Breaking Beauty Barriers: The Inspiring Journey of Cocoa Swatches and the Power of Inclusivity in the Makeup World

February 1, 2024

In the spotlight for Black History Month, we feature the multi-talented Ofunne Amaka, a beauty designer, product consultant, and owner of a thriving beauty brand. Ofunne's impact reverberates through the launch of the Cocoa Swatches app, a groundbreaking tool dedicated to assisting dark-skinned beauty enthusiasts. Through this innovative platform, she not only champions inclusion in the beauty industry but also crafts culturally relevant content on social media.

What inspired you to create the Cocoa Swatches app, and how do you believe it has contributed to empowering and including dark-skinned women of color?

I created the Cocoa Swatches app to fill a huge void in the beauty industry. It was such a laborious process for makeup lovers with deeper skin tones to even engage with makeup. Oftentimes, makeup brands would not showcase their products on darker skin tones at all, or when they did, the colors were photoshopped and looked wildly inaccurate. The Cocoa Swatches app was meant to be a place where people could get real makeup swatches and recommendations from me and their peers. It gave them the information they needed to be able to start having fun with makeup again and to make more informed purchasing decisions. The app proved to be a disrupter - it solved a problem for darker-skinned beauty lovers, while also exposing to many others that such a problem even existed. Since then, we have seen a shift in makeup marketing - more and more beauty companies are attempting to include inclusive shopping tools on their websites and in stores.

In your journey to champion inclusivity, you've spoken at prestigious institutions like Yale and Columbia University. Can you share a memorable experience or impact you've witnessed when engaging with students on the importance of representation in the beauty world?

I think every time I meet a young person who recognizes me in public, I realize the impact representation can have. Seeing the excitement on their faces and hearing them recount how much they interact with my platform reminds me of how much work is needed.

Your contributions extend beyond technology, such as guest speaking on NPR's 1A and being recognized as one of Vogue Business's Top 100 Innovators. How do these experiences help amplify your message of inclusivity, and what do they mean to you personally?

Being validated by these prestigious institutions is very rewarding, but I get more excited at the opportunity it presents to expose messages about diversity, equity, and inclusion to a larger audience. The more we can have conversations about these topics, the more they can become normalized and hopefully lead to real, lasting change.

Being featured in renowned publications like Allure, Elle, and Teen Vogue signifies a broader recognition of your work. How do you navigate the responsibility that comes with being a voice for inclusivity in the beauty industry, and what do you hope to achieve in the future with your platform?

I have always thought, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” so I never want to take the platform that I have lightly. I believe that my job is to voice the grievances and triumphs that many others like me may experience and to help amplify the voices of others - the voices of those who are often underrepresented or ignored. I hope that my platform provides a safe space to learn about makeup, have fun with it, and have those tough conversations that often go unheard.

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