever took more than 60 seconds to put on make-up. And some days, it feels great to wear just a little more, whether that’s painting your nails (my signature is short and red) or adding more blush and three coats of mascara. I recently did a Zoom talk with women in tech where I demonstrated a make-up tutorial on myself, so I put on more than usual. And afterward, I honestly felt amazing.
Coming back to the industry, will major blow be an understatement to describe the crisis? What will be your suggestions to emerge from this?
I believe it’s all about flexibility. Make-up companies will need to adapt to an age where people don’t want to try on products at the store — if they even go to the store at all. Wellness companies will need to consider what kind of products will support the times in which we’re living. As an entrepreneur, my advice is the same as always: think outside the box, get creative, and whatever you do, don’t spend more than you have.
How should a make-up and hair artist approach his or her client post-pandemic? What are the safety rules according to you? What are good tools to invest in? How do you personally plan to go about it?
I anticipate that there will be different phases as we exit the practice of sheltering in place. Again, it’s all about staying flexible. As a make-up artist, I’m ready to host a socially distant photo shoot in my backyard, where I talk the model through doing her own make-up.
What are your tips for the girl next door on how to sanitise her kit?
I tend to apply my own make-up with my fingers, but even if your kit is a little more complicated, sanitation can be simple. Just make sure you’re washing both your hands and your brushes — which you should do pandemic or no pandemic.
Finally, what would be your message for all the make-up artists who are staring at cancelled bookings and a different profession?
This is a really tough time. Everyone knows their own situation best. But my advice, if you’re able, is to think like an entrepreneur. Find new ways to do what you love. And remember, this is a moment — it’s not forever.