The Changemakers: The disruptors driving values-based industry evolution
Maggie Ford Danielson
Director of brand outreach and brand ambassador, Benefit
Since 2015, 46-year-old Benefit Cosmetics has poured time, money and resources into its Bold Is Beautiful program, which raises money for five non-profit partners. In 2018, Planned Parenthood became one of its five permanent partners. Others include Dress For Success and Girls Inc.
“A couple years after activating the program, and raising the money, we reassessed. … One of the key tenets of Bold Is Beautiful is to align with best-in-class organizations, in three buckets: economic self-sufficiency, access to wellness, and education and mentorship. In [terms of] ‘access to wellness,’ there’s no organization besides Planned Parenthood doing that work,” said Maggie Ford Danielson, who has been with the company since 2008. Ford Danielson is the daughter of Jean Ford and niece of Jane Ford, the twins who founded Benefit in 1976.
Benefit donates money to Bold Is Beautiful, and every August, its 1,200 retail locations, including its own, as well as Macy’s and Ulta brow bars, donate $5 from every service to the program.
In June, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, threatening the right to a safe and legal abortion in many states (at press time, 13 states have abortion bans in effect), a number of beauty and fashion brands spoke out. Benefit was among the loudest and most consistent, with Ford Danielson leading the charge. Benefit had been making its position known since long before the Supreme Court decision came down. Glossy reported on Benefit’s support of reproductive rights in September 2021, when the company spoke out on social media against a proposed ban on abortion in Texas. Benefit has 10 million Instagram followers.
“We used to be concerned [about] the fallout…Now we’re just like, ‘You know, if this isn’t a brand you want to buy your mascara from anymore, that’s OK,” Ford Danielson said, noting that many customers, especially younger shoppers, want to buy from brands that share their values. All three of the pinned posts on Benefit’s Instagram page focus on the brand’s fundraising and activism efforts.
In addition to the company financially supporting causes, it gives full-time employees three paid workdays to volunteer. Part-time employees receive two. And in July, it sent 200 makeup kits to Planned Parenthood employees in states most impacted by the overturning of Roe. “Sometimes we’re like, ‘It’s just makeup.’ But it can bring joy to someone’s day. We did handwritten notes that said, ‘We stand with you, we see you.’ These are our frontline workers, and this is our way of saying, ‘We know this is a small thing, but what you’re doing is so big.’”
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