WYLDE Women

Each month, WYLDE MOON shines a light on women doing inspirational work in their field, and this month we welcome two true WYLDE Women; 
Jo Jones and Sali Hughes.

The support of a first-class friend is one of life’s essentials. The one who’s in our corner if things go wrong and lifting us to be our best selves. Meet Sali Hughes and Jo Jones whose friendship has helped them both make a difference.

They first bonded through work, Sali, as a top beauty journalist and Jo, a visionary beauty PR. Sali’s interviewed countless celebrities from Kate Moss to Jane Fonda and her recommendations cause instant sell-outs. Jo launched the most talked-about, mega beauty brands like Glossier and Charlotte Tilbury. But, four years ago, in addition to their full-on day jobs and bringing up families, they stepped away from their comfort zones to launch a charity, Beauty Banks, which gives practical support to those caught in the hygiene poverty trap. It helps people who can’t afford to buy soap, shampoo, nappies or toothpaste as they struggle to put food on the table and pay their rent. Sali and Jo have gone on to highlight young girls missing school because they can’t afford sanitary protection (even having to improvise with newspapers and toilet paper!) and children being bullied because they smell.

Here they tell us the important role friendship has played for them in trying to make the world a better place.

Sali (left) Jo (right)

  On how they started Beauty Banks

Sali: It was a joint effort.  I was making a documentary about homelessness for the BBC in the biggest homeless shelter in Cardiff. Behind the reception were two cardboard boxes with single tooth brushes, travel toothpaste and single sanitary towels and tampons. They were sourced by staff for their clients in case they had job interviews or had their period. I took a picture and sent it to Jo because we had been talking about how much waste there was in the beauty industry and how distressed and frustrated we were by the poverty crisis. I said, we have to be able to do something. She agreed saying with our contacts we could ask beauty companies to donate products so we could give them to people who couldn’t afford them. She said, ‘It’s Beauty Banks isn’t it? Like food banks for beauty products.’ I wrote a column the next day and within 48 hours we were being followed by film crews, were in every broadsheet newspaper, on the telly, local and national news, breakfast TV. It was bonkers. That’s when we said we’d better make a charity to go with it.

“Fundamentally you both have to share the same values and believe in the same things, you have to really care.”

  What role did your friendship have in making it happen?

Jo: We started wanting to marry the haves – and there are a lot in the beauty industry – with the have-nots. We saw ourselves as the in-between person, but once you switch that thing on and start seeing how many people’s lives it touches you can’t turn it off. It is humbling.

We are fairly smart people but there is a lot of stuff we didn’t know. We have done it together because at times neither of us knew what we were doing. It tests your friendship but we are very respectful of each other.

I couldn’t have done it without Sali. Fundamentally you both have to share the same values and believe in the same things, you have to really care. It has been a lot of work. We don’t take any expenses and we don’t get paid, we don’t want to, we want to run it as purely as possible but there has been a lot of physical and manual work as our homes get taken over by boxes and boxes of donations.

  What have been the moments when you known you’ve made a difference

Sali: When we get cards and letters from people who we’ve helped we just start crying. People send us letters saying thank you for giving me the opportunity to donate. They were giving us the products, we should have been thanking them. What puts you on the floor is when you look at the problem as a whole.

Jo: It has been lovely to do something in an industry we both love, to elevate the power of beauty and what it can do for people beyond what they look like, to what they feel like. Supporting the NHS workers during Covid with beauty care products was a big deal for us, when they were shattered, exhausted and had no time for self-care. 

“Anyone can make a difference. You don’t need specific qualifications, lots of contacts or tonnes of cash – just need a passion for your cause.”

  Do you think people trivialise the importance of the positive role beauty products can play in women’s lives?

Jo: We deal with a lot of domestic abuse charities. Originally, we shied away from donating make-up because we were sensitive to the reaction to it, but we started to get requests from them asking for make-up. A lot of the requests were because the women they looked after and supported were often not ‘allowed’ make-up. Their finances were managed and controlled by abusive partners. Make-up becomes a symbol of freedom and it symbolised an ability to make their own choices, it meant more than just a lipstick.

Sali: It is easy for people to forget that lots of women flee domestic violence and leave with nothing -just a bag for themselves and a bag for each kid, sneaking away when their husband is at work. If you say to most women, ‘start your life again, find somewhere to live, go for a job interview find your kids a school, do this without wearing any make up at all’, most women would say ‘that is quite difficult for me, I wouldn’t feel very comfortable doing that.

Most of us have had a broken boiler at some time in our lives, you can’t have a shower, you can’t wash and you feel gross all day. If you can’t wash it affects how you feel, how, you walk around doing what you need to do. Some people have to feel like that every single day, or many days on the trot. There are loads of people who work full-time and are still in abject poverty. 

Sali with her godson, Jo’s son, Arthur

Sali with her godson, Jo’s son, Arthur

  What advice would you give the younger you?

 Jo: Anyone can make a difference. You don’t need specific qualifications, lots of contacts or tonnes of cash – just need a passion for your cause. We might not be able to change everyone’s life but we could change one person’s and that is enough. Small things really do ladder up to big changes – so start small. The important thing is to start. To do something.

Sali: Every single time I have tried to talk myself out of my instincts, because I don’t want to be difficult it has bitten me on the ass. If you feel something instinctively in your gut don’t talk yourself out of it by being a people pleaser. Nobody knows you better than you.

Meet more of our WYLDE WOMEN

Taban Shoresh

Founder of The Lotus Flower Charity

Dr Funke Abimbola MBE

C-suite Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader

Marcia Kilgore

Founder of Beauty Pie

Georgiana Huddart

Co-founder of swimwear brand Hunza G