She was named by Forbes recently as one of the 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa 2012. And no wonder. Eunice Nuekie Cofie has a lot going on. She’s a cosmetic chemist, entrepreneur, innovator and scholar. Some have called Cofie, president and chief cosmetic chemist of Ethnic Dermatology Pharmaceutical Company, the modern-day Madame C.J. Walker because of her breakthroughs in the beauty industry. Her company specializes in research and development of dermatological products for ethnic men and women.
Cofie, who is a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) with a degree in chemistry/molecular biology, is of Ghanaian heritage. The former Miss Black Florida USA has spent her summers working in a village community in Ghana implementing the Save a Million Lives HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Program.
There’s more. Cofie is also the president of Enspiring Concepts, LLC, a life-empowerment firm which seeks to inspire others to follow their destiny, and she is the founder and executive producer of Moving Closer to My Dreams: A Young Women’s Empowerment Conference, an annual event designed to empower young professional women.
We grabbed a few minutes with Cofie to ask her about her career, community efforts, and her upcoming skincare line.
Madame Noire: What prompted you to start the company?
Eunice Nuekie Cofie: Growing up, I was made to feel like I was not beautiful because of my dark skin color and tightly coiled hair. 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 but it became physical. Girls would take turns pulling 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. In the first grade, my father entered me into my first school science fair. I won first place in the school science fair. From that moment, I began to gain confidence in myself.
MN: There aren’t many women in science fields.
EC: Science had become my oasis and my strength. One day while in my organic chemistry lab class, my eyes were opened to the world of cosmetic science. My professor, who also owned his own cosmetic 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 lotions and hair relaxers instead of conducting the regular lab experiments. It was during my research with him that I realized that the cosmetic industry lacked effective treatment products that took into account the unique structure and function of ethnic skin and hair. This was just the impetus that I needed to develop my company Nuekie, Inc. Nuekie means “first daughter in the family” and “hardworking one” in the Adangbe language.
MN: What kind of skincare products does your company create?
EC: My company provides quality dermatological products for ethnic people [i.e. African/African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American, Pacific Islander]. My mission through Nuekie is to help men and women of color discover they are perfect in beauty.
MN: Where can people buy Nuekie products?
EC: We plan to launch the full-skin care line in March 2013. But since we have got a so much response about our company, we decided to release our first product, Moisture Therapy Crème. People can buy the crème at our online shop. Also, people can sign up at the website to learn more about the upcoming launch, skin care tips and other exciting news about Nuekie.
MN: How did you initially fund the company?
EC: My company is fully bootstrapped by myself. I used my savings, personal income, and credit to fund my company. I recently won the ACCESS Florida Business Plan Competition which helped my company further its efforts in pursuing its mission to help men and women of color discover they perfect in beauty.
One of my obstacles was the lack of funding. I had to realize that there may never be enough money for me to pursue my dream and that I have to start from somewhere. Once you get started then resources for you to accomplish your goals start to flow to you. The key thing is getting started!