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The strong performance of cosmetics, skincare and haircare products from Jill Freeman's family-owned company is only natural.

After all, Freeman Cosmetic Corp. has spent the better part of 20 years making sure that "Our customers trust and believe in our products," says the 32-year-old director of marketing.

Starting out as a salon-care line and then moving into retail outlets, Freeman's forced some of the biggest names in the business to play catch-up.

Perhaps one of Freeman's most significant accomplishments is garnering coveted shelf space in some of the nation's largest retail food and drug outlets. Here, Ms. Freeman says, the company's relative size has proven to be one of its strongest assets.

"Because we are a small independent, we are able to supply our retail partners with very targeted promotions and we have shorter lead-times on them," says Ms. Freeman, who is responsible for all advertising, product development and media buys.

The company's line of haircare products has been particularly strong of late, with a 22% jump over the last 18 months in a sluggish market, Ms. Freeman says.

Building on the success of its Botanical line, Freeman in late 1996 rolled out an expanded arsenal of hair products including 14 different shampoos, conditioners and stylers.

Sales of all product lines have more than doubled in the last five years to about $100 million. Media spending is keeping pace; Ms. Freeman says in 1997 the marketer will invest between $7 million and $8 million-up five-fold from last year.

The company uses women's magazines, including Allure, Cosmopolitan and Mademoiselle; teen books such as YM; and Rolling Stone. TV is also part of the mix. Consumer ads, from WPA Communications, Santa Monica, Calif., carry the tagline "Freeman: Beauty is inside."

Perhaps unlike some of their competitors, notes Ms. Freeman, "We have never tried to say you will look like Christie Brinkley if you use our products."

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