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Victoria Jackson: How to Make a Difference in Women’s Lives

Interviewer:

Victoria Jackson, you’re a great entrepreneur. You began with your… working, I gather, in a cosmetics department before you became a cosmetics entrepreneur. And one of the things that I remember you telling me about was how you worked with women in prisons.

Victoria Jackson:

Yes.

Interviewer:

To change their attitude to themselves through the use of cosmetics, right?

Victoria Jackson:

Absolutely, and thank you for having me here. It’s wonderful to be here. And I really did start as, I think, as an invisible woman with sort of very low self esteem and wanted to get into the beauty business as a makeup artist. And I was able to use the media in 1989 through an infomercial to launch my cosmetics and was wonderful, had great success. But it became apparent to me very quickly that as I was meeting more and more women and doing their makeup, I was really sort of bored quickly with the notion of just telling women, although they would line up, how can I make my lips look bigger and fuller. And it was why it all mattered to me. It was really… And I really latched onto something called the power of mascara.

Victoria Jackson:

It was how it really made a difference in women’s lives, and we were talking about, even Karulu in Africa, I mean, how there’s this language of lipstick and looking better and feeling better about yourself really transcends all borders, all languages. And when women look better and feel better, it translates to more success, more confidence in their life. And I never saw that better in play than when I would go into the jails. And I went for 20 years, I would go in, and I would work with women in the jails, and I would really see this, what I call the power of mascara, where I would say to some of the gals, I would say, well, what do you like your makeup to say?

Victoria Jackson:

And they’d say, well, I like my makeup to say pullover, I was like, okay. Well, we’re going to give you another message, it’s not going to be about pullover. It’s going to be, stop, look at me, it’s about self-respect. And self-respect and self confidence is something that the language that all these women understand and can be lacking and need. And I wanted to be that person there to help guide them and reassure them. And that message became something that was very dear to me at the same time. Really learning myself as a woman, who due to a violent crime and something very bad that happened in my life early on, didn’t graduate high school, didn’t go to college.

Victoria Jackson:

How I sort of had to read my own success story as I would pretend that one day I’d be sitting here talking to Tina Brown in New York City telling my story and really act as if and be the CEO and create my cosmetic company, which it turned out later in life, as we all know. I’m sure there’s many of you sitting there where you never quite know what life is going to serve up for you. And you sort of think, well, now how does all of that, really that discovery about women and sort of what I’ve had to do. I had a very real situation in life. Take me now from what I see was 30 years of learning all that I’ve learned how to build a business, how to communicate with women and transition from the world of mascara to medicine.

Interviewer:

Right, because you’re now trying to make another group, in a sense visible, from being invisible. And that is people who have what you call orphan diseases, right?

Victoria Jackson:

Exactly. About two years ago, I have three children, and I have two boys and a girl, and I have a daughter that was, two years ago, this is still very emotional for me, that was diagnosed with very rare autoimmune condition. And they gave me a very bad diagnosis for her and told me that, better get to the Mayo Clinic and there wasn’t much hope and talked about this rare orphan disease. And all of a sudden I felt myself back in the world of, okay, well what’s a rare orphan disease? A Rare orphan disease, there’s 7,000 of them in the world. They’re conditions that basically there’s just not enough people in the population that have them to warrant funding or people really caring.

Victoria Jackson:

And I thought, wow, all of a sudden now I’m going to be in this another sort of invisible situation and I’m going to have to sort of go from the power of mascara to the power of medicine and really transitioned from mascara to medicine and find a way with… I’ve been very fortunate to financially have done very well from the sale of my cosmetics and find a cure and become a spokesperson for orphan diseases and create a new blueprint for medicine and finding a cure for a disease. And I have since been doing that over the last, it’s just been two years. I have put together a foundation that I fund completely myself. I’m funding 10 institutions worldwide.

Victoria Jackson:

I’m finding that the Mayo Clinic, after my last symposium, I’m coming out with findings saying, potentially thousands with MS, misdiagnosed with the same, very same condition, NMO, neuromyelitis optica that my daughter has. And I created No More Orphans campaign to really shine a light on it. So it’s a very sort of, I know I’m building a kind of a bridge here from mascara to medicine. as I was listening to so many of the women and have been so touched, it sounds crazy, but how does this woman in LA so different? I feel very similar to those that their voices are not heard. It’s hard to get people to care.

Victoria Jackson:

It’s hard to have people, I say there’s stand up for cancer. I’d say for NMO you’d have to jump up really high. I have to get people engaged and care and it’s how we do that. It’s easy to sort of have as sometimes we’d come to conferences and sit here and have this sort of compassion fatigue, where you hear so much and you want do something. I can really say as a mom and somebody who’s had to work very hard to sit up here, and I’m proud to be with all of you ladies and in this room, it’s just whatever little thing that you do. It’s whatever it is. And no matter what you’re facing in life, it’s how you pick yourself up.

Victoria Jackson:

It’s how these women have picked themselves up and whatever they’re going to do to find a better way for their loved ones, for themselves, for something bigger than themselves. And as my daughter turned to me and said, “Mom, this isn’t just about you and I anymore.” And I said, “You’re right, it’s not. It’s about a lot of people.” And I brought and I flew all those people in together who have this condition to meet each other. When we come together as a community and support each other, it is amazing the things we can do. And I sit here as somebody who started as a makeup artist, hopefully trying to cure a disease that will make a difference for a lot people.

 

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