Cosmetics for Social Change
When I started making the lipsticks I did not think that anyone would take pay attention to the shades I was wearing. I just saw them as something I needed to make for myself because I couldn’t find lipsticks in store that suited my sensitive lips. I was surprised when my family and friends became intrigued about the lipsticks I was wearing. They wanted to know where I got them, so when I told them that I didn’t buy them and I made them from scratch from natural ingredients, they were shocked. They would look at me for a minute, look at the lip shade, then back at me and say, “That makes sense, because I’ve never seen a shade like that in stores.” Soon, a few friends and family asked me to create a few samples for them to try. Then I started getting more requests from more of my female friends saying, “Please, make more! We want to buy more!”. Not long after that I found myself catering to their requests and making them lipsticks on my spare time. The more I made them, the more I thought about the harmful toxins/chemicals found in mainstream makeup and how women, like me, who get allergic reactions from these ingredients and women who do not get allergic reactions should have access to affordable, safe, and healthy cosmetics, that is good for our skin. This initial thought led me to create Sincerely Ciera Payton. Even with this thought, another thought kept looming in the back of my head: Make up should make a person feel good in their skin, but it should do and spread good… to our youth.
For years now, I have been giving back to underprivileged youth. I give back to them because…I was one of them. I was an underprivileged inner-city girl in an underserved community that was surrounded by drugs and alcohol at home and on the streets. In order to escape the pain that all these things brought into my life, I turned to the arts. The arts became my best friend that helped me cope with the pain I suffered in my youth. It allowed me to develop life skills. It gave me the freedom to express my emotions, my mind, and my soul. It said to me, “ Be you.” To this day, it allows me to express my authentic self. I cannot imagine my life without it. I know that if it had not been for the arts, I would not be where I am today. Most of all, I would not be who I am today. Being a witness of how the arts transformed my life, I knew that I wanted to show and share to underprivileged youth the power of the arts. So, I set up an acting and creative writing workshop based on my woman show, Michael’s Daughter and named it the Michael’s Daughter Project, because I realized that my story, was not my story to keep, it was their story, it was everyone’s story. Through this workshop I am able to work with and inspire underprivileged youth. I give them a safe space to express themselves. They are able to share their stories, their hopes, their dreams, and find their voices. They are able to experience the freedom and the power of the arts. I just don’t want only the youth that I work with to experience this power, I want all underprivileged youth to experience it. I want them to see and know that art is a beacon of hope that can help them find their own power to take them out of their darkness and into the light. For them to understand, know, and believe that they are not their environment. Where they are now, is not where they will be and does not define who they will be in the future. And that is why a portion of all sales from my cosmetics will go to art education programs geared toward the empowerment of inner-city-at risk youth. I believe that all youth should have a place or have an activity that gives them the freedom to express themselves. For anyone who buys my products, not only will they feel like a queen, they will be a queen because they will have a hand in helping change a child’s life.
I may be an actress, but I am a firm believer that there is something that we can all do to benefit another human being. What will you do?