Dana Hill, an award-winning expert in the beauty industry, is enjoying more well-deserved attention for her latest venture. The founder and CEO of COCOTIQUE, a deluxe beauty box subscription company for women of color, Hill was recently featured on Queen Boss, a reality competition show for female entrepreneurs, which airs on Viacom’s Centric TV. Hill placed in the top-three finalists among 18 African American contestants on the network’s premiere season.
Hosted by Tracey Edmonds, Queen Boss’ panel of judges include Vanessa Simmons, businesswoman and TV personality; Kandi Burruss, Grammy Award-winning songwriter, television personality, and entrepreneur; Lisa Price, entrepreneur and founder of Carol’s Daughter; Lauren Lake, lawyer, television personality, and author; Carla Hall, co-host of The Chew, chef, and owner of Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen; Mikki Taylor, beauty expert, author, and speaker; Angela Benton, founder and CEO of NewME Accelerator; Robin Wilson, interior designer and author; and Rakia Reynolds, entrepreneur and founder of Skai Blue Media.
Hill finished strong on Queen Boss and felt the experience made a positive impact on the COCOTIQUE brand. “It took me out of my comfort zone. I’m glad I did it because I’m more of a behind-the-scenes person. It helped me to step out to the forefront, and gave people an opportunity to see who’s behind the brand. I think that exposure is important in making a connection with the consumer. I’ve seen more traffic to the website [ever since],” Hill says.
Unlike its many competitors, COCOTIQUE offers an array of products from all the beauty categories, including hair care, skin care, fragrances, cosmetics, and lifestyle. COCOTIQUE also includes at least two to three full-sized products coupled with a variety of ample sample sizes. Typically, each box includes products from a company owned by a person of color.
(Image: Cocotique’s February subscribers’ box)
Often, emerging brands lack the advertising and marketing budgets necessary to build exposure and brand awareness. However, Hill also offers added value to her brand partners, by providing media coverage via cocotique.com’s Inside the Brand blog. The blog not only focuses on the products provided, but it also highlights the company’s full product line. “For startups, it’s a great way to get the exposure,” says Hill. “If you Google the company, the article of our story will appear on the first page of the search. It gives them a chance to increase their SEO, brand awareness, as well as their return on their investment. To me, it’s important that we make it mutually beneficial for both parties.”
According to Essence’s fourth Smart Beauty research study, conducted with the support of Vision Critical Group, women of color spend $7.5 billion annually on skin care and cosmetic products and spend twice as much on skin care annually than the general market. In addition, women of color spend an estimated 80% more on cosmetics and beauty products than the general market, because of a need to find items that actually work for their skin tones and hair textures. In 2012, when beauty boxes hit the market, Hill joined a few subscription services herself, but she wasn’t pleased with the products because she felt they were not geared toward her needs.
Before founding COCOTIQUE and her consulting firm, Divine Marketing Group, Hill held key roles or executive positions at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, Phat Farm, Rocawear, Fetish, Arista Records, and Global Advertising. As a longtime marketing and public relations executive in fashion, beauty, and entertainment, Hill wanted to create a venture that was aligned with her passion. Also, for many years, her friends would consult with her on which products were best to purchase for their varied beauty needs, and she was always able to provide an anecdote or solution. So, after receiving several boxes, Hill said to herself, “I could do this. This is what I do. I can turn this into a business.”
“I quietly began to research the model for the beauty box business for a year and a half. I had started pulling my team together and building the website,” Hill says. “That’s how it came about. Women don’t have time or money to sort through the abundance of products in the market.”
The name “COCOTIQUE” comes from a pairing of the words “cocoa,” as in brown, and “tique,” as in boutique. “I wanted to give it a luxury vibe and feel to the name,” she says. “I thought it was a good way to combine the two.”
COCOTIQUE partners with more than 120 established and niche brands, including Carol’s Daughter, Miss Jessie’s, Black Opal, Mizani, Shea Moisture, and Shea Radiance—just to name a few. Customer engagement is essential for Hill, and she encourages and receives regular feedback from her subscribers. Customers often share how much they love receiving their boxes, and many share its contents with their daughters.
The monthly subscription box service is $20 per month. COCOTIQUE also offers one-off theme boxes every month, where clients can purchase directly from the shop without a subscription. The shop also carries limited edition boxes, known as the “Mega Beauty Box,” which includes 10 to14 products. Currently, the Mega Beauty Box is available quarterly at $40 to $45, but will soon be available monthly.
As passionate as Hill is about beauty and presenting the best products to her loyal subscribers, she is just as passionate about self-care and the need for black women to make themselves a priority.“We don’t always have to go on a spa vacation. It could be as simple as your Sunday-night ritual, where you just take an hour to do your nails, or go get your nails done, or take a bubble bath. It goes back to self-love and realizing that you have to fill yourself up, in order to be there for others. There’s a group of women who connect to that feeling of being drained and exhausted. They forget to take time for themselves,” Hill says.
In the coming weeks, Hill will share advice on her blog Essentially Dana to address these issues and encourages women to take more time for themselves “As women, we spend so much time focusing on everyone else, and we do not take the time to love on ourselves. We put everyone before ourselves, even our jobs,” she continues.
Hill is also a contributing author for the book 50 Billion Dollar Boss: African American Women Sharing Stories of Success in Entrepreneurship and Leadership (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2015), an anthology by black women entrepreneurs, who address relevant topics about a wide range of businesses. Hill’s story, Adding Value: Building Mutually Beneficial Strategic Partnerships, is featured in the fifth chapter.
A successful beauty entrepreneur, the career expertise Hill’s garnered throughout her diverse professional experiences are clearly paying off with COCOTIQUE.
Gwendolyn Quinn is an award-winning media consultant with a career spanning more than 25 years. She is a contributor to BlackEnterprise.com and BE Pulse (via Medium.com), Huffington Post and EURWEB.com. Quinn is also a contributor to Souls Revealed and Handle Your Entertainment Business.