A Chat With Marla Malcolm Beck

Marla Malcolm Beck, the Bluemercury founder and mom of 3, on her sanity- and marriage-saving ritual, selling her company for $210M, and beauty must-haves.

Bluemercury founder Marla Malcolm Beck is a beauty junkie and a badass businesswoman, but it wasn’t until it dawned on her to marry the two that she nailed, well, life.

She told us, “I’ve been obsessed with beauty products since high school. Back then, the only shopping options were drugstores and department stores, which kept everything behind glass counters. It was so awkward, not to mention hard to get help because I didn’t have a fancy handbag! I wanted to make it easier to buy high-quality, innovative beauty products. ”

But let’s back up a bit. Before the aha! business idea smacked her over the head, Marla was working in private equity. She met husband Barry Beck while trying to buy his company, and while the sale didn’t happen, a romance was on.

Together they launched Bluemercury.com and opened the first retail store in Georgetown in 1999. To say they make a wildly successful pair would be a giant understatement. Let us break it down:

3 The number of kids they have – Ariel (12), Sophie (10), and Luc (9).
12,450 The number of miles they have walked together since they started dating (!!).
210,000,000 The amount Macy’s paid for Bluemercury in 2015.
120 The number of Bluemercury retail stores that will exist by the end of 2016.
45 The minutes Marla would drive in grad school just to buy MAC lipstick.

We chatted with Marla about all things beauty and parenting. Read on for the thing she swears saves her sanity and marriage (so good!), her current beauty obsessions, and the brilliant lifehacks she swears by. Meet the whip smart, stunning Marla Malcolm Beck.

The Inpsiration

Jeff Bezos gave a speech at business school about starting Amazon that really stuck with me. I was working in private equity post grad school but knew it wasn’t right for me. It finally came to me… I should open my dream beauty store!

You Never Know

I met my husband while I was working in finance – I tried to buy his company, but he wouldn’t sell it to me! We started Bluemercury together, and by the end of the 2016, we will have over 100 stores.

If You Want Something Done Right…

Lune + Aster is my solution to beauty products that didn’t exist but should. There wasn’t a paraben-free, vegan mascara that worked, so I created one. Ditto on a CC cream with SPF50 – most tinted moisturizers were only SPF20. A lot of my friends still don’t know how to do their makeup, but they want to look polished and professional in 10 minutes or less. I made foolproof products for them – you literally can’t get too much bronzer on the brush with the first stroke.

The Couple That Works (And Parents) Together

At work, we divide and conquer: I handle marketing, merchandising, client communication, and training; he deals with operations, finance, real estate, and building stores. Though, of course we work on some things together, and the best is when we travel together. Our date nights are usually when we are in a city together for work. When it comes to parenting, we overlap more and are pretty much interchangeable. I deal with homework, he focuses on fun, but we are both disciplinarians, which is key.

Secret To Success

My husband and I go for a 20-45-minute walk together at 10pm every night. We’ve done it since we were dating. It’s so good for your mind and health. The first 5 minutes are about the day, the rest is us dreaming together. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we walk 4 miles. We calculated it one time – we’ve walked the equivalent of halfway around the world together!!!

Current Beauty Obsessions

Obviously I’m always trying new things, but here’s what I’m currently loving.
Power Glow Peel is a skin miracle. I’m addicted to it. That with a moisturizer and you’re good to go.
• I’m sort of obsessed with La Mer’s new Perfecting Treatment, which is really hydrating and dewey.
• I’m a sunscreen addict. Anthelios SPF60 is so light, sheer, and beautiful; Skinceuticals is my other go-to.
• I love Nars dual intensity eye shadows, so creamy and super easy to apply. Tan Lines and Topless are perfect summer colors.
Nars body bronzer is great and actually smells nice.
ByTerry palettes that look like Missoni stripes – I’m a sucker for pretty packaging!

Kid Beauty Hack

Moroccanoil works miracles on the kids dry hair from swimming.

Best Beauty Advice

1. No matter what you use, you must exfoliate when you get older. The more you age, the less your cells turn over, so your skin will look dull.
2. Don’t touch your face! There are so many germs and bacteria on your hands.
3. SPF every day no matter what! Or else you’ll get sun spots, and there is no cure for sun spots. Trust me, I know, as I have them on my lips!

Life Hacks To Live By

• Find a uniform. I have 6 pairs of black Helmut Lang jeans that pass as pants and 6 silk blouses.
• Keep jewelry in your purse to take you from day to night. For me, it’s dangly clip-on earrings.
• Keep tea and packets of miso soup in my bag. All you need is hot water for instant nourishment.

Career Highlight

When I see someone walking with a Bluemercury shopping bag, it makes my day. It’s all about the simple things. And it’s 94% women who work at Bluemercury – I’m so proud of creating career opportunities for women.

