Beauty Night

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a finalist.

Beauty Night

Vancouver and Surrey, CanadaVancouver, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Beauty Night promotes self-esteem and changes lives through three streams of programming: lifeskills development, wellness programs and makeovers.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Beauty Night attempts to address is the cycle of generational poverty, violence, mental ill health and addiction that many vulnerable women and youth who experience low self-esteem and isolation live in. The state of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is well known: a study of BC Women's Hospital and Health Center in Vancouver showed more than 80% of female sex trade workers who've mental health issues and or addictions have dealt with violence in their lives. The building bridges workshop held in Jan 2008 identified that women centered care is vital for women with mental health and addiction problems. The average age of entry into street life in BC is only 12; many of the women that Beauty Night serves haven’t had a childhood in which to develop healthy interests and relationships.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Beauty Night provides a valuable way for women to re-develop the trust, self-worth and self-motivation necessary for life change. It is our goal to help our participants develop the inner strength to make and follow through on choices that foster healthy personal, social and financial self-determination by: - Providing make-over services to foster positive self-image, motivate inner self-renewal and reintroduce healthy touch - Providing a tangible community support system, promoting individual and group self-help situations - Conducting informal individual sessions to promote self-understanding, improve self-image and develop self-care skills. - Providing yoga, acupuncture, reiki, foot care, massage, walk/runs, dance, arts and crafts, journaling, child-minding, access to community nurses, and an opportunity to participate in a ‘Self Management and Recovery Therapy’ group, in a safe community environment
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Beauty Night’s makeover program serves as a bridge to help women join the community – feeling good about yourself helps build the confidence needed to share yourself with others. One participant reported that "for the first time in my life, socially I fit in. I've got a group of people I can relate to and who finally give me the feedback that they can relate to me". Moreover, the makeover program enables participants a small yet treasured degree of choice over their lives, acknowledging and allowing the expression of their individual values and aspirations. Beauty Night “brought out the beauty in me” one participant remarked. This helps empower participants to make positive life changes. For instance, many participants show enough improvement to become volunteers with us (~20% of volunteers are past participants) and use that experience to secure employment and improved housing. Moreover, the trust and motivation that Beauty Night inspires gives our volunteers a unique ability to both detect health and safety concerns and help participants become ready to accept referrals. We partner with community wellness programs, and travel to over a dozen different shelters, introducing our participants to different services and helping them feel safe accessing new services. For instance, over 200 women have gotten pap smears at Beauty Night’s through partnership with the LACE campaign.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We’re the only organization to provide free facials, manicures, make-up, acupuncture, yoga and massage in the downtown eastside, and the only to regularly provide haircuts and footcare. No other organization offers such a broad array of programs under one roof, yet doing so is key to helping women feel comfortable trying something new. We’re also unique in focusing on what our participants want – by doing so, we humanize and empower participants. In contrast, women have no choice about what they receive at most charities, often being treated in an assembly line. Finally, Beauty Night provides a rare opportunity for volunteers to really talk to and get to know participants – many other volunteer opportunities in the downtown eastside involve simply handing out or sorting donations.

Founding Story

Caroline MacGillivray was researching for an acting part playing a survival sex worker by volunteering serving meals in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. One evening, she saw a women in the corner, looking bedraggled and like she was just about cry. The woman was struggling to curl her hair, but her arms were stiff from injury and she couldn’t reach over her head. When Caroline offered to help, the woman was touched and astounded that Caroline would care so much about simply what she wanted. The other women present noticed what Caroline had done and soon it seemed they all wanted Caroline to do their hair and make-up. Many remarked about how nice it was to have someone not be afraid to touch them, and touch them without wanting anything in return. They remarked upon how nice it was to not be invisible and to feel others acknowledge your dignity. Caroline realized that if she could make this much of an impact alone, the impact of a group acting towards the same cause could be enormous
About You
Beauty Night Society
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Beauty Night Society

Organization Country

, BC, Vancouver

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Vancouver and Surrey

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact


How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Equity.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

Beauty Night builds self-esteem and change lives through three streams of programming: lifeskills development, wellness and makeovers. Over the next year, we aim to develop a sustainable foundation for our recent growth: over the last year we grew from serving 100 to 200 women a week. We surveyed Beauty Night participants to gauge how we could best serve this greater number of participants. Wellness and art programs were both in high demand; in response, we aim to facilitate a wider range of art therapy projects and increase the availability of acupuncture, foot care and massage services. We’re also collaborating with the Three Bridges Community Health Centre to start a ‘Self Management and Recovery Therapy’ Group

