Bobbi Brown struggled in her teen years with the idea that she didn’t look like the popular models at the time. Brown was inspired to feel comfortable in her own skin after watching Ali McGraw in the film “Love Story,” according to the Bobbi Brown Cosmetic’s website.
Brown is the founder, namesake, and CCO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and an alumna from the class of ‘79. The company launched in 1991 with the motto that every woman should be her own makeup artist and the mission statement: “The secret to beauty is simple: be who you are.”
“I really look at it as a form of art,” Bobbi Brown makeup artist, Marissa Robinson, said. “I think I see color differently. I’ve always been interested in color and painting since I was really young. My understanding of color has changed through the lens of makeup and the ‘Bobbi way.’”
The “Bobbi Way” is the focus behind the brand, said Robinson.
“It’s all about looking like yourself and feeling like yourself–– just your most confident self,” Robinson said. “Skin should look like skin. It’s just about enhancing your natural features instead of feeling like you have on this contoured mask, like a lot of other brands are interested in.”
It starts with a foundation
The summer before starting her freshman year at Emerson College, Robinson found herself sitting at a restaurant across the table from Bobbi Brown herself.
Robinson, a junior interdisciplinary major, said that encounter is one of the many reasons she decided to go to Emerson. Robinson’s father won this lunch with Brown for her through an auction, as a high school graduation gift for her, she said. Now, she is working towards a degree in business and artistry of cosmetics. Creating this unique path has allowed her to take classes in both marketing communication and performing arts.
After their initial meeting, Brown took Robinson along to sit in on meetings and set her up for an internship with one of the company’s education advisors, Elizabeth Keiser. Keiser helped immerse Robinson in the field by bringing her to some of the brand’s instructional events.
Robinson remembered one specific event she attended with Keiser, where artists did each other's makeup and then critiqued each design for what worked and didn’t work. Ultimately, Robinson’s composition ended up winning. She said that succeeding as an intern made her excited about what she was doing.
Keiser taught other Bobbi Brown Cosmetics employees how to apply and market new products. Robinson’s job was to help keep her organized and help her teach these things, and learn on the way.
“It was the best hands-on experience,” Robinson said. “[Keiser was] the best mentor I could have ever asked for.”
Robinson’s fellow classmate, Cassia Enright, is also Bobbi Brown certified.
Enright, a sophomore marketing communication major, started her cosmetic career in early middle school, doing makeup for school performances. Enright was spending the end of her senior year of high school interning with Mackenzie Day, an award-winning artist, owner and stylist at Mack Stylist, getting up early and helping clients, when her friend informed her of Emerson’s program designed to certify artists to practice under the Bobbi Brown brand.
The Bobbi Brown Program in Makeup Artistry takes place during the summer and consists of three weeks that cover fundamentals of makeup, including advanced styles and the business side, according to Enright.
These classes specifically cover the techniques and procedures used for things like photography, film, or theater, and how to get the correct look for each of those through makeup choices and shadowing. Students are also taught how to market both the brand and themselves in the business. All of the instructors have been trained and chosen by Bobbi Brown herself, according to the college’s website.
These courses are offered through Emerson as non-credit classes that cost $5,400 in total. They are designed for and available to students of all majors and levels.
Enright, who is looking to declare the same IDIP as Robinson, said these classes offered her a chance to bolster her skills while making fantastic connections. Since then, Enright has worked at a variety of different events through Mack Stylist, with weddings being her favorite.
Enright said that when she showed up to her first wedding she was incredibly nervous. She had the expectation that with such a big event in someone’s lives that it would be a very uptight environment. However, she said that she was wrong to think that—she was just helping women to feel comfortable and look beautiful.
Blending business and art
Robinson now works as a freelance artist for the Bobbi Brown Cosmetics line. She picks up counter shifts at department stores, where she said she helps clients apply makeup and teaches them about products.
“By the time they leave it’s really exciting to see them feel different, and be really confident,” Robinson said.
She also said she sees cosmetics as an accent to someone’s natural beauty.
“You can instantly see when the right makeup makes them confident. I love that part of it. It’s so rewarding,” Robinson said.
Robinson said that her dream would be to work as one of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics’ traveling artists. These seasoned veterans are employed at fashion weeks all over the world with different designers for their shows.
Robinson also helped out with the Bobbi Brown program through Emerson.
Enright has taken what she learned at this program and applied it during her various appointments with clients.
“I like the fact that I’m part of something that’s going to be kept in a photo album for years to come,” Enright said. “Makeup is so temporary, but [photographs are] so permanent.”
Sophomore writing, literature, and publishing major Jessica Vosler, has had her makeup done by Enright multiple times for both fashion shows and photo shoots.
“I’m not the kind of person who wears a lot of makeup, so whenever I do wear makeup I always feel really weird, but she always made it look so cool,” Vosler said. “She does my eyebrows [so] they are on point.”
Enright said she finds working on films to be much more stressful and rigid. She said that working on a set involves both tight deadlines as well as consistency between looks day after day.
Theatrical design aside, Enright said her favorite style of makeup has always been less is more. She said that she loves the challenge of making someone look their best with as little product as possible—this helps to show the client just how much they can do on their own.
“Another huge part of it, [is] getting to know someone so intimately, and so quickly, and being able to have that real discussion with them about themselves and opening up to you,” Enright said. “It crosses so many disciplines.”