We don’t recall exactly when Filipino women started professing that “kilay is life,” but we can tell you exactly when this fixation for well-groomed, perfectly arched brows could actually be meaningful for another person’s life.
This May, San Francisco, California-based beauty brand Benefit is launching its “Bold Is Beautiful Project” in the Philippines, where all proceeds from brow-waxing services in its brow bars in the country for the entire month will be donated to a local charity.
The Philippines is the 17th market where Benefit has introduced the “Bold Is Beautiful Project,” a global philanthropic program that aims “to allow women to reach their full potential, whether through education and mentoring, economic self-sufficiency, or have access to wellness,” according to Annie Fold Danielson.
Danielson and her sister Maggie, the brand’s ambassadors or “global beauty authorities,” started the project in 2015 as a “natural progression of what our brand has been doing for the past 40 years, which is empowering women.”
The sisters are the daughters and nieces of the brand’s founders, Jean and Jane Ford.
“Our company motto is ‘Laughter is the best cosmetic,’ and we believe that a woman is most beautiful when she’s laughing and having fun,” said Danielson. “My sister and I wanted to go beyond our boutiques, and reach girls who are not fortunate to be in the cosmetics industry like us.
“It was important for us that it would be fully philanthropic, not a marketing campaign. Of course, a dollar given is a dollar given, and that’s a beautiful thing. But we wanted to make sure that our employees and customers feel a sense of authenticity.”
Instead of a product-purchase program, they decided to link the project with their brow bar, which is what Benefit is now known for. There are 2,100 Benefit BrowBars all over the world.
“It’s like when you have your hair done, you have this connection with your aesthetician,” she said. “You talk, you gossip, you have an intimate relationship. That’s what we wanted when it comes to communicating the ‘Bold is Beautiful Project.’ We want you to sit down, and your aesthetician will teach you where your money is going. You can’t really do that with a transaction over a product.”
For all the markets, Benefit partners with a local charity, “and the local component is very important to us,” Danielson added. It’s imperative to convey to both employee and customer that the proceeds from the project stays within the community.
Benefit in the Philippines has chosen Mano Amiga Academy, a Parañaque-based nonprofit school established in 2008 where children from low-income families can get quality international education, from preschool to 12th grade.
The partnership is a “forever commitment, not a one-year project, for as long as our relationship prospers,” Danielson said. The company understands that continuity of support is vital for such organizations to fulfill their annual programs, she added.
Benefit charges P700 for a brow wax and, according to one Benefit aesthetician, she alone can have up to 20 clients a day on weekends, and about half that number on a regular day. Each brow service, according to Benefit, could pay for a two-hour leadership training session for girls, three month’s worth of school supplies, or four-month livelihood and empowerment program for a student’s mom.
Since its launch, Benefit has raised over $6.3 million for the global charities. It aims to raise $5 million for its 34 charities this year. The month of May was chosen since it’s typically a quiet month for the beauty industry, and incidentally also Mother’s Day month.
From experience, Danielson said the markets “really get behind the project” and they see a huge bump in customers seeking brow wax service while it’s ongoing.
In the United Kingdom, Benefit employees also do bake sales and marches to promote “Bold Is Beautiful” and raise additional funds, since employees are also encouraged to spend time in the local charities.
In Australia, Danielson said they’ve worked with the Look Good Feel Better organization, which deals with cancer patients. In one workshop, they taught the women how to do makeup contouring and fixing their brows, “which is the first thing that goes when you do chemo.”
The hourlong session turned to three-and-a-half, and by the end, the women were in wigs and dancing and doing the catwalk, she recalled.
“It’s just makeup, it’s just lipstick, but if you use it to make people feel good, it changes people’s lives,” she said. “It’s about giving girls confidence to face the world. You see its transformative power. It puts beauty into perspective.”
And that’s not something to raise eyebrows about.
Benefit BrowBars are located at Greenbelt 5, Trinoma, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, Albang Town Center, SM Seaside City Cebu, BGC Central Square, Rustan’s Makati and Rustan’s Shangri-La.