Dominique Cojuangco on Mindful Beauty: 'There was a Gap on How it was Being Portrayed in the Country and How it Made People Feel' - Lifestyle Asia

The entrepreneur also talks about her upcoming marriage and what she learned from her parents.

It’s hard not to be charmed by Dominique Cojuangco. She’s warm, genteel, and rather candid. Her face is expressive, her whole demeanor laid-back. She opened the door to her office with a smile, introducing her growing team, her fiancé, and the company they built together with much enthusiasm. 

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Sitting down with her for an interview feels like hanging out with a friend you have known since high school. She switches from giving great skin care recommendations to topics well beyond her years. “I think I’ve always been quite an old soul,” she confessed. 

Earrings and rings, DIAGOLD; Ruffled Top, PATTY ANG

This, she added, may have stemmed from being surrounded by adults quite often as a child. At 27, Cojuangco has so many more years and adventures ahead of her but there’s no doubt she’s been prepped and thoroughly primed for things coming her way.

Cojuangco is also beautiful but not in a full-glam kind of way. It was two in the afternoon on a busy weekday, after all. She’s relaxed, her hair in a messy bun that looks effortlessly chic                                                                                      on her. She hardly had any makeup on and one can tell that this comes from a place of confidence, being in her own, healthy skin. Something she advocates for in her beauty e-commerce community called The Collective. 

“It’s our pandemic love child,” Cojuangco shared about how she and her fiancé—businessman Michael Hearn—founded the business. She confessed to getting him into skincare and eventually, he became quite enthusiastic about it as well. “I would give him and my friends recommendations and we realized that maybe this is something I can do for more people,” she said.

“I really felt like there was a gap within how beauty was being portrayed in the country and how it made people feel,” she said. Instead of doing nothing and being stuck at home, she spent time doing market research.

“I felt that here in the Philippines, beauty was mostly marketed in a way where there’s this cookie cutter look and lifestyle—at least it used to be. I feel like there are so many beauty brands now being born within our country that are pushing boundaries, but I didn’t feel like there was a website that allowed for a curation of going outside the box and allowing people to feel like they were included or like they were represented,” she said.

Feather coat, TIBI; necklace, MEDIA MOND JEWELRY; rings, DIAGOLD

Thus, The Collective was born. For Cojuangco, such products and people needed a home and a community, a place where people can feel safe in their skincare journey. “It’s really more about trying to find the love for the regimen, instead of it being a chore.”

Her love for skincare stems from watching her mom and her older sister take care of their skin. However, it was never about vanity but a form of self-care and making sure an incident from her childhood doesn’t happen again. 

“When I was around 10, I went to the beach with my friends. We didn’t wear sunscreen and we spent hours swimming and playing under the sun,” she recalled. “We were all so burnt and it hurt. Since then, I’ve been quite religious with taking care of my skin, especially with using sunscreen.”

Years later, the same group of friends who suffered through sunburnt skin together became some of the first customers of The Collective

No need to rush

After their engagement was announced toward the end of 2021, there’s been quite the buzz when it comes to the details of their upcoming wedding. For Cojuangco, there’s no need to rush as a wedding isn’t what she’s most excited about.

“We’re not in a hurry,” she said. “In fact, I never dreamed of a wedding even as a child,” she said. “My parents never had a wedding. They aren’t married but I think that engraved in me that it’s not about the wedding at all, but it’s about my marriage,” she added. 

Necklace, MEDIA MOND JEWELRY; Tights and Coat, CHRIS DIAZ DESIGNS; shoes, FEMME LA

Growing up, it was love and the relationship between family members that truly mattered. “I love dresses and outfits—I did fashion design after all—but at the end of the day, I didn’t know what kind of look I would have wanted. I wouldn’t know anything about flowers.”

There were no Pinterest boards or lookbooks from her childhood but for Cojuangco and Hearn, it’s about what comes after they exchange vows in front of their loved ones. “I think it was more about like what I wanted out of a relationship,” she added.

When it comes to wedding planning, their style, Cojuangco confessed, is all about taking it slow and enjoying every minute of it. She admitted that they now have the date, the location, and the suppliers settled and are currently working on the details. “Luckily for Michael, both of us shared a non-negotiable of having good food and alcohol at the wedding.”

Hearn owns popular cocktail bar Run Rabbit Run in Poblacion. It’s where they reconnected years after they graduated from the same international school in Manila and where Hearn eventually made a surprise proposal. 

