Mary Kay empowers local women in need

Twenty years ago, the world’s top beauty brand and direct seller Mary Kay brought rewarding opportunities to China. Since then, its business stretches throughout China, with branches in 35 major cities and the only overseas production center in Hangzhou, Mary Kay Asia-Pacific Production Center.

In recent years, Mary Kay has continued investment and built a central distribution center, the Asia-Pacific Research and Development Center, and cosmetic and nutrition plants to enrich production lines so that women working for Mary Kay can have more opportunities. By now, China has become the biggest market for Mary Kay.

“Enriching women’s lives” has always been Mary Kay’s corporate mission. In order to realize the Mary Kay founder’s dream, “to help women succeed through their own efforts,” Mary Kay not only keeps enhancing the value of the business platform, but is, in a way of “teaching a man to fish,” committed to help women realize their dreams.

In 2001, the first year for Mary Kay in China to make profits, the “Mary Kay Women’s Small Business Fund” was co-founded with China Women’s Development Foundation. Through interest-free revolving loans, the fund aims to help women succeed in business and achieve economic empowerment. So far, the fund has helped more than 70,000 women in 23 provinces of China. In 2012, further cooperating with United Nations Development Program as a new partner of the fund, a pilot project was executed in the Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, providing loans and relevant skills training for local women. The project transformed the extinguishing traditional Yi embroidery handicrafts, turning them into a valuable skill and helping women achieve economic independence. Now these embroiders’ income and social status have tremendously improved. More than 550 women working outside went back to the local community, at their children’s side again.

Two months after Nepal’s earthquake, coincidently the time when the fund staff revisited the project site, those female embroiders expressed a touching wish: “The Nepal earthquake disaster is a tragedy, and we hope to be able to do something for the people behind the mountain.” Mary Kay decided to fulfill their wishes. Eventually, a trans-boundary fashion show across China and Nepal glittered on Shanghai fashion week.

On April 15, the first anniversary of Nepal earthquake, Mary Kay teamed up with independent brands Just For Tee and Timi Cheng to release the Sino-Nepal crossover feminine culture collection under the theme of “Lost Reappear” at the 2016 Shanghai Fashion Week. Yi embroidery elements both on clothes and accessories were from the embroiders benefiting from the fund; while the cashmere fabric is from Nepal women. Each cashmere product requires 11 steps of processing, all hand-made by local women, using inherited crafts. Despite the complex process, they refused to use mechanical production for better cashmere texture and more employment opportunities. Through this trans-boundary cooperation between Yi embroidery and Nepal cashmere, Mary Kay hopes to send blessings to the people still struggling to survive in Nepal and bring attention to the lost traditional culture.

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