Bobbi Brown is a beauty titan, celebrity makeup artist, author of nine books, and mother to three sons. She is the founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, which defined the “no-makeup makeup” look and was sold to Estée Lauder Companies in 1995. Bobbi also founded Evolution 18, a wellness supplement company in an exclusive partnership with Walmart, and hosts a podcast show called Long Story Short. She and her husband, Steven Plofker, run The George, a dog-friendly boutique hotel in Montclair, New Jersey (where Bobbi resides). Her dog, Biggie, and her granddog, Summer, can be found greeting guests there.
As told to A&A.
Before I was a makeup artist, I was a dog person. When I was born, we had a very large Great Dane, who I named Tutu. And my mother said I used to ride the dog like a horse, which is funny because I was a very tiny baby (and am still a tiny person!). And then we had another Schnauzer named Katy and one named Shane. So, I kind of always grew up with a dog. The first dog ever I got by myself was a Samoyed named Shelby when I was in college.
“Before I was a makeup artist, I was a dog person.”
When my husband and I got married and moved to Montclair, New Jersey, we didn’t know anyone and we didn’t have kids yet. I was really lonely and so we got our first dog as a couple—a golden retriever named Honey.
Right now, there’s my dog Biggie and Summer, my “granddog,” my son Dylan’s dog. My son lives in Brooklyn but he travels, and so Summer comes a lot with me. And he’s renovating his apartment right now, so she’s been with me for about six months. Summer is a rescue from Telluride. Dylan and his girlfriend Kim went to a farmer’s market and someone in Telluride at the farmer’s market was selling a litter of dogs. They had never even discussed getting a dog.
“All of my dogs have always been girls even though my entire household has always been boys.”
Biggie is from a pet adoption event in New Jersey. We had another dog at the time who was really on her last legs. Her name was and her name was Puppup. She lived a very long life. She was a teeny little white dog that, believe it or not, I got at a museum. I was being honored at museum in Montclair, and they auctioned her off. I looked at my husband and said, “I want her.” And I got her.
And towards the end of her life, we all decided we needed another dog. So, we went to this dog adoption. We walked around. My husband got there at like 5:30 in the morning so he could be first there. We got there eight o’clock and there was one dog, but she was taken. And we were all like, “Oh no, we have to have her.” But luckily, the people didn’t show up.
So we got her. We brought her home and we couldn’t agree on a name. My husband named her Big Baby, because she used to cry. She still cries. And I named her Biggie because I love Notorious B.I.G. So, she actually has two sets of leashes and collars, one in red and one in blue. One says Biggie. One says Big Baby. She still has two names.
All of my dogs have always been girls even though my entire household has always been boys. I’ve raised three boys. I had my two nephews live with me. And I had foreign exchange students stay with me. I just am someone that likes to have a lot of love around. Dogs are the greatest. They never get mad at you!
Biggie was beyond small. Like puny. We didn’t think she was going to be as big as she is now. She was just ridiculously cute with these really big, long ears. We soon found out, because we did her Wisdom Panel DNA test, that she is half beagle, part dachshund, she even has Chinese mastiff in her, but she had these gigantic ears. And, she was just the cutest thing. So, of course, she peed. She pooped everywhere. We are not crate people, but we try to be crate people.
“I just am someone that likes to have a lot of love around. Dogs are the greatest. They never get mad at you!”
Our dogs, from the time they’re puppies, sleep in our bed. And, yeah, there was totally moments of pee in our bed; we had to get up in the middle of the night and change the sheets. But my husband’s pretty good at training dogs. So, we don’t hire anyone to do it. He thinks I’m terrible at it because I’m not that tough. I love to sleep in bed with them.
I don’t need an alarm because the second my husband moves in the morning—and he’s an early riser—the dogs get up. So, I get up when they get up. So, it’s usually around six and whoever’s up first goes downstairs. We let them out and then I get their food ready. Biggie now is on thyroid medication, which she eats with her low-calorie paleo dog food called Canine Caviar. And Summer’s on this grass-fed food called Fromm. She’s a total yuppie dog.
They run outside in the backyard. And the great thing about living in the suburbs is you don’t have to walk them first thing. Biggie tends to get a little chubby, ’cause she likes to eat everything. She’s like literally a garbage can. And so every day, this very cute guy comes and takes both girls walking for about half an hour. I get to exercise at the same time.
Biggie gets to fly whenever we fly privately so whether it’s Colorado or the Bahamas, most of the time Biggie will come. And she loves the trip. We don’t have a fence around our house in the Bahamas. She’s very independent. She likes to go out, and kind of walk around.
When we first moved to Montclair, we didn’t know anyone. We actually met our first friends at the vet. There was another girl with her dog and I said hello. She said hello. We made plans for dinner and we became friendly. And, for whatever reason, my dogs have never like dog parks. Biggie loves people—she’s not so big on other dogs. She’s really protective. So, Biggie will growl and bark at any dog that comes near me. She’s very, very protective.
