A familiar face in the business community has joined the entrepreneurial ranks. Jennifer Hall Milbourne purchased Merle Norman Cosmetics earlier this year the long-time owner decided to retire. Jennifer found out about the business through the Center for Entrepreneurship website. She was a business reporter with the St. Joseph News-Press for 15 years and is the Editor-In-Chief of Josephine magazine.
Jennifer met Rita Moore, the former owner of Merle Norman, during an interview last year.
“I’ve written dozens of stories about a business owner retiring but something about this one in particular just clicked,” Jennifer said. “I’ve always wanted to own my own business and what better way than to take over an existing, successful business.”
Rita’s mother-in-law, Dorothy Moore, first opened the local Merle Norman franchise in the early 1960s at Messanie Street and the Belt Highway. A few years later, East Ridge Village was build shortly after the East Hills Shopping Center and Merle Norman relocated there. Where it remains to this day.
Rita, now ready to retire, began working for her mother-in-law when she was 20 years old. She is excited to pass the torch on to another woman who can continue to grow the business.
The Merle Norman store in St. Joseph has more than 2,000 customers and ships skincare and makeup products around Northwest Missouri and as far away as California, Colorado, Virginia and Canada.
Merle Norman Cosmetics Studios are independently owned and operated. The company was founded in Los Angeles, California in 1931 and is now in its third-generation of family ownership. All of the products are made in LA, including bottling and packaging.
Jennifer is closed the third week in February to give her Merle Norman store a facelift.