When Selena Gomez launched Rare Beauty back in 2020, the message was simple: break down previous notions that everyone must be perfect, and shine a light on mental health issues.
While this may have broken every budding makeup brand’s dream, brands like Fenty Beauty shared similar, groundbreaking mission statements: bolster inclusivity in the makeup industry and force all brands to do the same in the process.
Inspired by her 2020 album, Rare, Rare Beauty began with the basics: 48 foundation shades, lip balms and matte lip creams, eyebrow definers, and the icon, liquid blush. Four years later, it’s hard to imagine a more viral, innovative celebrity makeup brand that remains in stride with Fenty.
Quickly, the Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush became TikTok’s go-to staple product. And no one can deny there is no blush on the market that is as pigmented, easily blendable, and long-lasting as this one. Selena Gomez has proven herself a bonafide content creator with her charismatic social media posts for fun Rare Beauty launches like an under-eye brightener, an SPF-laden tinted moisturizer, and lip combos.
Not only is Rare Beauty inclusive in shade range, but the spherical shape of the top of their products is disability-friendly.
As of 2024, Rare Beauty is a $2 billion company. But what sets this company apart is their attention to detail and true dedication to bettering the world. The same year that Rare Beauty was founded, the Rare Impact Fund was also created.
What Is The Rare Impact Fund?
In a statement by Gomez on the Rare Impact Fund’s website, she states,
“The Rare Impact Fund is committed to expanding access to mental health services and education for young people everywhere. We work with a strong network of supporters and experts to bring mental health resources into educational settings to reach young people.
Because no one– regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or background - should struggle alone.”
Upon their start, the Rare Impact Fund committed to raising $100 million by 2030. Along with corporate sponsorships and donations from individuals, 1% of proceeds from all Rare Beauty sales go towards the charity as well. By 2021, they had donated over $1.2 million in grants to eight mental health institutions including Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
In 2021, the Rare Impact Fund launched a GoFundMe for their new Mental Health 101 initiative. According to the GoFundMe,
“Mental Health 101 advocates for more mental health in education, empowers our community, and encourages financial support for more mental health services in educational settings through the Rare Impact Fund,”
Promising to match up to $200,000 in donations, to date the GoFundMe has raised over $500,000 and has donations from less than six months ago.
How The Rare Impact Fund Works
By leveraging both Selena Gomez’s millions of social media followers and the four million people who follow Rare Beauty on Instagram, the Rare Impact Fund quickly trickles into visibility. Suddenly, fans of the brand and Gomez alike can help make a difference by donating even a few dollars in honor of their favorite actress-singer extraordinaire.
As of 2023, the Rare Impact Fund helped grantees like UCLA Friends of Semel Institute, Batyr, La Familia, Mindful Life Project, Black Teacher Project, and Trans Lifeline. According to the website, they have raised $6 million in contributions and distributed $3 million in grant support so far.
Rare Beauty and the Rare Impact Fund alone are blazing a trail for all brands: you can make a change while still distributing high-quality products — and it pays off.
A series by tech entrepreneurs, anonymous… or not
When The Bottom Line Is Human Dignity
I am not a tech entrepreneur, as such, but the use of tech has been central to the foundation and growth of my business ventures. Without the revolution in technology and communications that began in the 1990s, our then garage start-up could not have come into existence and competed effectively on an international basis with the then entrenched behemoths in our industry. We’ve managed to anticipate and ride various waves along the way to industry leadership such that the effective leveraging of technology (almost entirely developed by others) lies at the heart of our competitive proposition. However, I would argue that all sizable companies are tech companies, so I accepted an invite from the Liberty Project to contribute a piece to the Speakers Corner series.
I would also suggest that this summary represents nothing new, in that technology only matters when people apply it to practical purposes. Simply as one example, take steam power. Ancient Greek philosophers (see Hero of Alexandria) developed a steam engine. But it took Watt and Fulton to bring the concept to commercialization and to change the practical facts for people on the ground by providing cheaper access to power. That power made transportation by rail and water accessible, opening an age of mobility that changed millions of lives. Indeed, that power drove the industrial revolution, as businesses integrated steam and its implications into their models, creating tremendous investment capital, and raising standards of living on a mass scale.
