What’s in a name? For Bobbi Brown, quite a lot. Her eponymous beauty brand changed the way women wear makeup — she believed it should enhance features rather than cover them up – and her moniker became synonymous with the natural look. Since leaving the company in late 2016 — after 27 years at the helm — she is still making moves and playing with the power of names, this time, just not her own.
In her latest venture, Brown and her husband, Steven Plofker, have renovated The George Inn, a boutique hotel in their hometown Montclair, New Jersey, opening its doors this March. Though named for the redbrick estate's classic Georgian architecture, when you walk in you'll notice an oil portrait of George Washington in the lobby. With further inspection, you'll see a black and white photo of George Clooney by the gorgeous double staircase and an underwear-clad George Costanza lounging by the fireplace.
It doesn't stop there. Each of the 32 two rooms in the landmark building built in 1902, has its own name and is full of old photos picked out by Brown, the hotel's creative director and interior designer. "Instead of 'I'm in room 21, you'll say 'I'm in Lou,'" explains Brown, where you'll be greeted by Lou Reed, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, among others. Jack, Kate and Isaac are down the hall. "Some of the photos are from our personal collection, others we've gotten at flea markets," she says. "It's something we'll keep changing, I'm starting to look for album covers and concert tickets."
Brown sourced the furniture from all over as well, bringing in treasures from her travels and her homes. She chose hand-crafted leather pieces from Timothy Oulton and partnered with One Kings Lane for the entire bottom-floor, with some HomeGoods and Restoration Hardware mixed in. It's an eclectic selection, with a decidedly British slant.
The bed frames are upholstered in tartan and Brown is not shy with a Union Jack pillow. "I'm an anglophile," she says. "The British theme is my thing." Even the rich gray walls evoke a cloudy day in the English countryside, though she chose the shade because it acts as a neutral and allows her to put as much around it as she desires.
It's through her travels to places like the U.K., that Brown realized the magic of boutique hotels and started envisioning her own. "I used to stay in really fancy big hotels, but once we discovered the smaller ones I realized I loved them so much more," she says. "My husband finds them on Tablet. They aren't so cookie-cutter, there's always a personal touch."
The makeup maven has certainly put a personal touch on The George Inn. She filled it with brands she loves, like Nespresso (she had to convince her husband that every room needed one), Hello Natural Toothpaste and Flaneur bedding. She's been using local vendors and is planning on incorporating Montclair companies, whether restaurants, event planners or yoga instructors, into the mix once the hotel opens. She also made sure everything from the soap to the food is clean and organic. "That is where my head is right now, even with the makeup I wear."
Rumors have been circulating that Brown could be starting a clean beauty line, but she says she's currently focusing on a wellness brand (there is a reason she's been called a serial entrepreneur). "I'm coming out with a line of ingestibles, powders and elixirs," she explains. "It's always been my philosophy that the more you pay attention to what you put in your body, the better you look, and the less makeup you need. I believe in beauty from the inside out."
Brown also believes in her hometown. "I moved to Montclair the day I got back from my honeymoon," she says. "I love everything about here. I love that it's only 12 miles from the city. I love that the people are nice and really creative. It's becoming a hip place." Undoubtedly, even more so with a little help from George, and Bobbi.
Watch Martha chat with Bobbi and Martha Stewart beauty editor, Melissa Goldstein, on how to look your brightest and best!