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“On the first day, I walked out of the building, and I felt relief. After relief comes anger, sadness, and then excitement,” says Bobbi Brown when I ask what she did in December of last year immediately after leaving the eponymous makeup brand she’d founded 25 years ago, shocking her fans. “I’m someone who doesn’t like to not be happy, so excitement kind of took over.”
Brown called her friend, Richard Baker, the executive chairman of Hudson’s Bay Company, which owns Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, to discuss working together. That led to Just Bobbi, a concept shop featuring apparel, wellness products, and some beauty products that will appear in five different Lord & Taylor stores (including the NYC flagship, which is open now; Westchester, NY; Garden City, NY; Stamford, CT; and, Oak Brook, IL) and also online.
Anyone who has heard Brown speak or read her work when she was the editor-in-chief at Yahoo Beauty knows that wellness is a big interest of hers. Brown also just released a book titled Beauty From the Inside Out, which features recipes, tips from wellness experts, and discussions of skincare; the items stocked in her new shop reflect these interests.
Walking around the cheery shop-in-shop at the flagship Lord & Taylor in NYC, my first impression was that Bobbi Brown has good taste. The clothes are cute and comfortable, and they skew more toward weekend wear — it’s jeans, striped shirts, and athleisure pieces, rather than serious fashion. Expect brands like Joe’s, Karl Lagerfeld, Vince, Theory, and a few T-shirt brands like Good Hyouman, whose proceeds benefit charities. There are accessories like Adidas Stan Smith sneakers and simple totes and bags by Parker Thatch and Ampersand As Apostrophe.
Liz Rodbell, Lord & Taylor’s president, says that department stores have to do everything they can to innovate at this point. “We want to entertain, and at the same time, we want to create things that are relevant and important,” she says. “This kind of checks all those boxes, plus it checks health and wellness as a top priority for where the consumer is going.”
Rodbell told me that while the store sold some of the brands represented in Just Bobbi previously, it brought in a lot of new merchandise, particularly the wellness products. Right now, you can find Elle Macpherson’s Super Elixir, Dr. Lipman supplements, Bkr water bottles, Apa tooth whitening kits, and a selection of books related to wellness. And yes, there are a few Bobbi Brown beauty products scattered around, but this shop is decidedly not about beauty.
That doesn’t mean Brown isn’t still thinking about beauty, though. She still shops for products voraciously, and says she spends days at Ricky’s, theatrical makeup stores, and the drugstore. “I shop with curiosity. I think there’s a lot of creative, interesting stuff in drugstores at the lower end [of the price spectrum],” she says, though she declined to name names for me. “And I think the new Beauty Pie is quite interesting and the products are actually really good.” (She claims she still can’t find a good brown pencil, though. And she also can’t find an organic mascara that is as black as a mainstream version.)
So is Bobbi Brown aiming to create the next Goop with this foray into what feels like a lifestyle brand? She laughs. “I have no idea, and that’s what’s so cool and exciting.”
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