If there’s one word beauty brands are waving like a banner in 2018, it’s diversity. While we love seeing companies with major clout spotlighting the importance of inclusion, we sometimes worry that it’s simply seen as a trend. And if you’re a consumer without insider access, it can be hard to trust that the people making your products are actually in it for the long haul.
Ofunne Amaka feels the same way. If her name isn’t familiar to you, perhaps you’ve heard of her creation, Cocoa Swatches. Back in April 2015, it became the first omnichannel platform to regularly display swatches of popular makeup products on brown skin.
Its purpose is to help beauty lovers with underrepresented complexions find makeup products that work for them. It does this by utilizing a variety of media, including a mobile app and Instagram, essentially becoming a makeup bestie that you can carry in your pocket.
Long before brands started promoting their extensive shade ranges, Amaka was inspired to start Cocoa Swatches after realizing she was “constantly lacking the tools needed to properly indulge in the practice.”
“As a fashion blogger, makeup was also a creative extension of my personality and my outfits,” she tells StyleCaster. “It was so hard to find something as simple as the right foundation shade or the right red lipstick. I wanted to create a platform for beauty lovers who looked like me, who also had a hard time finding the makeup products they were looking for.”
Since its 2015 genesis, Cocoa Swatches has grown exponentially and woven itself into the fabric of the beauty industry. It’s quite the feat, considering the fact that makeup swatches, regardless of their popularity, still aren’t always seen as “sexy” or aspirational.
“I really believe so many fun things can be done with swatches, especially for a community that is often still looking for the basic tools they need to really be creative and express themselves.”
And as someone who gets a glimpse at the inner workings of the big-shot brands, Amaka confirms that although baby steps are being made, we still have a ways to go, especially since this isn’t the first time the industry has treated inclusivity as a trend.
“It’s great that so many brands are making strides to be more inclusive, but I hope it’s a true change and not just for public perception.” So what will it take to sustain the current movement? Ensuring that diversity remains an integral part of makeup companies doesn’t begin and end with a wide foundation range. In order for real change to happen, Amaka stresses the importance of placing people of color throughout the ideation process.
“Maybe the models are diverse or the influencers a brand is working with may be diverse, but if the people behind the scenes still all look the same, I feel like more definitely can and needs to be done,” says Amaka.
“I hope that the beauty industry does away with this paternalistic view of diversity and inclusion that still has the same shade of people making the big decisions, while the minorities are still at the bottom of the food chain. I hope that we have diversity in the chemistry lab, the marketing team on set at a photo shoot, and on the board of directors.”
So while we love seeing advertising campaigns that feature men and women of all shapes and sizes, Amaka makes an important point: their voices and opinions need to be valued as well.