Throughout history women of color have been underserved by the cosmetic industry. Popular brands either don’t make foundation in a wide range of shades or neglect to show how their products look on darker skin tones. Enter beauty blogger Ofunne Amaka. You may have heard of her popular Instagram account cocoaswatches where she posts and reposts makeup swatches from other beauty enthusiasts to showcase what beauty products look like on different skin tones for her followers.
Ofunne didn’t stop there. She took the concept to another level creating an app focused on skin tones that have gone unacknowledged. The Cocoa Swatches app is available for iPhones and Androids. The app allows users to scroll through product reviews, makeup tutorials, and curated swatches.
Find out more about Ofunne Amaka below!
What inspired you to start the Cocoa Swatches Instagram page?
After a number of disappointing purchases, where I ultimately guessed completely wrong about how a product would look on me, I thought to myself, “I wish there were resources available that allowed me to see swatches of the latest makeup products on darker complexions.” It was hard for me to accurately determine how a makeup product looked on me before I decided to purchase and I knew others had the same issue. I wanted to create a resource that would help alleviate this problem.
When did you decide to create the Cocoa Swatches App? How does it work?
I decided to create the Cocoa Swatches app after seeing how engaged the Cocoa Swatches community was. I really wanted to take things to the next level and help users make informed purchasing decisions easily. The app includes both original and user generated content. Users can search through past Cocoa Swatches Instagram posts which include used submitted makeup swatches on various complexions, in addition to seeing swatches of makeup products on my arm and on my face, as someone with a dark complexion. The app also has a special Cocoa Pick feature: a section that allows popular beauty influencers to share their favorite makeup products with our community. This also allows us to ensure that we feature a variety of skin tones in-app.
Please tell us about a day in the life of Ofunne. What do you do besides blogging and managing your app? What is your favorite part of what you do?
I recently decided to focus on Cocoa Swatches full time. I think of it as a brand and I am working to add more things under its umbrella. Every day is different. Some days I am going to meetings, other days I am shooting photos and videos, for the app, some days I am doing interviews or attending events or I am spending all day editing and planning. It really just depends. I don’t know if I have a “favorite part,” but I really do enjoy playing with makeup, so its fun to create looks to shoot for social media and the app.
What kind of impact do you hope Cocoa Swatches has on the beauty industry?
Typically, darker complexions are often left out of the conversation when it comes to beauty communications and product development. I hope Cocoa Swatches enables those with underrepresented complexions to feel more empowered in their makeup journey, while simultaneously making a bold statement about the lack of representation of these complexions in the industry.
What has been the most rewarding experience so far with Cocoa Swatches?
The most rewarding experience has definitely been hearing testimonies from those whom Cocoa Swatches has helped. It feels amazing to know that I am helping optimize people’s makeup experience in such an impactful way.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs like yourself?
I want my followers and girls with similar interests to know that perseverance is key. We live in a world where young women who look like me are more likely to be turned down and looked over than to be encouraged and led to thrive. Sometimes, you might need to make your own way, and create your own path. It may be hard, and mistakes may be made, but as long as you know in your heart what you set out to accomplish, you can be successful. Don’t let anyone else define what is beautiful, or define what success looks like. The only person who gets to do that is you.
Tell us about your self-care routine. How do you incorporate eating well and exercising into your busy schedule?
I don’t know that I have a “routine,” since my schedule is always changing. I do make a conscious effort to try to incorporate certain things into my diet, like Kale for example. If I feel like I’ve been eating poorly, I will make sure I eat a lot of Kale salad. I am also a former athlete, so I try to make sure I go for a run every now and then. It can be very calming. The days that I have to work inside all day, I will go outside to get some fresh air. The days I have to go out to multiple appointments, I like to take some me time once I get home.
What are some of your beauty secrets?
Definitely drinking as much water as you can and never forget to wash your makeup off before you go to bed!
What 3 products are in your Ultimate Beauty Arsenal – those Holy Grail products you just can’t live without?
My favorite is L’Oreal Paris Extra-Intense Liquid Pencil Eyeliner in Carbon Black
I love an easy to use liquid foundation. Some of my favorites include: L’Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation in Cocoa, Lancome Teinte Idole in 520, and Cover FX Natural Finish Foundation in G10
Ondrea Lee is an Operations Manger at Gold Label Cosmetics. When she’s not busy helping run a blossoming start up, Ondrea enjoys blogging about her beauty and fashion favorites. And she is a big foodie. Instagram / Twitter / Blog