Living with sensitive skin from a young age spurred Catherine on to develop a range of vegan facial skin products called Kokoa which went live on 21 November.
Although the British-Ghanaian founder is not vegan, she is a firm believer in many principles such as respecting the environment and animals that vegan communities both in the UK and abroad share.
The Kokoa skincare brand was developed late in 2015, while Catherine was studying biomedical science at university. “I mixed and formulated various concoctions, finding that nothing worked better than the products made with natural ingredients,” she said. She then focussed her time trying and testing combinations to find a perfect formula, she said.
“The results were outstanding, and what started off as a hobby evolved into a business idea: a completely natural cosmetics line. I believe nature holds the answer to beautiful skin, without the negative side effects of unnatural ingredients.”
After her second year at university, Catherine took a year break to gain work experience, and spent her spare time working on her business plan. “I started working on the concept of ‘Kokoa’ during late 2015/early 2016, and it really came together around February 2016,” she said. “It took a few months to source ingredients and suppliers and tick all the legal boxes (which took a lot longer than expected!), but now we are nearly all ready to go!”
Kokoa coconut oil, shea butter and African black soap products are among the products available in the range, which she sources from Ghana. “I love working with and supporting small businesses in my country of heritage,” she said. The other oils and ingredients come from natural UK-based suppliers.
Catherine is passionate about veganism and is currently transitioning towards that way of life. “To me, it’s about respecting animals and the planet in many aspects, whether its skincare, food, makeup or clothing,” she said. “I am making gradual and conscious changes to my lifestyle to support this ideal.”
She is also clear about animal-testing and believes that developing a cruelty-free range it paramount.
“I feel as though we have an obligation to protect the world around us,” she said. “Testing on and using animals to produce skincare products is unnecessary. Animals should be respected, and whether or not you are vegan in your diet, I feel as though using vegan skincare is a small step which can make a huge difference.”
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The company plans to donate 7% of its net annual profits to two charities. The first is WWF
, which conserves natural habitats and tackle climate change. The second is Mama Hope
which provides support, work and business opportunities to women in Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The initial target market are people aged between 16 and 35 but Kokoa aims to widen that scope to people with mature skin and products tailored to protect against the sun.
The Kokoa Skincare range includes:
1) African Black Soap Bar
2) Exfoliating Face Wash with African Black Soap & Jojoba Beads
3) Whipped Face Butter
4) Night Rejuvenating Oil
5) Beard Oil
6) 100% Virgin Coconut Oil
7) 100% Raw Unrefined Shea Butter
8) 100% Raw Whipped, Unrefined Shea Butter