Text and Interview Lina Esa Videography Vanessa Lim Video Editing Lina Esa and Aina Nur Sarah Photography Courtesy of Benefit Cosmetics
Beauty that gives back? Here’s how this initiative by Benefit Cosmetics that’s now in Malaysia will truly help to empower women who need it.
This could start off with a quote about beauty being in the eye of the beholder or about it being skin-deep. Sure, in our global world we know there is no one true standard of beauty except the one from within – and acts of greatness that come from the heart.
Benefit Cosmetics may be pink, fun and very fabulous, but for the past four years it has launched a very successful philanthropic programmed named Bold Is Beautiful. This year is the first year that they will be running Bold Is Beautiful here in Malaysia, and Benefit partnered up with none other than Women:Girls. All their proceeds from their Brow Waxing services in the month of May will be channelled to Women:Girls to fund their Kejar Kerja programme which benefits underprivileged girls who have limited access to work.
#TeamCLEO spoke to Maggie Ford Danielson, Benefit’s Chief Beauty Ambassador (she also happens to be the co-founder’s daughter) who was in town to launch Bold Is Beautiful for its first year in Malaysia, as well as Izza Izelan, the Executive Director of Women:Girls about this amazing project and its plans for global expansion.
Hi Maggie, do tell us more about Bold is Beautiful.
Maggie: Benefit’s Bold Is Beautiful is a global philanthropy project that started in 2015 but it is the first kickoff year here in Malaysia. It’s s what we built with the simple idea that it’s our responsibility as fortunate women — we’re the lucky ones and it’s our responsibility to impact change to the greater female community that never had a support system. It’s our duty and our honour to do that.
How will it be running in Malaysia this year?
M: The money we raise is done so in the month of May. 100% of our brow waxing will go directly to Women:Girls (specifically here in Malaysia). We don’t take any part of the money, we’re merely the conduit. We raise the money and give it to them.
Why brow waxing? For Benefit it’s our point of difference, we’re the only brand that offers a brow waxing so it’s unique to us. Beyond that, what’s special is that Benefit is a brand that feels like a sisterhood and that brow wax moment, you’re connecting with your aesthetician which is rare nowadays. We’re bringing that idea back – to have that connection with that person.
When we were building the programme, we wanted that connection moment as a platform for raising money and creating this support network. It has been extremely effective, since its inception in 2015 we’ve raised $16.5 million! It’s been amazing, we didn’t know what to expect. We knew the idea was good, but none of us at Benefit had real philanthropic background or had an expert guide us. We just knew what we wanted, and we knew our brand. And the amount of the money raised just speaks to how authentic it is. And we’re learning every year, how can we make it better each year? We also have plans to launch in Poland and the UAE.
Was there a particular reason why you chose to partner with Women:Girls?
M: When we partner with new charity partners, we have three criteria we look for. The first is: Does it provide access to wellness? Number two: Education and mentorship – education is key to building your future. Third is economic self-sufficiency, something that’s critical for women and girls to understand if they are to be independent and reach their full potential.
When the Benefit team here in Malaysia was looking to partner with a charity Women:Girls immediately came to mind right away because it ticks all those boxes. They were absolutely aligned in what they do and what we do.
How would you say this project fulfills the need to empower women via Women:Girls?
Izza: Since Women:Girls’s establishment in 2011 it has been the mission to make every woman a role model and every girl an agent of change. What it means is that it’s to look inside and to find your own power within yourself to empower yourself and we’re just here to assist and facilitate women and girls. Together with Benefit , BIB is practically what we preach to our clients. We encourage them to take risks and take the steps forward to change their fate.
From the proceeds of the eyebrow waxing services in May 2019, it will fund our signature programmes called “Kejar Kerja” where we help women who are maybe underprivileged in terms of their education (they only have SPM certificate, zero to limited work experience) – we help them connect with companies to give them job placements and give them coaching, mentoring, build confidence.
How would someone be eligible to benefit from the Benefit Bold Is Beautiful and Kejar Kerja?
I: For Kejar Kerja, there are some requirements like being 18 years above, they have a SPM certificate, they have limited work experience, and they are based in the Klang Valley. They just need a willingness and passion to work. We connect them with companies in the creative industry. We want to develop them.
The ages most affected by unemployment – 20 and 24 years old. It’s highest because they’ve been discriminated by their resume or their job application level. Maybe it’s not up to scratch or whatever. So that’s where we come in.
In your opinion, what other challenges do women face on a daily basis?
I: Our president, Low Ngai Yuen has always been an advocate for women empowerment. She’s the embodiment of it. She’s a role model to our staff. Every single day we see women step outside their homes (if they have one) and have a mission for themselves which is okay, but if they have dependents like children, a partner or a parent. They have to step outside and make that change for themselves and the people depending on them. The challenge is not even about getting a job – it’s just about having a shelter for them and their loved ones. Women:Girls we have many programs which help women and girls to be the best they can achieve with their potential.
M: Being risky is buzzword, but it’s impossible to take a risk without someone supporting you. You can’t do that if you have children, partners etc, as women we are the ones who hold the family together. A lot of people depend on us. That’s where people like Women:Girls can come in and say “We see you, we can’t tell you to be risky if we’re not there to give you that support and to know that you’re not alone,”. And those people who are reaching for support, you’re already being bold.
Hit play to hear more from this amazing women, but if you read on below you will also learn more about the projects and how you can help other women.
The proceeds from every Benefit Signature Brow Wax in the month of May will be channelled to Benefit’s Bold Is Beautiful. Sales from the Benefit Magenta 3D Browtones throughout the year will also support the campaign. Head to Benefit counters to know more.