In Aotearoa, more than two lipsticks a minute are purchased. If those lipsticks were indigo & iris lipsticks, 50% of the profits of each of those lipsticks would be going directly to Dress for Success - and, in the process, supporting amazing kiwi women.
Have a read of Cindy’s story below and you’ll see why this is the organisation that we are choosing to support with our second, life-changing, beauty product. This is a success story from Dress for Success Christchurch.
Cindy is an extrovert. Attractive, bubbly, articulate the 41-year-old is a popular presenter at various women’s forums where she both inspires and motivates - it is hard to believe that two-years ago Cindy could not even talk to a check-out operator.
Hers is the story of an extreme emotional makeover; of hitting rock-bottom-completely drained of any self-esteem or emotional resources before making the decision that she either sank completely or swam.
Sitting down to tell her story, Cindy says if anyone else was telling the same story she actually wouldn’t believe them – the blows life dealt seemed unrelenting, but somehow, she both survived and eventually thrived.
the blows life dealt seemed unrelenting, but somehow, she both survived and eventually thrived.
Growing up in Christchurch, her childhood wasn’t easy and while she did well academically, she left school feeling that she wasn’t quite good enough. This led to some poor relationship decisions, and Cindy ultimately found herself a solo mother of four boys, via messy break-ups, women’s shelters and safe houses.
Finally getting her youngest son off to school, Cindy thought she would be able to get her life back on track and put more time and energy into the cleaning business she had started up-but it was all about to unravel.
The earthquakes happened and during this time her eldest son – then 14 - was involved in a vicious incident at a party - which he had sneaked out the window to attend. The aftermath sent him spiralling out of control with self-destructive behaviour including drugs and alcohol.
Not long after, her second son Thomas, who had been born with a kidney condition and had compromised kidney function, was diagnosed with cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Cindy says she knew something was seriously wrong with him and returned to her GP three times in one week before her worst fears were confirmed. The diagnosis came back on a Friday night and Thomas, then just 12, was immediately admitted to hospital.
“The initial shock was the thought that my son has got cancer, the second shock was the treatment protocol – three and a half years if he survives to see it through.”
As Cindy says, she had one son trying to kill himself with drugs and alcohol, the other fighting for his life.
she had one son trying to kill himself with drugs and alcohol, the other fighting for his life.
“The doctors told me to get my diary and throw it out the window and that’s what it was like.”
Three months into the treatment an associated injury saw Thomas on life-support but he recovered and Cindy settled into the routine of being a “cancer mum.”
Seeing the struggles his brother was going through, her eldest son, now a general manager of a hairdressing chain, turned his life around.
In the midst of it all, Cindy found herself in a relationship which didn’t last. Without another adult contributing to the rent, Cindy was trying to pay a weekly rent of $420 from a $411 benefit- and spending every day in the oncology unit at Christchurch hospital.
She applied for – and got – a Housing NZ home, but it did mean her two sons, who were still in school had to change schools, for one of them that was the last straw. He made the decision to go and live with this father in Auckland.
“I had always tried to keep my boys together and have a sense of unity but in the end, I had to let him go. “That’s when I hit rock bottom, my family had been torn apart.”
She told herself she was a loser but thought she could at least be a loser who tried.
“I just thought that if it doesn’t work out then I’ll know that I’m definitely a loser.” Cindy had seen the Next Steps Centre for Women at Ara Polytechnic and while designed for women like her, even getting to the door was just a step too far for Cindy.
“I had been out of reality for so long, I had to get a social worker to escort me to the course I was so scared.”
Incrementally, Cindy’s self-esteem started growing and she actually began to see a future for herself and her family. One of the turning points was when she was being prepared for job interviews as part of the First Steps programme. She was given access to Christchurch’s Dress for Success, which provides women from disadvantaged backgrounds with an outfit and support to attend a job interview as a step toward financial independence.
