How Beauty Brands Can Use Their Power to Help People in Ukraine

Nidhima Kohli and I are separated by an ocean — the Atlantic, to be exact — but our thoughts couldn’t be any closer to each other than they are now, given that the Russian attacks on Ukraine have occupied so much of both our headspaces. By way of a WhatsApp phone call, Kohli and I discussed how she managed to turn her sentimental thoughts for the people of Ukraine into one, big donation effort… all within less than a week. 

Ultimately, her desire to collect donations in the form of hygiene products was ignited by the former investment banker-turned-beauty executive’s work (she’s the CEO of both the beauty products price comparison website, My Beauty Matches, and Beauty Matching Engine, a personalized beauty shopping platform). Knowing how crucial toiletries, period products, and nonperishable food items are to day-to-day life, she sprang into action and called on her connections in the industry.

Kohli says that her CTO of five years, who she refers to as her “work husband,” is based in Ukraine. “Given that I was seeing what’s happening in the news, I was feeling incredibly helpless,” Kohli tells me. “And I was like, ‘This is not OK anymore.'”

Answering a Call to Action

What initially started as perusing through WhatsApp chat groups that were calling for donations to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland, Moldova, and other Eastern European nations, turned into Kohli asking her fellow beauty industry colleagues for help.

Aaron Chatterley, founder of e-commerce beauty retailer, Feelunique, was among one of the first people that Kohli contacted. “I was like, ‘Aaron, we need this, we need shampoos, we need cleansers, we need this, we need that,’ she recalls. 

Kohli eventually expanded her outreach to other people and brands she knew, such as journalist Sonia Haria, who she credits to connecting her to brands and helping her get the word out about her donation efforts on social media. 

The interest in gathering donations grew to the point where Kohli no longer had enough space for all of them. That’s where the Montessori Group came in, who was kind enough to let Kohli use their nursery space to store deliveries. Soon after, London-based aesthetics doctor Galyna Selezneva put her in touch with Ukrainian postal company Nova Poshta, which partnered up with two logistics companies — Uniworld Logistics and Active Freight — to secure warehouse space for the donated items.

A truck fully filled with donations for those fleeing Ukraine.Courtesy of Nidhima Kohli

As we speak, the number of donations keeps growing. So far, donations have included skin-care products from 111 Skin and 450 kits containing body washes and creams from Elemis. She tells me that personal care retailer, Superdrug, sent first aid supplies, hand gel, Wet Wipes, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.