Interview by Lauren Ash. Photography by Kwesi Yanful, Deun Ivory, and Abbas Sabur.
Last week at Self-Care Sunday, Abena Boamah and I realized that we've known each other for a year now. This radiant soul has risen tremendously into her greatness and purpose during the time that I've known her. I vividly recall her casually giving me some of her whipped shea butter last year. I loved it. I asked her how much she was selling it for. She wasn't selling it. Shocked, I encouraged her to consider it. Ain't nothing wrong with monetizing your talents and gifts if you're investing your time, energy, and resources into it! Fast forward: Abena just celebrated the six-month anniversary of her all-natural skincare line Hanahana Beauty. She has partnered with brands like CRWN Mag and Lifestyle with Ivory & Ash, and has traveled to Ghana (where her family is from) to get intimately connected with the shea-making process, as well as to build community with women who source ingredients for her products.
See what can happen when you say "yes" to the gifts that you've been blessed with? Enjoy our chat below, and try out the gems that Abena gives us. You're in luck: enjoy 25% off $50 or more using code BGIOBEAUTY today through September 20th. (Ya'll have probably seen me share this on my Instagram story, but my personal favorites include her Shea Exfoliating Bar and Shea Body Butter.) Stay connected with Abena and her platform on Instagram @beanieboamah and @hanahana_beauty as well as on Twitter @beanieboamah.
Lauren Ash: Who are you?
Abena Boamah: I’m a Pisces. I love working with children and seeing the spark in them when they learn. I love to make people smile and I really enjoy honesty through storytelling. I’m a Ghanaian American woman trying to figure out my place in this world, through educating others, and empowering women to see their natural glow by creating products with all natural ingredients. I’m also in grad school, so I guess you could say all together: I’m an educator, I’m a student, and I like to use my creative energy in any way possible.
Lauren Ash: A girl after my own heart. I feel like our creativity is limitless and we should feel empowered to channel it however God guides us to. So, as someone who has been engaged with us for over a year now, what does Black Girl In Om mean to you? How do you identify with Black Girl In Om’s mission?
Abena Boamah: Black Girl In Om does exactly what its mission says for me: creating a space for me to breathe easy. BGIO Self Care Sunday's have become not only an essential part of my self-care routine, but have also impacted my growth in meditation and creating friendships. I experience more than just doing yoga together: to walk into a space and only see women that look like me gives me a sense of honesty and community that I’ve never been around in such a large group. The intentionality of creating a space online and offline for women of color especially black women has been inspiring for me personally and also with creating my brand Hanahana Beauty. BGIO is the ultimate FUBU.
Lauren Ash: Girl. That's the most incredible thing I've heard today. And you've been such a beautiful member of our Chicago community! We're blessed to have you. So, tell us, in addition to Self-Care Sunday, what are some of your self-care & self-love practices?
Abena Boamah: Intentionally taking time for myself and listening to what my body needs, I’ve found that to be the best self-care and self love practice. This could be intentionally being in spaces with only black women to just being in a my bedroom listening to music and chilin'. Two practices that I try and incorporate into my day are dancing and biking. I love to dance. This past year I decided that every morning I would spend at least 30 minutes of my day dancing. When I say dancing I’m not playing around, I’m talking straight afrobeats and chill vibes, from Own brother NanabCool to Maleek Berry just breaking it down enjoying myself. It gives me a chance to release energy and to start my day off right.
I also love to bike. Currently that's my main mode of transportation around the city, but even when I’m not going to somewhere I just love to bike, it's something about riding through the city that is just so calming. It allows me time to think and process.
Lauren Ash: I know you love to dance in community and it's encouraging to hear that it's a form of solo-self care for you, too! Also, I'm going to listen to your bro and Maleek this next week, thanks for the plug! What’s one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?
Abena Boamah: Look at yourself. Walk around your house naked, watch yourself dance, learn about your body and how you move. I think when you start to really look at your body and really take time to see how your body works it can cultivate inner beauty and definitely wellness. Also take time to do the simple stuff to take care of your skin. Long showers, baths, and moisturize.
Lauren Ash: Thank you so much for sharing with us, Abena. You're giving me India.Arie vibes. What’s one wellness product you cannot live without?
Abena Boamah: Girl, you already know: shea butter. You can use on your body, hair,
and you can cook with it. I mean what can't you do with it. Honestly, I love the shea butter that I make. I’ve been using it for the past 4 years now and it truly does makes me feel smooth and confident.
Lauren Ash: Shea butter, baby! And, yes, I love and connect with that mission of yours. Thank you so much for sharing your story and self-care wisdom with us, Abena!
More about Abena Boamah: Abena Boamah is founder and visionary behind Hanahana Beauty, a skincare brand committed to empowering women of color. She handcrafts all of her products using 100% natural products Abena is also an educator, and student, completing her masters in counseling psychology. Not only is she passionate about making products that make you feel smooth + comfortable in your skin, but also she's focused on empowering women of color by advancing efforts in holistic mental health care. Abena advocates for the wellness of young people. Abena is a creator + maker in various ways.