“I truly enjoyed my course with Joan and I encourage everyone who is going to embark with something new. Invest in yourself and learn from the industry leaders like Joan so you can bring something innovative to the table.”
Graduate Spotlight: Cory Varona
Brand: Ocoa (Previously known as DN Organics)
Hero Product: Ultra-Defined Curls Leave-In
Training: Pro Natural Hair Care Formulation (Diploma, 2018)
Location: Pennsylvania, USA (Born in Dominican Republic)
“The mission behind Ocoa is to help women transform their lives by instilling confidence in their natural beauty with hair care products made with their health in mind.”
We are Cory Dahlia and Nicol Varona: sisters and co-founders of Dahlia Nicole (DN) Organics (Now Ocoa). We were born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DR), and moved to the United States in 2003. Our inspiration to launch DN Organics began after both of us started our curly hair transition in our mid-20s. After damaging our natural hair with heat tools, we lost our shape and curl texture. We grew up wanting our hair to be something it wasn’t – we always had the desire to have straight hair and we would do anything to get rid of our gorgeous curls. In addition, society standards in the Dominican Republic, our home country, didn’t make it easy for us to love and embrace our natural hair. Little did we know, life had other plans for us. Haircare was the doorway to discovering a new world of clean beauty alongside self-care and self-love. We didn’t realize it then but our transition to embracing our naturally curly hair became a lifestyle change for us transforming for the better, physically and mentally. We got more interested in beauty after researching how to get our curls back. We started a blog with a friend to share tips about curly hair on social media. This sparked our curiosity about ingredients and how we could formulate products that were clean, easy to understand, affordable, and effective. That’s how Dahlia Nicole (DN) Organics was born.
The mission behind DN Organics is to help women transform their lives by instilling confidence in their natural beauty with hair care products made with their health in mind. Our products were created, formulated, and tested by curly girls for curly girls. We know the challenges curly girls face whether they’re transitioning or have been curly their entire lives, so we want them to spend less time perfecting their hair and more time enjoying life. All our products are vegan, free of 12 toxic ingredients, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. We are also proud to create products with 100% natural fragrance oils and lots of love and care.
We want to inspire other Latinas to go after their dreams and to know their current situation will not define their final destination. We are both Dominican immigrants who moved to this country without knowing a word of English. We didn’t let the limited mentality stop us from going after our dreams. We are extremely blessed to now have a brand that helps others enjoy their natural hair while using clean ingredients.
What are you most proud of?
We are proud offering products that are vegan, free of 12 toxic ingredients, cruelty-free, and gluten-free and made with 100% natural fragrance oils to an undeserving community (The Latino community). We believe everyone should have access to using clean and affordable products everyone can love and understand.
What advice would you give to other hair entrepreneurs?
To never give up, if in your heart you know you want to offer something unique that will benefit thousands of people, do it! Don’t become a me too brand, truly engage with your community and share what you can offer differently. Inspire others too, try to help others achieve their dreams and that will multiply in blessings for you.
What equipment or ingredients did you first start out with?
I started out with a scale, measuring utensils, hibiscus flower, marula oil, quinoa extract, and mango butter.
What was the most challenging part of starting your business?
So many things can really be very challenging when starting a business, from operations, to marketing to making sure you are pricing your product correctly and then figuring out how profitable you are. However, I think a huge challenge is the obstacle we self impose and creating so many doubts and limiting beliefs in our head. If we had the idea of starting something and you made it as far as formulating your own products, for me that’s successful and it just gets better after you start believing in yourself.
Started as DN Organics, now Ocoa.
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