Sundial Brands, a leading skincare and haircare manufacturer renowned for its innovative use of high-quality, culturally authentic natural ingredients, today awarded fashion icon, entrepreneur and philanthropist Tina Knowles Lawson with its first Community Commerce Impact Award, presented by SheaMoisture. Sundial founder & CEO Richelieu Dennis presented “Miss Tina” with the honor during the Variety Power of Women Luncheon at Cipriani Midtown in New York City, where she was among six other honorees recognized for dedicating their time and energy to philanthropic and community efforts that improve the world. Her fellow 2017 Power of Women honorees include Jessica Chastain, Chelsea Clinton, Gayle King, Blake Lively, Audra McDonald and Shari Redstone.
Dennis, who founded Sundial Brands 25 years ago after graduating from Babson College and being unable to return to his home country of Liberia because of civil war, told the audience:
“I started our company based on the inspiration and recipes of my grandmother Sofi – another remarkable woman of power who had started making natural handmade soaps and salves in Sierra Leone in the early 1900’s to support her family after becoming a widow with four children at the age of 19. Following her lead, we too started our business out of a need to survive, and we’ve built it based on a mission not only to help others survive, but to prosper. This led to our purpose-driven business model called Community Commerce, which uses the power of commerce to equip underserved people and communities with access to the opportunities and resources that enable them to create lasting value for themselves and others – resulting in an ability to build stronger, self-sustaining communities and enterprises.”
“Based on that criteria,” he continued, “when considering honorees for our inaugural Community Commerce Impact Award, one name rose to the top – and that was Mrs. Tina Knowles Lawson. A successful entrepreneur. A tireless philanthropist. A humble humanitarian…this is a woman who uses her platform, her businesses, her resources and her voice to create organizations that drive positive change for those in need…it seems only fitting that our paths would not only cross – but connect – in service to others and ensuring we leave this world a better place than we found it.”
Miss Tina also shared: “This award is very special because it not only recognizes success, but also the giving back part of our lives. There is a scripture that has been one that I’ve taught my girls from an early age: ‘To whom much is given much is required.’ In simpler terms, it means that everyone in this room has been immensely blessed, and it’s important to share those blessings with people who were given very little…all they need is a chance and someone to invest time, resources, and a little love…give some time to some young people, volunteer at your church or your organizations, go hang out at an inner city school. Just a little goes a long way in changing lives one at a time. You never know, we could have the next Einstein, or Maya Angelou…Last but not least, thank you Sundial…From empowering women to be entrepreneurs in Africa or constantly working in the communities that truly need it, the generosity and personal commitment of the owners of this company to make a difference are exceptional.”
Since 2014, Sundial’s Community Commerce efforts have resulted in almost 15,000 households in its Ghanaian Shea butter women’s cooperatives that now benefit from Community Commerce programs, including premium wages, infrastructure investments that have resulted in higher school attendance rates and more health insurance, and communities that have fresh piped water (increased from 0 to 13). In addition to its supply chain, among the Community Commerce efforts in the U.S. are programs that have allowed dozens of women and girls to receive full fellowships to top entrepreneurial programs at schools including Dartmouth Tuck School of Business and Babson College. In 2017, approximately $2 million is projected to be invested in Community Commerce programs based on sales of SheaMoisture’s Community Commerce collections, which reinvest 10% of sales into these efforts.
Passionate about community empowerment, Miss Tina also positively impacts the lives of thousands of people. She, her family and Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland along with St. John’s Church have built and established a center for young people known as The Knowles-Rowland Center for Youth located in Houston, Texas. In addition, the Knowles family established The Survivor Foundation in 2005 and co-sponsored the building of a transitional living center for individuals in need of temporary shelter and housing in Houston named Knowles-Temenos Place Apartments. In 2010, Miss Tina partnered with Beyoncé to create the Beyoncé Cosmetology Center at Phoenix House in New York City as a resource to empower women while providing them the life skills that would give them hope and a means of support after leaving the center.
With her husband – actor and acting coach, Richard Lawson – Miss Tina’s latest empowerment endeavor is the launch of the non-profit WACO (Where Art Can Occur) Theater Center in Los Angeles, which Sundial Brands has partnered with to help develop impactful community programming. WACO Theater Center is dedicated to empowering people and artists and supporting the building of healthy communities within Los Angeles and surrounding areas. It serves as a platform for artists to converge and ignite the passion that fuels their life and manifestation of their art. The launch kicks off with the first annual Wearable Art Gala, a charitable event at the California African American Museum (CAAM) on Saturday, April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles.
The Gala will introduce WACO Theater Center’s community mentorship programs, which include Tina’s Angels and Richard’s Warriors, a year-long program that focuses on providing girls and boys ages 12—15 with personal and professional development, education and other resources, and exposure to the arts as a means of empowerment and fostering creativity.
“Sometimes in people’s lives they just don’t have anyone they feel really cares about them,” says Miss Tina. “You don’t have to do anything big. You don’t have to have a lot of money. It’s the thought that counts. It’s not about how much money you spend or how much you give. My prayer for Tina’s Angels is that other people will start mentoring programs because it’s just so important to have mentors. The whole program is based on providing those experiences that will make the girls have a bigger and better life, and ultimately want more for themselves.”
In addition, WACO’s Mobile Theater program will utilize local parks, plazas and a variety of Los Angeles County public locations to bring theater to neighborhoods with limited access to professional live performances, reinforcing a core principle that art belongs to all.
For more information on WACO, including the Gala, Tina’s Angels and Richard’s Warriors mentoring program, and the Mobile Theater, visit www.wacotheatercenter.com/events/gala and http://wacotheatercenter.com/programs/.