Victoria’s Secret’s Pink is aiming for a higher purpose.
The lingerie brand, sister to Victoria’s Secret, is launching its third annual Pink With Purpose project, awarding financial assistance to young women and men to help them make positive changes within their communities.
“It’s important to empower young adults and that includes women,” Amy Hauk, chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret’s Pink, told WWD. “We want to empower these collegiate students to pursue their dreams and give them confidence and the ability to do so, because there are so many roadblocks being a young person these days.”
While Pink’s target audience is college women, Hauk said all genders are eligible to apply for the scholarship between Feb. 16 and 28. Applicants submit a proposal by way of the Pink Nation app on how they will promote social issues, such as sustainability, diversity, mental health and female empowerment, to improve their communities. A panel of seven judges — R&B singers and sisters Chloe x Halle; YouTube personal trainer Chloe Ting; cofounder of mental health advocacy group Love Is Louder Courtney Knowles; founder of nonprofit Aid the Journey and former Pink With Purpose winner Kennedy Walls, and Pink campus rep alum Valerie Kan, along with Hauk — will select 15 winners, each of whom will receive $25,000.
“We like to think [Pink] is more than just a commerce vehicle; we like to say ‘cause-mmerce,’” Hauk said. “It’s a term we coined that says we’re not just about being a commercial business. Our customer wants to support brands that do more than just sell products. So, it’s about combining commerce and causes into one kind of unified package — whether that’s sustainability, mental health — consumers know that by supporting Pink and being involved with Pink they can also support causes that they care about. So people that are representing those values of what matters to the Gen Z consumer, that’s what we’re looking for.
“And with the Pink with Purpose project and with all of our involvement in the community, we’re trying to say, no matter who you are and what you stand for, everyone matters,” Hauk continued. “And to help empower people to pursue their dreams.”
The message stands in stark contrast to sister brand Victoria’s Secret once overtly sexy line-up of near-perfect models. A brand — which falls under the same umbrella at parent company’s L Brands as Pink — that was accused of catering to the male gaze and is still embroiled in accusations of sexual harassment and a culture of misogyny, despite its recent efforts to rebrand.
But, Hauk said Pink is turning over a new leaf.
“You can always do something sooner; you can always do something better. But to do nothing is never the right answer,” she explained. “The group at Pink feels very passionately across every single person that is part of this team that making a difference matters. So, we’re focused on looking forward, listening to our customer and delivering on her expectations.
“You could say, better late than never. But, how about not using that as a reason not to do something,” Hauk continued. “We’re passionate about these subjects. As a team, we crafted a platform around what she really cares about. And Victoria’s Secret and the board have been supportive of these initiatives. And I can’t speak to what happened before I came on board, but I can passionately speak to what we believe in now and what we’re marching toward.”
To date, more than 9,000 people have applied for the program over the last two years, with Pink donating roughly $450,000. Hauk anticipates that number will grow to about 6,000 applicants this time around.
In addition to the grant money, this year’s winners, which will be announced in April, will also have the chance to be featured across Pink’s social media channels and participate in company mentorship programs. To apply, applicants need to submit a video of three minutes or less, explaining how they would use the award money to further social issues with their communities.
“There’s no defined, strict [time] commitment for winners,” Hauk said. “But we do work with them and we want to maintain the relationships and watch as they grow and flourish in their careers or whatever choices they make. We like to think that all winners are permanent members of the Pink family.”