Ahead of its undisclosed summer 2020 launch date, Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty brand is launching a $100 million fund to combat mental health problems related to loneliness.
The fund, called Rare Impact Fund, is meant to last over the next 10 years and will be funded through 1% of all Rare Beauty sales as well as outside partners. The fund is administered by the non-profit Hopewell, which works with other charitable initiatives to create and advise donations. Although beauty brands have more frequently been discussing mental health with customers for at least the past three months, Rare Beauty’s fund is one of beauty’s largest financial efforts in the space to date. Rare Beauty opted to launch the fund ahead of its own products, in order to demonstrate its mental health efforts are not an afterthought, said Katie Welch, Rare Beauty CMO.
“We can do a lot through our storytelling with our founder, experts and partnerships to make a difference and certainly reach our community,” said Welch. “But, we want to also make a significant impact, as well, and that’s ultimately why we decided to create the Rare Impact Fund.”
With 184 million followers on Instagram, Selena Gomez is the sixth most-followed account (after accounts including Kylie Jenner, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Instagram itself), and has the ability to widely share Rare Beauty and its fund. She has publicly discussed some of her own battles with mental health and checked into a psychiatric facility for 90 days while undergoing treatment for depression in 2016. Rare Beauty currently has 1.3 million Instagram followers.
The beauty industry has long been criticized for creating and perpetuating problematic beauty standards and is still only in the early stages of examining its own complicity. But, founders and small brands have been more open and transparent about discussing mental health, when it comes to customers and their own employees. Ingestibles brand The Nue Co. had an out-of-door marketing campaign in Oct. 2019 which addressed stress, sleep, exhaustion and loneliness. Walter Faulstroh, co-founder and CEO of Hum Nutrition, recently told Glossy that his company is trying to help prevent employees from experiencing burn out.
For Rare Beauty, its fund’s purpose is to address loneliness, which can have profound effects on mental health. Gen Z has been described as the “loneliest generation” according to a study of 20,000 American adults conducted by health insurance company Cigna. The current Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated loneliness, due to quarantine and social distancing measures. The Rare Impact Fund maintains a Rare Beauty Mental Health Council to inform the direction of its charitable efforts. The council has 10 people from medical and academic backgrounds, as well as notable beauty industry figures like Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Teen Vogue editor-in-chief, and Jennifer Cohen, Sephora vp of color merchandising.
“The mission with the Rare Impact Fund is to help address gaps in accessing mental health services,” said Dr. Marc Brackett, founder and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale School of Medicine. “There is a dire need for equitable access to mental health resources for both children and adults, and my hope is that these funds will help us support those who need it most.”
Although Welch declined to discuss specifics related to recent recipients of grants from the fund or other types of potential recipients, she said Rare Beauty’s approach to mental health is to foster direct relationships through community outreach. A casting call (which she referred to as a “community call”) in March was meant to help fans of the brand meet one another, but was postponed indefinitely due to Covid-19. In lieu of that in-person event, Rare Beauty employees and Gomez have held one-on-one Zoom meetings with over 100 customers, with conversations ranging from “What are you watching on Netflix?” to “What are you grateful for?” and “How do you feel?” said Welch.
“Brands and founders shape stories these days,” said Welch. “As a brand, we want to shape positive stories around beauty, self-acceptance and mental health. We can make a stand against the idea of perfection by embracing what makes us unique and encouraging our community to embrace what makes them unique; if we can use our influence to shift the narrative around mental health through content and outreach and campaigns, then that’s making a positive difference.”