Exclusive Interview with…Ofunne Amaka – Creator of Cocoaswatches

‘If you are a black woman, you need to download this app. Without a shadow of a doubt.’

It is a known issue that Black women are underrepresented in the beauty industry and you guys know how I feel about this.  

Although black women reportedly spend millions and millions on beauty, finding products for dark skin tones is challenging. The beauty industry needs to change.

Ofunne Amaka, a proud Nigerian American is seeking to make a difference in this industry with her new app: Cocoaswatches which shows how makeup swatches look on darker skin tones. She saw this problem within the Beauty industry and sought to challenge it.

This app is doing amazingly well, and has been downloaded over 30,000 times. The app has received great reviews from users all around the world, and I completely agree. I personally use it when I want to buy any makeup product, just as a way of double-checking if it works on my skin tone. 

The Cocoaswatches app is available on both iOS and Android devices.

Who is the woman behind Cocoaswatches? 

The woman behind Cocoaswatches is me, Ofunne Amaka.

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Please tell me abit more about the app?

The app contains both my posts, my swatches and the Instagram swatches which is cool for people who don’t want to scroll through the instagram feed looking for something. The app is perfect for people on the go. They can search through the app, whether I have swatched it or someone else has swatched it.

Other features of the app: The app also contains a discussion section where people can discuss issues, and can raise requests for future swatches, or anything in general they want to see, such as makeup and beauty requests. There are also a couple of sections, such as ‘cocoapicks’, where I reached out to a few influencers to get their opinions about the makeup products they like. This is a way to get their unbiased opinions and to share their favourite products. 

Videos of the week – In this feature, I look for the Youtube videos of great makeup experts with great and helpful content. I post a few videos a week. 

A great thing about the app is that you can bookmark any posts that you like and comment on posts. The app also has links of where to buy the products. It is an interactive platform.

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What motivated you to start an app? 

I wanted to create an app because I had a goal of focusing on the end user and their shopping experience. I wanted to help their shopping experience become better and more streamlined. Also, to help people make better purchasing decisions. I was brainstorming ways on how this could easily done. Firstly, I thought about creating a website or a blog, but if you are shopping in the store or online, you need something that is available on your mobile phone, rather than typing in a website. The app was the optimal solution to the problem I was trying to solve. I did alot thinking and research on this area. An app is readily and easily available on every situation. So it was the perfect option for me.

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What has been the highlight of your career?

I wouldn’t say I am that far along. I just concluded my masters, and I am graduating soon. I had some experience in corporate communications and branding. This app has been receiving so much positive feedback. Hearing that people are finding it useful has been a highlight for me, because that was my end goal. that is what I wanted to do, I want to help people like me. People who don’t see themselves represented in advertising and product development where they cannot find their shades. I just wanted to help people. Just the fact that people that know about the app has been a highlight. I didn’t expect it to get so much buzz. I just created it as a extension of the Instagram page.

(Ofunne has just graduated from Colombia University! She was studying while she created this amazing app! So inspiring!)

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How did you juggle everything? What tips would you give someone juggling different things as the same time?

I have always been a multi-tasker, I was a student athlete and ran track in college and so I guess for me, I am used to it. I make alot of lists, and I drink coffee (laughs). To be honest, a lot of planning went into launching the app, as opposed to the Instagram page where I was doing trial and error.

I researched the industry as a whole, I did my thesis on MAC cosmetics. I really did study and plan out what the vision for the app was going to be. I set the goals that I wanted, who do I want the app to reach. When you make those bigger pictures early on, it is easier to juggle the smaller things because you already know what direction you want to go in. If something comes along, it is easier to say yes or no, and act on it, because you already know the direction and the story you want to tell. 

Thinking about those things ahead of time really helps you. I have my own way of being organised. I make lists. I make a list of what I want to achieve in the day and cross things off the lists as I go along. It really helps me outline my short term goals and to remind me of what I have going on and what I have to do. Little organisational tools will definitely help. I run to help me de-stress, it is good to take mental breaks, because you cannot work 24/7 or else you will crash.

(I love that Ofunne had a vision and set goals of what she wanted to achieve from the app. People tend to underestimate how much hard work goes into these things)

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What principles have really worked for you?

This a tough question. Never allow someone to tell me what I can or can’t do. As a darker skin woman, people try to underestimate you or place you into a box of what they believe you are capable of. I try not to let people define me and what I can and cannot do.

I think self -confidence is something I struggled with as a darker skin woman, a nigerian- american. Doing track actually helped me with this because it is a very mental sport. The race is less than 12 seconds long, so you need to mentally strong and believe in your capabilities. This is something I am working on. Life is a mental game which means believing in your abilities and your capabilities. It is not easy to do, especially in an environment where dark skin women are not represented or celebrated. 

It is really hard but you take one step at a time.

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What are the three items in your makeup bag that you cannot live without?

There are three things that are essential for me. The darkest black eyeliner, matte lipsticks… I don’t care how drying they are, I love how clean they look. Lastly, a good tinted moisturiser, because if my skin is having a good day, if I have on lipstick and eyeliner, I think I will be ok. 

(Seriously, those are my three items!)

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Thank you so much Ofunne for spending some time with me today. I really appreciate it. You are incredibly inspiring and you are making a difference in the Beauty industry.

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