Image Skincare hosted its second annual Care for Skin Gala on January 19, 2019. The event took place at the Hilton West Palm Beach and raised money to support people who have suffered from skin loss due to accidents, tumors, burns, scars or genetic abnormalities. To better understand the foundation and how the Gala went, Skin Inc. sat down with the Care for Skin Foundation's founder Marc A. Ronert, M.D., Ph.D.
Skin Inc. (SI): Why did you decide to start the Care for Skin Foundation?
Marc Ronert (MA): I am the co-founder of Image Skincare with my wife, and as the company really became more and more successful, I felt an obligation to find something where we were able to give back to society. I felt that we were truly blessed and had such a great opportunity, we needed to do something. We looked at many charitable organizations, but we realized that if we would just give money to those organizations we couldn't really control where the money was going and it didn't feel enough to just give money away and be passive about it.
For myself, I am a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, so it was really a natural progression to do something with my education and experience. That's how this idea came about to create our own charity where I could use my skills as a plastic surgeon to do reconstructive work around the world for children and patients in need and make a difference. I think we created a great culture of giving back within our community, and without them, it would be impossible to get this off the ground. Jen and I have donated a significant amount of money to get it going. Image has been contributing all of the administrative costs so that we can really save every dollar that we raise.
The charity was founded in 2011, and we have already helped several hundred kids in need of reconstructive surgery that otherwise would have never been able to afford it. So, it's been a great ride for us, and we are satisfied.
SI: How did you decide to start hosting the Gala?
MR: Every year we have an international sales meeting with Image Skincare, and we raise awareness at our worldwide launch parties. We use the same platform to discuss the Care For Skin Foundation, so we have a pretty good reach of licensed estheticians and other spa professionals. This year, shortly after our sales meetings, we invited all the distributors and sales reps and employees and the community. We received 600 sign-ups for this event.
This year was a great success. We raised over $100,000 at the end of the evening. We did the Gala this year because I got to know a young plastic surgeon out of Harare in Zimbabwe who is in a very difficult situation. She is supposed to run a burn unit, and she lacks equipment and supplies. People are dying there because the most basic supplies are not there. We raised money at this Gala for building a fully operational burn unit, and because of the money we raised, we are able to do this in the next 90 days. This was a total success; we are literally able to save lives over there now.
SI: How did this Gala compare to your first one?
MR: Last year we had about 200 people come and this year we had 500. We had several people have to stand and watch because there was not enough room this year, so if we get more preparation time, I think that next year we can have 700 people attending this charitable event.
SI: What would you say your favorite part of the event was?
MR: My favorite part was that we were able to fly the plastic surgeon from Zimbabwe into the Gala, and hear from her first hand how the situation is. We had her at our house for a couple of days, and she showed us pretty traumatic pictures of burn victims that she was not able to help. So, it was probably the highlight for me to have the feeling that we could do something for her and help. We also had a lot of colleagues and skin care partners come in from all over the country. It was nice to see that people really do care and are very generous.
SI: What would you do differently for future Galas?
MR: We obviously have to spend money on every person that attends and not everyone is giving. We had so many people attend this year, and we had a silent auction and live auction. However, I think for this year, for the number of people we had, we did not have enough opportunities for people to bid on. I think we need to figure out if people are so generous and willing to give, how can we make sure that everyone has an opportunity to do so. While this year was a total success, I think we need to feel out how we can make it easier for people to be part of the giving process.
SI: What can we expect from the foundation in the future?
MR: I think the exciting development this year is the burn unit for Zimbabwe will be named after the foundation, so we have our own kind of hospital wing for the Care for Skin Foundation. That was a great milestone to have something prominently there that we can support, and we will be searching for opportunities in the future. We want to make a big impact for the money that we raise for those kinds of trips, and that is our mission going forward.