A UK-based social enterprise has created a business that makes beauty products for social good.
by Portia Ladrido
The beauty industry has long been criticised for upholding unrealistic beauty standards, particularly for women. In some ways, it has capitalised on people’s sense of self-worth, and oftentimes, this can be problematic. On the other hand, it has contributed to people feeling more confident about themselves and it has also produced innovative products that display the ingenuity of the human brain and imagination.
In a 2018 beauty industry analysis, the research says that the industry is largely immune to economic downturns, even standing strong during the financial crisis in 2008. And today, the market has considerably favoured the beauty business. With this knowledge, founders Sinisa Jovic and Neil Richmond built OneSqin, a company based in the UK that sells health and beauty products.
The founders, however, thought that it couldn’t just be about profiting from beauty products. They wanted to inspire and empower more people, and so the enterprise has vowed to donate 100 percent of its profits to the education of girls in need.
“The main reason for the birth of this unique enterprise was a wish to change the current business model; a business model, where profit matters above anything and everything else, no matter how damaging it is to the people, environment, and the planet on the whole,” said Petra Kopecka, a team member of OneSqin.
She explained that through the business, they want to tackle the ever-growing inequality that plagues our societies, and also influence people on the way they think about and do business. “We want to show them that there is a different way. We want to show that if the profits are shared out, rather than kept by a few individuals, it will create a great positive impact all around,” she added.
OneSqin has committed to being mindful of creating products that are not harmful to the environment as well, so their products are made of pure natural ingredients. Products that they offer include feminine hygiene products and an all-natural skin cream.
“The reason we chose those products is quite simple: Every woman uses these products at some point in their lives, meaning they are essential, not really a choice,” Kopecka explained. “We wanted to offer women a healthier option of products they need and use the proceeds to help girls in need, hence our motto: girls help girls.”
The project is funded by the team’s savings as well as through a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter. They continuously keep their overhead expenses to a bare minimum and are still doing some side jobs to bring in more funds to help the project grow. Kopecka said that there is a myriad of challenges that they go through in operating the business, but the biggest challenge has always been trying to persuade more people into changing their shopping habits.
“The ultimate goal of the project is to prove that 100 percent social enterprise model is viable, and to apply the same model in many different areas.”
Another challenge is production, especially now that they are working on the development of a bio-plastic tampon applicator for almost two years. However, they still can’t confirm when it will be ready for the market as getting it right is a very time-consuming and complex issue.
As every customer buys a OneSqin product, a group of girls will be able to have access to quality education. “We chose to support girls’ education because of the fact that girls, and women in general, are the most marginalised and disadvantaged group of people in the world,” said Kopecka. “There is an old African proverb that says: ‘Educate a man and you educate an individual, but educate a woman and you educate a family, a generation, a nation.’ We tend to agree with that saying.”
At the moment, OneSqin sponsors scholarships for girls in Tanzania through their nonprofit partner Nurturing Minds. The scholarships are done on a yearly basis, and also covers food, accommodation, field trips and health care expenses. The OneSqin team also gets school reports on a regular basis about the girls’ academic progress.
“We will continue to work tirelessly and we hope to raise enough funds to be able to collaborate soon with many more great small non-profit organisations around the world,” added Kopecka.
“We have many great ideas, we just need time and funds to implement them … And we want other businesses to follow suit. The ultimate goal of the project is to prove that 100 percent social enterprise model is viable, and to apply the same model in many different areas.”
Portia Ladrido is a multimedia journalist specialising in social justice, culture, and the arts. She is a human rights journalism fellow at the Philippine Human Rights Information Center and the Metro Manila hub coordinator of the Solutions Journalism Network. She currently writes speeches for the Philippines’ first female socialist senator. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at CNN Philippines.