Bobbi Brown's job is fast-paced and glamorous, but her private life is decidedly domestic.
On a typical day at her suburban New Jersey home, she gets up early to squeeze in some time to work up a sweat on the treadmill before her sons, Dylan, 7, and Dakota, 5, get up for school."Otherwise, I don't do it," says Brown, makeup stylist to the stars. "Then I get the kids ready for school and drop them off, then I run in to do a shoot with Mira Sorvino or Whitney Houston, then I come back to school for a teacher's meeting."
No wonder she sweats.
After one such day, the chauffeuring supermom has shed her shoes and wrapped herself in a green terry cloth robe. She's cozy on the den couch with Dakota, the better to watch The Nets, her hometown hoopsters.
"Mira Sorvino asked me today to do her makeup for the Oscars," says Brown, who has painted the faces of Meg Ryan, Andie MacDowell, Kathie Lee Gifford and Susan Sarandon.
She juggles appointments in a day planner, chockablock with makeup assignments for celebrities, magazine photo shoots - or perhaps tonight's guest on the David Letterman show.
Twice yearly at New York's Fashion Week collections, she's backstage perfecting supermodels (as if), armed with her entourage of 10 makeup artists and two manicurists. Spare time, she's got a new Bobbi fragrance, and she's pregnant, with the baby scheduled to arrive this summer.
The tools of Brown's trade are natural-looking cosmetics, Bobbi Brown Essentials.
Oprah Winfrey and Naomi Campbell are fans of foundation sticks No. 6 (golden) and 7 (almond); The Spice Girls like pressed powder; Sandra Bullock gets lacquered with pink sheer polish. And Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman shops for No. 5 bronze shimmer lipstick, No. 3 bronzer and No. 5. moss eye shadow.
If Rodman is oh-so glamorous, Brown's not.
"This is my life, it's what I've done for the past 15 years," Brown says. "I'm happy with what I look like, but I'm not the glamour queen. It's not in my bones."
"I am definitely the woman who wears sensible shoes," says Brown, whose preferred uniform is jeans, a white T-shirt and penny loafers sans socks.
When she can get away with it.
"I used to be able to arrive (backstage) at a fashion show in my jeans and a ponytail, but now every model has their own crew and a newsmagazine following them," Brown says. "I hate to say I'm one of those people, but now even the makeup artist has to come with makeup done. Everyone in the fashion business is a celebrity these days."
Brown, 40, is married to lawyer and real estate developer Steven Plofker, 41, who "actually likes the way I look without makeup."
She was groomed for her calling at age 5, when her mother handed her makeup and paper with instructions, "go paint." Says Brown, "I painted my face and all my dolls' faces. My dad says I also painted the walls and sink."
After graduation from Emerson College in Boston, where she studied theatrical makeup, Brown started as an assistant to a Manhattan makeup artist.
"My first job was for Glamour magazine, for a black-and-white page," she says. "I had to make up a dancer's feet, which were totally dirty, beat-up, dry and calloused."
"It was yucky, probably one of the most disgusting things I've ever done. Then I had to wait about four months for the pictures to come out. It was the biggest thrill to see my name."
Then came bigger thrills. Ever hear of The Rolling Stones?
"After I finished the makeup (for a Rolling Stones album cover), the stylist handed them their clothes and told them to change. All of a sudden, I found myself in a dressing room with The Rolling Stones in their underwear. I was 23 years old."
In 1990, Brown launched her own company, encouraged by models who kept borrowing the fresh-looking lipsticks she was making. Bergdorf Goodman sold 100 lipsticks on the first day. The line was later acquired by Estee Lauder.
Besides cosmetics, the secret to a pretty face is peace of mind.
"I've done shows during Fashion Week that start at 1 (o'clock) and Naomi (Campbell) arrives at 1 (o'clock), and you have to throw makeup on her as she's getting onto the runway," says Brown. "It's a very strange thing, but I get this inner calm when things get out of control. It's makeup, not brain surgery."