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Makeup Artist Bobbi Brown Ending a Chapter

One of makeup artistry's pioneers is turning the page.

Bobbi Brown is turning the page on 25 years of her career by leaving her cosmetics brand.

The owner of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Estée Lauder Companies Inc., said Monday that Brown will be leaving the company by the end of the year. Peter Lichtenthal, global brand president, will continue to oversee the business.

Brown was not available for an interview at press time, but she issued a statement that the celebration of brand’s 25th anniversary was a milestone “that made me realize it was time to start a new chapter and move on to new ventures,” she stated, without revealing what that new chapter may be.

According to sources in the market, Brown, age 59, is expected to reveal her plans some time next year. Although sources say she has a non-compete clause in her Lauder contract, Brown is expected to remain in the business world.

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She certainly will not lack for ideas. Over the years she has displayed an entrepreneurial zeal, ranging from launching her own blog that promoted anything that caught her eye, including sunglasses, to a gig with Yahoo and a makeup promotion that took place in the backseat of an Uber.

Fabrizio Freda, president and chief executive officer of Lauder, drew an entrepreneurial parallel between Brown and the company’s founder, Estée Lauder. “The success of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics demonstrates that commitment” to entrepreneurship. “Today the brand is sold in over 70 countries and is a top makeup artist brand founded by a woman. It’s a global prestige cosmetics powerhouse, with a highly promising future, poised for its next chapter of growth.”

He did not break out specifics, but according to industry sources, the brand generates about $580 million in wholesale sales.

None of this is lost on Brown. “I am thankful for the extraordinary people that I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years and proud of the creative endeavors and innovative products we’ve created together,” she stated, singling out the beauty group “and the Lauder family for the many opportunities they gave me.”

Lauder acquired the brand in 1995, when it was not four years old and was in the process of redefining the makeup business along with the iconoclastic MAC Cosmetics.

William P. Lauder, executive chairman, said, “More than two decades ago, we met an extremely creative makeup artist with a revolutionary idea that changed the way women feel about beauty. That idea grew into a highly successful, global beauty brand.”

Lauder was referring to Brown’s breakthrough in promoting a natural beauty which enhanced a woman’s look, rather than altered it. “She was one of the pioneers,” said one market observer. The natural look that Brown pioneered in the beginning of the Nineties still resonates in the brand’s “Be Who You Are” slogan.

Karen Grant, vice president and global industry analyst in the NPD Group, agreed, saying of Brown: “She was one of the pioneers of being able to use makeup products in different ways.” Grant also credited Brown with being one of the leaders who put the concept of makeup artistry on the map.

Although a virtual title wave of young upstart makeup brands has put legacy labels under intense pressure during the last year or two, makeup artistry remains the best-selling category in color cosmetics, according to sources.