Woman of the Week
Aryn Quinn, Founder of Beauty Cares
Bringing beauty and nurturing to survivors of domestic violence
-April Daniels Hussar
The Beauty Cares mission: To assist survivors of domestic violence with their new lives through hands-on nurturing and compassion. The founder: Gorgeous, vibrant, former model and holistic health practitioner Aryn Quinn. What a treat it was to learn all about the motivation behind this extraordinary foundation – a true inspiration. Read on…
1. Where did you get the inspiration to launch Beauty Cares?
I used to be a model so I’ve been around makeup for a long time; I know how wonderful and confident women feel when they have a beauty treatment or a massage. And I know that people love, above all, to feel they have been helpful to others. The professionals in the beauty industry really enjoy having an outlet for their creativity and their desire to volunteer. And as the cosmetics industry is in the business of beauty, I wanted to provide companies with a way to give back and through beauty make a real difference in women’s lives. The executives have been incredibly moved by and supportive of our program.
2. Why is something like this important for women fleeing domestic violence?
These women have been shattered. When you are recovering from the trauma of violence, leaving your home in fear for your life, you’re not thinking, how do I look? You’re thinking how am I going to live? What’s going to happen to my children? Then you’re living in a safe house, and it’s time to start looking for a new home and go back to work. That’s a tall order for a woman whose self-esteem has been shaken, whose life doesn’t feel normal anymore.
For anyone recovering from trauma, one of the first major steps is feeling “normal” again. Personal grooming is integral to a human being’s sense of worth, of belonging in the world.
I feel more confident and competent in the world if I feel good about the way I look – even if I’m just going to the dentist or grocery shopping, let alone a job interview.
Most of the women are mothers – they are trying to hold it together for their children. When you’re a child, if mom is feeling great, you feel great. If mom feels like everything is going to be just fine – as a child you feel “hey everything is going to be OK.” That’s just a fact of life, an incontrovertible truth.
We provide much more than a makeover; we provide healing. The women are with us all afternoon talking, sharing, receiving massages and makeovers. A hair styling can take two hours – someone is simply offering their time and talent, and they feel that. One woman said she now understands that there are people in the world who care. Can you imagine how life changes the day you realize people care about me? Domestic violence isolates women and makes them feel alone and guilty. We remind them: You’re not alone, it’s not your fault, and you deserve better.
3. Why did this cause speak to you?
I have a personal history with domestic violence as a child. It’s important that mothers who have been abused are nurtured as quickly as possible so that their children can feel whole and good about themselves, as well. It breaks the cycle.
4. What has been the reaction among your friends and connections in the beauty industry?
The professionals say, “I’ve been wanting to do something like this for years.” These are celebrity artists, a lot of them. Same thing with the cosmetics industry. They have thousands and thousands of boxes of discontinued products and testers. And when we asked the director of Safe Horizons what these women need most of all, she said BEAUTY PRODUCTS. They need shampoo, moisturizer, deodorant, shaving cream… they don’t have much of anything. The majority of them are mothers, and their priority is the safety of their children – the last thing on the list is lip-gloss.
5. Have you had any criticism — people saying that this effort is frivolous and not as important as basic needs like shelter, job training, food, clothing, etc.?
No. People understand right away that this is nurturing. We’re not just dropping off a bag of makeup, we are providing hours of one-on-one sharing – an entire afternoon dedicated to feeling lovely and loved again. The shelters we work with have been very grateful for the service we provide to their residents.
One of our guests told us: “I really needed to feel pretty again. Even though beauty on the inside matters most we cannot forget about the outside.” That’s it in a nutshell. In order to be in the game of life, you need to feel lovely, and you need to feel important.
They come in looking anxious and down, and they leave with soaring confidence, with wings.
6. Can you tell us about the inaugural event this past April – how was it? Did it meet your expectations?
It far exceeded my expectations on the level of transformation that occurred. The happiness and the confidence in their eyes – it was stunning. And the other thing that surpassed all my expectations was the amount of love and the dedication that the volunteers poured into it – they also felt transformed.
7. Have you followed up with any of last year’s participants to see how they are doing now?
The women who come to us have already been in the safety house for a month or two, and they move on quickly after that. Some requested the opportunity to volunteer, and we would love to have them back. They said, we want to help women experience what we experienced today.
8. What are your hopes and plans for the future with Beauty Cares?
The next NYC event August 31, a launch in Los Angeles this November and another NYC event in December. The goal of this organization is to grow by leaps and bounds, and by next year, in all of the major cities, to be celebrating renewal and self-esteem with as many women as possible. Also, we are in discussion with major department store chains to bring Beauty Cares to the cosmetics floor, to allow women to support, through their purchases, survivors of domestic violence.
I want to unite the entire beauty industry in the mission of restoring self-esteem to women who have suffered so much violence and heartbreak. When mothers have wings, so do their children – and the world can fly.
Rapid Fire Questions
1. When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
2. What type of kids did you hang out with in high school?
I had friends in all the crowds.
3. What woman from the past do you most identify with?
All of the women who have dedicated themselves to bringing about awareness and growth for people, which if you think about it, is really the nature of woman. There are so many examples — Eleanor Roosevelt, Indira Ghandi, Benazir Bhutto – what an amazing woman, what a martyr. Marilyn Monroe made it OK to be hot. She made it cool to be sexy.
4. What’s your workout?
Very fast walks through Central Park.
5. Cat or dog?
I’m a dog person, with a cat, who behaves like a dog. I used to take him on walks, but then one day he was like… I’m not doing this anymore! He comes when I call him; we play ball. He’s very stuck-up and regal like a cat, but he has the fun-loving streak and the affection of a dog. He’s a hell of a cat. Everyone loves him.
6. What do you do when you want to completely tune out?
Sit by the water.
7. What book is sitting on your shelf, waiting to be read?
I actually do have it by my bed! A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle
8. If you could have dinner with any two people, whom would you choose?
Einstein and Jesus.
9. What is the one thing you want or do not want the next generation of girls to encounter?
10. If there were one thing you could change in your life, what would it be?
Aryn Quinn recently began a lecture series called “What are You Waiting for? Live Your Life Now!” As Quinn puts it: “It relates to all of the excuses and reason we tell ourselves… oh when I have more education, when I’ve lost some weight, when I’m stronger… when I deserve it. People have all these reasons for not deserving to have a great life. And my lecture series is all about being un-reasonable – you deserve it right now. Without ‘reason.'”
Event photos by Diana @ 5West Studios