Corporate Social Responsibility at the Intersection of Beauty and the Environment

This Vanity Fair cover from December 2014 used all Chantecaille products.

Luxury beauty is definitely not a niche market (the industry achieved $81B in sales this year). As far as luxury beauty goes, Chantecaille has added a layer into their brand that I think makes for the price to be more conscionable: every product that Chantecaille sells has an environmental program that it gives back to. This all began with one person. Sylvie Chantecaille had a dream about bringing together these different concepts and developed a product line in service of the environment and a deep appreciation for beauty. I think this should be celebrated. I am in awe of people who find their life’s passions and pursue it relentlessly. We need stories like this to remind us that we can create unique scenarios that seem less than possible and scale them. We need that kind of inspiration more than ever.

Chantecaille has integrated CSR into their business and operating model. It has also added a unique marketing dimension to its brand that is super appealing; all of the products include an animal on it, reminding the consumer of its commitment to the variety of environmental causes it commits funds to. For example, if it’s a lion, there’s a conservation charity or a coral reef is towards ocean health and sustainability. While this may not be at the social change scale that we need in the scope of how detrimental climate change is becoming, the fact that there is a luxury beauty brand entirely committed to this effort in a behemoth industry is quite remarkable.

Chantecaille continues to be a family owned business.

Oftentimes, CSR is on the periphery for companies; it almost acts as an accessory to the core offering. You see this very often in women’s retail. Women make up over 80% of all consumers (which means that CSR for women needs to be taken very seriously when you are orienting towards a female dominated market).

For example, there may be a contract partnership with a well known charity (Susan G. Komen for Wacoal Intimates) or perhaps it’s a larger part of the brand’s story like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in deep partnership with Estee Lauder. In fact, Sylvie Chantecaille previously worked with Estee Lauder and Diane von Furstenberg. It’s likely that Sylvie considered how she could create a beauty brand that integrated CSR in a way that’s never been done before.

Despite the myriad of partnership offerings, embedding CSR into the business model is less common. In my opinion, the future of CSR (and the future of many businesses) is including a dimension of sustainability to serve the increasingly socially aware consumer. Chantecaille serves as a wonderful example of this. I remember admiring the beautiful highlight palettes and eyeshadows at Neiman Marcus when I was little girl. I still have this same awe towards this brand. I hope the Chantecaille family continues making this wonderful impact for years to come.

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