We were stunned recently to learn that a reader had put on an event that raised around $24,000 for Learning AFAR—our partnership with No Barriers Youth that funds international travel for underprivileged school kids.
Chicago-based natural beauty brand La Bella Figura held their annual charity fundraiser last August, A Night for Green Beauty, and donated all proceeds to Learning AFAR. We spoke by email to Victoria Fantauzzi, La Bella Figura co-founder and CEO, to find out more. (Some questions and answers have been edited for clarity/readability.)
Tell us a bit about La Bella Figura?
La Bella Figura is a natural beauty brand based in Chicago. Our company’s motto is, “Made In Chicago—Inspired by the World.” We often find ourselves on the road to meet our eco-producers, growers, and farmers, and to discover new ingredients to use in our formulas. When you want the world’s best ingredients you have to go out and find them.
So your company has a connection to travel. Is that something you've always been interested in?
Growing up my heroes were Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I wanted to follow in their footsteps and have adventures in exciting places. I love reading AFAR magazine and have been a fan since the very first issue, which is still on my bookshelf.
Yay! How did you hear about Learning AFAR, and what was it that drew you to the program?
I read about Learning AFAR in an issue of the magazine and thought, “That is so cool!” Growing up in Chicago and being a poor inner-city kid myself, I just remembered that feeling of longing to explore. I know how much travel has changed me, and the power that connecting with folks from around the world has to cultivate curiosity. My business partner (Karen King) and I wanted to help in some way inspire kids to become more involved as global citizens. Learning AFAR was a perfect charity that really engaged us. As well as fun, traveling is also an incredible education.
So . . . ?
I was so excited when I read about it and called Jordan [Jordan Robbins—AFAR's main contact at No Barriers] out of the blue. (I kind of hate emailing someone about something that gets me motivated because you can't really interpret that over email.) I think she thought we were so unorthodox and didn't quite understand what we wanted to do, but somehow I managed to convince her that our events work to create awareness and that most of our fans want to be a part of giving back.
What was it you wanted to do?
From the very beginning, and before we even made a dollar profit, Karen and I decided to contribute to charitable non-profits we believed in. In 2013, just two years after founding La Bella Figura, we launched A Night For Green Beauty, a free public event to create awareness about natural beauty products and why they are a healthier option for people and the environment.
The event is held in a different city each year, and people come from all over to meet their favorite brand founders and have a great time. There's a fundraising/charity component, too. We sell customized boxes filled with gorgeous products, and we partner with quite a few companies who donate their products, so we can sell them with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. We've held events in NYC, LA, and Chicago, raising money for charities like Hair2Help and Baby2Baby. It’s pretty amazing how collaboration like this works.
This year, the event was in Chicago and our chosen charity was Learning AFAR!
That's awesome. How did it go?
Over 800 guests showed up and hundreds purchased the beauty boxes for charity we sold through our sponsor, Goodebox. We couldn’t keep them in stock. We raised $24,000.
Attendees always express excitement that our event feels like a celebration and that their purchases of our beauty boxes contribute to notable charities. Shopping with no guilt involved is a kind of beauty of its own, don’t you think?
I do, though it seems like guilt-free anything is rare these days! Anything else you want our readers to know?
People often hear about wealthy philanthropists, but most don’t hear about the independent entrepreneurs that incorporate profitability with world-conscious values. Some of us smaller players build our companies with social responsibility as part of the plan right from the start. Giving is a greater success story than making money. That may sound a tad bohemian to some, but I think it’s the modern way to run a business and I think we'll see more of it.
We’re so excited for the future of young travelers and can’t wait to hear all about the adventures and life-changing experiences that come from Learning AFAR. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your vision.
No, thank you! What you did was incredibly generous and inspiring, and will help make a huge difference to the lives of kids who would not otherwise have a chance to explore our world.
Watch the video below and visit the website to discover more about Learning AFAR, and perhaps get involved yourself.