The Interview: Bobbi Brown, founder, JONES ROAD
In 2020, when the world was in the grip of the pandemic, legendary make-up artist Bobbi Brown made the bold move of launching her new line JONES ROAD, a multi-functional, inclusive line of cosmetics that bridge the gap between skincare and makeup. Its first product, Miracle Balm, became an instant cult hit and the line has been steadily expanding over the past two years and now includes a wide range of products for eyes, lips, skin and face, as well as tools.
JONES ROAD stood out for the ease of use of the products (while there are tools you don't necessarily need them), the multi-functionality and the range of colours that flattered all women no matter what age or skin tone. It was a triumphant return to the market for Brown, who sold her first line, Bobbi Brown, to Estée Lauder in 1995 and exited in 2016. Until now, JONES ROAD had only been available in the UK online but Brown, a self-confessed anglophile, is launching her first bricks & mortar presence here next week at the legendary Liberty beauty hall.
She tells us about her aims for the brand, how it's been received by consumers worldwide and what it's like starting out all over again.
You launched Jones Road at such a challenging time globally, did you ever stop and think “now may not be a good time?” or were you confident it would work?
When people ask me why I launched JONES ROAD when I did, I say why not? Launching a new business is never easy –it’s always hard --and launching during a pandemic and a super contentious election season might sound especially crazy. But one lesson I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that if you wait for the “perfect time” to do anything, nothing happens. Working from home and living through this pandemic has taught us all how to live with less and to adapt. If you’re eating well and taking care of yourself, you don’t need a lot of makeup to look and feel good. That’s always been my philosophy and JONES ROAD celebrates that. It’s the ultimate no makeup, makeup and that seems to be what’s resonating right now.
What was it that drove you to get back in the saddle and launch another line?
Jones Road was born out of a desire to distill a lifetime of beauty knowledge in order to help people feel and look their best. I wanted easy to use, multi-purpose products that worked for everyone across all ages and skin tones. Jones Road helps people celebrate their authentic selves…the best version of you!
How long did it take from making the decision to launch a new brand and actually launching it and what were the biggest challenges and rewards along the way?
It took two years from inception to execution. The challenge was I had no team and needed to hire and build that out first and that takes time and trial and error. Then we needed to find the right lab who could create the kind of quality formulas I was looking for that were also clean. It was super rewarding to be a part of every single aspect of the birth of this brand and to have my hand in every decision along the way.
You started with a tightly edited line-up of hero products, how did you decide on what you would first go to market with?
Honestly we just chose what was ready to go at the time. Miracle Balm happened to be the first product we completed and mascara was second and those happened to be standouts that are staples of our line. We also launched with the Start-Up kit that offered people some essentials and pulled some products from our future line-up to get people excited about what was to come.
When it comes to marketing and brand positioning, did you have a particular consumer or market in mind when you conceived JONES ROAD?
When ideating JONES ROAD, I knew I wanted to make products that worked for everyone; there was never a smaller scope than that. Ensuring that things are multi-purpose meant that everyone could find a way to incorporate JONES ROAD into their beauty routine, no matter their age or skin tone. For example, I use The Best Eyeshadow in Dark Brown to touch-up my roots between hair colorings. I love that our customers make the products their own.
Were you surprised at the positive response you received, initially? I read that you were sending product out in mismatched packaging as you couldn’t keep up with demand, for instance.
We definitely underestimated how high the demand would be when we launched. It was a pleasant surprise, but also a testament to the fact that most people will always gravitate towards products that enhance their natural beauty and help simplify their routines.
What do you think it was about the products that so captured the imagination of customers? Speaking personally, I love the ease of use, multifunctionality and the colours (I haven’t found one I don’t like!).
I think that people are tired of being told they need a million products to achieve the look they want. All it really takes are solid staples like a swipe of mascara, a dark brown pencil, and a pretty blush, to look great. JONES ROAD is so popular because it simplifies makeup and highlights the way people actually look.
You seem to be adding to the line rapidly, how are you prioritising new product?
Some launches are strategic but most of the time we are at the mercy of external factors and we have to plan around those; how long it takes to get the formula just right, sign-off on packaging, man power, etc. We have a small team so the process is usually slower.
Your latest product is What The Foundation, can you talk us through that one and how it differs from traditional foundations?
I wanted to reinvent traditional foundation because it makes you look like you’re wearing foundation or a mask. I wanted it to look and feel like you weren’t wearing anything – your skin but better. Also, I don’t like traditional foundations as I think they can be aging. Typically they’re dry, cakey and they don’t enhance the overall look of the skin. Wtf is a tinted moisture balm meets traditional foundation that offers light-medium coverage. It’s for anyone that wants a no-makeup makeup look and has normal to dry skin. It’s especially for people that want a one-and-done product because many of us don’t even need moisturizer with it. It’s also for anyone that wants that amazing lit-from-within glow.
I’m pleased to hear that you have invested in UK distribution to make more product available here. I understand you are a fan of the UK, have you been pleased with the response the brand has had here?
I am a total anglophile. I love the cool aesthetic of British design and all the amazing people here. I’m thrilled that my friends across the pond love JRB as much as we do.
What made you choose Liberty for your first bricks & mortar presence here?
I needed one place that people could go in and touch and feel product and actually was connected to Liberty who jumped at the opportunity and now JONES ROAD BEAUTY is launching on 24 October into Liberty. Liberty is my favourite store – it’s like no other store in the world so I’m pretty excited about the launch!
If someone was looking to get started with a basic JONES ROAD kit, which products would you recommend they got off the ground with?
The Miracle Balm – it really amazes me as it’s the perfect combination of moisture and tint, and just a few pats on the face makes you look instantly better. It can be used literally anywhere: on the cheeks, eyes, lips, neck, legs and body, or even to pat down flyaways on your head. I love every shade but Tawny is definitely my personal favorite as it pairs well with the yellow undertones in my skin.
What was different (and hopefully better!) about launching this brand compared to your first?
I did it 100% my way and there were no rules. It’s a culmination of everything I’ve learned over the last 40 years beauty and business-wise. I couldn’t have created this brand any time but now.
JONES ROAD is available from jonesroadbeauty.com and at Liberty from 24 October.