Photo credit: Sopheak Kong.
When my husband and I started clara, we named it after our daughter because we wanted a constant reminder of why we began. “Clara” means light, so our daughter and this name constantly remind us of why we exist.
Our story begins at a trauma recovery center in Cambodia for children and women who have been rescued from brothels. There I met a young woman, who I will call “Ruth" to protect her identity.
Ruth was a young, sweet 17-year old. Ruth was studying to become a cosmetologist, and she asked if she could do my hair and makeup. Isn’t it amazing how this is the universal love language for women across all cultures? We help each other with our hair and makeup.
In this photo, she is carefully brushing my hair and styling it. And I learn her story.
Ruth’s father abandoned the family, leaving behind his sick wife and 3 children. Ruth was the eldest child, so she took it upon herself to care for her ill mother and her younger siblings. Her mother couldn’t work, so Ruth took any jobs she could to pay for her mother’s medical bills and to keep her siblings fed. She worked as a waitress and cleaner, but it was never enough. With no other option to support her family, Ruth sold away what was most precious to her. She went to work as a prostitute in a brothel.
Here I am in this photo, a woman who has come from the comforts of my beautiful home in Colorado, and when I give, no matter how generous I may believe I am, I have everything I need--I am only giving my extra. And here is Ruth, who gave literally everything she had.
Yet, she is the one brushing my hair and thanking me.
It’s one of those moments when God puts a mirror up to your soul.
I spent time with Ruth, and girls as young as 6 years old who had been rescued out of brothels. It was all I could do to keep a smile on my face, so that I could be strong and show joy to these beautiful women and children.
When we returned home to Colorado, our hearts were broken and we also found a new purpose – helping brave young women like Ruth have an opportunity for a better life and ensuring that children were protected.
So began our journey. We are a Harvard MD and a Harvard MBA coming together -- my husband brings his knowledge as a dermatologist, and I bring my love of great skincare products. We volunteer our time to clara, because this is a labor of love to the amazing women and children we have met around the world. 100% of our profits are reinvested in clara and donated to support nonprofits here and around the world.
Just as Ruth’s love language to me was to help me with hair and makeup, my love language to you is to ensure everything we offer is the highest quality and helps you feel more beautiful.
We look forward to making this world a better place with you.
With love and gratitude,
Leisle Chung, clara Co-Founder
Leisle with her daughter Clara
take the first step
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"Don’t wait, take that first step. . . it will give you purpose to everything you do." – Dr. Vinh Chung, Co-Founder
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