Bobbi Brown Is Now the Host of This Zoom Meeting

On a private Zoom call with some of her (second) beauty brand’s most loyal customers, makeup artist Bobbi Brown fields questions, previews new products and doles out blunt beauty advice.

“What is your best eye makeup advice for someone who hates mascara?” Brown reads from a chat window.

“The only tip I have is: get over your hate for mascara,” Brown said aloud.

Brown, who founded Jones Road at 63, some 25 years after selling her eponymous makeup brand to the Estée Lauder Companies, has the firm yet jocular manner of an older sister among fans. She has ample reason to be self-assured – she’s proved naysayers wrong and successfully made lightning strike twice with her sophomore brand.

Retail sales this year are forecast to be upwards of $140 million, a seven-fold increase since its debut in 2020. Aside from a small presence in London’s upmarket Liberty department store – the retailer confirmed the label’s Miracle Balm in Dusty Rose is the store’s best-selling makeup product – the brand is entirely direct-to-consumer, with five stores and an e-commerce site. A sixth store in Brooklyn, New York, is slated to open this summer.

Part of the brand’s success comes down to Brown’s close connection with her customers, who are affectionately referred to as “Roadies.” The Zoom call hosted by Brown this month was the first of its kind – arranged to celebrate the two-year-old Facebook group hitting the milestone of 50,000 members.

It’s the kind of close connectivity many buzzy brands would want – and ones such as Glossier – arguably set out to create. Saie, the premium cosmetics line has a Facebook group called The Clean Beauty Crew with over 6,000 members, while Geneva, a group chat app, has attracted the likes of Everyday Humans and Bubble. More recently, many beauty brands are sending out hopeful requests to Instagram followers to entice them to join their broadcast channels.

Given quasi facetime (participants’ microphones and cameras were turned off) with their beauty hero, Roadies came ready with questions and requests. Stevie, from Silver Springs, MD, wanted a blue-toned red nail polish, like the one Brown was wearing. Shelly from northern Illinois suggested a product testing panel made up of Roadies. Robin from the Bay Area, CA wanted an exfoliating product, and a store to open up near her. But despite ardent affection, customers don’t necessarily understand what’s best for a business’s overall health and trajectory.

Brown’s job is to sift through all that always-on and now live feedback, and work out which ideas will help Jones Road grow.

How Much Is Too Much?

The Facebook group where the Roadies found each other is perhaps one of the last wholesome spaces left on the internet. Compliments abound – “72 looks good on you!” “You look very fresh and natural!!!” “So gorgeous! I love your smile!” – as do offers to ship one another excess or unwanted products.

But Brown has to sometimes say no to requests that don’t fit with her vision.

“If someone asked me [for something], I’m not going to lie to them and say, ‘Oh, yeah, no problem’ and turn around and say, ‘That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard’,” said Brown following the Roadies Zoom chat. “Not all ideas make sense, and not all of them are possible. If it’s not practical, don’t do it.”

A few examples? On the call, participants were keen to form some kind of product testing panel, something that’s both logistically complex and costly, explained Brown, as are freebies for members.

“It’s like, ‘Guys, I’d love to send you a thank you product, but there’s 50,000 people here, so that’s not going to happen’ …i f I sent everyone a discount code, you know, [my team’s] brains would blow up,” said Brown.

One way that Brown is able to appease demand whilst also sticking to her guns is through their limited edition kits of products that launch eight to 10 times per year, often timed to holidays and the brand’s birthday in October. ”90 percent of the time we put something new [in it] so that the fans will say, ‘Oh, I have to have it’,” said Brown. Mini versions, new colourways or otherwise limited edition products are often reserved for special edition kits.

A comment under a post from June announcing two travel kits reads “‘I don’t need this’ as I click add to cart. Then added a brow gel. Then checked out.”

But perhaps nothing generates as much as excitement for Roadies than the reveal of some new merchandise.

To great fanfare, Brown turned her back to the camera to show off the slogan emblazoned across the shoulders of her sweatshirt: Roadie. Requests for sizing and colours immediately fired off in the chat.

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