McKenna Pope – Activist : Gender Equality From Toys

McKenna Pope

McKenna Pope – The activist who voices that gender equality should start from toys.

McKenna Pope

McKenna Pope is the usual teen-aged American girl from Garfield, New Jersey, with an acumen for singing and acting. This was until a chance incident transformed her into an activist and a voice for gender equality.

The Personality

Pope, shot to fame during 2012-13, at a young age of 13-14 years, and is already a celebrated and respected activist, with a YouTube channel to her credit and a prestigious TED Talk. She started by speaking out about the need for gender-neutral toys so as to break gender stereotypes and now talks about a variety of issues related to adolescence. She believes that to truly bring in gender equality, it is imperative to change mindsets that have typical gender stereotypes ingrained in them. Moreover, she stresses that this should begin with children as they are highly impressionable and that this may be effectively achieved to a large extent, by making products that are gender neutral as far as possible, allowing children to make their own choices instead of giving them pre-conceived notions about what they should choose.

The Push – What propelled her in this direction

It was a small incident at a home that got Pope thinking about these issues. In 2012, when her brother was four years old, he developed an interest in cooking. He really wanted to ask for an Easy-Bake Oven as his Christmas present. He was, however, at an age, where boys like to ‘bond’ with other boys and aggressively shun all things ‘girly’. He watched the television advertisements for the oven and these had girls playing with the toy. Even the pictures on the cover of the toy showed girls, and the colors the oven and its accessories came in, pink and purple, were, in his mind, ‘girly’ colors. All this made him confused about really wanting the oven, even wondering why he was liking a toy for girls! Added to that was his impression that it was women’s job to cook and so he, being a boy, should not like cooking or baking.

This is what got Pope thinking. She now noticed the product, the Easy-Bake Oven by Hasbro, its colors and pictures more keenly and realized the message they would convey to a child. The oven was clearly marketed as a plaything for girls.

The Petition – The action that got things moving

Moved by this incident, she felt the need to change things. She first thought about what changes she wanted and decided that she wanted the packaging and marketing of Hasbro Easy-Bake Oven to be such that it was equally attractive to boys. She wanted the cover pictures and advertisements to include boys and product colors to be different. Next question was, what could she do about it? Very smartly, she used the internet as her resource. She posted a petition and a video, expressing her angst and requesting for a change. She hoped for this to somehow reach the CEO of Hasbro to make her voice heard. Read through her petition here

What happened was much bigger than what she had hoped for – As many as 45000 other people signed her petition, backing her and making her voice (and her own confidence!) several times stronger!! Even celebrity chefs such as Bobby Flay, Manuel Trevino and Jose Andreas also supported the campaign. So much so, that she was actually invited to the headquarters of Hasbro at Pawtucket, Rhode Island–They had made changes to the product design and packaging, and wanted her to see them first.

They decided on a black and silver oven, usable by both, boys and girls. They also developed a marketing strategy addressing both genders. The campaign was covered in top outlets including CNN, The Associated Press, MSNBC, Good Morning America, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times.

The Purpose – The cause she is working towards

Toys as tools to break stereotypes and achieve gender equality!

By now she had achieved success at one change that she wanted, and realized that a lot of people agreed with her. This was thus, just a beginning. She noticed the same problem with a lot of other playthings and made this her agenda. She wanted toy manufacturers to move away from this “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” mentality. She began speaking and petitioning widely about this issue.

