Sheryl Kurland had just finished a bi-weekly workshop at SafeHouse, a domestic violence shelter in Seminole County, FL. Her training as a certified domestic violence advocate had given her the skills she needed to help the women take steps to move forward in their lives. Still, she wanted to do more. She wanted them to feel like the beautiful women she saw them as. To see themselves differently.
It was her mother’s voice she heard: “Sheryl, if you want to feel better, go put on a little lipstick.” Sheryl knew it was true – that little bit of color and self-care always perked her up. So, before her next workshop she went and bought enough new lipsticks to pass out to all the attendees. The result was beyond her imagination.
“It was like I took a magic wand to the room,” Kurland explained. “The women cheered up, they were laughing. There was joy. The pain was gone. The stress was gone and they sat there and they helped each other pick the right color. And then they sat there and they started having normal conversation. And I absolutely could not believe what I was seeing.”
Kurland brought the lipsticks to every workshop after that. The results were the same. Sheryl knew she was onto something and she decided it was something that needed to grow.
As one thing happened after another, Sheryl had an awakening. This was hers to do. And so, she set forth. Not exactly sure how but determined to do it. he followed the steps and in less than a year founded a 501 3c, Find Your Fabulosity.
Kurland, 64, recruited her girlfriends to join the board of directors. Other volunteers are women she’s met out giving talks about the effort. Women who related to the power of a lipstick. They come together to sort, pack and ship lipsticks to domestic violence shelters. They all want to make a difference in another woman’s life.
Her first goal was 60 lipsticks. Then it was 100. And 1,000. Then 15,000. To date Sheryl has distributed over 75,000 lipsticks to over 300 domestic violence shelters in all 50 of the United States.
The lipsticks come from women’s groups, Rotary Clubs, and businesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheryl expanded her list to include make-up manufacturers and beauty bloggers. The list of shelters started small as well, with Sheryl reaching out and asking, “Can we send you free lipsticks?” Little by little the idea circulated and now shelters apply online to be added to the distribution list to receive multiple boxes throughout the year.
Those same shelters send feedback about what the lipsticks mean to the women they serve. One woman wrote to say, “When I put on some lipstick, it makes me feel like I am actually free and like I can do or be anyone. And it makes me feel a little out of place but, at the same time, alive…it makes me feel like a brand-new person.”
Along the way there have been challenges, like a pandemic where everyone is wearing masks and not buying lipstick. But determination to make that difference keeps Sheryl going. “I’ve learned through time and experience and the wisdom I’ve gained, that rejection leads you to a better opportunity, and I always keep that in mind. There aren’t any big obstacles that we can’t overcome. There’s always a way.”
Helping other women remember their beauty has become Sheryl Kurland’s passion, her purpose, her mission. And that is something she believes we can all awaken to.
“If there’s something you want to do and you feel it in your heart, but you feel overwhelmed and you feel like it might be a little foolish or it might be a little outrageous, that means you need to do it. That’s what I would say to everyone who is Growing Bolder.”