This is the story of Find Your Fabulosity, a 501c3 foundation, founded by Sheryl Kurland, that has donated 65,000 lipsticks to 200 battered women’s shelters in 50 states.
The lipsticks, says Kurland, “awakens something beautiful in these women that had been lost through unthinkable domestic abuse.”
When Sheryl Kurland began traveling around the country doing interactive speaking engagements for college women on the topics of healthy relationships and sexuality she was stunned at the amount of sexual assault these young women confessed to. “Through interactive exercises and games, I would also ask these college-age women to list their relationship priorities like communication, trust, and sex, in order of importance.” She’d end with the message that trust is the foundation of any healthy and safe relationship.
In summer 2015, while completing a course on domestic violence given through the local police department in her central Florida community, Sheryl connected some important dots. “I had, perhaps, the biggest a-ha moment of my life,” she says. “I thought, ‘I wonder if I could take the on-campus programs I did for college women and change it to relate to women experiencing domestic violence and abuse.’”
After connecting with local battered women’s shelter, Safe House, and being shown graphic pictures of abuse and listening to heartbreaking 911 calls, Kurland was moved to action. “It was gory and terrifying, and it was going on right in my own backyard.” She immediately inquired about setting up an interactive workshop program for the women residing at Safe House. After getting her certification through the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Sheryl immediately started hosting workshops through Safe House at secluded, confidential locations where the women would feel safe.
According to Sheryl, “For these women who have escaped the most unfathomable abuse you can ever imagine, I wanted to be sure they were not having to rehash the hell they’d been through. I wanted to play a role in helping them re-build their self-esteem and learn how to build healthy relationships.”
She saw these beautiful women sitting at her workshops who had no idea who they really were anymore; their self-esteem in tatters. As Sheryl explains it, “Growing up my mother always said, ‘Sheryl, if you want to feel better, just put on a little lipstick.’ I went to the local pharmacy and picked up a pile of lipsticks in different textures and shades, and I started giving them out at these workshops.”
She found that these lipsticks transformed the energy of the women in the room. “I witnessed their pain momentarily dissolve as they helped each other pick out the right color, chitchatted and bonded over the application of the lipsticks, and became women again.” Kurland says the transformation from something so simple was astonishing, and she wasted no time forming the 501c3 non-profit foundation, Find Your Fabulosity, which, to date, has donated 65,000 lipsticks to women residing in 200 shelters across all 50 states.
As far as lipstick donations, “We began by asking large companies like Target and CVS to donate lipsticks to our cause. Then word spread and various women’s groups, book clubs, and church groups started holding lipstick drives for us.” Eventually Costco’s membership magazine put the word out to their 8 million readers, and People.com profiled Sheryl’s efforts in a 2019 article, titled, Woman Donates over 45K (that donation figure is now at 65K) Lipsticks to Shelters: “They All Feel the Magic When They Wear It.”
Lipstick donations began pouring in by boxloads, including donations from cosmetic companies including Thrive Causemetics, Kari Gran Cosmetics, The Beauty Crop, Nu Evolution, City Color Cosmetics, Tarte Cosmetics and others.
“Lipstick means so much to the average woman,” says Sheryl, “You can only imagine how much it means to women who have been victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse. It means the world to them, and you can see the spark re-enter their eyes.”
As far as reaching women who are still living through domestic abuse and have not yet sought help, “I thought, ‘How do I reach the women still in the home and not in shelters?’” That’s when she created Find Your Fabulosity’s Get Help Giftbags which include a lipstick, lip gloss, mirror compact, and two cards that read You Are Fabulous with the national domestic violence hotline number on the back, and You Are Not Alone/You Did Not Cause This/You Can Be Free From Abuse. All items are placed in a pink organza bag. “If you personally know someone who is a victim of domestic abuse and you want to help her, you can arrange for Find Your Fabulosity to send her a Get Help Giftbag, that we ship in a discreet white package and send anonymously.”
Find Your Fabulosity works with thousands of volunteers, packing and shipping lipsticks to send to shelters, and packing up and shipping Get Help Giftbags to ship throughout the U.S. In between, they read touching letters that flood in. “We receive letters from women throughout the U.S., along with their (brand new/never used) lipstick donations, telling us their own domestic abuse survival stories,” says Sheryl. “Lipstick can’t fix the problem, but it can make these women feel more whole.”