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Over the last 12 years we’ve given over 16,000 life makeovers. Over the last year alone we’ve trained over 250 new volunteers and received 7000 hours of volunteered time. Over the last two years we’ve increased our programming from two to four evenings a week; twice a week we are at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and the other two evenings rotate amongst over a dozen different women’s shelters in Vancouver and Surrey. For the Holidays, Beauty Night organized 1500 hand sewn and decorated stockings filled with wellness and self-esteem related goodies and delivered them to marginalized women. Similarly for Valentines Day we produced and delivered 700 gift bags. All this Beauty Night accomplishes with only a single paid employee. Our mission and impact have attracted worldwide media attention, including through CTV, CBS, CityTV, Global National, CBC and Xinhuanet, a publication and TV station in China

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

We aim to have built a sustainable foundation for our Vancouver programs (continuing to serve over 200 women a week) and to have used that foundation as a model to further develop Beauty Night pilot projects in Surrey, Prince George and Victoria. We aim for the mission of Beauty Night to be well known in the community, media and government, inspiring new community partnerships in other cities. We also aim to continue mission-based management; key to Beauty Night’s success is not just the services we provide but why we provide them – it’s our mission and vision that guide how each participant is welcomed at Beauty Night. It’s thus critical to us to maintain this spirit of Beauty Night throughout our growth by inspiring leaders in Vancouver and other cities to believe in Beauty Night’s cause

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Potential barriers include maintaining enough funding to match the growth of our programs; this we aim to overcome by developing a signature fundraiser, increasing our business networking for third party event fundraising, and training our volunteers and board in fostering community partnerships. Another potential barrier is the limited number of ‘behind-the-scenes’ volunteers we have; many volunteers are interested in helping, but we’ve had limited capacity to orient them and guide their help. We’re addressing this need by developing a committee structure in which our board members can provide mentorship and direction to new volunteers, enabling more volunteers to help behind the scenes. This also allows our board members to more efficiently use their expertise and their time

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Increased awareness of mission and recruitment and training of the volunteers we need to sustain our recent growth.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Board of Directors orientation retreat and strategic planning retreat

Task 2

Recruit and train additional frontlines volunteers particularly for yoga, footcare and acupuncture

Task 3

Recruit and train additional members for operations committee and fundraising & promotions committee

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Increased annual revenue to sustain our recent growth and established organizational framework to continue growing our resources

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Organize signature fundraiser

Task 2

Have volunteers and board of directors complete friend raising program and work to increase our community partnerships

Task 3

Amend bylaws to reflect improved organizational structure, based on the reflections from the board strategic planning retreat

Tell us about your partnerships

Partners for third party events, volunteers and donations include AG Hair Cosmetics, Beauty Council, LuvNGrace Entertainment, Smell This Aromatherapy, Lord's Shoes, Blanche MacDonald Centre, Lush Charity Pot, Future Hair School, BC Hydro, Downtown Networking Association, Showoff 2012, Barre Fitness, JuJu Salon, Connect Health and the UBC Community Learning Initiative. The DTES Women’s Centre and the Public Library donate space. Our accountant donates his professional services. Girl Guides and Elementary and High students decorate and sew Christmas stockings for our participants

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

In addition to the Vancouver’s downtown eastside, Beauty Night also holds events in Surrey four times a year and has run pilot projects in Prince George. The purpose of these projects has been to assess what potential partnerships exist for us in those communities, and assess how the local population and organizations would receive our programs. Feedback was positive, and we continue to aim to expand beyond Vancouver

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Beauty Night’s welcoming atmosphere and the opportunity to hear touching and inspiring stories from our participants make volunteering both fun and meaningful, increasing volunteer retention and recruitment. Our Executive Director effectively recognizes volunteer’s strengths and limitations, finding ways for a diverse spectrum of people to meaningfully contribute, feel included and feel appreciated. Thanks to this, our mission based management, and the engagement of our leadership in networking, Beauty Night has built a large network of contacts. This allowed Beauty Night to assemble the diverse expertise of its board, and function with only a single paid employee. More of our resources thus go directly to programming

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Beauty Night has a large network of contacts; we would be happy to help others connect and to extend our own connections. We’re also happy to share our ideas and experience with those who might benefit from them.