In the highly specialist and competitive world of the health and beauty industry, there is one woman who is successfully combining traditional African medicine with modern science to create world-class products for people of colour. Eunice Cofie is a woman entrepreneur harnessing her passion for science to make a difference to people’s lives and, at the same, building a new global health and beauty powerhouse.
LoA caught up with Eunice after another busy day in the lab creating her amazing products to find out more about her entrepreneurial vision….
"I realized that the health and beauty industry lacked effective treatment products that took into account the unique needs of ethnic people. This was just the impetus that I needed to develop my company Nuekie, Inc."
What does your company do?
Nuekie is an innovative health and beauty company for people of colour. We develop products that are scientifically designed to meet the needs of ethnic populations. We use our proficiency in combining traditional African medicine and modern science to develop products and services to meet the unique needs of people of colour.
What inspired you to start your company?
Growing up, I was made to feel like I was not beautiful because of my dark skin colour and tightly coiled hair. I was often picked on by my peers. I remember crying endlessly as I was being called names like "black", "African booty scratcher", or "nappy head". The bullying did not just stop at words, it became physical. Girls would take turns pulling on my hair. I even remember one guy spitting on my hair. The constant teasing and bullying damaged my self-esteem.
My saving grace was my father’s encouragement for me to pursue an understanding of science, which shifted my focus. In the first grade, my father entered me into my first school science fair. My father would spend countless hours teaching me how to develop my science fair project. The hard work that I put into my science fair project paid off when I won first place in the school science fair. From that moment, I began to gain confidence in myself. What I understood from that experience was that I may not have been viewed as the prettiest girl in the room, but I knew that I could become the smartest girl in the room. Science had become my oasis and my strength. It became my love.
This love for science later led me to major in chemistry/molecular biology at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. One day whilst studying in my organic chemistry lab class, my eyes were opened to the world of cosmetic science. My professor, who also owned his own cosmetics company, wanted my classmates and me to understand how to practically apply organic chemistry to our everyday lives. So, he made a decision to have us create our own lotions and hair relaxers, instead of conducting the regular lab experiments. I was bitten by the creative bug and began working alongside my professor outside of class, learning as much as I could about cosmetic science.
It was during my research with him that I learned that it is a substance called melanin produced in the skin cells that gave me my dark complexion. With this information, I came to an epiphany that my dark skin colour did not make me inferior, but instead it was divinely orchestrated and it made me beautiful and unique.
I also realized that the health and beauty industry lacked effective treatment products that took into account the unique needs of ethnic people. This was just the impetus that I needed to develop my company Nuekie, Inc.. My company’s purpose is to provide quality dermatological products for ethnic people (i.e. African/African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American, Pacific Islander).
Why should anyone use Nuekie products?
Our products are the best on the market and are backed by my scientific research. I put a lot of research and development work into the products to ensure the efficacy of each one. It is important for me to provide tangible solutions to meet my customers needs. I combine traditional African medicine with modern science to create an optimal product experience.
"Starting a business is not easy. I think the hardest thing for me in the beginning was believing in myself and my abilities."
"I would tell women who want to start a company to believe in themselves and their business idea. When you believe in yourself you can work wonders."
Tell us a little about your team
Currently, I am the only full-time team member. I serve as CEO and Chief Chemist. I also have an advisory board which serves to assist me by providing expertise in the areas of business development, marketing and branding, accounting, product development, clinical trials and FDA compliance.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. As an elementary school student, I started a business with my best friend in which we made and sold hair bows. In college, I started a few side hustles which included designing head wraps for my natural sisters to wear. Nuekie spun out from my research in college. I knew that I would eventually do this full-time later down the road. So as a chemistry major, I took classes in accounting and I utilised the FAMU Small Business Development Center to learn how to write a business plan. Starting a business is not easy. I think the hardest thing for me in the beginning was believing in myself and my abilities. Once I got over that hump I moved full force with my company including quitting a full-time job that I hated. I realised that life is too short to not live out my purpose. There are definitely ups and downs in being a business owner but my faith in God and in myself are what keep me going. Plus, I love to see the smiling faces and testimonials of my customers’ lives being changed through my products.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
In the coming months, I will be launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise funding to bring a much needed new product to market. We have developed a product that will revolutionise skin care for people of colour. In the future, we will expand our product lines to address issues such as hair loss, hyperpigmentation, weight management, and seborrheic dermatitis. Our mission is to become the global leader in health and beauty for people of colour.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Knowing that I am in control of my destiny and having the ability to serve others through my gifts and talents are what give me the satisfaction of being an entrepreneur. My life's purpose is to inspire women and men to live out their dreams. I do that by pursuing my dream as an entrepreneur and also sharing my story at events and conferences.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
I would tell women who want to start a company to believe in themselves and their business idea. When you believe in yourself you can work wonders. That is the first step to greatness! Also, having a teachable spirit is important, because you don't know everything. You have to be willing to allow others to teach you what you don't know so that you can be successful. This can come through attending conferences, mentorship, and reading. Don't be a afraid of failure. It is only a stepping stone for better.
Contact or follow Nuekie
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love Eunice Cofie’s visionary approach to realising her entrepreneurial dreams and building a groundbreaking business. She has identified a real market challenge in the world, is applying her years of specialist scientific knowledge and expertise to find world-class solutions, and is starting to build a brand that will be a force to be reckoned with in the specialist ethnic beauty and health business. This is one African beauty brand builder and entrepreneur to watch over the coming months and years. --- Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and editor-in-chief