One of my first meetings when I started Alchimie Forever was with Marla Malcolm Beck of Bluemercury. I was fascinated by her, by the fact that there she owned a DC-based beauty company, by the fact that we had a Harvard connection. I had dreams of Bluemercury being the flagship retailer of Alchimie Forever. Today, while Alchimie Forever is still not (not yet?) in her beauty boutiques, we still run into each other at social functions and industry events. And I am still fascinated by her, by her blonde hair (now I know how she gets it), by how she has been able to grow her business and even launch a skin care line, by her tenacity and endurance. Indeed, her favorite quote is a favorite of mine, perhaps a favorite of all entrepreneurs….
AP: What city were you born in? MMB: I was born in Oakland, CA and went to the University of California, Berkeley. I am a California girl at heart – an entrepreneur with the Go West to the Frontier mentality. I don’t believe barriers are walls to anything.
AP: What city to do you live in? MMB: I live in Bethesda, MD with my husband, business partner and best friend, and my three children, age 9, 7, and 5.
AP: What is your middle name? MMB: Malcolm. It’s my maiden name.
AP: What is your astrological sign? MMB: Gemini.
AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? MMB: The number of creative, innovative people there are in the industry.
AP: Least favorite thing? MMB: How marketing driven it is and how sometimes the marketers are so very far removed from the consumers and what is important to them.
AP: What is your most prized possession? MMB: My family.
AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? MMB: I have been a vegetarian since I was 22. I have not eaten a single piece of meat in 20 years. I have been experimenting with eating Raw Vegan. My skin has never looked better and my energy level is off the charts.
AP: Do you wear a watch? MMB: Yes, a solid gold Cartier Tank Francaise in Medium.
AP: Diamonds or pearls? MMB: Both.
AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? MMB: Ben Franklin. He was an amazing innovator, conversationalist and succeeded at creating something new within everything he touched.
AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? MMB: I give all of my time to work and family. I always have three priorities at work, and I focus on achieving them. Once I achieve one of the priorities, another one gets added. On the other hand, to unwind I do the following: 1) I love cooking. I find it very relaxing and have been really perfecting my vegan cooking and baking; 2) Our whole family bikes together – there is nothing like the wind blowing through your hair on a bike as your whole family surrounds you and chit chats; 3) My husband and I take a walk at 10pm every night and talk through the day and talk about the next day.
AP: What are your three top tips for travel? MMB: 1. Pack light so that you are extremely mobile. I try to travel in jeans, a nice blouse and a sweater. I bring one day to evening dress, and 1 set of workout clothes and that is it! 2. Pack 3 -4 skincare products that you need, no need to overdo it. I always bring a DIY peel – there is nothing like doing a glycolic peel at night to remove all of the grime and travel residue and bring out glowing skin. 3. Pack a good book. Airplane time is a great time to disconnect, clear your head, and devour something that has nothing to do with what you do.
AP: What is your favorite book? MMB: I love historical fiction and my favorite series of all time is Colleen McCollough’s series on Caesar. The series basically goes through the rise and fall of the Roman Republic. The Romans did so many interesting things right – division of power in government, food provision for the poor, infrastructure building. And so many things wrong – corruption, vanity, murder. It’s better than a soap opera and you learn something about history, also!
AP: What is your cocktail of choice? MMB: I am not a drinker at all. I will take a sip of a good wine or champagne, but that is it.
AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? MMB: Glowing skin can be had. I use Vitamin C every night. I use a home glycolic peel 3x per week. I use sunscreen every day. This is the perfect recipe for great skin for most of our clients, also.
AP: What fragrance do you wear? MMB: Acqua di Parma Colonia has been my scent for 13 years. Fresh citrus with a touch of rose bulgara, created in the 1930s – a total classic.
AP: Botox or not? MMB: Not. I have not done anything and have only been to a dermatologist for skin cancer checks. But I am an absolute sunscreen junkie and have dozens of different kinds that I wear for different occasions.
AP: Hair color: natural or not? MMB: I have been going to Kathleen and Kao of Salon AKS (or they have been coming to me in Washington DC!) for over 10 years now. I won’t let anyone touch my hair other than this dynamic duo. They come to Georgetown every six weeks and I cannot live without them. Kathleen knows how to do the perfect blonde. Everyone thinks I am still a natural blonde and I have given her number to countless people.
AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. MMB: Jackson Brown, Stay. The Grateful Dead, They Love Eachother. Extreme, More than Words. [I am dating myself!]
AP: Quote to live by. MMB: “Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas Edison
AP: Who is your mentor? MMB: Leonard Lauder has been an amazing mentor. He is so very supportive of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. He is the best at helping us think 10 years, 20 years out. We need this, because it is so easy to focus on what’s here and now.
AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. MMB: Everything is possible. The hardest part is figuring out what you want. Once you know that, getting there is just a matter of having a plan and flexibility.