Love Stories: Abena Boamah
Our jewelry serves as talismans to celebrate the unique ways in which women create and nurture in the world and our content is here to shine a light on their talents too. We spoke to Abena Boamah the founder of Hanahana beauty, a consciously clean and sustainable beauty brand powered by women in Ghana.
It’s clear that care and nourishment is a big part of your ethos, even your emails sign off by saying “Stay Smooth and Confident” . Can you tell us more about how you developed the brand and where your ideas for it came from?
When I started I was a teacher and finishing grad school, and life was hectic so I was inspired to start just based off curiosity about what a self care ritual for myself could look like. I wanted to create my own product and develop a self care regimen of my own. So that's when I started making my own products to understand more about creation and ritual. When it came to actually starting a business, what soon became the most intriguing part for me was around the Shea Butter I was sourcing. I loved understanding how it was created and the women behind it.
What did you discover about it?
I learned how Shea is created in a very sustainable way by communities of women and I also realized it was a way for me to connect with Ghanian heritage. I had easy access to go there and see how it was produced and also be able to make a great product and help support women in Ghana by paying two times what the typical price of shea would be. That’s how we created our circle of care benefits.
It feels like you were incredibly brave and resourceful to combine those things to start your own brand, was it hard for you? How quickly did things start to happen and what was your process?
I started Hanahana in my kitchen! I was very naive but that helped me because I just dealt with things as they came up. Once I had a product I realized the traction and I was always very strategic and intentional about how I began to build the brand. Starting with who I worked with and what visuals we created. I saw the potential and I think because I saw the potential in it, that motivated me to win. For me my priorities were, if I'm going to launch a brand, then it's going to have this mission and substance to it. So that led to me creating the element of the foundation and building the brand on those values and then that meant we had something important to talk about. We launched the brand on social, it was social as a platform that allows us to connect to so many different people and our organic growth just kept on flourishing in that way.
What else did you do to tell people about your products?
In the beginning, I was doing these activations we called the ‘Chill Series’, wpop-ups of you to bring together editors and different people to do yoga or learn about beauty or to just have a conversation. That helped us connect more too and the community has continued to grow and flourish.
What do you find hardest as a founder?
Sometimes it was meeting demands for products, or time or knowing where to invest, especially in the bootstrap stages and then once you have investment knowing how to use it.
In terms of your journey along the way, can you name some kind of significant moment or relationship that helped shape this brand for you?
For me it was going to Ghana and meeting the Qatari Cooperative who produce our shea and to begin that relationship. Without that relationship or our producers, who are we? Then in evolving the brand, I’ve loved being able to story-tell and being able to go back and you know create those visuals that show we’re creating not just a product but an important movement. Then we received grants like the Glossy grant and were featured by Beyonce, honestly there’s been so many amazing moments.
Community is a big priority for your brand, can you talk more about that?
I think with the team, I’ve been very conscious about who I bring into this space, but also the fact that we have a space and are able to offer positions to our community. To be able to hire black women and women of color onto the team and to create more opportunities here not just with the cooperative. I want to make sure we’re always championing their voices and giving them places to shine.
How do you care for yourself in all this?
I have morning rituals and I make sure I take time for myself. I have morning rituals and time off from technology to help me unwind.
You chose some really beautiful pieces from our collection for your shoot, can you talk more about why you chose those?
My choice of jewelry in general favors simplicity. In coming back to our brand tagline, for me smooth and confident means allowing your natural glow to shine. With the pieces that I chose from the hoop earrings to the necklaces, I love that they are simple pieces but with beautiful details that make them special.
Simplicity and beauty are both integral to your brand too, are there any other values you keep in front of mind when you’re creating?
I’d have to say nourishment, I love making things, I love cooking. One day I’d love to have a cookbook. I also love collaboration, that’s very nourishing for me too.
Do you have ideas for how to share that idea of nourishment through your work?
With Hanahana beauty it’s about giving people knowledge and tools to take care of themselves. Either through how we work with our producers, the content we create, or partnerships and events we create.
Are events important to you as a way to do this? If so, what would a dream event look like for you?
It would definitely be something that has to do with food and creativity, soundtracked by lounge music in a beautiful space with lots of ways to indulge yourself.
Lastly, what’s one thing you think is vital for any creative woman?
I try to be very intentional about everything that I do, that’s important. You need to have a goal in mind then all your work is channelled towards that, it’s a very positive way to operate.