“I’m not gonna lie and say that we hadn’t ever spoken about marriage. It is something that we had spoken about as we were very clear about what we wanted out of our relationship and where we saw our relationship going,” she shared. “But I had no idea when he was planning to propose or what that would be like so it was still a complete surprise to me.”

Almost four years together, Cojuangco and Hearn seem to make the perfect team. Aside from enjoying each other’s company, they’re also able to work together—a feat for most couples even before the pandemic. “We do work within the same company, but we handle completely different things which makes it so much easier for us and we fill in each other’s gaps,” she shared. “I think it’s also about not taking things personally, especially in business.” 

Necklace and Rings, DIAGOLD; Coat and Pants, VERSACE

Guided with love 

Cojuangco grew up quite shy but meeting her now, one wouldn’t even think of that. Self-assured without being arrogant, she admits that her parents had a huge part to play in how she is now. 

“I feel like I was a very emotional child,” she said. “And because I was a very emotional child, the only way to kind of ease me through it was through having proper conversations.”

From “Your mom’s an actress, you should perform for us!” to things like “Why can’t you do this if your dad does it?”, Cojuangco has been placed in uncomfortable situations. 

“Even when you’re a kid, I feel like people get so offended if you don’t want to do something they asked you to,” she said. “It was having my parents by my side that helped. They were able to really talk me through these situations and say, this is why they’re saying this. It doesn’t always mean that they’re right. But it doesn’t always mean that they’re wrong either.”

Cojuangco said that while her parents were traditional in certain things, like giving her a curfew, she’s glad that they allowed her to be her own person. 

Not that they weren’t protective. Cojuangco said that her parents always ran to her rescue, trying to fight her battles. “I love them for it and they did it because they love me. But once I become a parent, I feel like I will try for a more hands-off approach. I think that people need to learn how to do that on their own, learning it younger rather than later.”M

Necklace, DIAGOLD; Bracelet, MEDIA MOND JEWELRY; Top, Atelier Debbie Co; Pants, Maison Margiela

Studying abroad in Istituto Marangoni in London then later at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles allowed Cojuangco to hone her skills and cultivate a deeper sense of independence. During this time, she said, her parents were extremely supportive but they also learned how to keep their distance and allowed her to grow. “They would visit me often and I always looked forward to it,” she said. 

On to the next

“My mom tells me ‘you have to equally be anxious as you are excited or it’s not worth doing’,” Cojuangco shared. Her dad, on the other hand, always reminded her that it’s okay to try new things. “Even through university we would be on the phone and he’s saying things like, ‘it’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay—but you just have to finish what you start and then make your decision because you wouldn’t know until you get to the end.’ My dad worked for where he is and I think he wanted us [my sister and I] to do the same—you go do what you want to do but work for it.”

Cojuangco has had many passions through the years. From helping people with their skincare, a successful Youtube channel, designing clothes, and running a business, she’s tried quite a number of things, doing well in each one and finding a new adventure as she goes. 

With The Collective, things are just getting started and she’s enjoying the challenges while being able to help more people have healthier skin. This, through products that she curates herself from trusted brands that also stand for the values of her company.

“Besides our research into the science, we also really look to the values of the company. I feel like that’s something that definitely is lacking in a lot of websites and a lot of just partnerships in general,” she said. “I really believe that when you make a purchase from someone you are buying into their values, or at least you’re fueling the message that they’re they’re pushing forward. So we work very closely with the founders and our heads of companies to make sure that we’re aligned in terms of our beliefs and what we want for our brands. But that’s just our starting point,” she added with a smile.

There’s a lot to be done but at the end of the day, Cojuangco makes sure to lead a meaningful life. Something that she intends to bring into her new chapter come next year. “It’s really about being intentional with how I spend my time, which is really how Michael and I plan our days as well but really making sure that we spend quality time not just with each other but with people that we love.”

Earrings and bracelet, MEDIA MOND JEWELRY; Rings, DIAGOLD; Sequined Dress, USHISHATO; Gloves, JOB DACON; Shoes, FEMME LA

Photographer AYA CABAUATAN, assisted by JHAY R BAYLON
Sittings Editor DONG RONQUILLO
Creative Director PAOLO TORIO
Art Director MARC YELLOW
Videographer JOSE RAMIREZ
Makeup GELA LAUREL
Hair CATS DEL ROSARIO
Stylist: JOLO BARTOLO, assisted by ELLIE POLINTAN and KATHLEEN DIAZ of Stylized Studio
Shoot coordination: MAE TALAID and MJ ALMERO

Shot on location: Raffles, Makati

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