While many didn’t know what to do with their extra time during the quarantine caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, two college students wasted no time creating a nonprofit to benefit hospitals.
The students, Jaclyn Dong from USC and Jade Lee from UC San Diego, created the nonprofit Hidden Beauty to address the mask shortage faced by hospitals amid the global pandemic.
“I feel like I’m saving time by not commuting to class and going to the dining hall,” Dong said. “So I guess with the extra time I wanted to do something meaningful, and I feel like running Hidden Beauty is really fulfilling.”
The nonprofit works in partnership with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to donate 100% of Hidden Beauty’s profits to health care facilities that have N95 mask shortages. The nonprofit’s slogan, “A Mask for a Mask,” encapsulates Hidden Beauty’s mission and how they achieve it. The profits from the skin care masks they sell go to pay for protective medical masks.
“We chose UNICEF of the USA because it’s a reputable organization. And right now, one of the things that they’re trying to work towards is COVID-19 relief," Dong said.
The duo partnered with skin care brands Innisfree and Made Simple Skin Care in their attempt to obtain what they saw as eco-friendly, quality products. Dong said by partnering with familiar brands, she hoped people would feel more comfortable buying products from Hidden Beauty.
Dong said they prioritized skin care brands that were "organic, cruelty-free and vegan.” However, she said the COVID-19 relief mission sets them apart from other companies in the skin care and beauty industry.
“We don’t want to be just like another skincare brand,” Dong said. “And we tried to differentiate ourselves by working with UNICEF and having eco-friendly, natural products without any harmful chemicals or preservatives.”
Emma Gronstad, a sophomore studying at USC, said she felt that buying a mask from Hidden Beauty was a small price to pay to help those in need.
“I chose to support Hidden Beauty because it seems like an overall good company. The products are ethically made, it’s a nonprofit putting money towards a good cause and it’s run by young women of color,” Gronstad said.
The customers are not only women; USC alum Willie Shen told Annenberg Media in a written response that he was particularly interested in purchasing Hidden Beauty products due to the coupled benefits of skin care and mask donations. Shen said his feelings align with the brand’s mission.
“I was inspired to purchase a face mask because I do enjoy having the Korean facial routines, as I have oily skin. I wanted a product that can help with my skin, while also providing help to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Shen said.
Even with the distractions that may come about due to COVID-19, masks are only the beginning for Hidden Beauty. The team plans to stay focused and keep working toward becoming a more reputable, widely-known skin care brand.
“It’s hard to maintain your motivation sometimes, especially since everything’s virtual. I think it’s important to really care about the brand that you’re building and the cause behind your brand,” Dong said.
Despite the difficulty in maintaining motivation, Dong and Lee said they will continue to pursue the expansion of Hidden Beauty.