A sought-after model who has worked for all of the major magazines, Czech beauty Petra Nemcova is also a model humanitarian. After surviving the catastrophic 2004 tsunami that ravaged Thailand, Nemcova established the Happy Hearts Fund, which rebuilds schools in areas devastated by natural disaster, in 2006. Joining Nemcova and the Happy Hearts Fund's plight to help those in need is Clinique and its popular fragrance, Happy Heart, which has been specially repackaged for the partnership. For each $37 bottle sold, Clinique will donate $10 to the Happy Hearts Fund.
To launch the initiative in Miami, Nemcova made stops at Bloomingdale’s in Aventura and Macy's in Dadeland. Here, we learn more about the Happy Hearts Fund, and its partnership with Clinique, in a conversation with Nemcova and Clinique vice president of global communications CeCe Coffin.
Was it challenging to get the Happy Hearts Fund up and running?
PETRA NEMCOVA: Since I started without having any background in philanthropy, you are learning on the go. One of the most important lessons was to focus. Without focus you can't really tackle a challenge and create tangible results.
It seems like a very grassroots effort, but a hugely successful one.
PN: Showing a clear mission, tangible measurable results, and having zero percent administration costs, all help to engage people. They see there is purity in it. We've been growing in supporters internationally and are establishing local boards in Indonesia and other countries. We raise funds in the U.S. and Europe, but the funds are leveraged through organizations in the countries where we rebuild schools. It gets people within the country involved in rebuilding their own school, which is very important to us.
As someone who helps survivors of tragedy, what are your thoughts on the Sandy Hook school shooting? How does the healing process begin?
PN: The pain they are going through must be unbearable. It's so hard to wrap your head around it because it should not have happened. My heart goes out to the families and the whole community. We see families losing their children through natural disasters and there are no words that can make it better, only love and care. Tragedy creates very special bonds that will be there forever and I hope they find the strength within each other.
How did the partnership with Clinique come to be?
PN: It came like a blessing from the sky! [Laughs] Clinique had been talking with their consultants about what they care about most and the results were education and education for children. So that was one of the synergies and philosophies we share. We have similar brand identities and with Clinique already having a Happy Hearts perfume, there were many touch points that were alike.
CECE COFFIN: We knew whoever we were going to align with that there had to be authenticity and passion and the education initiative. The minute we met Petra and Happy Heart's executive director Phil Caputo and they talked to us about their mission and where they were going, there was just a mutual respect for each other.
Can you describe the scent of Happy Hearts?
PN: It is sweet with notes of mandarin orange, water lily, and geranium. The new packing is representative of both brands with hearts drawn by children. The perfume is now pink and orange and when you align the four boxes side-by-side, the hearts connect. It is a reminder that your heart is connected to those of the children you are helping.
What other goals do you have for this partnership?
CC: There is a lot to accomplish and huge opportunities here. We will continue to develop employee engagement programs and we think we will roll out globally—right now the perfume is only available in North America. This is just the beginning of the journey for us. We're just excited.
PN: I go to New York tomorrow for one night, then for a few hours to London, then to Thailand, and then to the Czech Republic to visit my family.
CC: She's unbelievable. Talk about a woman who is committed.
We agree. And speaking of travel, what are your on the go beauty rituals?
PN: Obviously drinking lots of water is important. Clinique's All About The Eyes serum is also one of my secrets. I've also narrowed it down to traveling only with carry-ons; I can't be bothered with too much stuff, even if the trip is two or three weeks. People who travel a lot are at risk for getting blood clots, so I eat dark berries or beetroots before a flight to thin my blood. I always have a large scarf—it's my sweater, my dress, my everything.