I’m so glad to begin the second season of “Q & A with Founders” section this year with none other than my absolutely favorite skincare brand, OKOKO Cosmetiques. My last year’s interview (read it here) with the lovely Oyéta Kokoroko was personally one of my favorite ones and I was super ecstatic when she agreed to inaugurate the interview section again this year.
Greenchicgirl: A lot has happened since our last interview. Tell us something about the recent launch of your consulting service and the OKOKO Academy. What has inspired you to launch it?
Over the last several years, I have received numerous requests for mentorship and after helping some of my peers with their business, I decided to develop my indie skincare business mentoring program. I have created this platform to serve as a “guide” for entrepreneurs because I know how difficult it can sometimes be when you are growing a start-up. Okoko Academy provides helpful information to motivated entrepreneurs who want to get ahead with their business.
This new platform will serve to provide strategy, consultancy and mentorship for early and growth stage (body/skincare/makeup) business start-ups. My team and I will provide one-on-one coaching, consultations (business, marketing and branding) and internship opportunities. We are proud of this initiative which is a first in the green beauty industry, by a skincare brand. You can learn more by visiting OKOKO Academy website. (Do follow on Instagram at @okokoacademy)
Greenchicgirl: You teamed up with Joy Smith Foundation where 100% of proceeds of your limited-edition Christmas gifts went to this foundation. This Canadian organization helps spread awareness to end human trafficking. Is there any particular reason on joining forces with this foundation? Which are the other personal causes that you wish to contribute to more in the near future?
I have always believed that it is important to conduct my business in an ethical manner. There is also a growing expectation from consumers to have social responsibility and make a positive impact on the community. The Joy Smith Foundation is a great cause in which they provide a wide range of support ranging from psychology therapy, shelter and assistance to reintegrate into society. It is such an honorable cause and it touches women which is something really important to me. As a woman, I am sensitive to the causes that pertain to women and children. Giving back is important to us at OKOKO and in the future, my team and I hope to do more of this as well. You can learn more about what we do to give back by visiting OKOKO Cosmetiques website.
Greenchicgirl: Two of your products – the lip serum and the Limited-edition TRESOR body cream have marbled textures. What’s so special about marbled texture? Is it your favorite technique?
It is important to me to create innovative products because that is what our customers expect. I wanted to be a bit more creative and explore different techniques that are imaginative and are not explored as much in the current industry. The marbled texture of the lip serum was actually obtained unexpectedly through experiments and we found it quite fascinating. We ended up really loving it so we decided to continue with it! As it was received positively, I’m going to keep exploring different techniques and ways of formulating in the future in order to continue to fascinate our client base. I see my skincare like art. There are so many ways to get creative.
Greenchicgirl: You’d mentioned in our previous interview that OKOKO will launch products only based on customers’ demands. Since then, you’ve launched 4 new products – Secret Du Dragon – Gel-to-milk mask, Lip serum, (Limited-edition) TRESOR body cream and L’Elixir De Manuka- advanced acne serum. It must be an overwhelming and a challenging task to meet customers’ demands. How do you decide on the new products and its ingredients when you feel there’s a demand for it?
Yes, it can be overwhelming and sometimes I wonder how I am able to keep up! There are several ways in deciding the development of new products. We generally ask our audience what they want to see and with their recommendation, we begin our research. We want the audience to feel like they are part of the process as well and we are very thrilled to announce that there will be some surprises in 2019-2020.
Greenchicgirl: You don so many hats. You’re not only an exceptional formulator, you’re an amazing leader, entrepreneur, motivator, and a writer. How do you manage to multitask so well?
It is difficult at times, but I am very thrilled to announce that the team is growing so I’m getting more help and more time for myself and my loved ones! I love my work and constantly think of new ways to provide better value to my customers, improve my work and brand and how to make an impact. Nothing is achieved without perseverance, so it goes without saying that I am fully committed to myself and brand in order to achieve my goals.
Greenchicgirl: You’ve been doing so many things at an exceptionally fast pace. Is there any strategy that you follow, or do you take things as it comes to your mind?
The brand has been growing really fast that I cannot manage everything. Luckily, I have help. My team and I have regular meetings and my partner is also my advisor who assists me. We have a strategy which is really important. This year, I am trying to implement new strategies and have better time management in order to work more efficiently and effectively. There are so many distractions around us, so it is important for me to be accountable to other people.
Greenchicgirl: You’re one of those very few founders who openly talk and share tips on how to successfully run a beauty business, how to make effective skincare, collaborate with indie beauty brands, etc. on your personal blog – The Connector. How do you think it has been received by other beauty brands? Has any brand come forward supporting you on this?
