By Nina Zipkin, Entrepreneur Staff

Editor’s Note: Inspire Me is a series in which entrepreneurs and leaders share what motivates them through good times and bad, while also sharing stories of how they overcame challenges in hopes of inspiring others.

Marla Beck’s whole reason for starting Bluemercury, a retail company for cosmetics and beauty products, was to break the department store model. “I was in my 20s, and I hated shopping for cosmetics [in department stores], because everybody would be rude to me because I didn’t have a nice handbag or nice shoes,” Beck says.

She wanted to create a space where beauty junkies like herself could feel comfortable asking questions and find the products that would make them feel their best. However, her success was a slow burn. When she started Bluemercury 19 years ago, ecommerce was just beginning.

So much so that when she launched the brand’s first website, the response was essentially “crickets,” according to Beck. Less than a year in, she decided to open a single storefront in Washington, D.C. in order to keep the business afloat. “We saw the future, but we were wrong and so we had to survive,” she recalled to Entrepreneur.

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