Since Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine on 24 February, triggering the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two, wellness businesses have been scrambling to provide support, raise funds and communicate messages of solidarity with the victims of Vladimir Putin’s war.
For the most part, brands have universally condemned the atrocities unfolding in eastern Europe and several large and small organisations have already made substantial financial contributions to aid humanitarian efforts.
However, some influential brands are coming under fire for remaining silent, while others are facing mounting pressure to cease operations in Russia altogether in line with global sanctions imposed on the nation to deter further conflict.
This week, following the lead of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks, Nike paused sales in all 116 stores it owns in Russia. Adidas has withdrawn its kit deal with the Russian national football team and said it would suspend sales in the country, cutting 1% from its expected revenue this year.
Unilever, which owns skincare brands Dove and Sunsilk and acquired US wellness company Onnit last year, has suspended all imports and exports. Cosmetics giant L’Oreal is temporarily closing its stores in Russia and French food multinational Danone is suspending investments in the country.
However, according to a team of researchers at Yale University, several high profile brands including Nestle, which owns US meal delivery service Freshly and a majority stake in UK recipe box company Mindful Chef, are yet to confirm their withdrawal.
Nestle has said it will continue to provide essential food products in Russia, where it has seven production sites, according to its website, but the company has stopped advertising in the country and will not be putting in any capital investment for the time being.
While the conflict is rapidly unfolding, here are just some examples of wellness brands that are doing what they can to support the people of Ukraine.
North American activewear giant Lululemon says it has pledged a quarter of a million dollars to support the relief efforts of The Ukrainian Red Cross Society and the Odessa Charity Foundation Way Home.
In a message of solidarity on its Instagram account, the company wrote, “We support the brave people of Ukraine and their friends and family around the world. There is an urgent need for humanitarian relief as this crisis continues.”
Cruelty-free ethical skincare brand UpCircle is donating £1 from every sale of its Cleansing Balm to Razom For Ukraine throughout the whole of March.
Moo & Yoo
Moo & Yoo, a family-run company based in Scotland who make luxury, vegan beauty products, are donating 5% of all takings for the whole of March to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
The Nue Co.
Premium supplement brand The Nue Co. chose to use its platform to highlight charitable organisations and initiatives that their 89K-strong community can support.
In an Instagram post published on the day of the Russian invasion, the company wrote: “Russia’s involvement in the global oil industry is a key demonstration of how power, social and economic instability, and climate change are inextricably linked.”
Along with an image in Ukraine’s national colours of blue and yellow, the post directed its followers to a Fast Company story titled How to help the people of Ukraine: 14 things you can do right now.
The article included links to charitable organisations Razom for Ukraine, Help for Ukraine, Sunflower of Peace and Revived Soldiers Ukraine that will use donations to fund medical aid.
British sustainable performance nutrition brand Resilient Nutrition is sending half a million ration packs to charities and NGOs working in the region, including Operation Orphan.
The rations, which include high-calorie and clinically proven meal replacements that will keep volunteers focused and alert, are based on those used by Special Forces and the Royal Marines, as well as record-breaking adventurers during expeditions to Mount Everest and K2.
The company’s CEO Ali Macdonald is a former soldier who has experience of working with first responders and crisis response teams operating in disaster zones.
He said: “We are also passionate about supporting first responders and the people that are putting their lives on the line to help others with a kit that will keep them going at a very gruelling time.” The kits also contain protein-packed, dehydrated dishes including porridge, curry and pasta from specialist expedition food company Firepot.
Dave Hearn, operations officer at Operation Orphan, one of the charities utilising these rations, said that they will feed the response team as well as provide essential nutrition for the children they are there to support.
London’s biggest studio-based yoga brand, MoreYoga, ran a weekend of yoga classes and workshops to raise money for the Ukraine crisis across the capital last weekend.
Attendees were asked to share a suggested donation of £5-10 when booking a session, which was donated through the Choose Love appeal. For those unable to attend, a Yang to Yin Bhakti Yoga session was hosted on WellnessTV, MoreYoga’s digital platform, this week.
Cloud Nine Hair
North Yorkshire-based Cloud Nine Hair, set up by the founder of GHD in 2009, has been helping Toiletries Amnesty send beauty and toiletry essentials to Ukrainian refugees.
Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, via which several wellness brands have run campaigns, including WIT, Hussle and 1Rebel, is also raising funds for children’s charity UNICEF.
“Millions of children and their families are in danger as the conflict continues to escalate. We’re raising funds for UNICEF to help support the tireless work they do to protect the safety and wellbeing of those affected, and we’d love your support,” read a statement from the company.
Crowdcube has pledged to match funds raised up to £5,000. As of Thursday, just over £10K had been raised.