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.”
  • Trade Association Directory 2017

    February 2, 2017
    Contact details of trade associations that serve various segments of our industry and are mentioned frequently in Happi.

  • What the Halal  Is Going On?

    What the Halal Is Going On?

    Imogen Matthews , In-Cosmetics||February 2, 2017
    Demand for these beauty products is surging thanks to a fastgrowing Muslim population.

  • Relief for Sensitive Scalps

    Relief for Sensitive Scalps

    Guadalupe Pellon and Annette Mehling , BASF||February 2, 2017
    BASF researchers detail the attributes of the company’s highly effective hair care system focusing on scalp sensitivity.

  • Fit for Fitness

    Fit for Fitness

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 21, 2017
    Kinx Active is a new brand targeting women who want beauty products that can stand up to their fitness routines.

  • Cargo Says Aloha To Spring/Summer

    Cargo Says Aloha To Spring/Summer

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 13, 2017
    Cargo Cosmetics has rolled out its new Spring/Summer collection with Hawiianan singer Anuhea.

  • Cashing In on Coconuts

    Cashing In on Coconuts

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||February 6, 2017
    Organic to Green is making waves for its new oils and eco-friendly packaging.

  • Monday Morning Quarterback

    Monday Morning Quarterback

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 6, 2017
    Super Bowl commercials are big business. Let’s look at some of personal and household care brands that bought spots this year

  • Catch These Rising Stars of Beauty

    Catch These Rising Stars of Beauty

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 6, 2017
    Who won what at Fashion Group International's Rising Star awards show

  • Coast To Coast

    Coast To Coast

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||January 30, 2017
    Natural hand wash brand is aiming to make an environmental difference.

  • Switch It Up

    Switch It Up

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||January 30, 2017
    Chicago startup seeks to shake up the AP/deo category with a new launch that meshes sustainability, style and scent.

  • Skin of Color Society Connects Experts

    Skin of Color Society Connects Experts

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||January 16, 2017
    Dermatologists from across the nation share information and ideas.

  • Erasa

    Erasa's New Evangelist(a)

    January 9, 2017
    Impressed by the performance of its hero SKU, supermodel Linda Evangelista joins the company in a hand's on role.

  • Discourse on Disclosure

    Discourse on Disclosure

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 6, 2017
    Transparency impacts the cleaning industry.

  • The Top Stories of 2016

    The Top Stories of 2016

    December 26, 2016
    The companies and topics that grabbed headlines and your attention this year.

  • Positive Influence

    Positive Influence

    December 19, 2016
    Co-founder Elizabeth Scherle talks about her growing consumer review platform, top beauty products and more.

  • Pro Pigments

    Pro Pigments

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Makeup brand Kryloan has a rich history in the industry and now open doors at a NYC flagship.

  • Fast Forward

    Fast Forward

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Doug Cooper of IP Brands is thinking ahead when it comes to beauty trends.

  • Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Seeking post-election unity, a small natural personal care company hopes to cause a big wave of giving.

  • Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    December 6, 2016
    New oral care compositions, the use of radish root ferment filtrate in a cleanser and more.

  • Sparkle & Shine

    Sparkle & Shine

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    Glam packaging and upscale scent combos are big at Yankee Candle for Holiday 2016.

  • Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    With a recent investor infusion, a new CEO and rebranding effort underway, this luxury beauty retailer has big plans.

  • Organic Matter

    Organic Matter

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    FTC and USDA hold a public roundtable to discuss consumers’ perception of organic claims.

  • Help for Up Above

    Help for Up Above

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    A brand from Down Under is touting a new formulation for what’s missing on top.

  • Skin Care Sensation

    Skin Care Sensation

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 7, 2016
    Circ Cell aims to be unique with formulations that uphold skin tone.

  • Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 1, 2016
    Skinphonic is a new brand created with a team of beauty experts and fronted by singer Smokey Robinson.

  • Hair for Me!

    Hair for Me!

    October 31, 2016
    Function of Beauty fulfills the promise of personalization in the beauty space—one bottle at a time.

  • A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 24, 2016
    With three doors in Canada, Blitz Facial Bar opens its first US location in one of the hippest areas of New York.

  • Free and Clear

    Free and Clear

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||October 17, 2016
    OY-L aims for zero-chemical skin care.