Career Lowpoint

The first couple of years were stressful trying to build a business without running out of money. There were many sleepless nights.

On Raising Kids In Bethesda, MD

We live so close to downtown that we can do fun things spur of the moment: Grab a yogurt, go to the bookstore, the movies… everything is steps from the house. You can also walk down the street and hear 4 or 5 different languages spoken. It’s unique in that it feels both urban and suburban.

How She Unwinds

I like to cook and play piano. I am relaxed if I do those things, but it’s hard to find the time. And I get a lot of angst out on the tennis court.

Guilty Pleasure

Binge-watching a new series until 3am eating popcorn. Right now, it’s The Honorable Woman. And the kids are into Tina Fey, so we’re all watching 30 Rock together.

Photo courtesy of Cade Martin/Washingtonian Magazine.

A Chat With Jessica Seinfeld

Jessica Seinfeld: The philanthropist, cookbook author, and mom of 3 on parenting with Jerry, her go-to family dinner, and the #Momfail that cost her $$$.

Jessica_Seinfeld_03Jessica Seinfeld is a force. The mom of 3 (Sascha, 15; Julian, 13; Shepherd, 8 – and looks like she could be the oldest sister) has 3 cookbooks under her belt (and a 4th coming out Spring 2017), and she just relaunched her nonprofit Baby Buggy as the GOOD+ Foundation to encompass all the amazing work it’s doing to help U.S. families get out of poverty.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the cliff notes: Jessica launched Baby Buggy shortly after she had her first child and faced a problem all new moms experience: What to do with all the outgrown baby gear cluttering your home. Baby Buggy was her solution and has donated more than 20 million (!!) items to kids in need over the last 15 years. But she didn’t stop there – she partners with programs across the country to educate and help families break out of poverty. The new name, GOOD+ reflects the mission: providing tangible goods plus transformational services for the whole family.

We caught up with Jessica to chat all things working mom. Read on for what the Seinfelds are eating at family dinner (yum!), the #Momfail that cost her money, and what it’s like to co-parent with Jerry.

Take it away, Jessica!

On Balance

I don’t have balance as my goal. I try to give 150% to everything I do and wherever that lands me is good enough. I go to sleep as early as possible, I exercise very early in the morning, meditate every day, stop and take deep breaths when I feel stressed, and I have the greatest support system of family, friends, coworkers, and colleagues I rely on.

Career Highlight

The 15 year anniversary of Baby Buggy is a career highlight, along with the enormous growth and success we have experienced since we started. So much so, that we have had to change our name to the GOOD+ Foundation to acknowledge all the work we are doing in fatherhood, early childhood, and to support new mothers.

Career Lowpoint

When the economy is bad, our families suffer more. So, 2009 was full of very tough moments, but we came through for our families in every way we could.

Go-To Family Dinner

I have been making pasta with anchovies and breadcrumbs probably a little too often, and we have fallen in love with fish tacos, which are so simple and easy. The recipe is in my upcoming book (Spring 2017) but lots of great recipes exist all over the web.

Current Parenting Challenge

Having a teenage daughter presents interesting and new challenges everyday. Mean Girl stuff is very real at her school and made harder by social media. We have had some excruciating moments, but they have taught her about popularity and what it actually means (and doesn’t mean).

Co-Parenting With Jerry

Figuring out how to co-parent well with my often traveling, very busy husband has been our most recent parenting problem to solve. This results in me being the disciplinarian. But our goal as a couple in 2016 has been to balance the disciplinarian role between the two of us.

It’s A Family Affair

Our family feels motivated every day to do more for those who are struggling because we see how many families do not have basic needs met (food, shelter and clothing) or luxuries like diapers, warm coats, beds, strollers, and high chairs. My kids do lemonade stands to raise money for GOOD+, although last summer we got shut down by the police and a cranky neighbor. They also volunteer at the warehouse with their friends, folding and sorting donations. I’m not one of those parents who hammers their kids over the head about how important it is to give back. I try to model the behavior I hope to see in them, and I see a keen awareness in each of them already. The best compliments come from other parents who tell me I have grounded kids.

Key To A Good Relationship

Support and cheerlead your partner’s professional goals and personal interests.

Parenting Advice

Stop judging other parents.

Guilty Pleasure

The Net-A-Porter app, which I will sometimes peruse even before I read the newspaper in the very early morning.


I do transcendental meditation for 20 minutes every day. There is no better way to recharge.

3 Hours Alone

You’d find me in bed reading. I try to finish two books and one New Yorker a month. This past month I read All The Light We Cannot See and A Little Life – I cried when they both ended because each was utterly brilliant.

Biggest #Momfail

I had to pay my youngest $100 for a years’ worth of cursing in 2015.

