The good thing about documentary filmmaking resides in the massive knowledge you gain and interesting bits of information you learn about on as many varied subjects. The economy, for instance, is a subject that, honestly, held little attraction for meâ¦ until I worked as an assistant editor, back in 1995, on a wonderful NFB documentary by renowned director Terre Nash. The film is called “Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies & Global Economics“. Besides the catchy title, this film was an eye-opener. The concepts put forth by Marilyn Waring over twenty years ago could perhaps have staved off this current crisis. If only we had listened…
Flash-forward fifteen years and here I am as a field director for the GDP series of webdocs. Over the course of this year, I will be following Isabel and Pierre, the founders and co-owners of a soap manufacturing enterprise. Their company manufactures and distributes ecological skin-care products. It is a company they both created out of their home in the backwoods of New Brunswick in 1996. It now boasts seven boutiques and seven franchises across central and eastern Canada, as well as in the state of New York.
An economic term I learnt in my first conversation with Pierre (sorry if this is common knowledge to many of you) is something called the Lipstick Indicator.
“The Leading Lipstick Indicator is based on the theory that a consumer turns to less expensive indulgences, such as lipstick, when she (or he) feels less than confident about the future. Therefore, lipstick sales tend to increase during times of economic uncertainty or a recession. This term was coined by Leonard Lauder (chairman of Estee Lauder), who consistently found that during tough economic times, his lipstick sales went up. For example, in the months following the September 11 terrorist attacks, lipstick sales doubled.” – Investopedia, A Forbes Digital Company
Since the Great Depression, when it was first observed, this lipstick index has been as predictable as any proven unit of measurement. However, it seems to be of general consensus that in these particular economic troubled times, the theory is waning.
According to an article by Joe Fresh and Hollie Shaw in the Financial Post published in February of this year:
“The famous lipstick index is true, but you have to work the categories pretty hard, …if you look at the numbers of some of the cosmetics brands overall, they are not doing that well. Indeed, at industry giant Estee Lauder, fourth-quarter net income fell 30% and sales of its makeup brands fell 12%.â
Another article I came across spoke of upscale skincare brand Crabtree & Evelyn Ltd. filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the beginning of July of this year.
At the soap enterprise that Iâm documenting, they have also felt the crunch. They experienced a 25% drop in sales this past winter and spring. Not a negligible amount. Despite this, they are in full growth as a company. I feel privileged to film this company, determined to exist, to grow and to provide for its employees despite the many economic set-backs they now have to face.
Pamela Gallant, Field director on the GDP project