While many businesses donate to charity in some way, Cathy Kangas, who founded the skincare line Prai Beauty in 2000, made it a part of her mission right from the start. “When I created Prai Beauty that was one of my stipulations—my brand ethos—that we had to be 100% cruelty-free and we had to give back,” says Kangas. “Currently, Prai Beauty gives a quarter of a million dollars a year to animal causes.”
Kangas, who is on the board of the Humane Society of the United States and also the head of the Cathy Kangas Foundation for Animals, has done a tremendous amount of work for the world’s animals, from dogs to cats to horses and more. That includes supporting initiatives such as Canine Companions for Independence, which pairs service dogs and people with disabilities, and an equine therapy program at SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary in upstate New York.
“Since I was a child, I truly believe one thing more than anything and that is we have all the power over animals. How we use that shows who we are. They have no voice and I feel particularly passionate to help those who are vulnerable,” she says.
To that end, Kangas also spearheaded the establishment of Free the Shelters, an adoption initiative across 85 shelters where, for one weekend a year, she completely covers the cost to adopt an animal. And it’s making a huge difference: Since it started three years ago, more than 6,000 animals have been adopted.
“WE ARE KNOWN AS THE ‘NECKSPERTS’ AND THE ‘NECK AUTHORITY’ BECAUSE
WE TARGET THE NECK, WHICH AGES 20 TIMES FASTER THAN THE FACE.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kangas has taken that initiative even further. Through Prai for Paws, the brand’s philanthropic arm, and the Cathy Kangas Foundation for Animals, Kangas paid all adoption costs for an entire month at shelters across the U.S., including PAWS in Norwalk, CT, and Bridgeport Animal Control in Bridgeport, CT. This has been particularly impactful since many families are looking to adopt a new pet during this time—but many shelters find themselves with less staff and resources. The adoptions themselves followed social distancing rules, with individual appointments set up and processing happening outside.
“Animals provide the best friend ever— they are loyal, their love is enduring, and what better way to have an amazing companion by your side during such a traumatic time in our history?,” she asks. In April, families adopted more than 1,200 dogs and cats through the initiative.
AN AGELESS BEAUTY LINE
That love for animals crosses into her beauty company as well. One great perk, for instance? “Pawternity” leave, where employees can take a paid week off to spend time with their new shelter-adopted pet.
Beyond that, as Kangas mentioned, the brand—which includes everything from serums to eye creams and gels—is 100 percent cruelty free. It’s also Leaping Bunny certified, which means the line meets specific standards for not testing on animals, and is PETA-approved.
“We create clever, targeted solutions for problems that all women experience,” says Kangas, who lives in New Canaan, CT.
Specifically, Kangas, who has spent more than two decades in the beauty industry, wanted to take women over 50 into consideration. “They were the forgot- ten women,” she says. “They stopped mattering and it was hard to witness, especially as it started to pertain to me. I also realized that the massive prices being charged for these products was absolutely not necessary. My belief was all women should have access to the best beauty products, but at an affordable price.”
So she provided that access. Today, Prai Beauty’s products run the gamut from 24K Gold Caviar Wrinkle Repair Serum, which retails for $50 for 1.7 ounces, to Ageless Eye D-Crease, which sells for just $27. Plus, there are limited edition sets in pretty, bejeweled packaging, like the Animal Lover’s Platinum Set, which comes complete with a serum and cream, that starts at $75.
But the best known product? The Ageless Throat & Décolletage Neck Cream. “We are known as the ‘necksperts’ and the ‘neck authority’ because we target the neck, which ages 20 times faster than the face,” explains Kangas. The product enjoys a cult-like following, she says—with one sold every 60 seconds.
And the company continues to grow. Prai Beauty recently debuted at Marks & Spencer in the UK—and quickly skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the store’s top beauty brand, says Kangas. And as the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be felt, Kangas is grateful to continue to create the products she loves.