  • On the one hand, she highlighted problems with having gender-specific toys, especially when they may not be required to be specific –
    • They create and reinforce the mentality that girls and boys are supposed to like different kinds of things and engage in different kinds of activities.
    • Unknowingly, parents participate in this by buying such toys, due to lack of enough choice and even sensitivity about this issue.
    • At this early age, the stereotypes take deep root and stay on till adulthood, contributing to an unequal society.
    • Their cognition and learning also get hampered and they may not be able to realize their potential due to lack of exposure or opportunity.
  • On the other hand, she highlighted the advantages of gender-neutral toys
  • One obvious point is that they prevent stereotypes from developing, making children and hence society when they grow up, more broad-minded, empathetic, sensitive and equal.
  • More importantly, in an already divided and unequal society, where it is very difficult to change culture and mind-sets, toys can become an effective and interesting tool for transformation!
  • Getting children to engage with the right kind of toys would be a helpful learning aid as well. Adults, and hence children, felt that boys can learn some kinds of things that girls cannot and vice versa. For example, boys should not learn cooking or knitting. STEM (focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) did not include creative and artistic components. Unfortunately, they used to be designed such that they appealed more to boys, depriving girls of the opportunity to learn these concepts through interesting ways. Now. STEAM toys are being designed, that includes the ‘Art’ component as well. Through Pope’s efforts, manufacturers and parents are more sensitized towards such toys being applicable for all.
  • Allowing free-play and gender-neutrality also creates a wonderful platform for boys and girls to engage in activities together, leading to a better understanding of each other.


The Persona – Watch her TED Talk to experience her mettle


This is where her TED Talk is available. It is a must-watch and a treat, to listen to the young, energetic and ambitious girl, explaining passionately about her thoughts and the change she wants to see in society. She talks about sensitivity, breaking stereotypes, gender-neutrality and how a simple idea of changing packaging and marketing of toys can help achieve this. This will be especially an inspiring talk for youth to watch, and definitely a constructive way to spend their time on the internet. Her energy and eloquence can motivate many.


The Pioneering Leader – Inspiring teens, especially girls

First, she did not accept things as they are and questioned them. She put in enough mature thought, at her young age, to figure out what change she wanted and why.

Second, having identified some problems with how things are, she did not just sit and crib about it. Rather, she was moved enough to actually try and do something about it. In the process, we learn that there were a lot of people who agree with her but needed someone to initiate and lead the way. This shows her leadership quality, making her an inspiration, especially for youth and girls. This made activists especially happy and proud, as, for once, it was someone other than them who was raising an issue.

Third, she effectively devised a strategy, using the internet to raise her point.

Fourth, she did not stop at one issue. In fact, she made it broader and wider, hoping for sustainable social change.

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The Path – Her journey continues

Now an established teen activist, Pope, is a common public speaker, and attendee at conferences, talking about youth-related issues, particularly on her focus area of the need for gender-neutral toys.

She is part of and has often used this as her platform to bring out issues.

She continues visiting play stores and researching about what has changed and what further needs to change. In 2015, she noticed how toys were arranged in stores, easily identifiable as ‘girl aisles’ and ‘boy aisles’ – Barbie and baby dolls, doll-houses, all pink and purple and sitting together; Nerf guns, trucks and cars, all blue and green and black, sitting together but separate from the dolls. In her true style of working actively, she wrote to ‘Playthings’ highlighting how the toy industry may be unknowingly contributing to gender inequality, giving them suggestions as to how they may fight for gender neutrality, giving examples from her own work.

Final words about Mckenna Pope

This little teenager is working towards gender equality and making a revolution. Let’s salute her efforts and being parents we all must support her initiative. Join hands with the little girl and bring up all underprivileged girls and boys at par with society.

Sherry Johnson : A Bold Journey of Pain, Endurance, and Hardships

Pain and hardships are a constant part and parcel of our lives. However, there are but few people out there who have endured hardship and suffering to such a degree as that of Sherry Johnson. An American woman striving hard with the Florida state senator, Lauren Book, Sherry Johnson set out to abolish child marriage in the state of Florida, USA. The 58-year old, being a child marriage survivor herself, turned her movement into her life’s mission to protect every child from marriage before they reached the appropriate age of 17.

As she went further with her movement, she did win her case and ensured that no child had to ever marry before the age of 17. She also won numerous other accolades for her further achievements. However, all these achievements are set way far into the future. The story of Sherry Johnson begins all the way back from when she was merely a child. In order to understand her life, moreover, in order to learn from it, we need to go back to her life. Back when she was just born.

