A beautiful piece of jewelry can make an outfit, but it can
also make a difference – especially when it’s from Beauty 4 Life, a business
created by Catherine Mitchell. This 16-year-old
from Oceanside, Calif., sells jewelry made by women in Uganda, and the money
made helps the women take care of their families.
Just like the bracelets and necklaces she sells, Catherine’s
community service has grabbed attention – she was named one of America’s Top 10
Youth Volunteers for 2012 at the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. So we chatted up Catherine to learn about
Beauty 4 Life, her hopes for the future, and her advice for girls with big
hearts (like you!).
Girls’ Life: What is Beauty 4 Life?
Catherine: Beauty 4 Life is a socially-minded business
that sells jewelry made by women in Uganda to empower them with a sustainable
income so they can educate their children, provide for their families and keep
their children off of the streets and out of wars.
GL: Beauty 4 Life is a great name. What does it mean to you?
C: The idea behind the women’s handcrafted
jewelry and the business is that something beautiful (the jewelry) can give
life to women and children in Uganda. Without the sustainable income from the
sales of the jewelry, the women and their families would be facing death on the
streets of Uganda, but the jewelry gives them the opportunity to live and
GL: How did your business get started?
C: During a trip to Uganda in the summer of
2009, I helped out at an orphanage where I met Jackie. Jackie is a five-year-old former
street child who has a beautiful smile and a bubbly personality. But behind
that sunny smile, Jackie knows that she will soon be orphaned as her mother is
dying of AIDS. Touched by her story, I gave her my teddy bear and she gave me a
delicate bracelet crafted from scrap paper and scavenged beads.
On the 22-hour flight home, I made a plan to turn my
vacation into a vocation: empowering women and providing education to children.
I landed in Los Angeles with a plan: to create a business to sell the unique
handmade jewelry. At 13 years old, I started Beauty 4 Life, a socially-minded
business that sells handcrafted, Ugandan jewelry, so that Jackie won't
have to be an orphan living on the streets. Instead, Jackie can
snuggle up with my teddy bear in a warm bed without worrying where her
next meal will come from.
Jackie’s mother was one of the first women to make the paper
bead jewelry sold by Beauty 4 Life. Jackie has started her first year of school
and she is living in a house with her mother, paid for with the income Jackie’s
mother received from Beauty 4 Life.
GL: What have you been able to accomplish so
C: I have built schools, women’s centers, and
childcare centers in Uganda. Additionally, I have set up business, finance,
English and health classes for the women to take in Uganda so they can go on
and start their own microbusinesses.
GL: What are your hopes for the business in the
C: Beauty 4 Life is expanding to South America,
Honduras, South Africa and India to empower women in those areas and sell their
Additionally, I have started a second organization called
Impact U which has started Leadership Training and Development programs for
students and advisors, designed to create, develop, and manage impactful
community service programs. I develop and deliver curriculum in workshops at
student leadership conferences. Also, I travel throughout the country, speaking
to adult service organizations and to student organizations about Beauty 4 Life
and how to start socially-minded service projects and businesses. In college, I
will utilize technology to continue to work with students on a broader scale
through webinars, downloadable curriculum, and podcasts. The book that I am
writing to help students start socially-minded businesses will be for sale
through Impact U along with other podcasts, webinars, curriculum and e-books.
GL: What advice do you have for girls who want to
C: To create a meaningful socially-minded
business or service project, girls should follow these steps: take an inventory
of their interests, connect interests with needs of others, partner with
professionals, and start an organization or service project. Using the
resources of DoSomething.org and Youth Service America, community mentors, and
other entrepreneurs and non-profit owners, girls can learn a lot about starting
a service project or socially-minded business. Girls should discover the things
that they like to do and the talents that they have and use their gifts and
passions to give back to the community. Girls, you already have everything you
need to go out a change the world. Go for it, now is the best time in the world
to start helping others.
If you’d like to
support Beauty 4 Life, you can buy jewelry or even host your own jewelry
party. For more information, visit the
Beauty 4 Life website.
For more information on the Prudential Spirit of Community
Awards and how to apply, click here.
BY MARIE HANSEN ON 6/30/2013 12:00:00 AM
POSTED IN Get Inspired