At the same time, the Romantic poets decried industrialization as the passing of a simpler time. Of course, many of those poets were quite rich and enjoyed vestigial privileges conferred by feudalism (Byron and Shelley lived lives of relative ease). From that vantage point they lamented the loss of the natural soul of humanity, as if such humanity should have been bound to the soil and been happy about it. On the other hand, the mass migration of people from the country to the city, which continues to this day in industrializing economies such as India and China, reveals that people will gladly trade the vicissitudes of the land for the prospect of a more remunerative job created by technological advancement.
But the Romantics had a point: such advancement always comes at the cost of change and at the goring of the previous order’s proverbial ox. The saboteurs threw their wooden shoes into the cogs of industrial machinery. The British Luddites fought a five-year battle in opposition to the industrialization of weaving that rendered their personal skills obsolete. Indeed, their name still echoes as the term for those opposed to industrialization and new technology. Technological disruption has real effects on real people and elicits strong responses accordingly, regardless of whether the change brings long-term prosperity and better standards of living in the larger picture.
This dynamic tension between the human condition and technology remains a pressing topic, particularly as the pace of technological change accelerates. A previous contributor to this series pointed out thatgreed is good, in the sense that it provides motivation and a spur to creativity. One cannot argue the objective results, as the profit motive lies behind the applied technology that has increased human flourishing (at least as a function of things like life expectancies and standards of living) since the industrial age. On the other hand, there’s the dehumanizing element of technology in the tendency to reduce individuals to more specialized roles within a vast economic machine. Technologists openly speculate about the mass replacement of human activity on the basis of AI and machine learning, even to the point of requiring a universal basic income in place of the dignity of work. Huxley’s Brave New World, in which humans become mere outcomes of a breeding and conditioning process with preordained roles in a structured society, seems less and less like fiction.
Bringing this back to the scale of entrepreneurship, I would argue that we can find a guide for our behavior in the bigger picture if we consider the fundamental purpose of a business. For sure, a business must make money, else it will not exist. So, profit represents a sine qua non for business existence just as food, clothing, and shelter does for the existence of any person. But no one would argue that those basic necessities are themselves the purpose, or end, of human existence. And nor should anyone argue the same regarding business profits. On the contrary, a good business sits at the confluence of enlightened self-interest and the common good. When we run our businesses well, we solve problems for our customers and improve their lives (else, why would they transact with us in the first place?). When we run our businesses well, we provide growth opportunities for our employees as well as economic stability for them. And, when we run our businesses well, we provide the same opportunities for our own vendors and for their employees. In other words, a business ought to exist to increase human thriving through all aspects of its activity.
Human dignity lies at the heart of this understanding: the recognition that each person our businesses touch exists as an end in and of themselves. Customers are not some notional group of disembodied people to be segmented and marketed to in order to elicit Pavlovian responses, but rather actual people whom we touch with our business activity. Employees cannot be mere cogs in a machine to be optimized and discarded, but rather are individuals seeking both their daily bread and personal fulfillment through the work they do. Vendors cannot be viewed as opponents in a zero-sum game of profit, but rather are to be treated as partners in the co-creation of something meaningful. There’s a reason that Jim Collins’ research into the most successful business leaders (he calls them Level 5 Leaders) reveals the common trait of humility: great leaders (and great businesses) prioritize the dignity of others.
So, I would encourage us to remember this as businesspeople as we go about our daily affairs and as we engage in the public square. The intersection of technology and disruption is nothing new and, indeed, leads to great goods for great numbers of people. But we should remember that technology (just like our own businesses) should serve people and lead to human flourishing. When we prioritize the dignity of the individual, we will make decisions that lead to that outcome.