Fashion and beauty blogger Ofunne Amaka has channeled her #BlackGirlMagic in the best possible way–she created a solution to a common beauty problem.
As a dark-skinned woman, she was frustrated with not seeing makeup modeled on women of different complexions. So after completing her Master’s degree in Communications from Columbia University, the 26-year-old turned her idea into a business.
Cocoa Swatches, developed by Amaka, is an Instagram account that shows how makeup swatches look on dark skin. Launched in March 2015, the account has more than 30,000 followers. Amaka took it one step further by launching her own Cocoa Swatches app that includes her makeup collection as well as other black beauty bloggers. The venture ranks her among beauty entrepreneurs who are changing the beauty game through technology.
We caught up with Amaka to talk beauty and the future of her company.
BCB: When it comes to finding makeup for women of color, what are you finding to be the top concerns from your followers?
There are so many different foundations and it’s hard for people to find the right brand. So they begin to use multiple products on the face, having to go through trial and error.
A lot of these popular colors that are trendy are often made for lighter skin, and it doesn’t look the same on darker skin. People will get frustrated when it looks different on them.
Some of these brands don’t make it easy to test the products. Sometimes it might not be in their shade and they’ll go online and order thinking it will suit them. But that’s not always the case.
BCB: When you’re shopping for makeup what are some of the problems you come across?
Some of the problems that arise would be not getting expert opinion. I used to go to free makeovers with friends and the outcome would be frustrating because the makeup didn’t look good on me.
BCB: How did you resolve your makeup problems?
I don’t think I’ve resolved it. I think it’s a solution, just not the only solution. People are going to send me stuff that don’t look good on me and I think that on the brand’s side they can do more by creating more shades.
Women of color featured in beauty magazines tend to have lighter complexions and that’s how Cocoa Swatches started. I wanted to expose lipsticks that look different on skin tones because it wasn’t apparent in beauty communities I followed.
BCB: Why lips? Why did you make it your focus?
Lips is the easiest because it’s something that the community is into.
BCB: Do you use your own products or have brands asked you to promote their makeup?
At first it was really just me using my makeup collection that existed, but brands have been sending me some stuff. I have to decide how I’m going to handle that in terms of a business model because I don’t want to show my followers something they’re not interested in.
BCB: What are some of your favorite beauty brands?
I have different brands for different things. For lipstick I do like ColourPop, Mac, Coloured Raine’s lipstick called Cherry Blossom. For foundation I use Lancome, Nars and Black Opal.
BCB: What advice would you give an up and coming entrepreneur?
If somebody is interested in the freelance life they need to do research and plan out what they want. I did a lot of research and with my background in communications, I did a lot of strategic work in trying to launch the page and the app. If you want to go into something that’s unconventional, I would say make sure you have a game plan because things won’t always go your way.