While this website and subsequent independent study have come about as part of my art minor requirements for graduation, my main area of focus is within Social Entrepreneurship. I declared this major after much discussion with my mother over what would be the best fit in terms of working towards my final goal – create my own makeup company. Along the way, I’ve had to opportunity to study a handful of prevalent social issues, which is ultimately where my passion for cruelty-free cosmetics come into play. After watching the video mentioned in my very first post on this site, I realized that within the cosmetics industry, there exist multiple areas in which the principles of social entrepreneurship can be applied in order to both increase profits but also promote sustainable livelihoods for all people around the globe.
As I started my venture into mapping out my plan for my final portfolio of products, I knew I wanted to incorporate something to spread a message about the child labor used in farming mica to create cosmetics products. However, I realized that I couldn’t base all I knew of this topic off of one video I watched. Thus, I set out to find more research and stumbled upon some pretty interesting pieces of information.
The exposure of child labor within the farming of mica, and thus within the supply chains for many cosmetics companies, was exposed slightly over a decade ago. You would think that the exposure of this would be enough to kickstart major changes in these provinces to prevent this and find more sustainable ways to obtain such a vital ingredient. However, as often is the case, the developed world, i.e the places where resources are plenty, has pushed other causes to the forefront of their minds. Thus, child labor continues to exist within supply chains.
Of course, coming from a social entrepreneurship stance, I know that it’s not as simple as sending people with resources into these areas of need. Instead, solutions need to be established at the local level in order to empower these populations and provide them with skills and opportunities that bring about better livelihoods than farming mica would. Teaching these individuals transferable skills, or getting them into classrooms instead of the mines, proves to be entirely more beneficial for both their futures and the immediate community.
I was excited to see that big name companies like Estée Lauder and L’oreal have been attached to social initiatives like “child-friendly villages” and the National Resource Stewardship Council Summit in order to help provide substitutions like funding for child-friendly villages to help children subjected to working in the mines instead find safety within the classroom. Additionally, they have committed to being extremely traceable in their supply chains and suppliers, in order to work towards sourcing only from legal mines.
However, while these steps are good, much like animal cruelty, other companies have yet to come onboard. It’s interesting to me that these large companies, that happen to be supporting animal testing while they sell in China, have committed to working towards ending child labor. What’s to say that one issue is not more pressing than the other when in reality they both equally deserve attention and commitment to change in order to protect all lives. I’m interested to monitor the progress of these villages to see if the support of these large companies is able to make a significant amount of change in sustainable mining practices. If so, who’s to say that these corporations can’t also have a large impact in the fight to end both child labor and animal testing.
As a Social Entrepreneurship major, it is nice to know that the dreams I’ve been holding onto for years now won’t go to waste, as there remains both large gaps for opportunity, and existing trends for the success of social enterprises and initiatives within this large industry. I’m excited to watch this industry evolve to become more sustainable and focused on the triple bottom line as our earth’s resources continue to run scarce.