The Merle Norman Cosmetics Story
Merle Norman and her Cosmetic Studio Franchises
Merle Mozelle Nethercutt, born in Indiana in 1887, studied medicine and chemistry before moving to California in the late 20s. What started as a quest to find the best possible combination of ingredients to support her complexion eventually became a new cosmetics line. Using her kitchen as her first “laboratory,” Merle Nethercutt Norman mixed ingredients in a large coffee pot to create the innovative “3 Steps to Beauty” featuring PowderBase™, Cleansing Cream™, and Miracol®. PowderBase™, Cleansing Cream™ and Miracol® are still bestsellers today.
She began sharing these with family and friends, believing if they had a chance to try the products they would become customers. Thus began the famous slogan, “Try Before You Buy.”
As demand grew, Merle Norman opened her first studio in 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression in Santa Monica, California. Her nephew J.B. Nethercutt assisted in the development and manufacturing of her products. Within three years, 94 Merle Norman Cosmetics Studios opened. They were predominantly owned by women. Merle Norman’s company has given hundreds of women the opportunity to achieve business success by owning and operating their own studios.
Merle Norman was way ahead of her time. She started the first franchise long before the concept was officially defined. In a time when women were not business owners, Merle Norman was launching her own company and empowering other women, too.
“Merle Norman was the embodiment of female entrepreneurship in a time when women didn’t work,” says Beth Butler, Director of Franchise Development at Merle Norman Cosmetics. “It was really unusual for women to have non-traditional jobs. At that time it was acceptable to be a nurse, a school teacher or a secretary. Merle Norman really broke the mold, started a company, started it by having people try the products she was making in her kitchen, and it became the beginning of ‘try before you buy.’ She created the concept of trying the product and making sure it works for you as a consumer, before you invest your hard earned dollars to buy it.”
Today, Merle Norman Cosmetics remains just miles from our original Ocean Park location and most of our products continue to be made in Los Angeles.
With our long-standing “Try Before You Buy” philosophy and our modernized studios, Merle Norman is positioned for further expansion. The company remains a family-owned business dedicated to helping women everywhere look and feel their absolute best.
Family-owned, time-tested, American company
Long before cosmetics counters and shops began offering options for the customer to pick and choose, Merle Norman has offered beauty products to consumers. We are proud that we are an American company, keeping hundreds of Americans in the workforce.
Merle Norman Cosmetics is committed to helping women feel beautiful. While beauty quickly becomes apparent on the outside, it begins with women feeling comfortable in their own skin, proud of their appearance and confident in who they are. Merle Norman’s mission is to give every woman a more beautiful life.
Our Franchise Owners Are Family
We offer a proven and successful business plan, designed to maximize your return on investment. Our various store floor plans vary in start-up costs, able to fit most every type of location and budget.
You pay no franchise fee and no royalty fee, plus we reimburse you up to 60% for marketing and advertising costs (rules apply). Merle Norman also supplies your studio with sample and demonstration products so that your customers can “try before they buy.”
We really have the owners’ best interests at heart as we work to make innovations to our company and our brand. “We have an army of people at our corporate headquarters who are as invested in their success as they are, and we care very deeply for each of our studio owners and how well they perform,” says Beth Butler, Director of Franchise Development. “We work really hard behind the scenes, trying to make running a business easier for them, simpler for them, and ideally, something that’s fun for them. We hope our efforts allow them the time, the freedom and the ability to be on the sales floor sharing the products and conveying to their customers what would help them look and feel better. We know it’s why they became a Merle Norman Studio owner.”
From the Great Depression to the 21st century
Merle Norman’s single studio has evolved into the successful corporation it is today, which remains just miles from the original Ocean Park location. Our Research & Development and manufacturing facilities are still located in Los Angeles, where the products continue to be made.
Merle Norman’s original vision for helping others lives on in the outstanding integrity and efficacy of our brand. No other cosmetics or skin care line has our history of an American success story; no other beauty product has life-long customers whose skin looks decades younger because they’ve only ever used Merle Norman cosmetics.
Dedicated to Merle Norman’s original vision of superior products, individual service and the “Try Before You Buy” philosophy, and bolstered by a contemporary new design, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios are positioned for further expansion and even greater success in the years ahead. Although Merle Norman passed away in 1972 and J.B. Nethercutt in 2004, the company, under the guidance of J.B.’s son, Jack Nethercutt, remains a family-owned business dedicated to helping women everywhere look and feel their absolute best.