Cindy admits to being so terrified of going to Dress for Success that she didn’t sleep for three nights. “I hadn’t been in a fitting room for 10 years – and my self-esteem was still so low.”
“In the cancer ward I just wore track pants, that was as pretty as it got. I don’t think I saw a hairbrush for years.”
The visit turned out to be a life-changing experience. Cindy left not only with a whole new outfit but with new-found confidence. “The women were amazing. I told them I had an issue and they really respected me.” This confidence - and the outfit - allowed her to apply for voluntary work to build up her experience.
She was then approached by Ara to work in their work skills programme and while she questioned why on earth they would want her- she took on the job. In lovely synchronicity, Cindy has since been able to take her students back to Dress for Success to give them the same life-changing experience that she had. “I just love seeing their faces light up and be treated like ladies.”
While Cindy’s life has transformed, it was not without challenges. While Thomas’s cancer is in remission the treatment damaged his eyes and subsequent surgery didn’t go well. Earlier this year Cindy broke her wrist in fall which did knock her back, but she is now working again and most importantly her boys are doing well and she has her family back together.
While she admits she had written herself off, she had always seen her role as a mother as being the single most important aspect of her life.
“I have failed at so many things but the one thing I haven’t failed at is being a mother.”
Cindy’s advice for other women who are struggling is to reach out and use the support services available to them. This includes Work and Income New Zealand, Next Steps courses and of course Dress for Success who have branches around the country.
She is determined to help empower women, who like her, believe they are worthless and have no quality of life. “Surround yourself with support. I didn’t have the financial resources but I did have the support of Dress for Success and the women at Ara’s Next Step course.
“There is a lot of help out there but you have to want it.”
This is why we are doing what we are doing. Imagine if - with your next lipstick purchase - you could support women like Cindy. Join us on our mission to revolutionise the make-up industry by purchasing your next lipstick from a beauty brand who gives a damn.
About indigo & iris
Bonnie and Hannah had a dream. A dream to create a beauty brand where all the products were beautiful, vegan, cruelty-free and ethically made. The products would be sold to conscious consumers and 50% of the profits would be donated to different charities.
In 2018 we saw our dream becoming a reality when we launched our first life-changing product, levitate mascara. Since then we have been selling levitate online and in a few stores around New Zealand, donating profits, and so far helping restore sight to over 300 people.
We're not yet a fully-fledged beauty brand. We are a mascara company. In order to create more impact, we need to launch more… we need to launch more products. However, the minimum order quantity from our amazing Italian suppliers (the same people who make our levitate mascara) is very high. Unfortunately, as an independent beauty start-up, we don’t have that amount of cash in the bank to swipe first & pay later. We have decided to give crowdfunding another go and give our amazing community the chance to pre-order the lipsticks.
Our lipsticks are going to be amazing for you but also for the world!
50% of the profits from the lipsticks will be donated to Dress for Success. When our customers voted for our next impact project to be one that was addressing poverty in New Zealand we knew we also wanted to find a charity that empowered women. We asked our good friend Claire to help us with some research. She presented many different amazing charities that did just what we were looking for but one stood out.
Many people will be most familiar with Dress for Success, as an organisation that provides women in need, returning to the workforce with outfits to help give them confidence during a job interview. But, as you can see from Cindy’s story, this organisation does so much more.
The work they do does not just help the women in need, it helps their families and their community. The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women in need to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women in need to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
Dress for Success empowers women in three different ways:
- Suiting - they help women choose an interview outfit from the Dress for Success wardrobe (for free), including accessories and makeup. They also provide guidance and support for the upcoming interview.
- Employment Retention - they help women remain employed, providing them with strategies to nurture their professional growth.
- Career Centre - the programs run at the Career Centres help eliminate the frustrating obstacles that may arise during a search for employment. Women meet regularly to support and encourage each other through building confidence, networking and discussing workplace-related topics.
Stories like Cindy’s are why we are trying to launch our next product and why 50% of our profits will be donated to this incredible organisation.