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Alumnus helps sell lip balm for a good cause

By , Reporter  |  Wednesday, February 20, 2013 8:21 PM

A St. Thomas alumnus has helped market a solution for students’ chapped lips that also helps children with facial disfigurement, and it could be available in Summit Marketplace.

Face to Face lip balm planned to start selling its products starting Monday for $3.99, but it has yet to pass the final two stages of approval from the university.

Although the Summit Marketplace offers several brands of lip balm, it is considering offering another that benefits children in Ethiopia. Face to Face representative Kevin Walker said that most patients suffer from cleft lip, animal attacks and noma. (Anastasia Straley/TommieMedia)

Although the Summit Marketplace offers several brands of lip balm, it is considering offering another that benefits children in Ethiopia. Face to Face representative Kevin Walker said that most patients suffer from cleft lip, animal attacks and virus noma. (Anastasia Straley/TommieMedia)

One dollar from each tube of the lip product would benefit Project Harar, a medical charity that provides facial reconstruction for children in Ethiopia. Most patients are treated for cleft lip, animal attacks and the virus noma, according to the project’s website.

Kevin Walker, a 2011 St. Thomas alumnus, is a representative for Face to Face. He said products are being sold in 17 locations throughout the Twin Cities, including Bigelow retailers and all of the University of Minnesota bookstores.

Walker said purchases from these locations have garnered about $800 in the two months of operation, enough to pay for two surgeries.

“Most of the people that we help come from indigenous backgrounds, and the average income in Ethiopia is about $1,200,” Walker said. “We can change a kid’s life from flesh-eating diseases for just about $400.”

Outside of the Summit Marketplace, Walker said the brand hopes to expand into the St. Thomas bookstore and other local stores, such as Dunn Bros. Coffee.

Walker said the lip balm benefits lips as much as it does the kids.

“It’s an all-organic lip balm with no preserving agents and with Vitamin E,” Walker said. “It’s also made in the U.S.”

Without a timeline in place, Summit Marketplace supervisor Barbara Lundell declined to comment about the lip balm’s progress.

Junior Sarah Spangenberg said a good cause would not particularly sway her decision as to what brand she uses.

“I use a lot of Chapstick, but because I love the kind I use so much. I really doubt that even a good cause would get me to switch,” Spangenberg said. “I love how my brand doesn’t leave a residue on my lips.”

Sophomore Russell Smith said he would be interested in seeing Face to Face in campus stores.

“I think the cost of most Chapsticks are around that price,” Smith said. “The cause will definitely help sell the product and also the cold weather. There are more chapped lips in the winter.”

Smith said he thinks the university should try test runs of product sales.

“I can see no reason why the university wouldn’t want to at least try it. If sales aren’t so hot, then they can remove it,” Smith said.

Freshman Danielle Swanson said she foresees the product being a hit at St. Thomas, but the stores should consider accelerating the process of getting it to the stores.

“Since it’s part of an alumnus’ project and it helps kids in Africa, I’m sure that it’d do really well here,” Swanson said. “But winter’s almost over. If they want to do well, I think it’d be better to start selling before spring comes around.”

Anastasia Straley can be reached at stra0669@stthomas.edu.

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