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The Original Influencer, Paula Begoun, On Being A Modern Beauty Entrepreneur

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In a cosmetics world teeming with mysterious ingredients, strident claims of the efficacy of unknown substances and an almost spiritual belief in nature's ability to cure all-- who can beauty entrepreneurs turn to for a clear, honest understanding of skin care? Paula Begoun the Cosmetics Cop, long known in the beauty industry for her outspoken reviews and now CEO and Founder of Paula's Choice Skincare, seems like the obvious choice.


Begoun started her career in the beauty industry in the early 1980's as a makeup artist in Seattle, Washington. It was here the young makeup artist introduced herself as a cosmetic vigilante-- appearing on a local news station as an investigative journalist of the beauty industry and self-publishing her first book Blue Eyeshadow Should be Illegal in 1982.

The book gained national attention, leading to recurrent appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Begoun's column, “Dear Paula," that diverged from the fatigued and archetypical advice column and instead featured the unprecedented honesty of Begoun over specific cosmetic products.

Begoun's experience in the newspaper industry eventually developed into a larger venture. Like everyones' cherished, fictional columnist Carrie Bradshaw, the young writer complied her column and published the first edition of Don't Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me in 1992. This exposition on the cosmetic industry was an immediate sensation, and following its publication,“The Cosmetic Cop" became a household name.

Photo Courtesy of Paula's Choice Skincare Instagram

“Women used to literally take my book before it was online to the cosmetic counter," laughs Begoun, reminiscing about women entering makeup stores, wielding literary protection against harmful face washes. And although the author faced some criticism over her candid assessment of the beauty industry Begoun describes herself as “a nonpartisan critic." The credibility of her work was corroborated when it became a standard of every dermatologist's office, “I remember when I started formulating my products I would walk into chemist's offices and contact manufacturers, I would see my book on their shelves, and that was the best feeling."

Determined to use her status as a conscientious makeup advocate, this writer-turned-entrepreneur launched Paula's Choice Skincare in 1995. At first Begoun released ten products dedicated to the high standards she upholds now some thirty years later. Today her company continues to formulate researched products that provide a full spectrum of documented benefits.

Major makeup corporations constantly advertise new, fast acting skin care that despite promises of blemish free skin, are usually replaced by a newer, trendier product. Small, eclectic brands consistently launch new skin care lines that are just as quickly abandoned by their founders-- well intentioned people who lack the knowledge to create what they envisioned.

However, Paula's Choice Skincare is neither an opaque company nor an impractical indie brand with unrealistic expectations.

“I didn't do any of this because I wanted to be master of the universe-- that I ended up being a successful business women was an accident. I didn't have high expectations", explains Begoun, who's motivation to create a transparent and successful skin care line produced consumer cult favorites from her original ten products. Begoun was not driven by a desire for the beauty industry's recognition, but rather an inclination to develop skin care that actually works.

Do the research," is Begoun's immediate advice to modern beauty entrepreneurs. “Do the research. It's called medical dermatology science journals-- one study is not going to tell you everything, you need to take a look at it all," expounds the CEO. She credits her success to being involved in both the research and the formulating of her products.

Paula's Choice Skincare was one of the first beauty companies to sell solely on the internet. However, in addition to viewing it as the key to modern marketing, she sees a dark side to the internet. Begoun is wary of the immense amount of incorrect information circulating, “It's way easier to just reread the bullshit research that gets resaid in blog after blog. The information on the internet around skincare is still pretty damn fucking crazy."

The internet is also a driver of trends, but Begoun credits her success to a habit of avoiding the latest thing. “One of the reasons we rarely jump on trendy ingredients is that I know that a trendy ingredient is going away when there's not enough research or the research is just silly." Marketing fads come and go quickly, “Just in terms of oils I've watched emu oil and tea tree oil and I've just watched trends come and go. Trends aren't good skin care-- it's good for reporting but it's not good skin care."

The current affectation of natural skin care has prompted many of our favorite celebrities and influencers to come out with new green product lines. However, Begoun believes that the quick failure of these products results from a lack of knowledge and research about effective skin care, “The entrepreneur themselves aren't usually chemists and they don't know chemistry or biochemistry. They don't have a fundamental knowledge of what makes for good skin care."

Begoun feels that the need for her insights and careful analysis is greater now than ever, “I'm the only one saying that because it's the truth. I always say to people that the truth in beauty is telling women things even when they don't want to hear it, even when it's disappointing." The budding entrepreneur might well choose to follow the path of research, testing and formulating; this will lead to effective, quality products and will avoid the wrath of the Cosmetic Cop.

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.


  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.