All About Sherry Johnson

Birth and Childhood

Sherry Johnson was born on the 11th of September 1960. She lived out her childhood days in the city of Tampa, Florida, with her family consisting of herself, her mother, and mother’s husband. Like every other family, the Johnson family also had to face problems, particularly financial problems. Sherry’s mother was the only earning member of their family and her income wasn’t nearly as much as they required to sustain themselves. As a result, the family lived in the parsonage of their Pentecostal church. Moreover, Sherry was often relegated to ask the church’s bishop for lunch money.

It was on the occasion of one such incident that the church bishop assaulted little Sherry. The girl merely at the age of 8 when the bishop summoned her to his chambers and sexually assaulted her. Being a little girl, Sherry had no idea about what she had just endured. She was clueless about what she had gone through. Moreover, she had even informed her mother of the incident. However, the lady brushed off the concerns of her daughter, presuming them to lies spread around by her. As a result, this became a regular practice for the little girl. Even the church deacon and her mother’s husband didn’t spare her and began assaulting her.

A Mother At The Age of 10

Two years later, when Sherry was at the age of 10, there was a blood vaccination program conducted at her school. It was here that Sherry learned about her pregnancy. However, by that time, she was already 7 months into her gestation period. Slowly but surely, the dots were connected and it was found out that the church deacon, Alfonsa Tolbert, was the father of the child.

Even during this time, Sherry’s mother refused to acknowledge her claims to support the statements that she had made regarding the church deacon. As she lay within the halls of the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, she felt completely alone for even her mother had abandoned her and declined from supporting her during her childbirth. On the contrary, the lady kept on supporting the 20-year old deacon and went to work on protecting him from any criminal charges that he might face.   

A Wife At the Age of 11

After she delivered her first baby, the Child Welfare Services began to grow suspicious and investigate her family as well as the church. However, when news of this spread to the Johnson family, Sherry’s mom was the first one to panic. She set out to get Sherry and Alfonso, a man who was 9 years older than her, married to each other.

Johnson was completely terrified during this time. She was merely a child of 11 years old. At her age, she was supposed to be playing with dolls and using her imagination to shape up their lives. However, she didn’t have the luxury of participating in such aspects. This is because she had a real doll in her life – a daughter for whom she had to make decisions and face the consequences. She had no idea how to be a wife.

Today, almost all countries have strictly implemented the age of marriage to be 18 years old in Florida. The rule was the same in those days too. However, like a lot of laws at that time, this marriage law was also riddled with loopholes. During the time, children of any age were eligible to marry with the permission of the county judge, if there was any pregnancy involved.

When the family visited the first Government clerk for obtaining a marriage license, he promptly refused to grant one to her owing to her age. Sherry was relieved by this decision. She assumed that she wouldn’t have to be involved in a marriage that was one-sided at the best and completely against her will at the worst. However, this relief was completely short-lived.

When the first Government clerk refused to provide Sherry with a marriage license, the family drove up to another county and towards another judge. And to Johnson’s horror, this judge wholeheartedly agreed to grant the wedding license to the family. Sherry has often referred to this incident as one in which instead of handcuffing her rapist, the perpetrator of a crime, she was the one who was forcefully handcuffed into the restraints of her wedding dress.

A Child Raising Her Own Children

Post marriage, Sandy’s rapist and husband moved into the Johnson family along with her mother and her mother’s husband. In spite of being a husband and a father, Alfonsa, remained quite absent from their lives when required. He was never there for her. As a result, Sandy was forced to stay at home and take care of her child while she simultaneously learned how to be the perfect wife, a role which had been unwillingly bestowed upon her. In fact, this even hindered her road towards finishing even elementary school.

By the time she turned 17, Sherry had birthed 6 children. As she had no prior job experience to fall upon, she couldn’t even get hold of a job which could adequately pay her and help her in meeting her family’s needs. With the help of a housing authority, she soon moved out with her children. In the same year, she consulted with the Legal Aid Society who served her with a lawyer who understood her circumstances. The society also provided her with a mere financial aid of $75 to pay for her attorney for her divorce.