It has been received very well. Fellow brands have said that I am taking a direction that other brands do not. Customers and brands welcome it and wish to see more collaborations. It is the way to have a healthy business while building connections. I am confident that I do not need to undermine other people to shine. I recognize that everyone has different talents and skills and it is necessary to support one another. The other platform I am involved in, The Connector is an information source and online network for the green beauty industry that allows brands to get exposure, customers to become more well informed, and beauty stores can find new brands as well. Special thanks to my friend, Lena Wild, for her wonderful support and contribution.
Greenchicgirl: You’ve launched a new acne serum – L’Élixir De Manuka. Your skincare collection already includes Sang Du Dragon & L’Élixir De Clarté – both work exceptionally well for acne-prone skin types. So why another acne serum? Also, could you please differentiate the serums to help potential customers choose the apposite one?
L’Élixir de Pureté, Sang Du Dragon is a fluid-like serum and L’Élixir de Manuka is an oil serum. I wanted to create a serum to complement Sang Du Dragon. It was previously a custom order for clients with acne-prone skin. Eventually we decided to make it a part of the permanent line because we have a big clientele with similar skin concerns. I wanted to provide a product targeting most of people’s skin needs. Also, Manuka has functional ingredients that are most soluble in oil composition. Therefore, Sang Du Dragon and L’Élixir De Manuka complement each other and they act as powerhouse when used together!
I am excited to see more reviews from our customers! L’Élixir De Clarté will act faster as it works on the surface. Results will be seen in the first few days since it contains AHA. L’Élixir De Clarté works best by improving the look of specific areas such as the chin or occasional skin challenges. We suggest to use Sang du Dragon for at least 2 months for best results. It requires patience and consistency to see results and L’Élixir De Manuka can be used after that to provide a more noticeable change across the skin look.
I decided not to use tee tree oil because it has shown to be too aggressive of the skin and people have shown to be allergic to tee tree oil in the past. Therefore, I decided to use a combination of essential oils that would be just as effective but not as harsh while respecting the dermal limits recommended by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). Our products are formulated following essential oils restrictions and dermal limits so they do not cause irritation, sensitization and toxicity.
Greenchicgirl: In the current scenario where you’ve attained so much of recognition; OKOKO has established itself as a well-known brand; and your products are being well received by skincare enthusiasts and customers alike, there’s bound to be some sort of criticism involved in the process. How well do you take criticism? How do you deal with it?
I try to be open to constructive criticism. I think feedback is crucial because it helps your brand improve and grow; otherwise, you will be constrained. I use feedback as a means of improvement in order to elevate my product line, my work, myself and the brand. Without feedback, I do not think my work would be where it is today. Feedback is knowledge and I do not mind if it is done in a constructive way. I would never engage in an argument with my customers. Instead, I would try to understand what might have gone wrong and I would reach out to the customer directly and offer assistance in what I can do as well as follow up.
Greenchicgirl: You’re also planning to start offering consultations soon. Tell us more about that.
I am excited about starting my one-on-one coaching in 2019! Since starting my brand, I have realized that I have a passion for formulating and helping others. I also love the branding aspect of a business. I love coming up with the branding strategy of a brand and the different aspects that make up the brand. In the future, I would like to bring my contribution as a luxury skincare formulator and a brand strategist. I would like to help launch other indie beauty brands because the beauty industry can be competitive. I would assist them with formulations, product development and other aspects of the business. This will be part of the consultation I offer through OKOKO Academy. You can learn more about my consulting packages here.
Greenchicgirl: Things must get pretty hectic and you’re a young achiever. How do you de-stress and unwind? What inspires you?
I de-stress by going to nice restaurants after work and enjoying a nice meal with great company. I also love to go to relaxing, eco-friendly resorts and be in contact with nature. As well, I love spending quality time with loved ones.
Greenchicgirl: What are your hobbies or favorite pastime activities?
Being in Vancouver, there are lots of activities to do! I love hiking, outdoor activities, reading books, researching, and quiet cozy nights watching movies. I love working and creating new upcoming articles for The Connector. I also enjoy going to Whistler to relax, escape a little bit for a few days and indulge with lush, breathtaking mountains and ocean views in British-Columbia.
Greenchicgirl: With such a busy lifestyle, how do you juggle between your hectic professional life and your personal life? Do you have enough time for self-care?
The truth is, I do not get as much time for self-care as I would like at the moment due to the growth of the business. However, I do try and not work on the weekend, set work hours during the week and plan some family time in between and have made it a priority to reserve periods of rest for myself.
Greenchicgirl: What are your future projects in 2019? And new products in the pipeline?
At the moment, there are products that are still in development, so we invite you to follow us on our social media platforms for more details coming soon!