My Mission: Empowerment through Beauty
In January 2008, I was halfway through my hour-and-a-half commute when I shifted in my seat and the button of my pants popped off.
For years I had known that I had let myself go and it was taking a toll on me physically and mentally. This was one of the lowest points in my life, and I felt so unhappy about myself.
I kept telling myself that I would turn this around, but struggled to find the motivation to jumpstart the process.
The button popping-off provided the motivation I needed. That evening, with the loose button in hand, I made a commitment to feel better about myself by embracing a healthier lifestyle.
I started with improving my diet, including ditching my emotional eating — the monstrous, loaded baked potato I was having for lunch four times a week and the pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk I had for dessert at least three times a week.
Once I had my diet under control, I started exercising, focusing on two activities I found I genuinely enjoy: yoga and running.
While I was pleased with the improvements to my appearance, there was something much bigger. I felt better mentally, more confident and empowered to lift myself out of the rut I’d found myself in.
Friends and colleagues took notice of my transformation and new outlook on life. They started coming to me privately and sharing their personal stories with me.
They asked for my advice on how to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. I was honored when women actually followed my advice and fulfilled when they updated me on their progress.
It was at this point that I decided I wanted to share my journey and experiences with more women. I wanted to do what I could to instill in other women the same empowerment I gained through my healthier lifestyle.
I recognized that the journey to wellness and empowerment is multi-faceted, so I looked for the best way that I could contribute. As it turned out, for me, skin care was a natural fit.
While some may view skin care as a superficial aspect of a journey to wellness and empowerment, time and again women have told me how important healthy, beautiful skin is to them and how it improves their confidence, and for good reason — it’s one of the first things we notice about each other.
I have always been passionate about skin care and make-up. It was not until I adopted my healthier lifestyle and committed to having it carry over to all aspects of my life, however, that I started to scrutinize the ingredients in the skin care products I was using.
I found many of the skin care products incorporated ingredients that were not necessarily good for my skin, while many of the “all natural products” did not deliver the results I wanted.
So, I set out on a quest to formulate skin care products that combine the best of nature and science. In 2009, I left my job as an employment attorney and took the plunge to start My.
For the next two years, I immersed myself in skin care. I attended skin care conferences around the world, and I spent days and nights studying the science underlying skin care.
My quest for results-oriented botanicals took me back to the Philippines, where I was born and raised until I was 16. There, I found Pili and Moringa oils, which I learned are restorative oils that have exceptional skin care benefits.
To accomplish my mission of empowering women, it was essential that My’s products are effective. Knowing the ingredients I wanted to use, I teamed up with a skin care scientist in the U.S. to formulate My’s products.
I launched My’s first product line in March 2012, and I am now thrilled when women tell me the significant improvements My’s products have had on their skin and the boost in confidence they’ve experienced.
Along the way, I also realized I could use My as a vehicle to empower women in ways far beyond the benefits of healthy skin.
Having emigrated from the Philippines to the United States at the age of 16, I wanted to give back to these two countries that mean so much to me.
In the Philippines, My is working to empower women farmers who harvest and extract the Pili oil used in My’s products through programs that help them take control of their lives and destiny long after other donation methods might otherwise run out.
My has provided the Pili farmers with seedlings and planting materials, as well as training in sustainable farming. My also has entered into long-term contracts with individual farmers to provide them and their families with a stable source of income.
In the United States, My is working to empower women (and men) with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). My has partnered with Best Buddies International, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with IDD. This cause is personal to me because my late sister had cerebral palsy.
I particularly love the Best Buddies Jobs program, which empowers individuals with IDD by providing them ongoing support and training to attain and maintain jobs and the opportunity to earn an income.
In support of Best Buddies, My is donating to Best Buddies 50% of the proceeds from all purchases at www.makemyours.com through September 8, 2012. My also is sponsoring the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle. As My grows, I look forward to participating in Best Buddies Jobs.
Notably, I also hope My can expand the definition of beauty and promote a society which is more accepting of people with IDD.
My mission to empower women drives every decision I make, and I feel blessed to have found a way to pursue this mission.
Tessa Yutadco is the founder of My, a socially responsible skin care brand. Having immigrated to the U.S. when she was 16, Tessa went from working the early morning shift at a bakery in San Francisco and attending night school, to graduating with from Georgetown University and becoming a lawyer, and now living her dream of owning her own business. When she’s not working or with her family, you will find Tessa blissfully wandering the local farmers markets, having a cup of tea or bonding with girlfriends.