On 11 March 2011, a Millennium earthquake hit Northern Japan, followed by a mega tsunami that created thousands of victims and homeless people. L’Oréal’s immediate 100 million yen donation (over 900,000 euros) to the Red Cross was just the start of its outreach programme.
Nihon L’Oréal employees volunteered massively to help the people in the affected area. “Long-term support is needed to rebuild Tohoku: Nihon L’Oréal will do its utmost to help,” said Maki Imura, Corporate Communications Director, Nihon L’Oréal. The subsidiary also focused on long-term community initiatives such as the “Community Café” and “Hairdressers for Hope” Beauty Bus, to help people in the badly hit areas of Miyagi and Iwate.
"Hana-So": the L’Oréal community café
Initiated by the L’Oréal Japanese subsidiary in partnership with the non-governmental organisation JEN, the “Hana-So” café is a solidarity programme designed to help with the reconstruction of Miyagi. “The idea was to build a community café in Ishinomaki, a city lying in one of worst-affected zones in the Miyagi region, to help recreate the social ties shattered by the disaster. A huge number of people had lost their homes and contact with other people, and needed a place where they could meet up with each other again,” says Maki Imura, Corporate Communications Director of the Nihon L’Oréal subsidiary. “Here visitors can get together around a cup of tea, share information, obtain useful advice, and have a make-up session or even a massage.”
On 9 September 2011, the groundbreaking inauguration of the café in the presence of Klaus Fassbender, Managing Director of Nihon L’Oréal, the NGO JEN and the Mayor of Ishinomaki, provided an occasion for the Nihon L’Oréal teams to establish initial contact with the local communities.
On 29 November 2011, the Community Café opened. One of the highlights of the day was a workshop called “Eyes for the Future”. Adopting the name of the solidarity programme created by Lancôme in June 2011 (which donates 100 yen to the Community Café for each mascara sold), the brand offered free beauty sessions and make-up advice to women.
Since the inauguration, seven people have been recruited on-site to work at “Hana-So”, which is open every day from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Each month, hundreds of people come and meet up around a coffee, which is served to them free.
On 18 December, a Christmas party was organised at the Community Café. Here again, volunteer staff from Nihon L’Oréal rallied round, enabling about a hundred locals to get together, enjoy some cake and a massage, and take part in Christmas garland-making workshops.
On 10 March 2012, a year after the disaster, the “Hana-so Blossom of Hope” Tohoku Restoration Event was organised. 500 people came to the “Hana-So” Café, where various workshops were once again laid on by L’Oréal.
The "Hairdressers for Hope" Beauty Bus
A shampoo, a nice cut, a comforting discussion with the professionals present…Launched by Nihon L’Oréal in September 2011, the “Hairdressers for Hope” Beauty Bus helps people living in temporary lodgings to regain self-esteem while providing work for local hairdressers. The “Beauty Bus” has in fact already hired 8 hairdressers who lost their salon and home as a result of the disaster.