When Sherry turned 19, she met another man who was 18 years her senior. She married him and they had three children between them. The couple was married for over 26 years before they separated in the year 2002. Despite all her struggles that she has gone through in her lifetime, Sherry has regretted having her kids. She knows that she is a constant source of inspiration for her kids. Moreover, she knows that she has provided her children with the best of resources that she could have as a parent, under the circumstances.


A Driving Force To Eradicate Forced Child Marriage

  1. Her Period of Dormancy – For a while, Sherry lay dormant and voiceless in the shadows. However, she soon realized that she wasn’t the only victim of child marriages. There were multitudes of children who still faced the same problems every year. And she knew that it wasn’t enough for her to fight her own battles. She had to create a world where child marriage was banned. It was here that she started to lobby the Florida state legislature to make justifiable amends which could be successful in countering the act of child marriages.
  2. Connecting All Victims – The first project that Sherry undertook in her attempts to render child marriages illegal was to bring together all such victims together. She started an email and a hotline that was capable of countering the emptiness and hopelessness that the children feel when they are forcefully sent off to be married while they are still in their youth. This served as the means by which all such victims could come together with their woes and speak as well as seek help from others who have gone through the same problems. This simple gesture of knowing that there was someone who had gone through the same problems fuels the desire for someone to keep going on through their problems.
  3. The Birth of SB 140 – While facilitating the creation of laws to protect the rights of young children in marriage, Sherry faced innumerous rejections from the lawmakers. Being the steely-souled woman, she refused to give up. Even when they completely discarded her story, she kept on coming back to get the bill approved. However, the bigger problem was that the lawmakers refused to believe that their law was so imperfect in nature. However, it wasn’t long before someone actually verified Sherry’s accusations. And it here that her ideas began to be widely accepted by the lawmakers. This eventually gave birth to the Senate Bill 140, the law which protected child marriages while providing 17-year olds the right to marry in certain select conditions.
  4. The Passing of SB 140 – It was in 2013 when the Senate Bill was unanimously passed in the Florida senate. However, beyond this point, Sherry had to undergo a multitude of hurdles that were earlier not prevalent. The most prominent of these hurdles was the constant denial of the Bill whenever it reached the Senate. Almost every time, the bill would fizzle out whenever the Bill reached the senate. It was finally on the 23rd of March 2018 that the Senate finally passed the SB 140. The Governor who passed the legislation was Rick Scott.


Books By Sherry Johnson

To accentuate her efforts in helping prevent child marriages from happening any further, Sherry Johnson also wrote a book. The book was titled Forgiving The Unforgivable : Purple in a Darker Color. In the book, Sherry reveals everything relating to her traumatic childhood in detail. She completely opens herself up and reveals everything to the world that she had endured. Everything relating to her sexual assaults before the age of 10 and her forceful marriage life at the age of 11 is mentioned as well.

As she nears towards the end of the book, Sherry tells how she converted her childhood trauma overcame it to become a highly successful businessman and mother. When she launched the book in 2013, the idea was to use the book as a means by which she could further her cause to help children from being sent off to marry at a youthful period of their lives. However, she also wants such people to read this book who have suffered gravely at an early age in their lives and need to forgive people who have abused them.


Future Plans of Sherry Johnson

Even though the SB 140 has been passed, Sherry Johnson isn’t content. She feels that she has not yet accomplished her goals. In fact, for her future, she plans to work other non-profit organizations such as the AHA Foundation and go towards the ends of the nation to battle with child marriage cases. She believes that it is her life’s purpose to completely vanquish child marriage from the face of this earth and that there should be no child on this earth who is married. She wants lawmakers from all over the world to understand that they are the ones who are in charge of guarding the rights of children. Moreover, she also says that such lawmakers should work with the communities to spread awareness about child marriage.


Sherry Johnson’s story is one of the battles, hardships, and inspiration. In fact, she has been a constant inspiration to people from all the world owing to the problems that she faced and overcame. It wouldn’t be untrue to call her a beacon of light for children all over the world who are married forcefully without a say in the matter.

