Inside Makeup Mogul Bobbi Brown's Lavish Life

Bobbi Brown, founder of billion-dollar beauty company Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and million-dollar makeup brand Jones Road Beauty, lives an extremely lavish life — one she's earned through a whole lot of hard work and an admirable amount of ingenuity. Brown doesn't come from a nepo baby background; she truly built her many brands and wealth from the ground up. 

While working as a freelance makeup artist in the 1980s, the beauty mogul became frustrated with the lack of natural-hued makeup products on the market. Unsatisfied with the amount of work she had to put in to achieve a "your skin but better" look on clients, often mixing aggressive products to tone them down, Brown decided to foray into cosmetics formulation and create her own line of brown-toned lipsticks. They flew off the shelf the first day the small collection was put on sale by a major New York retailer, and the rest is history. 

In the decades since her rapid success in the 1990s, Brown has reigned as the founder of the "no-makeup-makeup" philosophy, sold her namesake cosmetics company, founded a second hugely successful beauty brand, and charged into the lifestyle and wellness sectors with her supplement company and boutique hotel in her hometown of Montclair, New Jersey — among other endeavors. She lives a lavish life full of luxurious vacations, custom-built dream houses, celebrity engagements, and other trappings of an extraordinarily bougie lifestyle, but it's one she's fully earned through decades of innovation and industriousness.

Brown became a multimillionaire when she sold her makeup brand to Estée Lauder just four years after its creation

In the 1980s, Bobbi Brown was working as a freelance makeup artist. It was a bold decade for cosmetics — colorful eye shadows, vivid lipsticks, ultra-pigmented blush — but Brown was in search of hues that elevated intrinsic beauty rather than masking it under a barrage of unnatural shades. She recalled having to custom-mix makeup to achieve the look she envisioned for clients, telling Self in 2017, "Most of the makeup on the market I had to fix. There was nothing that actually looked right on people's faces."

When she met a chemist by happenstance, Brown took matters into her own hands. "I told him about a lipstick I wanted to make that looked like lips," she said, and the pair subsequently worked together to create a line of 10 lipsticks in various nude hues, as well as a few reds. Brown approached New York's Bergdorf Goodman to gauge their interest in retailing the small line, and on the first day that the natural lipsticks went on sale, over 100 flew off the shelves into the hands of customers who shared Brown's philosophy on "no-makeup-makeup." 

Four years later in 1995, the makeup minimalist sold Bobbi Brown Cosmetics to Estée Lauder for a staggering $74.5 million. She stayed on with the company as chief creative officer for just over 20 years before parting ways with her eponymous company at the end of 2016.

She left her namesake cosmetics company to start another

When Bobbi Brown sold Bobbi Brown Cosmetics to Estée Lauder in 1995, part of their deal included a 25-year non-compete agreement that made it illegal for the makeup mogul to work in the cosmetics industry outside of her namesake brand while the clause was in effect. So, when Brown left the company at the end of 2016, she still had four years remaining before she could begin a new endeavor in the beauty sector. She bided her time until October 2020 rolled around, and just two days after the non-compete became void, Brown launched her second cosmetics company, Jones Road Beauty.

While Jones Road follows the same "no-makeup-makeup" philosophy as her first brand, it differs in that it operates under a direct-to-consumer approach. Of the change in her business model, Brown told Forbes in 2022: "I could literally pull something out and get it on the market in two seconds. If it doesn't work out, I could find something else to do without having to worry, 'Oh my God, how do I fix this?' It's really much more fun."

Her second cosmetics venture is also entirely self-funded, with Brown and her husband, Steven Plofker, investing $2 million of their own to get the company off the ground. As of 2022, Jones Road Beauty had taken on zero debt and zero funding from outside sources — and it reportedly amassed $20 million in sales in 2021, a year after its inception.

The serial entrepreneur also launched a lifestyle and wellness company that houses multiple brands

While Bobbi Brown was waiting for her non-compete clause with Estée Lauder to expire, she got busy creating a slew of other brands outside the beauty space. First came her venture into hospitality in 2018 when she and husband Steven Plofker opened a boutique hotel called The George in her hometown of Montclair, New Jersey. 

