Armed with a make-up kit, a camera and a tireless work ethic, 24-year-old Onika Cooper is out to show TT’s beautiful side, one face at a time. For the past seven years, beginning in her parents’ garage, the young woman from Moruga has been carving out a niche in TT’s growing cosmetics industry. “I enjoyed experimenting with different techniques as a hairstylist and as a make-up artist. At the time it didn’t seem like something I could make a living from. It was just something I enjoyed doing.”
But even before adulthood, Cooper said she had fostered a passion for all things stylish and began experimenting with different hairstyling and make-up techniques on her older sisters and friends. “It didn’t always end well,” she said with a smile.
It was only after she began a degree in mass communications and journalism at the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts (COSTAATT) she rediscovered her passion for cosmetology and saw her childhood hobby’s potential as an income-earner. She took a chance and took a break from her studies to pursue her passion. Today, she is promoting her Natural Touch brand and catering to hair and makeup needs at some of the most sought-after entertainment events.
She gave WMN some insight into how she got to where she is.
With her parents’ permission, Cooper transformed her family’s garage into a makeshift beauty salon, extending the Natural Touch brand from her neighbourhood to the wider community and eventually the island. She soon realised with her newfound success came even greater responsibility, especially if she were to compete with more established brands in the social media age. It demanded strict discipline and an almost supernatural drive.
“It can be a task at times. I have a nine-to-five job as a youth development officer at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs. It takes a lot of planning every day to balance my responsibilities with my job and my obligation to my trade, but it’s not impossible.”
She has found a way to incorporate both her job with her passion, as a means of motivating young people to pursue their passions and go beyond their comfort zones and realise their potential. This she said, was part of her own goal to inspire and motivate others.
Asked where she sees the Natural Touch brand going in the future, she said her ultimate goal is to make women realise their own inherent beauty. “I want to produce my own brand of cosmetic and beauty accessories. Something that I’m really passionate about is showing women how beautiful they are in their own skin and their own hair.”