WORDS: KATE WEINER
IMAGES: ANI ACOPIAN
The winter light in the West Village is the kind of beautiful that makes you breathe easier. Sitting by the window of ByChloe, I watch energies intersect in the sun-gilded street. A couple crosses paths. A taxi makes a sharp right. A crumpled wrapper floats skyward.
When Sadasia and Camila arrive, this energy palpably shifts. The close friends and founders of Cocobee glow. It's been a hectic morning for each of us and train delays on their end and a tightly scheduled day on mine mean we don't have much time to talk. In spite of this, I am instantly at peace. Sadasia and Camila radiate a sense of presence and intention. We check-in about what's on our minds before turning the conversation toward Cocobee, their all-natural body care company. Cocobee's mission is to "provide healthy alternatives to pharmaceuticals and cosmetics by emphasizing the value of ritualistic practices for skin care." Cocobee is as much about the product as it is about the process, as much about how we connect to ourselves as about how we connect to the earth. In the midst of a beauty industry marred by environmental exploitation and thousand-words-long ingredients list, Cocobee emerges as a much-needed antidote in line with with the likes of Blendily and Blue Orchid Botanicals.
Sadasia and Camila each found their own way into skincare. Camila's work with holistic wellness practitioners in Brooklyn inspired her to tap into her indigenous Taíno roots to explore multiple kinds of medicine. Mainstream perceptions of medicine ascribe healing to a bottle of pills; integrative medicine, however, considers self-care to be medicine, as much as food and sun and time with friends is. Sadasia's journey toward creating her own skincare stemmed from a bad brush with Nair. Oatmeal and honey helped to soothe her skin more so than any store-bought product could.
Reinvigorated by what Camila considers "the life-healing process of working with your hands," the best friends turned to one another to nurture these seeds for healing into a body care company. Sadasia and Camila are vigilant about where their ingredients come from. They source indigenous essential oils and organic coconut oil and natural beeswax from high-frequency farmers markets and reliable online retailers, taking care to buy only the very best. Scouring through their list of ingredients is not so different than perusing a grocery list. And this is how it should be.
As with any start-up, Sadasia and Camila are perpetually evolving. Says Sadasia: "Cocobee is a manifestation of our friendship. We complement each other well. If one of us has something going on, the other takes over." Supporting each other is not always seamless; navigating the demands of friendship and a foundling business can be tough. Both Sadasia and Camila, however, are committed to keeping the channels of communication open. "We're real with each other," Camila notes.
It's this willingness to be real, to confront difficult truths and dive into diverse support networks, that makes Cocobee especially unique. The start-up extends beyond their bevy of citrus lip balms and natural hand sanitizers to encompass physical gatherings. In November of last year, Cocobee hosted a wellness party to whip up products, talk about essential oils, and explore multiple methods for self-care. As Camila shares, "Our hope is to build a wellness community on campus that can extend into different universities." "Wherever we go is where Cocobee is going to go," Sadasia says.
So often, self-care is relegated to the realm of the superficial. Talking to Sadasia and Camila reminds me that making the time to nourish our body is a daily practice that digs in deep. Tending to our succulent selves can be an act of gratitude, of healing, of spiritual connection.
As I'm walking to my next meeting, Sadasia runs after me to press a canister of body butter into my hand. I am deeply touched by the gesture, by the promise of relaxation after a bitter winter day. Later, when I am finally home, I take a short, warm shower. I listen to my favorite songs and moisturize my legs, grateful that the "life-healing process of working with your hands" has given me the small and simple gift of Cocobee.
INSPIRED BY COCOBEE? STAY TUNED FOR COCOBEE X LOAM'S UPCOMING WELLNESS WORKSHOP TO BRING YOU ALL SOME LOVE, LIGHT, AND GLOW THIS COLD WINTER.