3 Steps To Successful Family Dinners

1. Get your kitchen and pantry organized so you can be successful.
2. Try to care less about failing (it’s just food).
3. Try my book The Can’t Cook Book, which is perfect for the inexperienced and overwhelmed. I have turned countless Can’t Cooks into Can Cooks.

A Girl’s Bedroom You’ll Swoon Over

High and low, sophisticated and playful, and most important – totally without toxins – get all the details on this gorgeous girl’s bedroom.

1When Katerina Buscemi’s daughter failed the lead test at her 1-year check-up, she went down a panic-induced interweb rabbit hole searching for answers. Thankfully, it turned out to be a false positive, but her eye-opening findings spurred serious lifestyle changes.

“I had no idea how much exposure our children have to lead and heavy metals. Not just in our homes and environment, but also in toys and clothing, like metal snaps on their clothes! I’d just purchased a pair of leather baby moccasins that she was fond of chewing: What was in the metallic gold coating? What chemicals were in the leather?”

It turns out 90% of leather is tanned using heavy metal chromium salts, which is potentially toxic to humans. Inspired (and infuriated), Katerina created Lex & Liv, a line of vegetable tanned leather baby shoes. The beautiful truly all-natural kicks are our go-to baby gift. (We like to have the name and birthdate engraved on the sole to make them extra special.)

Her most recent change? Completely detoxifying and redesigning her daughter’s bedroom. A brilliant mix of high and low, playful and sophisticated – we’ll let you peep it for yourself. Consider yourself warned: You’re going to want to makeover your own child’s room immediately.

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16 Secrets To New Sibling Bliss

Smooth the way for a house full of brotherly (or sisterly) love with these tips and tricks. ? @jessicasurgenor

newsibYou’ve got a baby on board – again. Smooth the way for a house full of brotherly (or sisterly) love with these tips and tricks.

And remember, transitions are hard for everyone, no matter your age.

Before Baby

  • Introduce the baby in your belly only once you really start showing. As you well know, 40 weeks is a long time to wait. Now imagine you’re three.
  • If the hospital allows sibling tours before the baby is born, bring your little to see the digs. If your doctor allows you to bring your kiddo to an appointment – and you think she’s old enough – take her with you to hear the heartbeat.
  • Read. Read. Read. Some of our favorite books about new siblings include: I’m a Big Sister & I’m a Big Brother, One Special Day, Babies Don’t Eat Pizza, We Have a Baby, Julius, the Baby of the World, and our most favorite – Twigtale’s custom version really drives the message home.
  • Point out all of the brothers and sisters in your life. Make play dates with friends who have babies.
  • Be honest. Brothers and sisters are awesome – eventually. Explain that when babies are first born they cry, feed, and sleep a lot.
  • Buy a baby doll. Let your little guy hold the doll, feed the doll, dress the doll. Kiddos learn through play.
  • Don’t potty train, ditch the pacifier, or undertake any unnecessary transitions before baby’s arrival. A lot of big sibs will regress after the baby comes home – and you don’t want all of that hard work to be for naught.
  • If you have to move kiddo #1 out of her bedroom or crib, make the move well in advance of the baby’s arrival – two to three months minimum. Let your big kid be involved with “designing” their new space by letting them pick colors, bedding, art, etc.
  • Prepare your child – as much as you can – for what will happen to them when you go to the hospital. Hype up the extra special time she’ll get to spend with (insert awesome grandparent or caretaker). And try to keep disruptions to his day-to-day schedule to a minimum while you’re in the hospital.

Saying Hello

  • The first time your littles meet could be as emotionally charged for you as it is for your older child. Know yourself and your big sib – it’s okay to decide not to bring him to the hospital, where everything can feel overwhelming, especially just after giving birth.
  • If you do bring the big sib to the hospital, make sure your baby is in the bassinet and not in your arms. Give your big sib the space to discover the baby.
  • Before the birth, have your older child buy a gift for the baby to bring to their first meeting. In turn, have a gift waiting for the big sib from the baby. We promise, this exchange will become a thing of family folklore.
  • If your big sibling is old enough to understand the concept of a birthday, let them throw a “birth”day party for the baby, complete with cake and balloons that only she can truly enjoy.

Welcome Home

  • Some pediatricians suggest unlimited access for the older child to the baby (within reason, of course) to ward off bad feelings. In other words, don’t treat the newborn like a precious untouchable.
  • Give your big kid “responsibilities” connected to the baby. We had ours in charge of burp cloths – every time there was a dribble, they helped dab it away.
  • It will be hard to do, but remember to schedule one-on-one “special time” with your older child. If possible, make a plan to do something out of the house (i.e. far away from the baby monitor).

? @jessicasurgenor