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Sandy Lerner – The Ousted Co-Founder Who Empowered a Complete Market

Sandy Lerner

Sandy Lerner

Known all around the world as the co-founder of Cisco Systems, Inc., Sandy Lerner is an American businesswoman and philanthropist who started the company with her ex-husband Leonard Bosack. It all began in the early 1980s when both Sandy and Leonard began working from the confinements of their computer labs, offices, and living room to create the first router to connect the entire computer system present within their school.

However, just during their first decade when Cisco was starting to boom all around the world, Sandy was fired from her own company, the one for which she and her husband had toiled hard for. With time, both of them soon sold all of their founder’s stock and began to pursue their interests. In an even more saddening turn of events, it was reported that by the time that they left the company, they were separated as well.

After being fired from Cisco Systems, Inc., Sandy went on to work on various philanthropic and writing projects. Fast forward to 2011, she released a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice titled Second Impressions, under her pseudonym Ava Farmer. In August 2017 she released a book named Caticons, a book on the art imitating cats.

However, all these incidents take place a bit too deep into the future. Let us go back to where it all began.

Sandy LernerImage Credit:

About Sandy Lerner 

Birth and Early Life

Sandy Lerner was born in 1955 as a native of northern California. Merely a youngling at the age of 4, she witnessed the divorce of her parents. As a result, her childhood was spent divided between the homes of her two aunts. However, this time boosted her entrepreneurial spirit. Located in California Sierras and Beverly Hills, her aunt’s homes significantly impacted her entrepreneurial attitude, albeit in a subtle manner. However, the most noteworthy transformation in her entrepreneurial being was brought forward during her time at the Clipper Gap ranch.

It is known that when Sandy was at the Clipper Gap ranch, she bought her first steer and sold it for a hefty profit after a couple of years. With her profits, she went on to buy two more heads of cattle. As time went on, she continued with these activities. And when it was time for her to leave for college, it was found that she had livestock comprising of more than 30 heads of cattle. This livestock supplemented her need for an income stream that paid her college tuition.



Higher education was a breezy affair for a young Sandy Lerner. Here is how her education timeline went.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in 1975 – Sandy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in 1975 from California State University. After her education in Political Science, Sandy considered her field of academia as a career. Her passion for this field was fueled by her fascination with comparative political studies. However, she soon realized that there was too little financial gain in this field.


  1. Master’s Degree in Econometrics in 1977 – When Sandy learned about the lack of financial opportunities in the field of academia, she went and received her Master’s Degree in Econometrics from the Claremont Graduate School in 1977. During this, she discovered her computer lab and found her interests in the field of computer science. Her frequent visits to the computer lab elevated her to the position of a manager. With the help of her newly found status, she began to employ the abilities of computers to perform quantitative data analysis required for her degree.


  1. Master’s Degree in Statistics and Computer Science in 1981 – Taking her newly found passion in Statistics and Computer Science in 1981, Sandy went on to Stanford University to earn her Master Degree. And it was here that she met her husband-to-be.


The Beginnings of Cisco

At Stanford University, Sandy soon got a job as the Director of Computer Facilities. While working here, she met her then-partner, Leonard Bosack, with whom she would be soon married to. Leonard and Sandy’s offices were a mere 500 yards apart. However, their computer worked independently to one another without any link to each other. In those days, if one wanted to share software and databases to other systems, they had to resort to time-consuming disk transfers.

 In their strive to share software and databases efficiently, they started to look for solutions that could connect their computer systems. They soon found one with the help of the router designed by Leonard Bosack. The couple was well aware of the fact that their computers were designed by the same corporate legend and that they ran the same operating systems. However, neither of these systems were connected to a network.

To remedy this, Lerner, Bosack, and a group of students and faculty members devised the first router which was capable of connecting the computer systems of the offices. As they gradually began to link the computer systems, they went on to link the entire computer systems that were spread across the entire school. And it was this that powered their ambition to set up Cisco Systems, Inc.

The company began when the couple faced problems in accessing the software present on each other’s computers. However, it has also been rumored that the main objective behind Sandy Lerner and Leonard Bosack connecting their systems, was to send romantic letters to each other.

