Sharpen your pencils and open your monogrammed Moleskines. At the moment, Abena Boamah can be main the wonder trade in a vocabulary lesson.
The previous seventh grade teacher-turned-skin care founder is uniquely certified for the job.
In 2017, Boamah launched Hanahana Magnificence: sustainable, accessible, all-natural shea butter merchandise, ethically and transparently sourced from the Katariga Ladies’s Shea Cooperative in Ghana and created to uplift girls of coloration.
In 2020, these values — sustainable! accessible! girls of coloration! — turned the buzziest buzzwords in magnificence, a shift pushed by the coronavirus pandemic, fixed local weather emergencies and the social justice motion that ignited after the demise of George Floyd by the hands of Minneapolis police.
“When it got here time for all these lists, we had been hitting these alternatives, which I’m very grateful for,” the Ghanaian American entrepreneur mentioned, referencing the quite a few “Black-owned Magnificence Manufacturers to Purchase Proper Now” roundups that Hanahana Magnificence topped final yr. Beyoncé’s included.
However as these phrases turn into extra ubiquitous, Boamah has doubled down on the significance of mission over advertising.
“When you’re going to say that being ‘accessible’ and ‘sustainable,’ are part of your values, you might have to do a little analysis on how one can really be impactful,” she mentioned. “There’s a lot alternative within the magnificence area. I might somewhat see Black individuals being given alternatives than simply listening to, ‘Purchase Black.’”
It’s an surprising sentiment from a enterprise proprietor, maybe — however Boamah isn’t in it to become profitable. She’s in it to make change. (And — in fact — actually good shea butter.)
Hanahana Magnificence has gotten numerous consideration over the previous yr. What does scaling sustainably appear like for you?
Abena Boamah: I believe it comes right down to defining sustainability and evaluating the way you’re hitting sustainability in all areas. As a group, we take a look at sustainability with a holistic method. We’re a group of Black girls who’re placing our time and vitality into this firm not only for a test, however to make a larger impression. We’re persevering with to construct on the muse we’ve created, from environmental sustainability via packaging all the way in which to the producers we work with. [Hanahana pays its producers in Ghana two times the going rate for shea butter.] As a group, we have now to consider our value level choices and the way we are able to proceed to make high-quality merchandise which are really accessible.
Do you assume the trade understands that holistic method but? That “sustainable” doesn’t solely imply packaging, however contains honest wages and firm coverage?
A.B.: The trade has to know the holistic method. There’s a sure degree of consciousness and curiosity that’s grown in magnificence customers, significantly prior to now yr. As a shopper myself, I’m not solely serious about the advantages of a product, however the path of the place my greenback goes.
How do you navigate pricing to replicate the work that goes into making them versus being inexpensive? What’s the steadiness of sustainability to accessibility in that holistic equation?
What I’ve discovered is that possibly we are able to’t be accessible via each one in all our merchandise, however we could be accessible via the knowledge and alternatives we give and the tales we share. We take a look at accessibility via completely different approaches: via our Hanahana Circle of Care, our group well being care initiatives for the Katargia Cooperative, and in addition in how we curate studying experiences round magnificence and wellness for our group.
The type of relationship you might have with the Katargia Cooperative is uncommon within the mainstream magnificence area.
A.B.: It’s, and I didn’t understand that. I bear in mind one in all my mentors requested, ‘Wait, so did you really go to Ghana? As a result of I’ve labored with manufacturers that say all this stuff and so they’ve by no means stepped foot within the nation they’re associating themselves with.’ I’m coming from a unique background. There’s no method that we might’ve created the Hanahana Circle of Care if I hadn’t lived in Ghana. As a trainer, my motto has at all times been that you may’t create actual impression in a group in case you’re not close to it.
You lately rebranded. How did you method that whereas staying true to your basis?
A.B.: As a group, we requested ourselves: How can we actually educate individuals via our branding in a extra strategic method? We elevated the model presentation so it met the extent and care of the work we’re doing. We nonetheless use glass packaging however we’ve transitioned to heavier double-walled glass containers with wide-mouth openings, for simpler software. We even reassessed all of the distributors we supply from outdoors of cooperatives. It was additionally simply time for an aesthetic change. I like coloration and it felt proper so as to add a coloration recognized with our scents and merchandise. For artistic, we did every part in-house, working with Leroy Wadie, a graphic designer in Ghana on a brand new emblem and packaging design. We additionally partnered with Deun Ivory and Juliet Cangelosi on imagery, who know our group and our model very well. The perfect half in regards to the rebrand was working with our associates and group — I didn’t need to ‘elevate’ by pivoting to working with a giant branding company. We had been in a position to elevate the model whereas tying within the individuals who received us right here within the first place.
Coming out of your background of instructing and remedy, what motivated the pivot to skincare?
A.B.: I’ve at all times felt like my goal in life has to do with creating area for individuals to really feel comfy studying about themselves. As a trainer and a therapist, I believed that was one of the simplest ways to go about it. However working inside these programs pushed me to seek out one other option to create an impression, and I in the end discovered skincare and wellness. Day by day we do one thing that impacts our pores and skin, from the merchandise we apply to the meals we eat. What occurs after we turn into extra intentional about how we care for our largest organ? We would transfer in a different way or take into consideration different facets — what we’re placing inside our our bodies. I hope to reside in a world through which persons are extra intentional about how they consider pores and skin, not only for themselves, but in addition why and the way they deal with individuals the way in which they do — understanding why you’re feeling sure methods about individuals with sure pores and skin colours.