The same year, Brown also launched Just Bobbi, a lifestyle and wellness website that now functions as a blog on the Jones Road Beauty site. In 2018, the business multi-hyphenate jumped into podcasting with "Long Story Short," which she stepped back from in the fall of 2019. And, if you can believe that the list goes on, Brown also launched Evolution 18, a wellness brand focusing on supplementation to support health and beauty from the inside out, after becoming a certified health coach in 2020. 

The serial entrepreneur's lifestyle company, Beauty Evolution, acts as an umbrella to house all of her many brands listed above. Brown's passion for wellness and lifestyle intersects with her long-standing love for beauty. She explained to Forbes in 2019: "Being a makeup artist and beauty expert, people would tell me about issues that they were trying to fix with makeup. I would always find myself asking, 'Do you drink enough water? What are you eating? How much do you exercise?' ... I understood the connection and was always trying to figure out what works."

She's worked with major fashion designers and celebrities

In addition to being the mother of the "no-makeup-makeup" philosophy, founder of two wildly successful cosmetics companies, owner of a boutique hotel, business maven behind multiple wellness and lifestyle brands, and author of several books, Bobbi Brown is also a zealous makeup artist (MUA) who's stayed connected to her roots well after becoming a multimillionaire. While still affiliated with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, the beauty novice was known to regularly join MUAs backstage at fashion shows, dolling up models for prestigious fashion houses including Tory Burch, Stella McCartney, and Jenny Packham, among many others.

In addition to working with luxury brands, Brown has also done makeup for some of the world's most famous celebrities, such as Naomi Campbell, Glenn Close, Michelle Obama, and even Mike Tyson. She recalled her memorable experience with the initially reluctant professional boxer, telling Harper's Bazaar about their banter in 2016: "He said, 'You ain't touching me with that stuff.' I said, 'Okay,' and then I said, 'Do you want to look shiny?' And he said, 'No,' I said, 'Okay, then let me touch up.'"

Brown also spoke fondly of working with Katie Holmes and Kate Upton, who were the faces of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics during the makeup mogul's tenure. Brown told People in 2017: "I just love to take people who wear either no makeup or a ton of makeup and give them their perfect nude face. Both of those I've been really proud of."

Brown's husband built their massive waterfront home in the Hamptons

In 2023, Bobbi Brown gave online star Caleb Simpson a never-before-seen tour of her Hamptons compound, which includes three buildings on a sprawling waterfront property. In the video shared on Instagram, the makeup mogul said her husband, Steven Plofker, purchased and constructed their main house and was in the process of building a third structure on the land, which also includes "the original house." 

The main property was recently finished at the time of the tour, with many areas yet to be fully furnished or decorated. Regardless of being somewhat bare, the house boasts an airy, minimalistic aesthetic with floor-to-ceiling windows comprising many of the walls, spacious open floor plans, whites mixed with natural wood accents, an expansive outdoor patio and deck area, and sweeping views of the bay beyond the land. Other features of the home include a lavish yet simple bathroom, a massive kitchen with hideaway cabinets, a primary bedroom offering a breathtaking look at the oceanic landscape, and a cozy office with similar views.

Flexing her status as someone so wealthy, she doesn't need to be in the know about her financial standing. Brown told Simpson she's completely unaware of how much the New York property cost or what was spent to build two of the three structures on the lot. "My husband bought it and built it; it's his business," the Jones Road Beauty founder said, referring to Plofker's occupation as a real estate developer.

Her bougie lifestyle keeps her skin looking youthful

Bobbi Brown attributes many factors to her youthful appearance, several of which stem from the lifestyle she's afforded as an affluent entrepreneur. During an interview with Goop, she sang the praises of having Pico lasering done at the dermatologist, explaining: "It doesn't hurt, it's quick, there's no downtime, and it's made my skin really, really even." She also heralded exercise ("I don't have an age when I'm in the middle of exercising. Moving to hip-hop, disco, kickboxing, bootcamp — whatever it is, if I'm moving, no age"), avoiding sugar, drinking lemon water, and eating Gigi crackers before going to a party or out to dinner because "they're full of fiber so you don't get that crazy blood-sugar-drop starvation."