Sandy Lerner’s Career At Cisco

Role: As their technology boomed, contracts began to flow in rapidly. More and more clients wanted them to link their systems with the router technology. Therefore, it was natural that Lerner and Bosack quitted their jobs and pursued on serving their clients with their technology on a full-time basis. It was during this brief period at Cisco that Sandy presided as the Vice President for Customer Services.

Moulding The Tech Giant – Building Cisco up to the tech giant that it is today was not an easy task. Initially, they were burdened with the task of keeping the business afloat. They even hired friends and neighbors by providing them deferred salaries and stock options. Furthermore, they mortgaged their homes and went deep into credit card debt to keep their business going. Their efforts were rewarded with results when the company began to land a contract worth more than $200,000.

External Funding – It was after 3 years of bootstrapping that the couple finally received external funding from a venture capitalist named Donald Valentine. And it was this step that marked their final days at the company.

Fired From Her Own Company – Donald Valentine wasn’t at all convinced at the way Lerner and her husband were managing the company. To counter this, he instated John Morgridge as the CEO of the company. When Valentine came abroad to provide funding to Cisco Systems, Inc., he provided his own lawyer to perform Lerner and Bosack’s vesting agreement as well. This did provide a clause about their founder’s stock but conveniently left out their employment contract. Don took advantage of this and when his and Sandy’s clashes became highly frequent in 1990, he finally got her fired in August in the same year. Hearing this, Leonard too resigned to show his support for Sandy.  

Notable Philanthropic Work

Previously, before they were fired, Cisco System, Inc. went public in February of 1990. After their departure, the couple found themselves with $170 million in the form of stocks. They soon began to sell their stocks and completely retired from the company. With their new-found wealth, the couple established the Bosack Kruger Charitable Foundation. They funded several philanthropic projects via this. A few of such include:

  1. Restoration of the Chawton House – In 1992, Sandy bought the Chawton house and refurbished it back to its glory. The 300-acre manor house was once owned by Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight. In 2003, Sandy opened the house to the public as a Centre for the Study of Early Women’s Writing.
  2. A Co-Sponsor of SETI – The foundation majorly funded SETI or the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence to build the 160-million channel, dual-beam receiver. This receiver was to use a mega channel spectrometer to enhance the search for extraterrestrial beings.
  3. Funding The Folsom Zoo – Sandy has always had a great love for Animal Welfare. To provide animals with the greatest of care, she set up the Folsom Zoo. Folsom Zoo is a facility set in Northern California which is also known as the Misfit Zoo. The facility was named as such owing to them being either deserted, abandoned, or injured in the wild.
  4. Development of the Lab Rat and PetWhere Program – To provide further care to animals, Sandy developed the Lab Rat and PetWhere programs. The Lab Rat program educates scientists about the humane treatment of lab animals. The PetWhere, or more specifically PetWhere 2.6 software, has been playing a vast role in reuniting lost animals with owners and providing the required help and care.

However, these are not the only philanthropic acts of Sandy Lerner. Even today, she continues to work for animal welfare and organic produce for the betterment of humankind.


Books and Publications

During her lifetime, Sandy Lerner authored two books, namely Second Impressions and Caticons: 4000 Years of Art Imitating Cats.

  1. Second Impressions Sandy authored Second Impressions under her pseudonym, Ava Farmer. Set in the times of Jane Austen, it acts as a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. The story further extends the story of the Darcy family and their relationships to 10 years after Ms. Bennet got rid of her two most undeserving daughters. The books completely polarized the readers. While some commended her writing style, others disapproved the lack of research.
  2. Caticons: 4000 Years of Art Imitating Cats Caticons was a limited edition book that Sandy launched under her real name. Encompassing her private collection of all things feline, the book celebrated the extraordinary art of relationships between cats and their human companions. Containing data researched from over 30 years, it contains data from the various corners of the art world, catalogs, foreign shores, and cyberspace.

