Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
February 14, 2023
Jennifer Norman | The Human Beauty Movement, PBC
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Jennifer Norman and I’m the founder and chief human officer of The Human Beauty Movement and Humanist Beauty located in Los Angeles. I founded the company in 2019 to turn the beauty industry inside out and change the face of the way that we were doing business. Our mission is about starting from the inside out, fostering and encouraging self-love and radical self-acceptance, which will lead us to radical self-expression. We show up in the world the way that we want to, rather than what the beauty industry typically does, with a focus from the outside in. That leaves people feeling a lot of pressure to compete and to keep up. We’re really about starting from a place of authenticity, straight from the soul, straight from the heart, and really focusing on people’s unique sensibilities.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I’d been working in the traditional beauty industry for more than 25 years for big companies like L’Oreal, Neutrogena, Stila Cosmetics, and Honest Beauty, to name a few. What compelled me to start my own beauty company was seeing the same issues multiple times across the industry. I found that there are great people working for these companies, but they often will make very bad decisions because they’re beholden to the bottom line. I felt the global beauty industry needed a wake-up call despite the significant progress made over the past 10 years in terms of social marketing, sustainability, and presentation. Too many people suffer from low self-esteem, there are too many products that contain harmful ingredients, there are too many natural resources wasted in production, and too many people still feel marginalized, underrepresented, prejudiced, or discriminated against. I believe that the industry needs to do better. I felt the way to do that was to do it myself.
There’s another part of my life’s journey that formed my decision-making. I happen to be an adopted Asian American woman who is a single mother of a mixed-race boy who also lives with severe chronic illness and disability. My experience raising him and being his caretaker opened my eyes to a very unique definition of beauty, one that’s not just seen with the eyes, but felt with the heart. My life’s purpose laid out before me when I realized I wanted to build a company that addressed beauty from the inside out, from a place of mind, body, soul, and well-being rather than from the outside in.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I believe my purpose through The Human Beauty Movement is all about the art and beauty of doing the inner work. We believe that you matter and you belong, regardless of your race, your age, your gender, your skin tone, your background, your beliefs, or your abilities. I feel that so much damage has been done by society and through the media. It’s really taken a toll on people’s mental and emotional health. I would like to address some of those problems and help people to really truly feel okay with themselves. I believe that it always starts with the individual. If we are in love with ourselves, if we feel good about ourselves, then that resonates and touches other people’s lives. Ultimately, it makes everything better. That’s why I think it is so important to really do that work from the inside out.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Our focus at The Human Beauty Movement is to measure the impact we have on people’s well-being. Currently, our methods are predominantly qualitative, but we are moving to quantitative measures. We offer an inclusive community and wellness workshops. Through the website, we offer a blog and I host a podcast called “Role Models.” We just initiated a corporate wellness program called Soul Care Sessions, where we offer activities like meditation, mindfulness, journaling, and breathwork. The way that I market my products and services through The Humanist Beauty brand is by making sure that people are feeling good and better about themselves every step of the way at every touchpoint in our organization. Anytime that they purchase something from us, I want to ensure they feel a little bit better about themselves. Measuring that kind of happiness quotient is what we’re all about. Right now that’s qualitative, and we’re receiving wonderful reactions based on the work that we do. We know that people feel this is very important work, very unique, and very needed. I feel we’re just starting to scratch the surface. I would really like to see The Human Beauty Movement recognized from a global perspective and make a worldwide impact over time.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
My awakening has really come from my journey of caring for my son. He is my biggest inspiration. Other than that I’ve looked to the greats like Marcus Aurelius and Mahatma Gandhi. It really helps me to feel that we are all one. There’s no such thing as competition; collaboration is really what life is all about. I try to be my own inspiration and look to myself to guide and inspire me to be the best possible version that I can be.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
I see The Human Beauty Movement as being Goop for everyone else. I love Goop to pieces, and I have great respect for Gwyneth Paltrow and what she has created, but I do feel there’s a sentiment that wellness is just for wealthy white women. I want to change that perception and make beauty and wellness more democratic, more inclusive, and more representative. I see The Human Beauty Movement evolving to become much more diverse in terms of its offerings. Ideally, it would have education and media content and also branch into product offerings plus a component in entertainment, art, and film. We would have everything born from this idea of inclusivity, of representation of beauty from the inside out, and have these beautiful stories being told that really represent the fabric of humankind.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
The biggest challenge right now is that I am self-funded. I did that intentionally because I didn’t want to have the outside influence of investors that could cause me to veer from my own true beliefs. Because of that, I’m constantly aware of cash flow and budget, so things happen more slowly than I would like. I’m pretty proud of how far we’ve come, and after being around for three years we’re starting to get international awareness.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
I want people to know that beauty is so much more than cosmetics, hair, and skin products. Everybody has beauty. It’s really the fact of recognizing and appreciating yourself that is the source of beauty. I often will say beauty begs an admirer, even if that admirer is yourself. The Human Beauty Movement is a real, wonderful, safe place where people can come together, have conversations, learn a little bit, and then walk away feeling better than they did when they started.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
When I was in a different place in life with a lot of rain clouds hanging over me, I was feeling very low. I kept thinking to myself, why is this happening? Somehow I was able to shake myself out of it and realize that the things that happen in life can make me bitter or they can make me better. Anytime a challenge arises, I rise to the occasion knowing that it will make me better. I know the universe believes I can handle it.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
I’d love for everyone to take a look at The Human Beauty Movement, come to one of our workshops, and see what we’re about. If they are a member of a company that can use wellness programs, I invite you to give us a call or send us an email so that we can assist with some really great mindfulness practices that all employees could enjoy.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We give purpose-driven organizations that want to do PR the strategy, resources, and support they need to get started so they can increase awareness and expand their impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.