REBECCA MORRICE WILLIAMS is fresh off a plane from Australia with her new baby in tow. 'I'm tired,' she says, amid the bright lights of a Central cosmetics counter. But she doesn't look remotely weary. 'It's the makeup,' she says. Morrice Williams should know. She runs Becca, a multimillion-dollar makeup business based in Perth, Western Australia, with 70 counters in 17 countries and another 30 due to open this year. She also has a stand-alone store in London's upmarket Chelsea that attracts the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet. 'It goes way back to when I was a teenager,' Morrice Williams says. 'I was obsessed with anything to do with makeup and I was always telling my friends to buy things. I was trying everything. It was a mission of mine to find out how these girls in magazines had that skin. I didn't know about airbrushing.' This was in the early to mid-1980s, when makeup was often just pretty pink, and foundation was heavy. Then along came brands such as MAC and Bobbi Brown. 'But they still didn't give the results I wanted in a foundation,' she says. 'I was looking for one that concealed your blemishes, but looked natural on your skin. I think that's what every woman wants.' Morrice Williams made the natural move to makeup artist when she was in her early 20s. 'It became even more important for me to find the right product.' In those days, she stood out in a place like Perth. Blonde and statuesque, she always looked immaculate. She still has the blonde hair, but her features are softer and she's more relaxed. This may have something to do with her success. Morrice Williams started making her own products with the help of a chemist. She kept it up for two years, without much luck. 'I didn't have the technical knowledge and it wasn't going anywhere,' she says. 'Then I told a friend about my ideas and he really believed in me. He said, 'I'm going to do this with you', and agreed to financially back it in the early stages.' The friend, Steven Schapera, is now chief executive of Becca. For four years, Morrice Williams and Schapera travelled the world, looking for backers, manufacturers and outlets. Eventually, they settled on a manufacturer in Germany that produced a foundation similar to what Morrice Williams wanted, and began making four basic products: a concealer, stick foundation, loose powder and cream blush. 'I was still working as a makeup artist and I tested these samples on 1,800 women in Perth,' she says. 'Their response gave me the confidence to keep going. I was using real women and not models. It's hard to make products that look good on real women with real skin conditions.' Eventually, Becca secured international backers, and Schapera, a former marketer, started taking samples to retailers. 'Bergdorf Goodman in New York were the first we took it to and they bought it,' Morrice Williams says. 'We got a whole lot of investors on the back of that. We took it to Space.NK. in London and then in 2002 launched it in Australia.' Growth figures for the company have doubled in recent years. By the end of this year, there'll be 100 Becca counters in 19 countries, after expansion in the US, France and Canada. Why have her products been so successful? After all, the cosmetics industry is a very crowded marketplace. 'I think most women are looking for the perfect foundation,' she says. 'People respond to that more natural look. 'I'm not a chemist, but I know how the product has to perform and I know something about the ingredients. I've always been very specific with the manufacturers about how I want it to feel. Sometimes it's taken two years to get it right.' Becca foundations are light with a sheer coverage. They come in a variety of shades, some with shimmer. How do women in Hong Kong keep foundation on when the humidity strikes? Morrice Williams says there's no reason it can't stay on for the whole day. 'The starting point is a mattifying primer,' she says. 'That keeps the makeup on longer. Then, to make it look real, try a sheer foundation that doubles as a moisturiser - then there's no need for layers underneath. 'The stick foundation is best for under the eyes. I use the whole lot every day. Then it's nice to put a bit of cream blush on cheeks and loose powder goes over with a velour puff.' Not the wide brush we've been told for years is a must-have? 'The puff will set it,' she says. 'You'll still get some shine if you go out in the humidity, but your makeup will be pressed into your skin. You'll still need your blotting paper though.' Morrice Williams says the biggest makeup mistake is using the wrong foundation tone. 'Women with pale skin who wear bronzer look like they're trying to darken their skin.' She likes eyeliner on some people, but says that, the older women are, the more careful they need to be with it. On the business side of things, Morrice Williams now has 33 people working for her - 19 of them in Western Australia. She won't disclose sales figures, but says industry experts estimate that they've risen to about US$20 million annually. Did she always think the company would be so successful? 'I did think it was going to be,' she says without hesitating. 'It's all going to plan. I really believe in it. You can have hiccups and we've had those.' Apart from expanding Becca outlets, Morrice Williams is planning a skincare range and products for babies. For now, the Becca makeup range is available in Hong Kong only from Joyce stores.