Online Exclusives

Growing Despite the Recession

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | October 9, 2009

With its first original scent on the way, direct-seller LMS Fragrances continues to expand its consultant force.

The beauty business isn’t easy, and neither is the direct-selling market. But LMS Fragrances, a Santa Barbara, CA-based direct seller of scents and body care products, is succeeding at both and company executives insist its roster of products and a transparent approach to direct selling will resonate with consumers and would-be consultants nationwide.

Founded by husband and wife team Robert and Susan Suh, LMS Fragrances touts the D’Essense line, a range of scented products that replicate many of best-selling perfumes and colognes on the market. It currently includes 80 fragrance “essences”—think fragrance replicas from Calvin Klein, Issey Miyake and Chanel—at prices “as much as 80% below similar perfumes sold in department stores,” according to the company.

Susan Suh, president, LMS
The LMS executives insist their company brings unmatched value to consumers by making its D’Essense perfumes with 28% essential oils and offering them in refillable purse size atomizers, table top atomizers or hand-blown crystal flacons.In addition, LMS sells a variety of candles as well as shea butters and lotions (including unscented bases that can be scented with each LMS perfume at home.)

With no formal experience in beauty, the Suhs started LMS in 2004, with Ms. Suh taking on the role of president and “consultant No.1,” and Mr. Suh assuming the role of chief operating officer. Today, LMS has 13 full-time employees, is outgrowing its current space and most importantly, is nearing 3000 consultants.

According to Ms. Suh, the secret to the company’s growth stems from its easy-to-understand, transparent approach to direct selling. Often a technique that often gets a bad rap for promising careers, rewards and fortunes that it can’t deliver, LMS contends it has built a direct-selling model that the average person can understand and fit into her lifestyle.

One point of difference, according to Ms Suh, is LMS’ inventory requirements.

“We don’t have auto ship or monthly requirements,” she said, noting that consultants who are inactive after two months will be asked to make a minimal purchase. Another point of difference noted by Ms. Suh is that when LMS consultants hold parties and get the money upfront from their customers, they keep 30% and send the rest on to LMS—no waiting for checks.

For its scents, LMS sells hand-blown crystal flacons, which can be refilled.
Ms. Suh also believes her incentives are more feasible for the average consultant to achieve. While 11 people earned a place in LMS’ President’s Club this year (and with it an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii), 54 attended the “Elite Winter Retreat,” which was offered to any consultant who generated at least $350 in monthly sales for the six consecutive months from July 31, 2008 through Jan. 31, 2009, and at least $3,000 in total revenue during that same period. LMS covered their expenses for a five- day Celebrity Cruise to the Cayman Islands, and for those consultants who achieved higher levels, LMS also picked up their airfare and their guest’s airfare too.

“It is rewarding the people who are consistent. Those people are very valuable assets to the company,” Ms. Suh said.

Even with a bullish goal of reaching 5,000 consultants in 2010, Ms. Suh recognizes that issues with direct selling remain—even at time when the slumping economy has increased unemployment rates.

“You have to work hard to recruit people now. People are leery; there is a lot of hype in the industry,” she said. “It is a hard sell because this industry has been inundated with false promises.”

LMS is building its reputation. Earlier this year it received national accreditation and an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). More recently, LMS was honored as a 2009 Company of the Year by the Pacific Coast Business Times. In addition, Audra Strickland, Assemblywoman for the 37th District in the California State Assembly, award the firm with a Certificate of Recognition.

Having achieved a level of success, Ms. Suh told Happi that LMS has grown by “50%” this year, the company is expanding beyond replication scents. Its first original scent, Premiere, a chypre-floral, is rolling out this fall. (For more on Premiere, read Happi’s upcoming fine fragrance feature in November.)

Looking ahead, the Suhs want to focus on building the business nationally.

“We are plugging along,” said Ms. Suh, who spends two weeks each month on the road. “We just want to build and get our name out there. Direct selling requires that big bang—I think it will come in the next year. For now, we just want a presence in all states. We want to be nationally known.”
blog comments powered by Disqus
  • Back to School

    Back to School

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||September 1, 2016
    It may be September, but class was in session this summer during the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s Executive Educ

  • What

    What's In Your Formula?

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 1, 2016
    A look at the ingredients beauty brands are using to fuel their formulations and capture consumers’ attention.

