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Makeup artist Laura Mercier and Claudia Poccia have teamed up to fight ovarian cancer by setting up a foundation, The Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund, and developing two new products to raise money for the effort.
This story first appeared in the August 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Laura and I have a very personal connection to the disease, and we felt that we came together for a reason and that we are meant to be on this mission together because it has touched us both so deeply and personally,” said Poccia, who is chief executive officer of Gurwitch Products, parent company of Mercier’s beauty brand. “We want to make a difference.”
Poccia was referring to her sister, Laura Murray, who died of the disease more than a year ago at age 39. In addition, Mercier’s close friend, Ranee Flynn, who works at the company as a cosmetics design consultant, has been battling the disease for three years. “We felt like this is a cancer which really needs more education, more awareness, more time in the forefront,” Poccia continued. “We felt that we should do our part to raise the awareness, fund research and support those people who are battling the disease every single day.”
Awareness is a critical issue because in the past the disease has been difficult to detect at an early stage. “Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women,” she continued, quoting American Cancer Society estimates that 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year and 15,500 women will die of the disease. The high mortality rate is apparently caused, in part, by the lateness of detection.
The organization is being launched now to coincide with the start of Ovarian Cancer Month on Saturday. Mercier created two makeup products — a Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks Crème Colour Palette, priced at $48, and a Lip Glacé in Rose Hope for $24.
The products will be merchandised on a countertop display unit that will be used throughout Mercier’s retail distribution of 764 doors in the U.S. and Canada, including Sephora Canada and Holt Renfrew.
The founders say 100 percent of the profits from the sale of the products will be donated. Two partner organizations have been selected as recipients: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which has received an initial $100,000 donation, and Cancer and Careers, a program run by Cosmetic Executive Women that helps patients carry on with their work while fighting the disease. That program was given an initial $25,000.
The company donated an initial $100,000 to the fund. Ultimately, the goal is to raise $500,000. “One day we hope to do for ovarian cancer what our industry colleagues have done for breast cancer,” Poccia noted.
To promote the effort, 800,000 ribbons colored in teal, the symbol of the ovarian cancer fight, will be distributed. Laura Mercier will maintain a teal-emblazoned micro Web site that will convey information, provide donation instructions and sell the merchandise that benefits the fund. A QR code, printed on a public service ad, will enable consumers to find the fund’s mobile app, which is also meant to educate and encourage donations. Mercier worked with Patrick Demarchelier to produce the public service print ad that will appear in 11 women’s publications.
Douglas A. Levine, head of the Gynecology Research Laboratory at Sloan-Kettering, said “a game changer” of a breakthrough has been made in the last 10 years in terms of being able to detect the disease earlier. Scientists have uncovered evidence that the cancer originates from the fallopian tubes, not the ovaries, as originally thought. It is easier to spot tumors in the fallopian tubes, and the tubes can be removed without endangering the patient, robbing the disease of a home site. “I am an optimist,” he said, adding that there are now improved treatments to prolong the lives of women with the illness.