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Business Focus: Gets you ready for your closeup

Statesboro Merle Norman one of chain’s top producers

On any given day, you can walk into the Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio and Salon on Savannah Avenue and find it full with customers. Owners, Linda Figg and her daughter, Alisha Davis, have spent the last several years building one of the top producing Merle Norman cosmetic studios in the country.
    Sandra Haeberle, a spokesperson for the Merle Norman Cosmetics, Inc. in Los Angeles, said Figg and Davis are recognized throughout the company for the success the cosmetic studio has achieved.
    "Linda Figg and Alisha Davis have been Merle Norman Studio Owners for five years and are committed to provide the best in customer service," Haeberle said. "As owners, they have been recognized the past four years for that commitment and are one of the company's top producers."
    "In fact, in 2005, they were number one in their category," she said. "Linda and Alisha believe in the Merle Norman philosophy and their dedication to satisfy their customers is integral to our success as a company."
    Davis said their studio was tops in sales production in their demographic category which includes 500 Merle Norman independent dealers.
    "We were number one in our category last year," Davis said. "But, I am equally as proud of our ranking among all of the 2,000 Merle Norman studios across the country. I believe we placed 24th among all of them."
    Figg purchased the studio in 2001 from Louise Campbell who had owned and operated it for 34 years in the College Plaza shopping center on Fair Road.
    "Alisha had worked for Ms. Campbell for five years and I had done her hair for over 30 years," Figg said. "When she (Campbell) was no longer able to work because of health reasons, she agreed to sell it to me. She didn't have to do that. There were several people interested in buying it, but she agreed to finance it and let me buy it from her. Alisha and I are both very, very grateful."
    Once Figg and Davis moved the business from College Plaza to Savannah Avenue in 2003, discussions began about opening a salon next to the cosmetic studio.
    "At first we thought maybe we will just put a single chair in the back for me to be able to do hair styling," Figg said. "Then the other half of the building came available and we decided to open a salon. That is when we became the Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio and Salon. They have fed off of one another and it has been great."
    The business now has five beauty consultants, four salon coordinators, and four independent hair stylists. As the business has grown, so has the duo's commitment to customer service.
    "We are recognized by Merle Norman as a 'Gold Medallion' studio," Davis said. "You have to meet certain standards to be awarded that status including providing excellent customer service."
    "The company sends in secret shoppers at least once a year that assess the appearance of our beauty consultants, how well that beauty consultant knows her products, and the level of service that she gives," Davis said. "We never know who the secret shoppers are or when they are coming. We stress to those who work here that customer service is number one every day, all day long."
    Their commitment has translated into an impressive business serving an average of  85 to 100 customers a day between the salon and cosmetic sides.
    Kristin Harris brings her five-year-old daughter, Kinzley, to the studio on Savannah Avenue to have her makeup applied before she participates in local beauty pageants. Harris lives in Metter, but makes the trip to Statesboro without reservation.
    "I like the service," Harris said. "Everybody is friendly and the atmosphere is easy going. We could go anywhere in this area, but we always come here. They are so very nice."
    Sherri Pfau, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics in Vidalia, is very complimentary of both Figg and Davis and what they have been able to accomplish.
    "They are both so very, very nice," Pfau said. "They run a great business. I just love them."
    Figg, who spends the vast majority of her time on the salon side, said she and Davis' success has been born of hard work, something she has never shied away from.
    "I grew up here in Bulloch County, and I used to pick cotton and hoe tobacco when I was a kid," Figg said. "All I know is hard work, but that is okay. Hard work is very gratifying. Alisha and I have built this business on hard work and we just love it."
    "This business is our baby," Davis said. "We wake up everyday excited about going to work."
    "On October 7, we are doing makeup for four weddings," she said. "That will be six makeovers every forty-five minutes for about four hours. It's going to be great!"
    Figg is married to Wayne Figg and has one other daughter. Davis is married to Jason Davis.

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