Bobbi Brown, founder of the eponymous global makeup brand, says it took her seven years of freelancing as a makeup artist to achieve success. She felt her efforts start to truly pay off when she styled the face of a young Naomi Campbell for her American Vogue cover debut in 1989.
"It was seven years of pounding the pavement," the entrepreneur tells CNBC.
She went from cold-calling makeup artists to working with icons of music, fashion and politics, building a successful company that counted $30 million in net sales last year and retaining creative control even after she sold the operation to Estee Lauder in 1995.
But now she's starting over. In December, Brown left the company she led for 25 years. The next chapter in her career is justBOBBI, a lifestyle and wellness concept shop at Lord & Taylor.
To build it, she's looking to hire a specific type of employee.
"I'll be hiring a lot of freelancers," Brown says. "I need people who can do more than one thing."
Freelance professionals now make up 35 percent of all U.S. workers, according to a 2016 survey of 6,000 workers by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. That's an increase of 2 million over the past two years, with some 63 percent of respondents saying they started freelancing by choice, not by necessity.
I'm looking for people who can do everything and anything.Bobbi Brownbeauty and wellness entrepreneur
The freelancer-turned-mogul says the self-employed tend to make exceptional employees.
Freelancers, Brown says, have a wide variety of experience and haven't been "pin-holed" into only one area. Further, they're hard workers.
"The last thing I want to do is move into a big giant office with enormous overhead and a lot of people," Brown says. "I want people working remotely and I want people doing different things."
Freelancing does have its difficulties. Independent contractors have to deal with unreliable income that can fluctuate drastically from month to month depending on the work that comes in. And they're on their own when it comes to traditional, on-staff employee benefits, such as company sponsored health insurance or a 401(k).
But many maintain that the freedom and flexibility is worth it, including Brown.
"Even my driver left his company to start his own thing," she says. "My manicurist left her company to start her own thing."
She pauses, and then adds: "I'm a big believer in life being more important than work."
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