  • A Sweet-Smelling Sanctuary

    A Sweet-Smelling Sanctuary

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||September 1, 2016
    Home fragrance is enhanced by aromatic developments in delivery and components.

  • Active Agents

    Active Agents

    September 19, 2016
    On the surface, surfactants may seem staid, but the market, and the supplier activity driving it, is bubbling.

  • Jam On It!

    Jam On It!

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||September 19, 2016
    Jamberry sees success in artsy nail accessories.

  • Expanding Erbaviva

    Expanding Erbaviva

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 13, 2016
    A farm-to-bottle organic brand celebrates its 20th anniversary with a new look, new products and plans to expand in the US.

  • Vintage Glamour Rules the Runways at NYFW

    Vintage Glamour Rules the Runways at NYFW

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||September 12, 2016
    A look at trends in cosmetics and hairstyling.

  • Rock n Roll

    Rock n Roll

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||September 6, 2016
    A new sunscreen applicator is slowly making noise in the industry.

  • Lauder’s Latest Patents

    Lauder’s Latest Patents

    September 1, 2016
    A composition with NIR light emitting material, a skin care device and more awarded to this beauty business giant.

  • ‘Lash’-ing Out!

    ‘Lash’-ing Out!

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||August 29, 2016
    All eyes are on Lash Star Beauty, a lash-centric beauty brand that recently made its QVC debut.

  • Long Term Sustainability In the Nonwovens Market

    Long Term Sustainability In the Nonwovens Market

    August 23, 2016
    Learn more at Cleaning Products USA, Nov. 9-11, 2016

  • Fro Yo!

    Fro Yo!

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||August 22, 2016
    Project Beauty dishes out Hairgurt, a line of vitamin-rich hair shampoos and conditioning masques.

  • TLC for Those Who Need It Most

    TLC for Those Who Need It Most

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||August 22, 2016
    New curriculum debuting at Bellus Academy helps estheticians treat a population that needs TLC.

  • And Now for Something Completely Different…

    And Now for Something Completely Different…

    August 15, 2016
    Phlur is out to make you rethink fragrance packaging.

  • The Butler Does It

    The Butler Does It

    August 15, 2016
    A new green cleaning product at your service.

  • Individualism IS The American Way

    Individualism IS The American Way

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||August 15, 2016
    Why blue hair and BB creams still thrill US consumers.

  • Red, Black & Blue

    Red, Black & Blue

    August 8, 2016
    No matter who wins the US Presidential election, Americans expect their finances to get bloodied and bruised in 2017.

  • It

    It's a Shoe In!

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||August 8, 2016
    Butter London links up with footwear designer for special collaboration.

  • The Power of Three

    The Power of Three

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||August 1, 2016
    Iles Formula tri-system for tresses garners a celebrity following.

  • Athletes, Not Objects

    Athletes, Not Objects

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||August 1, 2016
    Dove Unveils My Beauty billboard in Times Square.

  • Patent Update

    Patent Update

    July 28, 2016
    Three-layered hair product from Lauder, palm oil extracts for wrinkle treatment and more in recently awarded patents.

  • Pushin’ the Cushion

    Pushin’ the Cushion

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||July 26, 2016
    AmorePacific, the creator of the cushion compact, continues to improve its unique product.

  • Cozy Makes a Splash

    Cozy Makes a Splash

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||July 25, 2016
    Expands reach in CVS and introduces new collection.

  • Senior Skin Care

    Senior Skin Care

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||July 19, 2016
    McCord Research and Product Quest Manufacturing roll out new hospital-grade skin care kits for seniors to use at home.

  • Naterra Expands Tree Hut Range

    Naterra Expands Tree Hut Range

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||July 18, 2016
    New ‘Bare’ collection is out now.

  • An Antioxidant Arsenal

    An Antioxidant Arsenal

    July 11, 2016
    BioRewind is Dermarché Labs' new anti-aging regimen that delivers broad-spectrum antioxidant protection against free radicals

  • Enter Éclair

    Enter Éclair

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||July 5, 2016
    A new naturals line rolls out in Rite Aid stores nationwide.

  • Patent Update

    Patent Update

    June 30, 2016
    J&J's anti-aging patent, LVMH and cannabis essential oil, transdermal botulinum toxins and more in recent patent news.