Brooke Fleetwood isn’t like the other 15,149 residents of Hudson, Wisconsin. For one thing, there’s her mini empire of themed short-term vacation rentals, including the Pink Castle and the Goth Castle. Then there’s her pink Mercedes G550 SUV. And her pink-painted BB Makeup Cosmetic Bar, located in historic downtown Hudson. Her tens of thousands of social media fans get routine updates on her glamorous, pink-washed lifestyle that feels more Real Housewives than Upper Midwest.
Fleetwood has fewer fans inside City Hall, where she’s viewed as a pink pariah who’s upsetting civic order via flashy paint jobs and regulatory noncompliance.
“I decided to create the life I wanted to live, which was: I love the color pink, my dream was to own a pink house, a pink car, but I never thought I’d actually get there. Because that’s just a dream,” she says. “To make that dream a reality, I just worked hard and as I got the money I started making my empire.”
For crash-course on Brooke Fleetwood’s empire, scroll through her lavish Instagram feed. You’ll find surplus steamy selfies; over-the-top salon offerings; occasional MAGA nods; jetsetting trips to Abu Dhabi; property portfolio highlights; and snapshots from her kid- and animal-packed life in the St. Croix River valley.
Fleetwood’s life wasn’t always so glamorous. Her dad was the “top guy” at Andersen Windows, and moved his family from Seymour, Indiana, to Hudson in 2006. At first, his teenage daughter made no friends—“It was quite horrible, actually!” she remembers. After Fleetwood enrolled in the Aveda Institute, the young esthetician discovered things to enjoy in the Twin Cities, including the Mall of America and the downtown party scene. Fleetwood would relocate 27 miles east, where she’d launch her salon/spa, marry her husband John, and have two kids.
They lived in a “normal house” before Fleetwood, unannounced to John, purchased the 130-year-old Victorian at 904 Vine St. for $427,500 in 2015, according to county records.
“I bought it, immediately painted my house pink; It was amazing, it was the talk of the town…” she says with obvious pride. “And that’s when the craziness started.”
Shortly thereafter, Fleetwood acquired her salon at 512 Third St., about seven blocks from the Pink Castle. It would soon become the pink salon, to the delight of some townspeople and to the horror of others.
“My neighbor to my store said, ‘Why haven’t you painted this facility pink yet?’ I was like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t know… because people are going to hate me even more!” Fleetwood says. “We started painting it at like 5 in the morning, and it was like: Ta da, it’s pink too! What’s going to happen next?”
The city was displeased. To preserve the character of the historic river town, buildings must stay within a range of “suggested color tones,” Fleetwood says—browns, whites, beiges, etc. City officials sent Fleetwood a notice demanding that she paint the storefront back within 28 days. The obstinate business owner refused, and “within 15 minutes” a media feeding frenzy began. Fleetwood eagerly vented through reporters and her own Facebook live feed.
“‘Pink Girl’ Fights City Over Business’ Vibrant Paint Job” screamed a CBS News headline. Almost 7,000 supporters signed an online petition as City Hall scrambled to find a solution.
“We were just explaining: There’s nothing wrong with the color pink,” she explains. “The city tried, and they tried, and they tried to get me to paint it back. They dropped it, but since then I’ve not been on the city’s good side.”
When Super Bowl LII came to Minneapolis in 2018, Fleetwood discovered a new way to poke the municipal government bear. A friend told her about the gleeful price-gouging that abounded around the metro, and Fleetwood quickly listed the Pink Castle on Airbnb. She didn’t attract any Patriots or Eagles fans, though a different partying demographic gravitated toward the listing: bachelorette parties. During the first year, around 10 of ’em. That number would double the following year. “I was like, ‘I need to buy a different property because we’re basically homeless,’” she says.
Until recently, Fleetwood owned a constellation of short-term rentals around the St. Croix River valley: The Pink Castle, the Goth Castle, and the Afton Farm, though she just unloaded the latter estate and the Goth Castle hit the market last month.
“Now, I wouldn’t ever sell the Pink Castle, because that is my brand,” Fleetwood says, noting that the Goth Castle’s “darker, sexier, deeper feel” draws bachelor parties. “But the Goth Castle, if I can double my money, why not? It’s a business move, I’m a business woman.”
(Fleetwood’s entrepreneurial zeal extends to OnlyFans, where “nasty fuckers” can buy $50 bottles of her “boob sweat.” We’re not kidding.)
In 2020, when the City of Hudson passed short-term rental ordinances, Fleetwood yet again went to war with City Hall. She claims she was the first resident to send in an application; the city claims that the application was “incomplete.” Complicating everything: How to designate the pools and hot tubs at each property, which city officials claim do not meet commercial standards. The city and St. Croix County sued Fleetwood last year over noncompliance, as Bring Me the New reported in great detail.
Yet again, media hubbub accompanied “The Pink Girl” and her fight over regulations.
“I’m the one that started Airbnbs in Hudson. There were no rules with short-term rentals. They wanted to make a rule about it,” says Fleetwood, noting that all of her properties are currently licensed. “OK fine! I was the first one to apply, the first one to send in my money, and they ‘didn’t receive it.’ But they cashed my check! So they completely fucked up.”
She hints at possibly filing a retaliatory lawsuit against the city in the coming months.
While re-litigating her battles with Racket, Fleetwood maintains the peppy demeanor of an online influencer. She uses words like “manifest,” and teases a large-scale expansion that’s coming at the Pink Castle. She recently added another Pink Castle rental in her hometown, as well as a satellite “beauty resort.” The ultimate goal? To acquire a third Pink Castle in Nashville, “where the bachelorette parties thrive.”
“People ask me how I’ve done this, and the biggest thing I tell them is: Work your ass off, but have fun doing it,” she says, clearly relishing the role of motivational guru. “I love pink, sparkle, anything happy and positive, even through all this shit—and I want to live that daily. The universe will work for you.”