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The Ayrshire Farm

When Sandy was ousted from her own company, it was natural that Sandy felt highly dejected and broken. By taking part in multiple philanthropic projects, she gradually recovered and began to look for a need in the marketplace which she could fulfill. This need brought her to Virginia, more specifically the Ayrshire Farm in 1996. When she first saw the 793-acre farm, she instantly understood that it was a highly neglected asset. And it was here that she chalked out her plan to provide people with an environmentally conscious, sustainable future.

Initially, the farm was merely a piece of overgrown land. However, this was enough to convince Sandy that the land was apposite for her organic farming needs. For her, organic farming meant farming in a way that was wholly unalike to the industrial production of agricultural produce, the procedure in which most food produced was cultivated in the USA at the time. In Upperville, near her farm, Sandy also erected a restaurant named Hunter’s Head Tavern. The restaurant serves numerous highly-acclaimed dishes, all of which are farmed freshly from the Ayrshire farm.

Additionally, Ayrshire Farm has also become a hub for several agricultural meetings. The magnificent manor house of the Ayrshire Farm has become a site for an annual event known as the Beastie Bazaar. The event conducts meetings and talks for improving the situation of abandoned and neglected animals. It also showcases events about organic farmings. Moreover, within the confinements of this farm, Sandy also hosts several cattle-farming association meetings.


The Ampersand Foundation

It was during the early 1990s when Sandy and her husband Leonard announced about their separation. As heart-breaking it was for both of them, they both considered it to be the right thing, for they seldom performed any activities as a couple. In spite of this, their work paths and schedules still ensure that their paths kept crossing. One such work paths that duo shared was the formation of Ampersand foundation by the name of Ampersand Capital. Ampersand Capital Partners was a venture capital limited partnership that they had set up by vesting a major portion of their individual Cisco founder’s stocks.

Sandy and Leonard are known as two of the most philanthropic people in Silicon Valley. And it is by the means of the Ampersand Foundation that they accomplish such projects. With the help of the venture capital firm, the duo founded a majority of projects occurring around them. Two such projects that were managed by a charitable division of the firm are the aforementioned Lab Rat and Pet Net Projects which are in charge of overseeing animal welfare. Lab Rat is a project that was set up to oversee the humane treatment of animals in labs. On the other hand, Pet Net was a conglomeration that was set u to bring together innumerous local humane societies for taking care of their pets.

Ampersand Capital Partners also takes care of an irreversible trust, within which lies a majority of their fortune that is to be sent to various charities when they depart from this earthly plane. Finally, the venture capital firm also funded Urban Decay, a cosmetics brand that was co-founded by Sandy. Urban Decay is now a subsidiary of the French cosmetics company known as L’Oréal.


Urban Decay

Urban Decay was brought to life in 1996. After being ousted from her own company, she looked for projects where she could brainstorm and deliver results to completely revolutionize the industry. And the opportunity presented itself in the form of another Urban Decay co-founder Wende Zomnir, a fellow in the field of marketing. As both women got to talking, they shared detailed conversations about the situation of cosmetics in which they attained common ground on the fact that the entire cosmetic industry was flooded with pink and red lipsticks.

As it turned out, companies were experimenting only with these two colors. And it was here that both women sought to do something about the situation. When Sandy started to work with Zomnir, she genuinely felt that the cosmetic industry was not undergoing any revolution and that it was the only market that neither being addressed. To remedy this, both women went ahead and started to experiment with a myriad range of colors and materials. Nonetheless, they soon require help from their neighbors and friends for neither of them housed any prior knowledge nor experience regarding the field of cosmetic chemistry.

In spite of this, both of them were fully committed to the idea of starting a cosmetic company that could provide high-quality cosmetic products, unlike the ones being sold in the market. And it did, as was visible in the company’s $130 million turnovers in 2011. However, by that time Sandy had long severed all ties with the company. The company was first sold to LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE. It was sold twice again before L’Oreal finally acquired it.

Disclaimer:This post contains affiliate links from Amazon. An affiliate link means that when you purchase using the link provided in this page, I would get a small referral fees WITHOUT any extra cost to you. I highly appreciate your understanding and support.