Byline: Alev Aktar

NEW YORK — For her first foray into treatment, designer Nicole Miller teamed up with Melaleuca, a direct-to-consumer company based in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
It’s an unusual move in that most designers — Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan and Thierry Mugler are several examples — sell their skin care products in department and specialty store distribution.
Miller’s partner, Melaleuca, manufactures products and distributes them to consumers through an independent sales force of some 250,000 people and via a mail order catalog and an 800 number.
The company, which is privately held, markets hair care and skin care, vitamins, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals and cleaning products.
Melaleuca employs 1,300 people and will generate sales of more than $350 million this year, according to its chief operating officer, McKay Christensen, who was with Procter & Gamble.
The first Nicole Miller Skin Care catalog went out to 500,000 people in mid-August.
At the same time, the sales force began selling the products on a commission basis.
The products are also sold online at
“Today’s woman is really busy and doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands,” said Miller. “This line really answers the problems.
“This came out of my frustration with what I found available,” she continued. “I was always using a piecemeal array of products from all over the place. Most routines are too complicated.”
“This is a great time-saver,” added Bud Konheim, chief executive officer of Nicole Miller. “Somebody comes to you and explains [the products]; it’s all about credibility.”
The collection consists of 35 stockkeeping units including cleansers, toners, moisturizers, specialty products, mascara and color primers, such as concealers and foundations. Prices range from $15 for a 4.6-oz. Gentle Care Eye Makeup Remover to $44 for a 1-oz. Ageless Intensive Recovery Serum, which executives say is the star product.
The serum is formulated with ceramides, cholesterol, sphingolipids and milk lipids to fortify the skin, boost resiliency and improve moisture retention. It also contains beta hydroxy acids to reduce the appearance of fine lines, retinol, marine collagen, green tea and Vitamins A, B, C, D and E.
Christensen declined to comment on a sales objective, but industry sources estimate that the collection could generate $50 million retail in the first 12 months.
Frequent shoppers can benefit from Meleleuca’s “Preferred Customer Program,” where a 40 percent discount is offered to those who make monthly purchases. The customer then receives a regular shipment of products.
Miller is considering developing a full makeup line next year.