Trends and Insights

How Bobbi Brown Built a Trailblazing Career by Avoiding Trends

illustration of makeup products
Published on
Oct 20, 2022
Written by
Kayla Ellman
Kayla is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Attentive. You can find her binge-reading, baking from her (rapidly growing) cookbook collection, or exploring local hiking trails.

The beauty veteran shared how a common-sense approach to marketing paved her road to becoming a household name.

To say that Bobbi Brown has an impressive resume would be an understatement. Beauty industry titan, world-renowned makeup artist, best-selling author, and serial entrepreneur are just some of the titles she’s held. And as of late, she’s even gone viral on TikTok. 

Since launching her billion-dollar brand, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, in 1991, Brown has been the one to watch in the beauty industry. After leaving her namesake brand in 2016, she made waves in the industry once again when she launched Jones Road Beauty in 2020. 

During Thread 2022, Brown sat down with Glossy Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jill Manoff to discuss making common sense career decisions, following your gut as an entrepreneur, and how she’s taking a unique approach to marketing (“anti-trend, pro ideas”), product development, and customer communications at Jones Road.

Bobbi Brown and Jill Manoff onstage at Thread 2022

Want to catch up on everything that happened at Thread 2022? Watch (or rewatch) the event on demand. And read up on top highlights from the event.

Building the Bobbi Brown name, starting with common-sense decisions

Anyone studying Brown’s career trajectory would see a trailblazer; someone who looked at the status quo and chose to travel down the road less traveled every time. When Brown recounts her major milestones so far, however, she refuses to self-mythologize. 

As she explains, “I just made common-sense decisions. While I was a makeup artist, I was so frustrated by the lack of colors that worked on people’s skin, so I started mixing my own.” This led to her making a universally flattering natural lipstick, and then later a line of lipsticks that she pitched and sold to Bergdorf Goodman.

Though making natural-looking makeup felt like a common-sense approach to Brown, it was truly revolutionary at the time. It wasn’t long before her line of cosmetics became a household name. When Estée Lauder approached her with an offer to buy the brand, she wasn't necessarily looking to sell, but the timing felt right.

The stretch of her career that followed only drove home how much she thrived as an entrepreneur. “In those 22 years, I learned that I should not be an employee,” she says. She started planning her next chapter—one of experimentation, but also a very true-to-her approach.

Paving the way for Jones Road

Jones Road Beauty model and products

Brown officially announced the newest chapter of her career—Jones Road, a clean beauty company—in October 2020. Though on paper, it didn’t seem like a great time to launch a new venture, Brown didn’t let it phase her. She trusted that the brand had the kind of longevity that would transcend any news cycle, or, for that matter, any trend.

Brown once again relied on what felt natural in building her new company. As she explains, “I didn’t set out to create a clean brand. But when I was creating a brand, why wouldn’t I make it clean?" Add simple ingredients, a no-makeup makeup look, and an educational approach to marketing to the mix, and the result was something that felt authentic to Brown’s legacy. 

This time around, she discovered a newfound synergy with her team of tech-savvy marketers who’ve helped her tap into new and innovative ways to bring her educational marketing style to a wider audience. “I’m a teacher,” she says. “I like to empower and inspire. The best way to do that is with a video, with an email, with SMS—you reach people where they are.”

Explore our Holiday Marketing Reboot to learn more about Jones Road Beauty’s holiday marketing strategy. 

Leaning into education, authenticity, and deliberate decision-making

Jones Road Beauty products

Figuring out new ways to bring Brown’s expertise and experience to a new generation of beauty fanatics has been a success, to say the least (who hasn’t seen that video?). And turning a negative review into a funny, lighthearted teachable moment is just one example of the ingenuity Brown and her team are using to bring their brand to the masses.

Brown has continued to use a simple and direct approach to engage directly with Jones Road’s audience. She first went viral on TikTok by simply asking viewers what they wanted to know and answering questions with educational videos. 

“I don’t care how many times I teach people to line their eyes, there are always more people who need to know,” she says, adding, “You don’t try to go viral. Some things just do, and some things just don’t. I’m not looking for that, but when it happens, it’s a happy surprise.”

Speaking directly to her audience is what feels right to Brown—and it’s exactly the kind of content Jones Road’s followers want to see. “Being a visual person, having Instagram [and TikTok] to communicate with people is so amazing,” says Brown. “I can post things and ask questions, and because we’re a small brand, I don’t have to ask anyone if or when I should do something.” 

As for what’s in the future for Jones Road, Brown knows she has the right formula for the long run. “Authenticity and being true to the brand is what people pay attention to, so that’s what we’re doing.” 

She has similar advice for other founders, emphasizing that a deliberate, ideas-based approach is always the right one. “My biggest advice is always to slow down. Having a brand is like having a child. You have to nurture it before the company grows.”

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