Tackling the challenge of precarious living
In Japan, the same as in many other countries, many youths displaced by orphanage facilities tend to be in unstable employment environments. Knowing they do not have a family safety net, they are even more financially and emotionally vulnerable. Once they reach adulthood, at 18, young people are displaced from orphanage facilities, and out of associated legal protection. Young people from underprivileged backgrounds often face numerous hurdles in the pursuit of their studies, particularly in higher education, which inevitably affects their chances of earning a decent living.
The support provided by shu uemura is based on a firm belief: that combating the precariousness of young people’s lives would benefit Japanese society at large – including its future generations.
The initiative has its roots in the career of one man, Shu Uemura, the founder of the eponymous brand. In the 1950s, he worked as a makeup artist on Hollywood movie sets, making trips between the United States and Japan. He then began to teach the techniques he had learned in Hollywood to the makeup artists of his home country. This belief in teaching and passing on knowledge stayed with him throughout his life.
As he often said: “Education is the most rewarding of all”.
Following its founder’s belief, shu uemura decided in 2016 to launch a program to enable young men and women to gain their power of self-expression by learning beauty skills and knowledge. As a brand initially created for professional make-up artists, the idea of helping the make-up artists of the future has an undeniable appeal.
A job with a future
The other program consists of a study grant for young people who want to be make-up artists or hair stylists and covers the full cost of studying for two or three years at the Tokyo Mode Gakuen fashion school in the Japanese capital. The grant includes the tuition fees, living expenses and the cost of materials.
At the same time, the brand also donates cosmetic products to underprivileged youth displaced from orphanage facilities via a not-for-profit organization, as well as to the beauty school, and to Mode Gakuen, which admits students discharged from such orphanage facilities, with scholarships from shu uemura.
A partnership for action
To deliver these programs, shu uemura teamed up with a Japanese not-for-profit organization, Bridge for Smile (B4S), that helps young people who have been displaced from orphanage facilities to study and to find a job, once they reach the age of 18 and leave the facilities.
The aim of B4S is for every young person to follow their dream, and not to lose hope of having a promising future, even if they have grown up in a difficult environment. The support from B4S aims to help them be financially independent and to build up their self-confidence.
The organization acts as the link between shu uemura and orphanage facilities, enabling the brand to offer programs, solutions and practical help to the adolescents living there.
This initiative is perfectly aligned with the personal philosophy of shu uemura, who said:
If you think of a year, plant a flower
if you think of a decade, plant a tree
if you think of your lifetime, educate people.