A Letter to My Children: ‘Don’t Be Afraid of Failure’
by Bobbi Brown, an excerpt from the book Grace Mothers: Letters to Our Children
On the day Bobbi Brown’s iconic lipstick range launched at Bergdorf Goodman in 1991, she was photographed standing outside the store, proudly hugging her year-old son, Dylan. Bobbi believes in family before anything. Throughout her career, her three sons, Dylan, Dakota and Duke (now in their 20s), have been a steady presence. She and her husband, Steven Plofker, have just celebrated 30 happy years of marriage. In 2017, she launched three new ventures – a boutique hotel in Montclair, an online editorial platform, justBOBBI.com, and a wellness line, Evolution_18. “I think my two best attributes are that I’m incredibly naive – I think it is all going to work out. I also do one thing at a time,” says Bobbi. “I don’t look into the future and get overwhelmed; I don’t look into the past and get sad. I just try to do what is in front of me, I put one foot in front of the other and make sure I have help.”
I know you know, because I tell you all the time, how much I love you. You are my heart and soul, and I could not be prouder of the men you all are. Not that it’s been easy being a working mom – especially one who gets overwhelmed by the details of life and schedules. But I am grateful that I have had the privilege of being your mom. I also know the word ‘eye roll’ is how you would sum me up. I am the mom you love to laugh at. The mom who embarrasses you by dancing on stage with Flo Rida and Salt-n-Pepa. I can’t help myself, I like to have a good time.
Traveling the globe and sharing these experiences with you are some of my favorite memories. I am so glad I took you everywhere with me in my career – personal appearances, fashion shows... (even when I had ‘spit up’ on my back and didn’t know it!). I remember when you were growing up and had your friends over, I used to go crazy that there were 30 pairs of sneakers thrown all over the house. When you guys went to college and my house was spotless, I missed the mess. The first holiday when you were back home, the presence of 30 pairs of sneakers was so warm and comforting.
My advice to you all is... don’t be afraid of failure. If you’re not happy in a job, find a new one. Or better yet, be the entrepreneurs I know you are.
Susan Sarandon once advised me to hire a housekeeper to come on the weekends so I could take you guys to the park instead of cleaning. I regret that I didn’t listen to her. I wanted the house to be perfect (it never was). I wish I’d been able to let go of the mess and embrace the chaos (I’m still working on it). If I’d known how quickly it would go, I might have let go. But I loved all the ‘chores’ involved in raising you: nail cutting, baths, doctor’s visits, back-to schools and traveling soccer (even though I was voted the worst soccer mom because I only brought the team orange slices and organic cookies to eat). You know I’m over-protective and always worried about you guys from the moment you were born – the crib, the stairs, the swimming pool and crossing the street; then the cars and teenage drinking. I can’t even talk about the Big Mountain skiing, or jumping out of planes! All I ever want is for you to be safe. You know Dad was the big supporter of all your life experiences and, in retrospect, I’m so glad he won. You are so lucky to have him as a father; there is no bigger supporter and teacher. Your dad was always there to support us all. He even hopped on a train to Florida with four-month-old Dakota, who couldn’t fly because of an ear infection, to join me and Dylan at a magazine shoot. As scared as I’ve been for your safety, I have been fearless in my work.
I was raised with love and kindness, and the belief that I could do anything and be anyone. When I found makeup at university, I thought this is what I love and I want to make a career out of this. Why not? So my advice to you all is, don’t think too much – just do it. Don’t be afraid of failure. If you’re not happy in a job, then find a new one. Or better yet, be the entrepreneurs I know you are. Make sure that being healthy is a top priority. Feeling good and strong will allow you to be your personal best. Lastly, what I wish for all of you is what has given me the most happiness – a happy marriage, great kids, good friends and time to enjoy them.
Bobbi’s letter appears in the new book Grace Mothers: Letters to Our Children.