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When Sheryl Kurland had a tough day growing up, her mom would always say, “Sheryl, just put on a little lipstick and you’ll feel better.” Kurland kept that advice in mind when she launched Find Your Fabulosity, an organization that donates new lipsticks to domestic violence survivors in shelters.
It may sound trite, but Kurland says lipstick helps give survivors a new confidence they’ve never had before. This small gesture can aid in their emotional healing from abuse.
“It gives them the inspiration to look in the mirror and to start loving themselves again,” she says. One person in particular stands out in Kurland’s mind.
“She said, ‘Sheryl, I was just thinking about putting on makeup again, but I don’t have any money to buy anything.’ The first thing she wanted was lipstick, and for me to be able to provide that was just awesome.”
Shelters often get contributions of toiletry items, Kurland says, but lipstick rarely gets donated. So she became a woman on a mission—donate lipstick to at least one shelter in every state.
Kurland started out buying mostly medium tones, but a lot of women asked for red, purple and hot pink. “These women still have it going on,” she says. She also includes a lot of clear lip glosses for women who don’t care for lipstick.
An Opportunity to Help
Kurland fell into her domestic violence work almost by accident. She had been giving relationship workshops to college students and her schedule was light in the summers. In summer 2015, she took a class to learn about all aspects of her local sheriff’s department, and one night they covered domestic violence.
“I realized these are just ordinary women caught up in a cobweb of experiences they never dreamed of. They never saw it coming. They woke up one day and realized they were living in fear for their lives,” she says.
She thought if she tweaked her workshops, she could present them to women in domestic violence shelters. So, she became certified as a domestic violence advocate and got the go-ahead from the manager of her local shelter, Safe House of Seminole in Florida, to offer presentations.
“These women had completely lost their identity. They don’t trust themselves or their thoughts because they’ve been so abused,” Kurland says. “I thought, ‘How can I make them feel like they’re someone with value again?’”
She recalled her mom’s advice, went to Walmart, and bought lipstick in a range of colors. At the end of her next workshop she handed them out as thank-you gifts.
“Magic happened,” she remembers. “The whole aura in the room changed. The women helped each other pick the right colors and struck up chatter like women do. This sense of happiness filled the room, so I kept doing this at every workshop. The pattern continued and I said, ‘I have to multiply this magic by the thousands.’ So, I turned it into a nonprofit organization,” she says.
A Local Effort Expands Nationwide
At first, Kurland asked her local Walmart and Target for gift cards, which she would use to buy lipsticks. Now she gets lipstick donations from all kinds of places—social media drives, packages people mail to her and donations from makeup manufacturers.
“The everyday person hears about it and wants to participate,” she says. “One woman made it her New Year’s resolution to send a package every month.”
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Financial donations cover shipping costs and purchase more lipsticks. “The more money and lipsticks we get, the more shelters and women we can serve,” Kurland says.
Today, Find Your Fabulosity donates 25 lipsticks every four to five months to 200 shelters in all 50 states and the list is growing. The organization has donated more than 25,000 lipsticks. “We’re wide open to more shelters. To me it’s limitless,” she says.
Kurland acknowledges that she’s been challenged by people who say she’s perpetuating the belief that women have to wear makeup to be beautiful. But that’s not how she sees it, especially for domestic violence survivors.
Says Kurland, “The beauty is within you. The lipstick wakes it up.”
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