Based in Vancouver and founded by Oyéta Kokoroko, Okoko Cosmétiques is innovating the skin-care arena with natural products designed to make beautiful skin a reality by supporting the five vital functions of a healthy, youthful complexion: moisture, nutrition, protection, renewal and radiance. —Noa Nichol
Hello Oyéta! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
Before I got into the beauty business I was enrolled in a naturopathic program in Montreal to deal with some personal health and skin problems. By embracing a balanced diet and overhaul-ing my personal-care products I was able to improve my health and my skin, and I decided to pursue my passion by taking classes on naturopathic medicine and completing a diploma in cosmetic science and skincare formulation. I’ve been formulating skin care for almost a decade and launched Okoko Cosmétiques in 2016. With hard work, determination and drive, I built and grew a business that became internationally recognized and won multiple awards with several organizations. With my business, I want to make a positive impact, empower other entrepre-neurs and give back.
What motivated you to launch Okoko Cosmétiques, and what continues to inspire you?
I have always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, live my passion and make an impact with my business. I founded Okoko with the desire to provide a line of high-performance products that are results-focused and address common skin concerns like problematic skin, dark spots, uneven skin tone, etc. Products that would be 100 per cent natural yet effective and safe for the skin while also being environmentally friendly, luxurious and cruelty free. With Okoko, I was motivated to deliver the ultimate products that would provide efficacy, results and perfor-mance in dreamy formulas that would be a joy to use. Mission accomplished.
What makes Okoko different from other skin-care lines?
One of the first thing that sets us apart is our innovative formulations and the quality of our products. We research, develop, create and make our products from scratch using certified or-ganic ingredients combined with evidence-based, high-performance botanicals that are backed by academic research to deliver powerful results. A lot of natural skin-care products are often basic and not as exciting to use. While doing market research for Okoko, I recognized a need in the green-beauty industry for more diversity and more innovation in the products available. We still don’t see as much innovation in the green-beauty industry, or truly luxurious (yet still 100 per cent natural) formulations that are results focused and offer great performance as we see in the mainstream world. This is what we provide at Okoko and it is why our customers are so supportive of our brand and product launches. They know that Okoko offers quality, innovation, performance, results and a luxurious experience all-in-one. It is very hard to achieve and com-bine all of the above in our skincare, but we have managed to do it. I guess that we love chal-lenges, and it shows in our range. This is what makes Okoko products so special, they are made with love and care!
What are some of Okoko’s bestsellers, and why?
Our Sublime balm is one of our bestsellers. It is a multi-purpose balm with a gorgeous orange colour derived from tomato-seed oil, carrot oil and seabuckthorn oil, which are very powerful antioxidants. What’s amazing about Sublime is that it’s truly a multi-tasking product that ap-peals to a minimalistic consumer by offering the benefits of several products all in one product. Another bestseller is L’Élixir de Pureté, Sang du Dragon, also known as Okoko Dragon’s Blood serum. It’s formulated with a red-coloured sap extracted from trees nicknamed “Dragonniers” and found in South America. Dragon’s Blood extract is known to aid in reducing the appearance of redness and irritation, fighting the look of wrinkles and fine lines, and protecting against pol-lutants and environmental stressors. Additionally, our newly launched cleanser Beauté Majes-tique is an all-in-one cleanser, make-up remover, exfoliator and mask. The beautiful advantage of this formulation is that it combines four products in one! It has the ability to gently cleanse the skin and remove surface impurities, while effectively exfoliating dead skin cells and can be used as a moisturizing mask as well. Beauté Majestique is quickly becoming popular because of its versatility but also its gorgeous texture and red colour that remind us of strawberry jam (the scent is delicious; it smells like strawberry vanilla!). Overall Beauté Majestique is an amazing multi-purpose product that offers benefits for all skin types and can be used daily.
Any new launches coming up for summer?
Yes! We’re launching our luxurious new collection boxes. Customers will be able to stock their Okoko products in these luxurious red-and-gold or white-and-gold boxes. We’re also excited to move into our new workshop and storefront, L’Atelier Okoko, which will be located in Gastown. What I envisioned for this new space is to turn it into a green-beauty hub where customers will be able to receive private consultations, purchase Okoko products and discover complimentary wellness and beauty brands. We hope to be open by fall!
How does Okoko empower, support and celebrate women?
Giving back to the community is a huge part of our purpose, but it’s also what we do with the profits—consumers are more interested in brands that have a social impact. Some of our team members volunteer with Beauty Night Society, which empowers women and youth living in poverty and treats them to a night of beauty and pampering. We also make donations to the Joy Smith Foundation, which helps victims of human trafficking, as well as regular food and toiletry donations to Bridge Housing for Women in the DTES. This is what we call the new kind of luxury: luxury shouldn’t be reserved for only a few but everyone can enjoy a bit of luxury and self-care in their lives. We also celebrate our team of multicultural women, who have inspiring stories and are working together to build a meaningful product line and brand.
In light of the current global focus on anti-racism, people of colour and racial equality for all, where does Okoko stand and how does it contribute to the collective movement/conversation?
I am very sad and disappointed to see that we still have to go through these experiences in 2020. The truth is that people of colour are still going through troubling experiences and racial inequality still exists everywhere. I feel that we have a lot to do still to improve things. The first step to reconciliation is to recognize that racism is still alive and speak about the issue openly. I know a lot of people would rather avoid discussing it, but I feel that it is essential to allow healing, growth and progress. We need to listen, we need to be open about this and willing to learn; we need to make space for healing to happen and only then there will be progress. Be-cause I know what it feels like to not be given the same opportunity as others (because of your skin colour, race, religion, etc.) I have decided to set an example by promoting inclusivity and diversity inside my company. My team is multi-racial and this is something that I am proud of. Being a Black-owned business in the luxury green-beauty market is rare because there are very few of us at the moment. So being one of them is powerful stuff. It motivates me to continue to be dedicated and forge a path for other Black entrepreneurs and people of colour who wish to succeed in a desired sector. I’m doing this for those who want to see more diversity, more examples to follow. If the impact of my journey inspires people to turn their “I can’t” to “I can” and set an example for other women of colour, I feel that I would have done my part and achieved my mission.
If you were stuck on a desert island, and could only take one Okoko product with you, what would it be?
I love the scent and milky texture of La Perle serum-mist, and that it is loaded with power-house antioxidants that shield against environmental damage—resveratrol, bakuchiol, lycopene and coenzyme Q10. These join forces to achieve powerful protection. This would definitely be the product you want to have with you when you are stuck on a desert island, lol!
Photos by Erich Saide
Win! A $600 Okoko Cosmétiques Prize Pack!
We have a winner! Congratulations Cookie G. of Toronto, Ontario, who won a $600 Okoko Cosmétiques prize pack including the brand’s Prestige Edition (Red Label Collection)!