Marla Malcolm Beck has always loved makeup but she doesn't like the way it has traditionally been marketed and sold to women.

"I would be really uncomfortable shopping because they really thought a lot about how you were dressed and the sales associates didn't want to help someone who was young and may not have money," she told Fusion recently at a Politico event featuring women business leaders.

So, at just 29 years old, she did something about it by launching Bluemercury, a cosmetics company she runs her own way.

The aim? Give women multiple brands in one "neighborhood store" with access to experts that can answer questions about all of the products. The concept took off.

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(Photo courtesy of Marla Malcolm Beck)

What started out as a small e-commerce operation has morphed, 15 years later, into a company with more than 60 stores around the country, 600 employees, and plans to grow to 225 stores over the next five years.

"I was always a really sort of aggressive leader, so I was never afraid to try something, even if I were going to fail," she said. "I meet so many great female leaders and I think what all of them have in common is they're not afraid to go for exactly what they want."

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Unfortunately, as a woman founder and CEO of a company, Malcolm Beck is in rare company. Very few women run businesses. There are just 26 women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit aimed at expanding opportunities for women.

Malcolm Beck thinks one reason for the discrepancy is that women wait to be promoted, whereas men ask.

"I think it's just being brave enough to go for what you want," she said. "That's why I think sports are so good for girls…it just teaches you sort of intense competition and you need to play the game."

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The mom-of-three (two girls, one boy) played both volleyball and softball growing up in California, and said the experience taught her how to fail and how, even when you're not the best, you're part of a team.

(Photo courtesy of Marla Malcolm Beck)

While launching a company can certainly be an all-consuming venture initially, Malcolm Beck says being CEO gives her "maximum flexibility" to balance work and family life. She co-launched Bluemercury with her husband, Barry Beck, who currently serves as chief operating officer, and the family takes an "adventurous" trip each year, this year to India.

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And, she added, some of the challenges she faced in securing funding from skeptical men aren't as difficult to overcome now, which may pave the way for more women to launch their own companies.

"I love these new concepts like Kickstarter," she said. "I just think it's an amazing time to start a business and get money and it's much less expensive to start a business today than it was when we started. When we started in 1999, it cost over $1 million to build an internet site. Now, my 11-year-old daughter can build one for free."

Malcolm Beck is upbeat and polished, but it hasn't all been smooth sailing and she cringes when asked about the fact that not every Bluemercury store she's opened has flourished.

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(Photo courtesy of Marla Malcolm Beck)

"Do we have to talk about it?" she said during an interview at Bluemercury's Georgetown store, the company's first. "You know, we made some bad decisions, we shifted strategies, we haven't closed a store since then."

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And she's certainly not without competition - a bustling Sephora sits several stores down M Street in Georgetown - and the challenges that modern social networking technologies like Yelp bring.

But, Malcolm Beck says, "there's really enough business for everybody…we excel based on service."

Like any successful entrepreneur, she spends much of her time thinking about the future. While she's reluctant to get into specifics regarding the future of the company, she's happy to offer some beauty predictions.

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(Photo courtesy of Marla Malcolm Beck)

"I think that someday we'll have the technology that you could just take a picture of your skin with your iPhone, it will tell you your hydration levels and what you need to do, which product is right for you," she said.

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Also on her list? Printing skin care products from 3D printers at home and pills that provide sun protection.

"I have a lot of dreams for where technology will go in the business," she said. "There's so much opportunity."

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.

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Geneva Sands is a Washington, D.C.-based producer/editor focused on national affairs and politics. Egg creams, Raleigh and pie are three of her favorite things.