Wende Zomnir ('89), co-founder and CEO of makeup brand Urban Decay, isn't just interested in giving women an edge when it comes to their look.
She also wants to give them an edge in life.
In 2015, Zomnir and Urban Decay launched The Ultraviolet Edge, a global initiative to empower women that has so far donated more than $2 million to seven different women-centric nonprofits: The Women's Global Empowerment Fund in Uganda; the Kakenya Center for Excellence in Kenya; Her Justice in New York City; Laura's House in Orange County, California; Crisis in the United Kingdom; Equality Now, worldwide; and Circular Board, worldwide.
The idea originated stateside, where the company initially worked to help victims of domestic violence.
"A local women's shelter asked us to donate any empty lipstick cases we had, because they're a great tool for helping women who need to get out of a domestic violence situation," Zomnir says. "They would roll up contact information and put it in a lipstick case and that way it's secretly held and the boyfriend never finds it. He might look through her handbag, but he's not opening every lipstick. This was like 18 years ago. That was our first step in saying, 'Hey, we need to help our sisters in the world here.'"
That original outreach gave birth to The Ultraviolet Edge, which aims to help women achieve empowerment in various locations throughout the world. The initiative's goal for 2017 was to donate at least another $1 million to the nonprofits, on its way to a five-year goal of $5 million.
This is how it works: When customers purchase Urban Decay's designated Ultraviolet Edge product – this year's is a lipstick called "Outspoken" – the company donates 100 percent of the purchase price to the nonprofits.
It's a small donation that reaps big rewards, Zomnir says.
"The Women's Global Empowerment Fund has one client named Grace who has kids and had a hard time making ends meet," Zomnir says. "She got a microloan from the fund and started growing tomatoes. She turned the tomatoes into a restaurant, she turned the restaurant into a land purchase on which she built a preschool, and now she helps all the other women go to work every day by taking care of their kids. So there's so much we're doing. We're changing lives there, and that feels really, really good."
Zomnir says she plans to continue to evolve the fund and look for ways to encourage more people to participate.
"I would love to figure out a way to make it spread more quickly and have broader reach," she says. "I think we can all do so much more in helping these women."
Check out the link to learn more about the seven organizations supported by The Ultraviolet Edge, along with their individual websites for those interested in joining the cause.