Beauty Entrepreneurs Address The Impact of Giving Back

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask nine founders and executives: What’s your charity tie-in and does it impact sales or brand awareness?

Samara Walker Founder and CEO of LUST Cosmetics

Every year we select a different non-profit organization to support through our Lust Cares Campaign, where we donate 20% of our proceeds from a selected nail color of choice. In 2017, we chose Survive to Thrive Global, a New York-based domestic violence awareness foundation. In addition to this, we also offer a recycling initiative as part of the campaign. We use 100% recycled packaging that is made in Bali by a female-owned paper boutique. If customers return ten bottles or more, they'll receive a 10% discount on their next purchase. I believe partnering with an important cause and offering a rewards incentive encourages sales and brand awareness, especially when you’re a small indie brand.

Dana Stewart Co-Founder of Mad Hippie

We donate a dollar from every web sale to the Wildlife Conservation Network, which works in conjunction with Save the Elephants. We have always viewed Mad Hippie not only as an opportunity to share our skin care products, but also as an opportunity to bring attention to issues that are close to our hearts such as the issues of poaching and ivory trafficking. To battle the current surge in ivory poaching, Elephant Crisis Fund is identifying and supporting the most effective partners in Africa and in the ivory consuming nations to stop poaching, thwart traffickers and end demand for ivory. We believe that there is a growing awareness that we vote with each dollar we spend. When there is a shift among consumers to supporting companies who give back to the community and take corporate responsibility seriously, the industry standards shift. We hope that this trend leads to a greater sense of awareness and responsibility among many industries.

Susanne Norwitz Founder of Maya Chia

We donate a portion of our net profits to helping the Maya people of Central and South America. We work with an organization called Adopt-A-Village, based in the States and Guatemala, that helps build schools, offers scholarships, teaches best practices as it relates to farming, and provides medical assistance when necessary. This is a cause close to my heart since my father spent much time in rural Guatemala performing cleft lip and palate surgeries on the Mayas as I was growing up, and our two adopted sons are Maya and from Guatemala. We don't really talk about this work proactively in our messaging, aside from the information on our website or when people ask us, so it is difficult to ascertain the causal impact the charitable aspect of our business has on brand awareness and sales.

Latoya Thompson Founder and CEO of Heritage 1933

Following the TOMS shoe model, for every hair product purchased, we donate hair products to homeless shelters in the U.S. The reason for this cause is because I lived in shelters as a child [and] teenager, and vowed not only to achieve personal success, but to one day help others in the same circumstance. We derive a lot of dignity and self-esteem in our appearance, and when you're homeless, having access to self-care isn't always possible. In addition, a lot of products at shelters don't support women and men of color in terms of their specific hair care needs. I think having a social enterprise businesses that both serves the common good, while generating profit, pays it forward to society as a whole and influences consumers purchasing choices for the better.

Brendon Lynch CEO of Rudy's

We’re a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community and the It Gets Better Project. Each sale of our 1-2-3 Showering System equals more product given. The more we sell, the more we give. This has been a positive way to share an important cause with our customers and the media. We’ve been able talk about issues unique to the LGBTQ community. For example, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, a little known fact. We’ve also been able to raise awareness around the importance of looking and feeling your best, even when you’re homeless. A warm shower, access to shampoo, conditioner and body wash, may be that small boost of confidence for someone to make their day a little more productive. Publications such as Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, Esquire and Refinery 29 have helped us tell this story, which has been invaluable to us as a brand and has surely led to increased sales through increased awareness of the product’s giveback.

Iris Cherng Founder and CEO of Honey Belle

As thousands of people around the world suffer and become diseased from lack of access to hygiene, we are committed to contributing to the community with our #SoapsforSouls Project. We donate a soap for each bar purchased from us. This passion project was born out of an accidental turn into the Skid Row area of Downtown Los Angeles. I saw a whole community out there, and I saw that they needed me. I thought to myself, "Well, what can I do to help? I have lots and lots of soap. Soap will help them get clean and help stop the contamination of diseases." So, we ended up working with the downtown homeless shelters and also work with a medical group, North American Taiwanese Medical Association, that travels the world on medical missions to countries such as Guatemala, Nepal, Peru, Vietnam and Burma. We're currently donating 20% of our sales to relief centers impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Social impact has been such an important part of our growing business, and it has encouraged repeat customers as well as attracted new customers to connect with the brand and community at a deeper level.

Roger Gore Founder of gnatural Herbal Products

Through our G’Natural Gives program, we have been reinvesting a percentage of our sales back into our communities. I select causes that have greatly impacted my life: both of my sons were challenged with Autism spectrum; my mother and sister were both cancer survivors; my 92-year-old dad, who now has been diagnosed with dementia, is a World War II and Korean War veteran; and my mother was an evangelist and dedicated her time to working with the elderly and at nursing homes. I am a product of my environment, and it's so fulfilling to know that we are making a difference. Meeting our annual sales goal is important to the viability of the company. However, the true measure of our success is the number of people we have helped.

Ibi Meier-Oruitemeka Founder of The Afro Hair & Skin Co.

Rather than selecting a single charity or cause, we have pledged to support various causes across community, environment and the arts. This can take the form of either monetary donations, physical time spent working with organizations sharing skills and knowledge and/or committing a percentage of our revenue to our chosen causes. We are particularly committed to supporting women’s organizations by sending out self-care packages to female refugees and women in shelters as a way to allow access to essential self-care practices that are often deprioritized during traumatic upheavals. Our charity work has little impact on our sales. However, our skills sharing collaborative work with organizations has had a positive impact on brand recognition and awareness.

Jaime Schmidt Founder of Schmidt’s Naturals

We’re passionate about translating the brand’s core values of clean ingredients, sustainability, and accessibility into initiatives that give back. This summer, we created a limited-edition and ocean-inspired deodorant that donated 5% of sales to the Surfrider Foundation's mission of keeping beaches and oceans clean from coast to coast. We also have a long-standing incentive program, Schmidt’s Recycling Club, in which our deodorant jar-loving customers can save their empty jars and ship them back to us to sanitize and reuse. Not only are they contributing environmentally, but we'll send them a free deo for their efforts. We've also participated in charitable partnerships with The Humane Society, Keep A Breast, Clean the World and many more, as well as regular contributions to disadvantaged communities here in Portland, Ore. Schmidt's customers are our biggest sounding board, and we listen to their wants and needs. One of the most common themes that we hear is a demand for increased access to natural options on a local level, and our team makes progress every day towards that goal.

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