Women in Business Q&A: Bobbi Brown, Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Beauty and Founder and CCO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

04/07/2015 09:09 am ET | Updated Jun 07, 2015

Bobbi Brown is the Founder and CCO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics in addition to a New York Times best-selling author. Bobbi first arrived on the beauty scene in 1991 with the launch of Bobbi Brown Essentials, and changed the face of makeup with ten brown-based lipstick shades created to fill a void in the market of simple, flattering and wearable makeup. Furthering her message of confidence, Bobbi is a participant in Mrs. Obama's White House Leader's & Mentoring Program for young women. Bobbi's philosophy is simple: "women want to look and feel like themselves, only prettier and more confident. The secret to beauty is simple - be who you are."

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I learned to trust my instincts early on in my career. When I first had the idea to create lipsticks that looked like lips, it wasn't something that anyone else was doing. However, because the best ideas are unique it makes it harder to sell in the beginning. You might have to fight for your concept, but if you believe in it, go for it.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career in your industry?
Talk to as many people as you can in the industry you want to be in. Advice from peers and mentors is invaluable. You also want to be as proactive as possible, because there are always a lot of qualified candidates. Sometimes you need to hustle to stand out.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Yahoo Beauty?
I've spent my career talking to women about beauty. I've learned that beauty is about more than just makeup. It's about how you take care of your body, what you eat, and how you stay fit. It's about how you feel about yourself most importantly. Beauty is ultimately about confidence. The right lipstick just enhances the whole package.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Yahoo Beauty?
The highlights are definitely our beauty stories. Some of the women we profile are famous, some aren't--the focus is on amazing stories. I have had some very real and candid conversations that I'm really proud of. Jennifer Aniston talked to me about looking for role models in Hollywood when all of her friends are getting plastic surgery. Trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak told me what really works when it comes to health (and it isn't expensive). I also loved talking to a 41-year-old championship linebacker with three kids--Jen Olivieri. The challenge is always maintaining a high level of content against the speed of the internet. I want to publish stories that are really smart, inspiring, and informative--and while that requires extra work I think we are succeeding.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
We're all so connected now with technology that there's not really a huge separation anymore. For me, the key has always been to put my family first. On my calendar, I always make sure to block my family time out in advance.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
It's always a challenge to balance work obligations with family, especially for women working in an office. It's also never easy for women to find time to focus on themselves and do things like exercise or get a manicure--but it's important. I try to make my workplace one that really supports women.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've been lucky in my career to have some amazing mentors. Leonard Lauder, Mickey Drexler, and my husband Steven Plofker have all given me smart advice when I needed it.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I really admire women who are fearless and who take risks like Joanna Coles, Jenna Lyons, Arianna Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg, Kathy Savitt and Marissa Mayer.

What do you want Yahoo Beauty to accomplish in the next year?
I want to keep spreading the word about Yahoo Beauty. We've been working so hard to create great content. I want our site to be a daily habit for women looking for smart, helpful, and informative stories.