For Kate Somerville — the Hollywood aesthetician and skincare guru whose A-list clients include Eva Mendes and Kate Hudson — the beauty industry saved her life. After enduring a rocky childhood, she met a mentor who showed her that she could choose her own path in life, despite her tumultuous upbringing. Flash forward several decades, and Somerville is now one of the most in-demand celebrity facialists — with her own product line, to boot.
“If [my mentor] didn’t come into my life when she did, I really don’t know where I would be,” Somerville tells Bustle, adding that it was a former boyfriend’s mother who took her under her wing when she was a teen. “When you grow up in chaos, the chaos is all you know and I didn’t know that I could choose my own way of life. She gave me unconditional love when I needed it as a teen, but also gave me tough love.”
Now, Somerville is hoping to give back some of the value and self-worth she gained through mentorship by partnering with Foster Nation, an organization that helps foster youth who are aging out of the system (usually at 18 or 21 years-old) to become self-sufficient. The long-term collaboration also comes along with a pledge from Somerville’s eponymous brand to donate $100,000 to the organization each year. What’s more, they’ve created the Kate Somerville + Foster Nation Defy Impossible Scholarship program, which will annually give five recipients the chance to attend school to become licensed aestheticians, like Somerville herself.
The partnership comes at a particularly harrowing time for foster youth, with the pandemic making it difficult to conduct foster care placements and adoptions — and forcing some young adults to leave the system amid a roiling health crisis. “During these uncertain times with the pandemic, foster kids are at home can be in really scary situations,” Somerville says. “They often rely on school meals and after-school programs, but are now at home in unloving and sometimes dangerous environments. Once I started hearing these harrowing stories, my heart broke for them because I know what it’s like to not have a stable place to lay my head. But these kids have it so much worse than my situation as I was never abused or starved.” Her goal, she adds, is to shine a light on this what she considers a “silent crisis” in America.
Foster youth interested in the new scholarship must submit a five-minute video on how a career in beauty will change their lives. The five winners will then be awarded $10,000 to cover their tuition and supplies for esthetician school, and both Somerville and Foster Nation are teaming up with the non-profit Beauty Changes Lives to ensure its success. Skin care pros from Somerville’s team will also offer mentorship and training opportunities for the recipients at the Kate Somerville Skincare Clinic in Los Angeles.
Somerville says she’s looking for someone tenacious with the passion to succeed. “These kids, teens, and young adults in the foster care system have all the odds stacked against them and they just need that one person in their corner.”
Despite her success, Somerville remains grounded and committed to paying it forward. “My past has taught me to never judge a book by its cover,” she says. “I think this is largely why I’ve been so successful with my celebrity clientele — I see them as humans and have never been wrapped up in the ‘celebrity.’ We all have different struggles and everyone has a story behind them.”
Entries for the Kate Somerville + Foster Nation Defy Impossible Scholarship open on August 2.