Dessa – the gifted rapper, singer and spoken-word artist who is also a member of hip-hop collective Doomtree – has found an exciting way to support a product she believes in while raising money for a great cause. She is teaming up with Elixery cosmetic house to release a lipstick in her name, and she’ll donate her proceeds from the sale of the lipstick to the human rights organization CARE in support of its efforts to educate girls around the world.
“For me it’s an obvious opportunity to make a contribution that’s maybe more important than the one I make as a musician every day,” Dessa tells Music for Good. “At least it’s more urgent. I think that music that moves us is a vital part of a full life, but it’s certainly not as vital as literacy. And so the opportunity to try to make an ethical difference as well as an artistic difference is appealing to me.”
Dessa is using the proceeds from the sale of her namesake lipstick to support CARE’s Power Within campaign, which aims to help 10 million girls around the world complete primary school, teach them about leadership concepts and develop advocates who support girls’ rights.
“I’ve liked CARE for a long time and I was excited to find a way to make a larger contribution than my personal check at the end of the year,” says Dessa. “I actually studied about girls education as a philosophy student as an undergraduate and I was fascinated by the way that educating girls could have societal implications that reached much farther than their own lives. It would change the way their money was spent when they were older and also the age at which they have kids and also marry. So you end up finding this correlation between girls’ education and a self-directed life. You find some really interesting cultural patterns that change when you educate girls.”
When Elixery approached Dessa about collaborating, Dessa said she did some research about them and was happy to discover that the artisan cosmetic company embodies many of the values she has as a conscientious consumer. “When I checked out Elixery I saw that they were independent, entrepreneurial and had a very clear and upfront commitment to conscientious manufacturing,” says Dessa. “I also like the human side of their leadership. I like the fact that Karoline (Wells) who owns the Elixery is a dedicated science geek and takes the time to explain the chemistry of her product to her customers. And she pours every product by hand.”
Elixery founder Wells says that although working with Dessa didn’t appear to be a natural fit from the start, it quickly became apparent that they shared several values.
“Dessa doesn’t wear a lot of lipstick, so we initially found ourselves wondering what the heck we were doing,” says Wells. “Ultimately, though, I think we’re similar in a lot of ways — we both tend toward philosophy and authenticity. We’re one of the rare companies that actually verifies that our ingredients are ethically produced, and she’s one of those rare artists that puts her backing behind what she actually believes in.”
To officially launch the lipstick, Dessa will perform and host a cocktail hour in her home town of Minneapolis on September 15.