The Black Girl In Om List: Abena Boamah, M.Ed
Interview and introduction by Lauren Ash. Photography by Deun Ivory.
The Beauty Disruptor
Abena Boamah founded Hanahana Beauty, an all-natural skincare brand with a powerful mission: to disrupt the global beauty industry. Ghanaian-American, her work increasingly shines light on what holistic sustainability and true transparency looks like for the women creating the ingredients behind the majority of body products we so love. And in under two years, it’s been making waves: she has partnered with everyone from Bon Appetit’s new Healthyish platform, Apple, and Glossier to make waves. How has she grounded herself? She takes time for her. A years-long member of our community found stretching on her mat next to us at BGIO Self-Care Sunday, we have grown a beautiful bond with this multihyphenate (she’s a teacher, muse, and actress soon-to-be-seen in a VAM-produced webseries). Learn more about her in her BGIO Beauties feature and stay tuned for her on Season 4 of our podcast. Follow Abena’s journey and be inspired by her continued expansion on her Instagram @BeanieBoamah and Twitter @BeanieBoamah.
What is your go-to practice for grounding yourself?
I like to do a grounding technique where I put both of my feet flat on the floor just to remind myself that I am here. And I remind myself about everything that has happened [during my day]. The small things. That’s helpful.
I think back about all of the things I’ve been able to accomplish within a short period of time. Usually when I need to feel grounded it’s because I’m overly excited, in a negative way, and my anxieties are running and being triggered in a certain way. Even when things are crazy and so good, it’s important to stay grounded.
One area of your life where you are calling in an energy of expansion?
(Laughs) Yo, this is real! I am calling in an energy of expansion of using my gifts and skills to live in my purpose and to impact fully. It seems like an array of things. But it is an array of things. I could say, Hanahana Beauty, or myself, but...if I’m able to actually use my skills and gift to make an impact, then I’m going to do that.
Limitless! Yes! I’m expanding into all of my wildest dreams. Anything I ever thought about as a child that I repeatedly kept thinking about and created different storylines for that maybe weren’t even for me are coming true. I’m just doing it. Why not? No one else can live my life other than me. So I might as well live my best life.
You’re going to love this one. What do you wish someone would have told you about being on the rise?
Oh shit. It’s kind of crazy. Talking with you! Right when I’m feeling anxious about something, you’re like girl. And that helps out. It’s been really great. I mean our relationship, obviously, is beautiful in the sense of black women meeting, but it’s been really great when I have anxiety about certain things, or when I’m starting to. Having you [someone who] has gone through a lot of things related to social media and how people interact with you. It’s like you know when you see an older sister or brother go through something and they’re like “nah, girl, this is how it’s gonna be” and you’re like thank you.
Maybe [I wish someone would have told me ] is that it would really happen. That this rise would really happen.
I love you.
Girl, I love you. (laughs)
So, what was one of your biggest struggles in creating Hanahana BEAUTY and how did you rise above it or how are you still rising above it?
One of the first struggles which maybe isn’t apparent to other people is that I limited myself of what the impact of Hanahana could be. Thinking I needed a certain amount of money. Because Hanahana is so small, that limited thought process really changed quickly.
I think the biggest struggle is acquiring capital, right? To be able to create all these things. But at the same time, realizing that you don’t need a certain amount of capital to create something extremely impactful or to send a message. But I think capital is always really hard when building a business, especially a product based business. But I’m learning and I am no longer limiting myself to how we can grow. Because I have done that, I am opening myself up to all these opportunities of people sharing like I have money, or I know where you can get money.
The limited thought process went with being in grad school and being a teacher all at the same time and thinking Oh, Hanahana is just going to be a small business for the life that I was living then. But I’m like, no I don’t want to be a small business forever. I just want to be a business.
How do you polish your inner voice to ensure that the dialogue is one of abundance?
This reminds me of that BGIO Self-Care Sunday we went to. Where we were talking about self-talk and how we limit ourselves [with our language]. That was really important and really helped me figure out my self-talk even more. I’m just honest with myself. If I can not be honest with me, then this shit is not going to work out. And I realize that is what creates abundance. When you’re honest with yourself, you’re honest about what you want to receive. What you think you can receive. And you change that talk. Because if you’re honest with yourself and find yourself speaking negatively to yourself, and personally me I’m a pretty positive person, when I’m coming down on myself, I’m like relax! (Laughs) Why are you doing all this to you? You know what I mean? I feel like it’s about being honest in your ambitions in your head. And being able to say those things first and then actually say it out loud. For me, if I find myself saying things, if it’s something negative, it’s like can I say that out loud? People might think you’re crazy talking to yourself, but people are definitely going to think you’re crazy talking to yourself in a negative way.
If you’re not even saying “I’m trying to do this” but “I’m going to do this” it changes your mindset. If I just told myself I’m going to do this, the next thing isn’t “am I going to do this” it’s how you do it. It’s how. So, I’ve been very cautious about what I’m saying to myself because I’m realizing, too, that I’m not the only person listening to what I have to say. You have ancestors, you have God, you have energies around you that are like “oh this is what you really want?” Let me make this happen. Let me move you into a space where this is possible. I think intuition is God talking through you. When you follow your intuition, and follow your self-talk, it brings you to your purpose. click to tweet
What you just spoke to relates to the spiritual realm. What are ways that you in your own life practice connecting with other people spiritually more?
Routine. I really like routine and work well with it. I make sure a time for myself and spiritual connection are a part of my daily routine. I pray in the mornings. I meditate in the mornings. It’s not on my knees prayer. It’s sitting in my bed. Looking at a prayer passage to be inspired. To feel inspired through spirituality. My Mom always sends me Our Daily Bread. I like to start my morning with a routine of not having outside voices or anything to start my day. But instead language from devotionals, or doing my [intuitive] cards. And allowing myself to be inspired spiritually before I start my day because that allows me to move throughout my day in a graceful way because I [then] have in the back of my head what Our Daily Bread was talking about today. And that allows me to move differently and respond to different people.
I think having a routine and creating that time and not allowing sometimes what we grew up with in terms of our intentions with spirituality and what it means to be religious to scare us away from allowing ourselves to connect and be inspired by faith ... I don’t know where I would be without faith, at all. I really don’t know. But I’ve found that when I go through my routine and have that it helps me move throughout the day and when I don’t there’s a difference. I feel it. My soul’s not fed. You have to know how to feed your soul. Your actual soul. Not just you or your intentions, but your actual soul. Feed your soul to actually manifest positive things.
You focused so much on what you can do for your self which will naturally impact other people. Amazing. Two more questions. First one, shortest response but most challenging at the same time. If you had to describe your journey from root to rise in three words.
Oh! It’s. A. Process. (Laughs)
Yes, it’s a process. That’s been my whole journey. It’s a process.
Last question. Share a message to your highest self. The woman of your dreams who has risen.
You are worthy to always move in love. I think that my Higher Self would understand that at all times. When in a positive place or a negative space, that’s what would inspire them.
Receive something meaningful from this phenomenal woman? These 20 black women embody our mission fully. And their journeys over the past year illuminate what it means to root to rise. Share with us on social how you plan on doing the same in the year to come. #BGIORootToRise