Illustrations by Hannah Robinson

PERF: empowering beauty products emphasising each individuals’ worth

PERF is a vegan and organic lifestyle brand, based in Edinburgh and London, that believes in celebrating the inner beauty within everyone.

Growing up and working in London in the media and marketing industry, Sophie felt her life lacked a sense of meaning. Attempting to address this inner void, Sophie began volunteering on a weekly basis with Shelter from the Storm. Week after week, Sophie began building a rapport with the guests from within the homeless community. As their trust grew, they began opening up to her. One week a lady took Sophie to the side and asked whether she had any moisturising cream; this interaction ignited a flame inside of Sophie that has only grown with passion and determination.

Upon moving to Scotland in 2015, Sophie began running a monthly beauty workshop at Streetwork in Edinburgh. Homeless women who often avoided the hub, threatened by some aggressive men, began signing up. After highlighting that they had nothing rich enough to protect their lips, Sophie proposed a lip balm made with (crucially) the finest ingredients. The purpose of these workshops is not just to provide homeless women with beauty products — there is a much greater philanthropic element to them. Sophie wants to empower these women; they are human, they deserve beauty products —and not just any products — the best quality products. Emphasising the power of aromatherapy, these products are tailored to each individual’s need: to help with sleep —lavender drops; to help with anxiety —ylang ylang oil; to energise — sweet orange to act as a pick me up. Sophie recommends different blends to help with the mental aspect of experiencing homelessness, reminding these women that they each have personal needs that deserve to be cared for.

Sophie and I spoke about the stigma that surrounds homelessness; the inclination to look away at someone sat on the curb and the devastating, dehumanising affect this can have. “To hear someone say you deserve the best” not only humanises those experiencing homelessness but underlines their value as a person: you deserve self-love, you deserve to come out of homelessness.

The success of these workshops inspired Sophie to create a business that would maintain these core values. Whilst conventional marketing tells the consumer they have faults— too many blemishes, too many spots, a face corrupted by wrinkles— Sophie’s business PERF “shouts for the babes who understand it’s what’s inside that counts”. Whilst all PERF products are handmade in Scotland, Sophie has incorporated her Ugandan heritage into the business, as women in Gulu produce the essential oils within the various products. PERF is determined to emphasise the impact of purchase power: a percentage of all profits goes towards opening a school in Gulu, which is set to open in 2022, using education as the tool to empower a generation.

PERF is an empowering business, with an inspiring mission. I urge you to check out their website, Instagram, and hopefully one of the pop-up shops Sophie hopes to open soon across the UK; “in a world that’s not so kind, your order will help us run beauty workshops with Streetwork in Edinburgh that also gives one product to a woman facing homelessness”.  

You can find PERF at https://www.perfunited.co.uk/ or via their social media @perfunited to support Sophie’s work for women facing homelessness