By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
COVINGTON – Carol Camp ended up achieving the dream of most people when she found her career path.
Camp was one of the fortunate people who ended up “finding a job that I was truly happy doing.”
That is the familiar line parents usually tell their kids as they head into the work world—“find something you like and do it. After all, you have to work your entire life.”
Quite honestly, that isn’t the way it works out for many people, but for Camp, she should have known exactly where she would end up working. It was something she was in love with as a teenage girl, and something she went back to when she finally headed into the work world at the age of 48.
“When I was a young girl, I loved cosmetics,” she said. “I loved fashion and makeup, and truthfully, didn’t love going to school.”
Camp, who is today the owner of Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio in Covington, located at 842 N. Collins Blvd., was fortunate enough to achieve all her dreams and did it without going to college since she got out of high school in Chalmette, and quickly got married, settling into the life of a homemaker who was there to cook dinner for her husband when he got home from work, and also to take care of their two daughters.
“Years ago that was the way marriage was,” she said. “In my day, the wife took care of the kids and the husband, so that’s what I did.”
Camp had gotten a bit of modeling experience right out of high school after attending the Barbizon School of Modeling, but after she married at the age of 19, she put the professional career to the back burner until her husband unexpectedly died in his 30s, after 18 years of marriage.
Camp did not try to pursue any kind of professional work career until her daughters were grown and she was 48 years old, but when that time came, she returned to the love she had as a teenage girl for cosmetics.
“I saw an ad in the paper for a cosmetics studio for sale in Bay St. Louis, and when I went to look at it, I was surprised and quite happy to see it was a Merle Norman studio,” she said.
Camp said it just so happened that her grandmother, her mother and then she had used Merle Norman cosmetics. So the idea of starting her own business with a Merle Norman center in Bay St. Louis seemed like a match made in heaven.
“Many daughters use the cosmetics their moms use and that’s how it was for me,” she said. “I remember experimenting with things when I was young, using my mother’s cosmetics, and especially the ones that she said were ‘expensive and not to touch.’ Those were naturally the ones I wanted to use!”
Camp said the Merle Norman product line has been a success for many years due to something that is unique to the company.
“Merle Norman is the one cosmetic company that sells its products from individual studios where you have one-on-one, experienced, individualized assistance,” she said.
Even though she was familiar with the Merle Norman products, she was sent to train in California to fully understand everything about the variety of women’s makeup that the company handles.
“Too many women go into a store and need to buy makeup, but they are purchasing it from clerks who don’t know the product line that well,” she said. “That’s not the case here. Merle Norman is the only place where you can ‘try it before you buy it’ with anything we have in the store.”
Camp also said that Merle Norman stores, by the nature of how the company is set up, provide personal service for every customer who walks in the door.
“The same lipstick will look different on two different women due to the skin chemistry. But a lot of inexperienced clerks don’t know that and we understand how to find the look and color that is right for your skin type,” she said. “The biggest mistake a woman can make is to pick anything. What we have found is that once a woman comes here, they usually keep coming back due to our knowledge and experience.”
The Bay St. Louis store was a huge success for Camp right out of the gate in 1995 and continued to perform wonderfully until Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, wiping out the business before Camp re-opened at her Covington location in Dec., 2005.
“Our success comes from simply advertising we are here,” Camp said. “Merle Norman is a great product and sells itself. It’s just a matter of letting people know that Covington has a location. I’ve been told many times that no one tries to make people happier than I do, so I take that as a great compliment. It’s really true that I want every client who comes in here to leave happy.”
Stop by the store at 842 N. Collins or call 985-809-8990.