Last week, I had the chance to hop on a call with Marla Malcolm Beck, co-founder of Bluemercury. Bluemercury is one of my favorite places to buy makeup. The thing that’s really different about Bluemercury? All of the employees are incredibly knowledgable about the products. When I went to Georgetown, I’d pop in every now and then to see what was new. (Fun fact! The Georgetown location was their first store!) Because I was on a student budget, I wanted to make sure that what I was getting was just right! They’d help me pick the perfect products. Same thing holds true today for me… There’s a Bluemercury right across from my favorite brunch spot. I always end up poking around and finding new “must have” beauty products!
Marla Malcolm Beck is a great example of an inspirational businesswoman. She’s incredibly smart (MBA from Harvard Business School, an MPA from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a B.A. in Economics, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of California, Berkeley… nbd.) and did I mention that she’s a mother to three children! She and her husband started Bluemercury in 1999 and she has the best advice, both career and beauty-wise!
Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur or involved with beauty?
It happened later. I have always loved beauty products, but I never saw it as a profession for myself. I studied economics. I always wanted to run my own business and start my own company, but I never associated that with beauty. Beauty for me was always a hobby! It wasn’t until I was dissatisfied with the subject area that I was working on at my job that I thought, “I really need to do something different.”
We started to bring luxury beauty to e-commerce during the dot com boom, but we were too early so we transitioned to retail. At the time, the idea of a freestanding beauty store was a new idea. I bought my beauty products in department stores, but I didn’t like the shopping environment. The whole idea behind Bluemercury was the friendly neighborhood store where you could get expert beauty advice.
Then I was working on something I loved, which was beauty, and I was starting my own company. I was in my twenties and when you’re in your twenties, you have nothing to lose! If it didn’t work, I could go get a job. I wasn’t married; I didn’t have kids.
The time in your twenties is a chance to really pursue your dreams. You have no obligations, you can work 24/7, and you have nothing to lose.
What advice would you give to students in college?
You have to build your analytical skills. Every job requires that now. Also, get tech experience and be able to demonstrate your tech experience! Those skills are really highly valued, no matter what you do!
Looking back when you were starting out, what was the best piece of advice you were given?
A lot of it at the beginning is just sticking to it and starting something. I had mentors who said, “Just go try it. Just go start.” I always tell people to not over think things, start doing it, and figure it out along the way. It is hard work, it’s 24/7. If you have an idea for something– it doesn’t have to be huge– just go try it! You learn while you’re trying.
What’s your favorite beauty tips or secrets?
For women in their twenties, make sure you get all of your makeup off your face at night with a good cleanser. Start using an eye creme. And use sunscreen every day. BB Creams with SPF are miracles! Don’t leave the house, even if you’re rolling out of bed to go to class, without putting sunscreen on.
Never underestimate the power of a good bronzer! You’ll look like you have a sun-kissed glow without the damage of the sun.
What’s one product that you can’t live without?
M-61 Power Glow Peel. It’s like getting a facial in one minute. Some people call it a gateway drug, that’s how much they love it!
Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 gig. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to click the reset button?
A good little walk. Walking increases creativity and reduces stress. My husband and I try to go for a walk every night. I have a better day if I walk in the morning and walk at night. It keeps you moving and keeps your brain clear.
What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
Everything is different. You’re not sitting at a desk every day. You get to do so many different things. One day I might be in a store chatting with our staff about the latest products and another day I might be doing interviews and another day I might be in New York looking at new products coming out with our team. Every day is different, you get to use your creativity, and you can put a stake in the ground and for what you believe. It’s a really exciting, creative opportunity.