The name Cocotique conjures up images of luxury. And that’s really what the company does for the beauty industry. Cocotique is a deluxe beauty box subscription service for women of color and diverse ethnicities, offering high-end beauty and lifestyle products at affordable prices.
Dana Hill, founder and CEO, started the company to fill a niche–women of color looking for beauty products that fit their needs.
“After trying several other subscription boxes and not getting many products directly targeted to my needs, I decided to start my own subscription service that addressed the specific beauty needs of women of color,” says Hill, who self-funded the startup with her business partner.
Before launching Cocotique, Hill founded Divine Marketing Group, a boutique PR agency specializing in fashion, jewelry, beauty and lifestyle brands. She also worked in the fashion departments at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as well as the VP of Marketing & PR for Phat Fashions, Rocawear, and Fetish, with a detour in the music business at Arista Records. But Hill was always passionate about beauty products and health/wellness. She was always on the search for the best beauty products for women of color that not only suit their specific needs, but also contained healthy ingredients.
Here’s how it works: each month Cocotique ships a specially-curated deluxe box filled with 5-8 sample size and full-size beauty and lifestyle products for $20. After customers try out the samples, they can then purchase the full-size products.
Even though Hill had a great idea, she did face major challenges. “One of the main challenges, when we first launched, was convincing brands to participate in the box. In the beginning, it was difficult because we didn’t have a track record,” she says. “Now, we’re able to show our partners data that supports the benefits of becoming a brand partner. Many of our subscribers buy the full size products after sampling them in our box, which is a big plus for our brand partners. They also leave glowing reviews on social media – this type of third party endorsement is very valuable to brands.”
And as she grows the company, she learns new things. “One of my biggest challenges is recruiting staff to manage the current growth. After one major hiring mistake early on, I’m very careful to thoroughly vet potential employees,” says Hill, who plans to start shipping to the Caribbean and internationally this year.
The Internet has made it easier for entrepreneurs to start small businesses. “The Internet has given an incredible platform for beauty and fashion influencers to have a voice and exposure using social media, which in turn benefits the brands they talk about. It’s also given brands a vital platform to increase brand awareness and grow their brands organically. Today, brands must have a strong Internet/social media presence to be successful,” says Hill.