One thing Brown won't do, however, is injections of any kind. "I don't shoot things into my face," she told Goop. "I'm not saying my way is for everybody, but I look in the mirror and I see my lines, and I go, 'Okay those are my lines' — then I put on some moisturizer and that's that." 

Though she stands by the fact that injectables aren't for her, Brown told The Telegraph she embraces other dermatologist-recommended solutions. She recalled trying a tightening treatment called Morpheus8, saying it yielded positive results but she's not sure if she'd have it done again. Brown also shared her experience with Ultherapy, which she said was "expensive and really painful — but I do think it made me look better."

She bought a mansion built in 1902 and remodeled it into a boutique hotel

After Bobbi Brown parted ways with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics in 2016, one of her first endeavors was becoming a hotelier. The makeup mogul and her husband, Steven Plofker, purchased a deteriorating hotel in Brown's hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, and they set about remodeling it in a way that spoke to their love for travel. 

Originally the home to an affluent family, the 31-room property was built in 1902 and was transformed into a hotel in the 1940s. Then named The Georgian Inn, Brown and Plofker updated the moniker to The George to match the modern aesthetic of the refurbished building while paying homage to its roots. Though much of the interior boasts a contemporary, industrial feel, the couple lovingly restored many original features of the inn to maintain its character and charm. Additionally, much of the décor in the common areas is vintage-inspired, such as the candelabra-style chandeliers and intricate floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the library, the portraits hung in gilded frames throughout the building, and additional antique-style accents strategically scattered around the inn.

Of her and Plofker's passion project, Brown told The New York Times: "We're avid travelers and love small hotels with personal touches. We wanted to create one in our hometown." They did just that, designing each of the 31 guest rooms "to have a bespoke look and feel that's distinctly different from the rest" (via The George).

Brown and her husband have part of a building named after them at Rutgers University

While Bobbi Brown and her husband Steven Plofker take advantage of their status as multimillionaires to do and buy things out of the reach of many people, they also use a great deal of their money to give back to communities and causes they care about. For example, in 2016, the couple joined two other pairs to donate a total of $11 million to Rutgers University to help the college meet its $100 million goal for the athletic department's Big Ten Build campaign. 

Plofker shares a personal connection with the university, as it's where he earned his B.A. degree in 1978 and his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law in 1993. The proud alumnus is also a member of the university's Board of Overseers and has previously hosted parties for donors and fellow alumni at his and Brown's home.

In exchange for their generous donation, Rutgers named part of an athletics building after the couple. Inside the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center is the 6,250-square-foot Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Lobby. Of their ability to give back to the university that means so much to Plofker, Brown said: "We are proud to support the pursuit of academic and athletic excellence. Attending Rutgers is a tremendous opportunity, and Steven and I want to ensure that our students have a great college experience" (via App). Plofker expressed his "hope that our commitment will inspire others."

She and Plofker built a vacation home in the Bahamas for their family

Bobbi Brown replenishes her soul by frequently vacationing in the Bahamas with her family. In 2019, the business multi-hyphenate told The Economic Times: "I feel the best when I'm spending time with my husband and kids in the Bahamas. It's my happy place and I immediately feel calm when I get there." 

In fact, she visits the tropical destination so often that she and Plofker built a vacation home in the Caribbean country. Brown described her connection with the island in a 2022 blog post on Just Bobbi: "We fell in love with the aqua waters and white sand beaches. We loved the relaxed vibe." She also wrote about the community of locals she and her family grew close to. "Each time we returned to our community, we'd get updates on the island happenings, but also on what was happening in their own lives, with their families and kids. And there were always hugs and kisses welcoming us back."

Brown forged such a strong bond with the Bahamian community that she hosted 15 members of one family at her New Jersey home after Hurricane Dorian devastated the island. "When we saw the situation that so many of our dear friends were in, we knew we had to do something," the makeup mogul wrote on her website. She added, "These friends have become family and it has been the coolest experience getting to know them."