Welcome to The Highlight, our column dedicated to amplifying brands created for Women of Color by Women of Color.
Four years ago, Abena Boamah decided to make a career pivot so she could scale her burgeoning skincare brand Hanahana Beauty. Funnily enough, though, the former algebra teacher is still teaching, only this time she’s educating others on sustainability. “Sustainability is a big buzzword, used in marketing. But we don’t talk about the realism or the reality of what it means to be sustainable,” Abena says. On the heels of Hanahana Beauty’s new launch, we caught up with the founder to discuss the new addition to the product line and the future of sustainability in the beauty industry.
The 2-in1 Body Bar
“This is our brand’s first reformulation. It was originally called the ‘Exfoliating Bar.’ Our customers loved the exfoliating component (rice, almonds, adzuki beans and brown sugar), but they also wanted moisture and a product that would last,” says Abena. “The new formulation and packaging help with that.” Designed for after-shower skincare, the 2-in-1 Body Bar comes spiked with shea, cocoa and avocado oil, to gently exfoliate and moisturize the skin. To ensure quality, the body bar is produced in small quantities, so the color and texture may vary from batch to batch, but the results are always the same: smooth, radiant skin.
The Future Of Sustainability
Since 2017, Hanahana Beauty has sourced shea butter (its hero ingredient) from the Katariga Women’s Shea Cooperative in Ghana—paying twice the Fairtrade asking price since the price isn’t fair or sustainable. “Part of our mission is to help sustain the same people who are sustaining us. That means giving producers and cooperatives a chance to elevate and grow,” says Abena.
“When I first started, I could buy a kilo of shea for less than a dollar,” she recalls. After spending some time in Ghana, she realized the women in the shea trade weren’t benefiting from shea butter’s global net worth. “It’s a multi- billion-dollar industry, but the people who produce the product, still lack basic necessities,” says Abena, who created the Circle of Care to address the biggest qualms among the community: fair pay and access to healthcare.
Through the Circle of Care, cooperatives in partnership with Hanahana Beauty are paid twice the asking price for shea butter per kilo, and have access to an outreach team of over 20 healthcare providers, community money pools and more. “We want to continue to help cooperatives sustain their business and set the standard for new businesses to uphold that are supplying from them,” says Abena. The brand isn’t only setting a new standard for new businesses working the cooperatives, Hanahana Beauty is also creating a new benchmark for sustainability.
“I feel like it should be a responsibility for beauty brands to have knowledge of where they’re sourcing from and create sustainable wages of living for the people producing their products, the same way they create sustainability for their own team.” Through the brand’s Circle of Care, Hanahana Beauty is improving economic, environmental and self-sustainability for the present and future generation.