Montclair is known for its municipal parks. Everyone’s pretty nice in New Jersey, so people talk, stop, the dogs say hello. You see people you haven’t seen for awhile, so that’s my favorite thing to do weather gets good. I raised three boys. No one ever wants to go to a store. So sometimes I say to Biggie, “Do you wanna go to PetSmart?” So, ’cause you could bring your dog in there. And they, I mean, this is like a brand that has completely updated themselves. They now have all this organic food. They have adoption. They have vets inside. They have dog grooming services. So, and Biggie gets to pick out her cookies. When the weather’s nice, we also like to go to Raymond’s on Church Street or Scala Del Nonna down the street. They bring over a water bowl and make sure the dogs aren’t on top of each other.
Most of my friends whose kids have left home, they live in Brooklyn or Manhattan and all have dogs. When I go to someone’s house for dinner, I don’t even have to ask if the dog could come. Everyone just brings their dogs.
Biggie comes to a lot of the photoshoots. I think she’s been on everything from the Today Show to Wall Street Journal, whoever comes to shoot either at my house or at the studio. I think she’s even been on Oprah. She was in an ad for QVC earlier on.
I’ve been someone that has done bootcamps and SoulCycle, Physique 57. I’ve done it all. I’ve realized that what really makes the biggest difference is walking. So, I have a regular walking routine. And that means either first thing in the morning, and sometimes I split it up. I take Biggie for half of it, and she’s a sniffer, so I’ll take her and then I’ll bring her back. But, just by walking her, it is definitely the part of my routine. And I highly recommend it to everybody. And, the next dog I get, I’ll make sure that I train this dog to be a better walker.
“I don’t know how to do makeup. I like to take my fingers and smear things around until they look natural.”
I use a Garmin to track my steps. Both Biggie and Summer have an app called Whistle, which is like Garmin for dogs. My son could be in London and he’d know how many steps Summer has taken at home with me. And, if they, God forbid, run away, you know where they are.
I’m happy when I do 12,000 steps a day. When I was editor in chief of Yahoo Beauty, Harley Pasternak, the trainer, said in order to maintain your weight, you need to take 10,000 steps a day, and it doesn’t have to be all at once. For weight loss, it’s 12,000 steps a day. I was at work in the city the other day doing my podcast. Everyone’s sitting there and I got up and I started walking. It just gives me a bit of energy. So, I love when the weather gets good because I come from home from work, and it’s light outside, so I’ll take Biggie to the park. I listen to podcasts while I walk and I have to be honest, right now I’m listening to my own podcast, Long Story Short, where I interview extraordinary people like Jillian Michaels and Michael Strahan.
I don’t know how to do makeup. I like to take my fingers and smear things around until they look natural. When I started working as a freelance makeup artist, I had no idea what I was doing. I would actually ask the models to demonstrate how they did their own makeup, and that’s how I learned to do makeup that actually enhances the ways that women love themselves. I like to see what’s right in women. I started my first makeup line with 10 lipsticks in natural, nude colors—so different from everything else in the ‘80s when everyone was pancaking their makeup and contouring! It was sold to Estée Lauder Companies in 1995, and I stayed at the company until October 2016. On my last day, I walked out of the corporate building and called my husband. I wanted to know what was going to happen to my driver, Fred, of 20 years, and I also wasn’t sure what I was going to handout to the kids for Halloween that year. (I always hand out makeup.) This past October, I gave out samples of Beautycounter, a non-toxic beauty brand I admire, to trick-or-treaters.
Now, I’m an entrepreneur and independent makeup artist again, and I love it. Shortly after I became independent, I went to the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California, to learn about natural, cruelty-free, vegan cosmetic ingredients and to sample gummy vitamins. I became a certified health coach through Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I started my own wellness supplements called Evolution 18, designed to make you beautiful from the inside out—which is also the name of my most recent book. There is a delicious chocolate blend of protein and vitamins and fiber that I drink around 4:30pm every day, when my employees start picking at the rice crackers and nuts. I love dark chocolate and I didn’t compromise on taste with this.
“I like to see what’s right in women.”
In 2018, my husband and I opened a boutique hotel in Montclair called The George. Dogs are welcome here. We recently had Amy Sherald, who painted the official portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, stay with her dog August Wilson. We also had Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin over, but no dogs. The dog get cookies in a little special bag in their room. They also get dog pillows. Forgot your leash? We have leashes. We have dog food and dog beds available, and we joined the app Wag! so if someone needs a dog walker, we do that. You can find me and Biggie there all the time.
Biggie is a really good, good person. She’s just a good human. I will take credit for raising her and yes, every dog has an uber somebody. And out of all the people in Biggie’s life, I am definitely her uber person. We have a very close thing. I’m someone that loved, more than anything else in the universe, being a mother. And I especially loved being a mother of babies and toddlers where you could just cuddle and hug. When the boys get to a certain age, by seventh and eighth grade, they’re like, “Get away from me, lady.” But I still like to cuddle and hug, and so Biggie has been my cuddling and hugging buddy.