Black History Month wasn’t always the 28-day celebration of Blackness we know it to be today. Back in 1926, Black historian Carter G. Woodson proposed the second week of February be named “Negro History Month.” The idea caught momentum and by 1969 Black educators and students of Kent University advocated to make this a month-long celebration of our existence.
The first official celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State from January 2 to February 28, 1970. Fifty-one years later, we’ve been uplifting Black pioneers within our community during the second month of the year. While it’s amazing to speak to the accolades of celebrities, politicians, and philanthropists who inspire us daily, there is a wide range of everyday entrepreneurs who are also worthy of recognition.
Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. Underfunded and overlooked, we manage to persevere by carving out our own lane and starting businesses that position us for success. As part of a month-long series, I want to highlight 4 Black women who are making serious waves in the fashion and beauty industries. We kicked off the series with Mikaela Pabon, Africa Miranda,and Emijaa Jaaemil. We’re ending our series with none other than Jennifer Jones, owner of Cocobuttery.
Jennifer’s journey to launching Cocobuttery began in 2000, when she noticed her 3 month old baby suffered from eczema. “I wanted to find an all natural alternative to soothe her skin relieve her from the appearance and effects of eczema and refused to put steroid creams on my infant. That said I was able to create this formula and provide a relief and after being exposed to so many other people going through the same situations either with their children themselves or someone else they love it became clear to me that Cocobuttery needed to be available for the world,” Jennifer explains to HelloBeautiful.
“My father also has suffered from cancer four times and each time that he has had to have chemotherapy his skin had serious adverse reactions when the chemo was coming back out of his skin. Cocobuttery was the only thing that provided him relief and again I was faced with the fact that there are others in the same situation without a solution so Cocobuttery has become their solution as well,” Jennifer continued.
Jennifer’s passion for helping customers explore healthy skin care options has put her in a class of her own. “The most rewarding part of what we do is hearing back from someone who has been searching for a solution and has not been able to find one and now after using Cocobuttery finally feel comfortable in their own skin without the daily irritations or dryness,” she says.
“Our skin is our largest organ and so many people do not take care of it or only moisturize the parts of their skin that are going to be exposed throughout the day neglecting to provide it with the proper nutrients. If it takes 26 seconds for toxins that are in our daily skin care to get into our bloodstream it is also important to provide an all natural alternative to the traditional lotions which is what Cocobuttery is on a mission to do.”
The beauty market is currently over-saturated with skin care products. More and more, women are banning together to create safe, holistic butters, oils, and scrubs so that people can enjoy moisturized, healthy skin. The spike in Black-owned, woman-owned businesses has been inspiring to see. Jennifer agrees. “It is the most encouraging feeling to see so many women walking in their purpose on purpose and taking charge of what inspires them and turning it into profit. The network of smart, talented and multifaceted women that I’m surrounded by gives me a recharge every time I see one of them get closer to their dream,” she said.
Like many, Jennifer maintained a full-time job before pursuing Cocobuttery full-time. That plunge into entrepreneurship can be scary, but it’s proven to be worth it. Although Black-owned, woman-owned businesses are often underfunded, our resilience and perseverance keep us going.
“My biggest challenge was believing in myself enough to walk away from corporate America knowing that it was going to be a lot of work, while rewarding but all on me to make it happen. I combat it by not letting any fear of failure overwhelm my faith in God and the gifts that He has given me. I also stay humble and in constant learning mode when hearing about how someone else has scaled their business,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer has dreams of joining the larger retail chains and beauty supply stores. Hopefully she can find a home in Target with other Black-owned brands like The Lip Bar and The Honey Pot. It is encouraging to see small businesses find their way into bigger stores. “I plan on expanding and having a Cocobuttery available in the big box stores, beauty supply shops, Beauty subscription boxes and my own brick and mortar locations once Covid is over and it’s appropriate to invest in a standalone location,” she said.