The Birth of Cocoa Swatches
If you’re a black or brown makeup lover on Instagram, you’ve likely come across Cocoa Swatches, a curated beauty account of 160,000 followers— full of swatches dedicated to showing makeup on melanated skin. Cocoa Swatches was founded in 2015 by Ofunne Amaka, a Nigerian-American beauty entrepreneur based in LA. The idea to launch Cocoa Swatches came out of a need. She’d found it difficult to pick makeup products that worked for her skin tone and was frustrated after wasting money on those that didn’t pan out. Ofunne wanted to have a place where people could see how makeup swatches truly looked on their darker skin. A year after launching Cocoa Swatches on Instagram, Ofunne had the business idea to create an app for her budding brand. And that’s when things really took off. She started getting attention from brands and soon began living the life of a content creator. But, this was only the beginning for the young beauty maven.
In April of this year, Ofunne was cast in a billboard for beauty giant, Milani Cosmetics. She’d worked with them in the past, creating content and also sitting on makeup panels. When the opportunity for the campaign came about, Ofunne was top of mind. It went so well that she was asked to do another campaign and this time the images were featured on billboards across Los Angeles.
A New Makeup Line
After launching Cocoa Swatches, Ofunne was mainly centered on the content side of the beauty business. Seeing mostly the backend of the industry, she didn’t know if she would ever want to have her own makeup brand. To her, the industry seemed so saturated. “But as I started to literally swatch more and more products to see how things looked on my skin tone, I realized that a lot of brands are really not catering to Black folks with deeper skin. I started to get frustrated with the lack of options for nude shades,” Ofunne said. Instead of just noting the issue, she wanted to become apart of the solution. Ofunne wanted to create products that she wanted to see. She asked herself what was stopping her. And from there, BARE. (pronounced “Bare Period”) was born.
The Lowdown on Nudes
BARE. is a line of four custom-blended nude lip glosses. “I think that nudes are an interesting concept that we’ve seen grow over the years,” Ofunne said. “So I really wanted to start out with that idea of expanding what nudes are. Even though brands are starting to include more brown tones in their nude collections, we’re still not seeing a lot of options when it comes to nude glosses, nude lipsticks. I wanted to fill the gaps that I saw.”
“I always finish my look with a gloss, so gloss was a natural first product. My goal with BARE. was to create a versatile product that gives your skin a pop but is intentionally created for darker skin tones, not just an afterthought — like a random color that you put at the end of a collection”. It took Ofunne two years between thinking of the business concept during the Pandemic to debuting the line of lip glosses, which officially launched in May.
Custom Shades Only
“With BARE., I really wanted to have the shades be custom. These are colors that really can’t be found anywhere else. I feel like these are shades that are missing that would really benefit and be received well by people with melanin.”
So, what’s next for the beauty trailblazer? Ofunne wants to perfect the lip category and make sure her product is seamless. There may be a possibility to expand in the future. With Ofunne’s stellar track record of championing women of color in the beauty space, we can expect great things to come.