Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, Daily including the e-Edition or e-Edition only.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.
Local Business

Customers are happy to have some face time with Merle Norman

Cosmetic studio's new owner brings her own touch to longtime business

When it comes to makeup, a good foundation is important. It’s also I’m important in the business world, too.

Becky Murray knows a little something about both. She’s got a decade’s worth of experience in makeup, and her business had a loyal customer base before she even opened her doors downtown.

Sounds like a pretty good foundation for a successful makeup business.

Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio reopened in May, nearly a year after former owner Cindy Fan retired and closed up the shop that been located at 806 E. Third St.

Except for the hiatus after Fan retired, the cosmetic shop has been a staple in Sterling for more than 3 decades. Fan ran the shop for nearly 35 years, attracting a loyal following. It was those fans of Fan’s shop that helped Murray decide to take the plunge and become a business owner.

Murray, 54, said she enjoys hearing the feedback about the studio’s return.

“My favorite thing is when a customer walks in and thanks me for the business, appreciates the business coming back,” she said.

Murray, a Bradford native, has lived in the Sterling area for more than 20 years and knows its beauty and spa industry well.

Her history with Merle Norman cosmetics started more than 17 years ago, when she opened her day spa, Massage Works, in the Merle Norman studio Fan was running. She also knows her way around a makeup brush.

“I’ve been working with makeup for 10 years, and I love it,” she said.

The cozy studio, located next to The Little Chocolatier, is filled with makeup and skincare displayed along crisp, white walls: every shade of foundation, lipstick, blush, and eye shadow.

Women covered in charcoal face masks laugh out loud, eating doughnuts together with relaxing, spa music playing in the background.

Facials are a favorite of repeat customers – members of “the facial club” come in monthly for a comprehensive facial, skincare and makeup routine.

Verna Woessner, one of those spunky, loyal customers, in her full facial mask glory, told a story of how she used to wear Merle Norman cosmetics when she was just 16 years old, but later on she didn’t know how to find it again.

One day, she called a friend to get help with her skincare, and that’s when she started coming down to the studio in Sterling.

Now, the 66-year-old comes every month, a dedicated member of “the facial club.”

“I love the skincare, but it’s the people I love, too. We have a really good time,” she said.

Murray also has beauty consultants on staff with extensive experience with cosmetics. Each consultant is trained in using Merle Norman products and receives ongoing education.

The studio’s services include facials and makeovers for everyday appointments or special events, like weddings or prom. Repeat customers can get discounts with a loyalty card, and the studio also sells Clarisonic and Japonesque skincare/makeup tools.

Murray emphasizes good customer service and a friendly, inviting atmosphere, and she continues to work on her goal of growing her clientele, staying busy, and staying connected to the community.

“Get off your feet,” she said, “Let us pamper you!”


Address: 315 First Ave., Sterling

Phone: 815-632-3362

Online: On Facebook

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday


Loading more