Playing Shop


Debra Brock has an ultimate happy place. And it’s a pretend makeup counter. She feels no shame.

A while ago I had to have a very minor medical procedure involving my shoulder and a big needle. To take my mind off what I was told might ‘be a bit uncomfy’, I sat and visualised my happy place. You might do the same. Perhaps your happy place is a deserted cove you once visited, or a park bench surrounded by tulips in the Spring sunshine, or your conservatory on the one day a year it’s actually comfortable to sit inside*. My happy place is none of these. My happy place is the training room at Bobbi Brown’s London headquarters.

It’s a large, airy room in a lovely part of London, but here’s the key thing: inside it is a giant Bobbi counter. And it’s pristine. Each product nestles snugly in its custom designed slot and everything is where it’s supposed to be because, um, well, there’s no easy of saying this: there’s no customers to mess it up. Look, I don’t mean you, obviously. You’re not the kind of person who’d put a blusher back in an eyeshadow slot, a lip pencil in an eye pencil holder or (the ultimate sin, I can feel my blood pressure rising just typing these words) apply lipstick from the tester bullet directly to your actual lips and then ram it back into its niche upside down. No, you’re way more classy than that, I can tell, but I have seen these effronteries with my own eyes and had to do a tiny bit of tidying behind the offenders whilst tutting quite forcefully under my breath. God bless the SAs, they have the patience of saints. If I worked on counter, I’d be lobbing Full Coverage Face Brushes at the retreating back of the person who’d discarded a Coral Sugar Blush into what was quite clearly the space for a Smokey Quartz Sparkle Eye Shadow. But I digress.

Taking this to its ‘logical’ conclusion then (go with me), the dream here would be to bring my happy place home and have a Bobbi counter in my bedroom. I’d have to have all the product, even the foundations that are too dark or pale, the eyebrow pencils in completely the wrong tone and the eyeshadows that wouldn’t suit me at all. Not to use, obviously. Just to tidy, rearrange and beam lovingly at. On Monday, I might put all the peach undertone blusher at one end and the pink at the other. Then in midweek I might pop them all into alphabetical order. At the weekend I could see if they have code numbers and sort them that way. I’m getting a warm glow just thinking about it. Surely my husband wouldn’t mind if we chucked the bed out and moved a counter in. We could sort of snuggle round it in sleeping bags, right?


* This will make no sense at all if you’ve never owned a conservatory. But trust me when I say that I left a thermometer in mine when we were away one Summer and when I came home it read 54 degrees celsius. We’ve just knocked it down.

Debra Brock

Debra Brock is co-founder of and a contributing writer.

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