Tsunami survivor Petra Nemcova is probably most widely-known for her against-all-odds safe emergence from the 2004 disaster (that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, including the model’s fiancé, Simon Atlee), but the runway star is back in the news as she launches Clinique’s Happy Hearts perfume.
Petra Nemcova rose to fame after a childhood behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia — but when the tsunami hit, the model escaped with her life and a broken pelvis after clinging to the top of a palm tree for a harrowing eight hours. Altee was swept to sea by the waters, and after the tragedy, Nemcova launched the Happy Hearts Foundation in 2005. (Her late fiancé had been fond of saying “a day without laughter is a day wasted.”)
Earlier this week, Petra Nemcova appeared at the Union Square Macy’s to launch the Happy Heart Foundation’s new initiative with makeup brand Clinique. For every bottle of Happy Hearts perfume sold at $37.50, $10 has been pledged to Happy Hearts.
Nemcova discussed her impetus to use her celebrity to help the residents of Thailand, where she was at the time the tsunami hit. The model says of the tragic experience:
“When something like that happens, it can either bring you down the spiral or it can empower you … The point of my travel now is to make people happy everywhere.”
Of the work Happy Hearts is doing in the country, Petra explains that making a difference is easier with a partnership like the Happy Hearts perfume launch:
“We started just to rebuild one school in Thailand, and then fast forward we built 70 … But you can’t get much bigger and do it alone. We needed a smart partnership.”