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Ozark business enjoys sweet smell of success

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Walk into Mostly Memories' Ozark warehouse, and a sweet smell overtakes you: mulberry, vanilla, cinnamon it depends on what candle is being poured.

"I don't even smell it anymore. You get used to the fragrance, and you just don't notice it much," said Tricia Derges, owner of the 4 1/2-year-old company which manufactures and distributes scented candles, body and bath lotions, gels and oils, among other gift items.

Mostly Memories gained a new business partner in 1997. The Ozark company, owned by Dan and Tricia Derges, is now licensed to manufacture and distribute Precious Moments' line of bath and body products, and scented candles.

The company was approved in August to begin the new line of products, and later that same month, was recognized by Precious Moments for introducing the best new product of the year.

"That was one of the biggest honors I've ever received. I am still in awe of the fact that we received that award after only having our license in place for 14 days," Tricia Derges said.

Having a license in place means that no other vendor has the right to manufacture and distribute the Precious Moments bath, body and candle products, Derges said.

Derges founded Mostly Memories in 1994, shipping her first order of goods in February of that year. Since then, she has worked to incrementally add products to the line that the company manufactures.

The company has primarily focused on scented candles, bath items, cards and wire-bound recipe books, devotional books and calendars, but the list of products continues to grow. In addition to the agreement with Precious Moments, the company has a license agreement with Greg Olsen, an artist whose realistic paintings caught Derges' eye.

"I was at a trade show when I saw one of his paintings, and I thought, 'Well, there's my artist.' They are some of the most beautiful paintings I've ever seen," Derges said.

Derges was looking for an artist to illustrate a series of cards, candles and other scented merchandise. Olsen's work, which features images of Jesus Christ and children, fit with Derges' objective.

"This is a Christian-based business, and I wanted to introduce a Christ series. Greg Olsen's work was exactly what I'd been looking for," Derges said.

Derges has also added music to Mostly Memories' line. The company now sells cassettes and compact discs containing the piano music of Branson performer Di Scherling. The cassettes and CD covers are illustrated with Olsen's work.

Mostly Memories' products are sold by sales agents around the country and the world, Derges said. The company is selling its products in 16 different countries and has 18,000 accounts in the United States. Mostly Memories has 170 sales representatives in 27 gift markets, Derges added.

The company's gift products are sold in small boutiques and specialty shops, not in large retail stores or discount stores, Derges said. However, this year a sister company, Scentimentals, was formed to handle different packaging of products similar to Mostly Memories'.

"We've just put a sister company into place that will allow us to work with mass merchandising," Derges said.

The second division of the company will offer the products made by Mostly Memories for fund-raising activities for school, scouting and church groups, Derges said. The new company will also allow discount stores to create their own label for Scentimentals products.

The two companies employ more than 40 people in the Mostly Memories warehouse, where the products are assembled, labeled, and prepared for shipping. Another 50 or 60 people at the Christian County Sheltered Workshop also work for the company, and about 25 employees work out of their homes.

"Our employees are devoted. They're a good group and they work hard. They feel good about what they're doing here," Derges said.

Derges started the company in her home in 1994, then moved to a Springfield location, staying there until April of 1996, when she moved to the company's current location, which is just outside Ozark. The company occupies about 25,000 square feet in two buildings.

Derges has owned about 16 different businesses; her ventures have included everything from book stores to restaurants to fitness centers.

"My main enjoyment in business is the creation and development stage. In most businesses, you only work in that stage for a few months, and then once I get going, I start looking for a new challenge. The best thing about this business is that there is always a new challenge; there's always something new to create or develop," Derges said.

Derges started her first business, a pet-grooming service, when she was 18.

"The Springfield area really lends itself to people who want to start their own business. The people here have good core values and are very good about promoting their town and its services," Derges said.


Tricia Derges is co-owner of Mostly Memories.[[In-content Ad]]


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