Merle Norman Inspires the Manchester Community With Glamour and Grace.

by | Apr 2024

BEAUTY PRODUCTS fill the shelves, setting the stage for the captivating world of Merle Norman Cosmetics, a California-based company with franchise studio locations in Manchester and Decherd. Upon entering their studios, co-owners Cindy West and Jenny Jackson warmly welcome customers, helping them find items to replenish their tried-and-true Merle Norman products or invite them to try new products. “Try before you buy” is a Merle Norman philosophy the duo has long implemented into their studios. 

Born from the vision of a trailblazing woman named Merle Norman in 1931, Merle Norman Cosmetics embodies timeless beauty and innovation. Despite its impressive nine-decade history, the brand boasts a timeless selection of skincare, foundations, and cosmetics that rival the cutting-edge offerings of any major department or cosmetic store.

While cosmetics often conjure images of foundations and colorful palettes, Merle Norman sees beauty as a holistic philosophy. 

“We are here to help empower women to be the best that they can be – to put their best foot forward in the world in which they live,” said West.

“For some women, that is full-face skincare and cosmetics, but for others, it might only be skincare,” she continued.

West and Jackson’s Merle Norman journey began 17 years ago, after being longtime “Merle Girls” (avid Merle Norman users). After years of being a stay-at-home mom, Jackson was unexpectedly offered a part time job at Merle Norman by the previous owner. 

What began as a part-time gig quickly transformed into a full-time role, and Jackson, a self-proclaimed “girly girl,” found herself thriving. About a year later, West, who had a background in business and worked part-time on her family farm, found the prospect of a part-time position at Merle Norman quite enticing while shopping in the store. 

Growing up in the same small town, Jackson and West were acquainted but not close. That all changed, and they became fast friends. When the opportunity arose to purchase the Manchester studio, owned by the same person for nearly four decades, they seized it. United by their love for their town and admiration for Merle Norman’s legacy, they took the leap together. 

The dynamic duo loves being hands-on in every aspect of their business. Jackson thrives in event makeup, specializing in bridal parties, prom makeovers, and pageant looks. On the other hand, West, the numbers expert, excels in managing all accounting aspects. Despite their different focuses, when they collaborate, the duo truly shines.

“We are not related by blood, but now we are family by choice,” said Jackson. “God designed this partnership. He knew what our lives held and that we would need each other. We give God the credit for what we have been able to accomplish,” she added.

West and Jackson, bound by a deep friendship, stand together through joys and sorrows. Both have faced recent losses — West mourning her husband, Barry, and Jackson grieving her youngest son, Hunter. 

In navigating life’s most challenging moments, crediting God and each other for the strength to endure, they find solace in bonds with their customers. Both affirm their customers as friends.

“Our customers are so supportive of us. Not only by choosing to shop with us and celebrate our business milestones and events, but they also support us in good times and bad times in our personal lives. We also try to be supportive of our customers. It’s a two-way street,” offered Jackson.

Despite the ebbs and flows of business ownership, both studios encountered a fair share of hurdles. The Manchester store weathered a flood a few years back but bravely remained open during the following extensive repairs. The challenges of the coronavirus hit hard, prompting them to pivot with curbside service and a successful mail-order business. 

Throughout it all, they approach each obstacle with determination, hard work, and a touch of Southern sass.

In their exclusive Merle Norman Cosmetics Studios, customers discover timeless fashion, jewelry, chic handbag accessories, and the irresistible allure of Sweet Grace products — a recent addition to the Manchester location. 

Jackson and West’s passion for their products and businesses is clear, but their love for each other, their community, and Merle Norman Cosmetics shines through. Uncover your best self at their Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios in Manchester or Decherd. 

Beyond skincare and makeup, witness the strength of community, the power of friendship, and the courage to embrace your unique self – becoming a Merle Girl is within your reach. GN 

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