Nikos Mouyiaris, the founder and owner of beauty supplier and contract manufacturer Mana Products, has come up with a new twist on charitable giving — provide hard-pressed families with the means to help themselves.
This story first appeared in the August 10, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As a down-to-earth grassroots philanthropist with the instincts of a revolutionary, Mouyiaris contends that one of the ways to ease income inequality is by providing employment to neighborhood people through the establishment of local cooperative businesses, thereby helping communities to flourish. He has produced a 220-stockkeeping-unit color cosmetics brand, called Make, that will be sold on the internet, beginning Oct. 15.
The Make collection runs the gamut of product categories, ranging from eye shadows, lipsticks, mascara and foundation to primers, moisturizers and makeup removers, along with brushes and tools. Price points range from $5 to $42, including a $15 lipstick. Like other collaborations with artists that Mana has fostered in the past to incubate brands, the Make collection drew upon the diverse talents of makeup artist Ayami Nishimura and London-based interior and furniture designer Faye Toogood. They teamed to create an eight-sku capsule assortment, called the New Medieval Collection, as part of Make. Their participation is for one year, and Mouyiaris said he is thinking about bringing in another team, say a female disc jockey and interior designer, to create products next year. Mouyiaris said he also is thinking of creating other cosmetics brands and products, as well as merchandise from outside of the world of beauty to sell on the portal.
The creative director on the Make brand is Ariana Mouyiaris, Nikos’ daughter, who works in London. She is one of about 20 top executives and staffers at Mana’s Long Island City, N.Y., headquarters who developed not only the makeup line, but also the Weseebeauty.com Web site to serve as a sales and marketing platform for the brand. One third of all dollar sales will be poured into a nonprofit organization, called the We See Beauty Foundation, that will create the neighborhood businesses.
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Mouyiaris said the first venture has been targeted: a cleaning service co-op based in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. He envisions the pilot co-op not only performing cleaning services, but manufacturing and marketing natural household products that will be retailed through a store located in another Brooklyn neighborhood. The co-op and the store will be named Do Good/Be Beautiful. He estimates that the co-op will initially employe 15 to 20 people and be operational by January.
Mouyiaris hopes the effort, if successful enough, will spark a movement, as other entrepreneurs follow suit.
Not one to think small, Mouyiaris said, “You empower the family; you empower the community and eventually you make the country better.”
He recalled memories from his childhood in the village of Athienou in his native Cyprus, in which neighborhood women would gather in the square with their sewing machines and make articles of clothing to sell and help support their families.
Mouyiaris stated, “I have seen how women with an entrepreneurial spirit can work together to create a better life for their families and communities. I want to provide a way that women everywhere can have the means to start a business, become a stakeholder and help benefit their community. I believe that creating cooperative businesses is the way for us to move forward, to live in a just and harmonious society with more equitability, more hope and more opportunities.”