The Gloss Box Totally Beautiful Girl: Marisa Renee Lee
“Fun and philanthropy are not mutually exclusive!” announces Marisa Renee Lee, The Gloss Box's Totally Beautiful Girl— and founder of The Pink Agenda, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer care and research among young professionals.
Marisa started The Pink Agenda as a reaction to the diagnosis of her mother with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, following a nine year battle with Multiple Scelrosis. She spent the time just before she was to graduate from college managing her mother’s health situation – researching countless new medications, cancer trials, and physicians. Her light bulb moment occurred while watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
“It was the episode in which George's father is battling both cancer and a serious heart condition. When they opened up his chest to operate on his heart, they discovered that the cancer had metastasized to most of his major organs. Instead of a healthy pinkish-red hue, all of his organs were covered in this black nastiness. I felt like cancer was eating him alive, and it was.
I immediately made the connection that what I was seeing on TV could just as easily have been the body of my own mother, and that was just unacceptable to me. I proceeded to have a mini-breakdown and woke up the next day having decided that I would throw a party to raise money for beast cancer research and awareness of the disease, and what is now known as The Pink Agenda was born just a few weeks later.”
The accidental beginnings of The Pink Agenda became her lifeline while she was processing her grief as her mother ultimately succumbed to the disease. Marisa’s commitment to her mother inspired her to do something to make difference in the lives of those who were currently confronting—or would eventually face a similar diagnosis
With the help of her awesome friends and co-workers, Marisa was able to get people on board with her agenda, and now throws fun star-studded events that help raise money to eradicate this disease—while having a great time. Her busy schedule doesn’t ever let up, because she also works full time in the world of finance. Her advice for busy women: engage yourself in a cause you feel strongly about, so nothing can discourage you from the hiccups along the way.
With persistence and passion, The Pink Agenda has had the opportunity to raise money in the Hamptons over cocktails, and party with the Kardashians. Coming up is The Pink Agenda’s Annual Spring Gala, being held in Manhattan on Thursday, May 20th at The Box (Click here to get tickets and learn more ...S & G will be there!).
“Endeavor everyday to have fun while helping out.”
We had to get Marisa’s beauty secrets, because her skin, hair, smile and style are all so covetable (as you can see, she is VERY beautiful, inside and out!). So we had to ask her the pressing questions…
TGB: You go on vacation and you realize you forgot your makeup kit. What is the first thing you run out and buy? What is the brand you would search for?
MRL: The first thing I actually do is freak out for a few minutes. Once I am done freaking out, assuming that my moisturizer and favorite Chanel mini fragrances were in a different bag, the first thing I go for is foundation. I think flawless skin, or at least the appearance of flawless skin, is key. I usually go with MAC as I have found they have the best color options for darker skin tones.
TGB: Any embarrassing makeup flubs or embarrassing experiences?
In my house in addition to dance, you had to pick a sport and as a kid I grew up playing basketball. I was a pretty dedicated center and power forward even though I was twelve and totally self-conscious, I used to wear make-up especially for well-attended weekend games. My dad was one of our coaches and after a particularly painful loss; he totally called me out on spending more time on my face than my jump shot. I of course denied the whole thing and continued to wear make-up to our games. (S’s note: THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME! Except it was my coach who was badly in need of some mascara herself and at 5’10 in the 6th grade, I was obviously a center.)
TGB: My first beauty purchase was…
MRL: My first beauty purchase (in my mind) was probably actually purchased by my mother as I was only six, but it is definitely one of my favorites! I had this amazing Tinkerbell nail polish that came in two shades-both had sparkles (S’s note: ME TOO! Again!). The stuff was particularly magical because it peeled off! I was positively fascinated and used to sit in the back of the bus on the way home from school showing other kids how it worked. I thought it was the most amazing thing ever!
S’s note: I am so excited because Tinkerbell peel-off nail polish from JCPenny was one of my first, and all time most thrilling makeup purchases too! Except I would just paint my nails in order to peel them and then throw the remnants all over the carpet and get in lots and lots of trouble for it…
TGB: What women inspire you? Who has inspired you in terms of your style and your beauty routine?
I have always been a huge fan of Jackie O. I feel that her style personifies Coco Chanel’s maxim that “a girl should always be two things: classy and fabulous.” I love her combination of simple and chic.
After Jackie, I would probably choose my mother. She definitely was not the MOST stylish woman I’ve ever seen, but she chose her wardrobe carefully and believed making a good first impression is one of the most important things in life. She always had impeccably tweezed eyebrows, perfect hair, and professionally manicured nails. She was getting mani-pedis at home up until a few weeks before her passing. She really believed in always looking good.
TGB: What is the hardest thing for you to find/what would be your dream beauty product?
My dream product would probably be some form of under eye concealer or eye brightener. I have two full-time jobs and therefore do not sleep as much as I should, so I need something that will make me look less tired than I actually am. Exhaustion is so unbecoming. S & G agree! Light reflectors are always a good alternative when you don't want to glop on mounds of concealer, like Smashbox's PhotoOp.
S & G are so inspired and uplifted by Marisa’s spirit and story, she is one of those women that radiates with the glow that only Totally Beautiful Girls have. We can’t wait to do our all to support The Pink Agenda! If you want more information, click on the link to learn about The Pink Agenda. Maybe we’ll even see you at the Gala!