Orange County Business Journal

Beauty Bid

Australia’s Mor Cosmetics Goes After U.S. Market From Los Alamitos Base Alisha Gomez Sunday, June 5, 2011

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Burmas: “We felt it was worth investing and putting up a business here”

Mor Corporation Australia Pty Ltd., a maker of upscale soaps, lotions, body creams and scrubs, lip balms, perfumes and candles, is building U.S. sales from its local base in Los Alamitos.

The company, founded by Aussies Deon St. Mor and Dianna Burmas in Melbourne 10 years ago, started in the U.S. in 2004.

Chief Operating Officer Nicolle Lubman and Danielle Flores, marketing manager for the U.S., helped bring the company to the states.

Mor’s founders were meeting with potential U.S. distributors at the time. At the suggestion of someone working at Los Angeles boutique Fred Segal, they met with Lubman, who then was working for Mistral LLC, a San Diego company that sells luxury French soaps.

“We felt it was worth investing and putting up a business here,” Burmas said. “We started small. We didn’t take too many risks in the beginning.”

Flores earlier worked for trade show operator George Little Management LLC. Lubman was a client of one of the company’s shows.

Mor’s U.S. business started out of Lubman’s garage in Seal Beach. It then moved to Second Street in the Belmont Shores area of Long Beach, where the business was run for about a year and a half before it moved to an office and warehouse building in Los Alamitos.

Late last year, Mor moved into a 17,736-square-foot Los Alamitos building, double the size of its prior building.

The company’s products, known for their colorful, decorative packaging, mostly are made here. Some are made in Australia and elsewhere in Asia for sale there.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is done at plants in California and in New Jersey, according to Flores. Some U.S.-made products are exported to Europe and other markets, she said.

The executives declined to disclose yearly sales, other than to say they’re growing at about 20% to 30% annually in the U.S. with Australia growing at about the same pace.

“(The Australian market) hasn’t felt the impact of the recession the way we have,” Flores said.

The Business Journal estimates yearly U.S. sales at $5 million to $10 million.

Mor has about 300 products. Collections have names such as Marshmallow and Little Luxuries and come in various sizes, products and scents.

Scents are a big part of the products, which use shea and cocoa butter, fruit and plant extracts, and nut oils.

Diffusers—scented oils that freshen up rooms—are due this year.

Stores

The company’s products are sold in boutiques, spas and at Nordstrom. Products run about $10 for soaps and lip balms up to $60 for perfume.

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