By KELSY LORIN TAYLOR
Web Editor and Feature Writer
SIDE BY SIDE: Millinda Johnson opened both Brookside Sugar Art Supplies and Merle Norman in Tulsa’s Brookside. She has been rewarded with the opportunity to paint the community with color through sugar arts and cosmetics.
KELSY LORIN TAYLOR for GTR Newspapers
Millinda Johnson has enjoyed the experience of owning both Merle Norman and Brookside Sugar Art Supplies in Tulsa. The businesses have provided Johnson with the opportunity to bring together two of her favorite hobbies.
Johnson first became interested in cosmetics while growing up in rural Oklahoma. “I had hoped to find a product that would improve my problem skin. Merle Norman provided noticeable results and I have been dedicated to the brand ever since. Even at that age, I knew that I would one day help other women improve their confidence and achieve results through Merle Norman.”
After moving to Tulsa following graduation from East Central University with a bachelor of science in business management, Johnson decided to begin a career in cosmetology. In 1990, she enrolled in Jenks Beauty College.
She later discovered that a Merle Norman Studio had become available. Located near 51st Street and Peoria Avenue, the studio was already well known in the area and Johnson immediately decided that it would be a good investment.
The business was everything that she had hoped for and in 1997, Johnson moved the Merle Norman to its current location near 43rd Street and Peoria Avenue. “The Brookside location was perfect and seemed like it would be a really good opportunity to update the studio and become more visible.”
Decorating cakes and cookies has also always been a hobby of Johnson. “While in high school, I discovered that a neighbor created sugar art for a profession. She took me under her wing and taught me a lot of the techniques.”
It didn’t take long before Johnson was baking treats for everyone. “For example, it is so rewarding to bake and decorate a cake for someone and watch their face light up. It is a great way to show someone that you are thinking about them.”
With recent hit television shows such as Ace of Cakes, Cupcake Wars and Cake Boss, sugar art has become very popular. Johnson noticed that there was a need for a specialty store in the area and opened Brookside Sugar Art Supplies right beside her existing Merle Norman Studio.
Sugar art provides unlimited creativity. “When someone has a special occasion, they normally serve something sweet like cake or cookies. It is a lot of fun to fit those sweets to the occasion by decorating them in different ways.”
Creating sugar art is a great project for entire families to enjoy together. “Kids love it. This is a way to teach them about math, sanitary practices, artistic skills and even social skills such as sharing and being thoughtful of others. There are a lot of lessons that can be incorporated into creating sugar art with kids.”
Johnson believes that one of the most rewarding features of owning Merle Norman and Brookside Sugar Art Supplies is making others feel good. “Whether someone is preparing to make a special cake or selecting new colors of makeup, I enjoy getting to know them and making suggestions that will be beneficial to their needs. It is fun creating new color combinations and works of art in both businesses.”
Merle Norman and Brookside Sugar Art Supplies are located at 4306 S. Peoria Ave. Both of the stores are open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 918-574-2727.