339: From Ghana To Ulta: How Hanahana Beauty’s Founder Is Expanding Her Brand

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339: From Ghana To Ulta: How Hanahana Beauty’s Founder Is Expanding Her Brand

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Abena Boamah-Acheampong is the founder + CEO of Hanahana Beauty, a consciously clean skin care, beauty + wellness brand. As a former 7th grade math teacher and therapist, Abena launched her brand with humanity and intention in mind. Now being sold in stores like Ulta, Hanahana Beauty is quickly on its way to becoming a household name.

In this episode Abena shares:

  • How she was able to pay the Ghanaian women who produce the raw materials twice their asking price
  • The skills she learned from being a teacher and therapist that she uses now as a full time entrepreneur
  • How she’s scaled the brand while staying true to her core values

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Nicaila Okome 0:00

Another bite hosted by John Dick Jory Monroe Lindsey green and Ariel Boswell is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network the audio destination for business professionals. Now this show is really cool because each week they break down episodes of business television show Shark Tank, offering their own unique thoughts, discussing the spin off companies the critiques, and even talk with some of the folks who pitched to the sharks and live to tell the tale. Another bite takes a fresh look at some of the most loved episodes and even answers what these entrepreneurs are up to now. I really enjoyed their most recent episode how to build a customer first community with Glow Recipe to lit bar and savvy Naturals. In this episode area Lesley and John breakdown glow recipes customer first community building they also talked about how the lit bar overcame Mr. Not so wonderful name calling and why the sharks and the savvy naturals cap table wolves could not stop its love story. So definitely check this out. It's really interesting. Listen, listen to another bite wherever you get your podcast.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:07

You're listening to sign hustle Pro, the podcast that teaches you to build and grow your side hustle from passion project to profitable business. And I'm your host Nicaila Matthews Okome. So let's get started

Nicaila Okome 1:28

Hey friends, hey welcome welcome back to another episode of side hustle pro se in the guest here I am so happy to bring you this conversation with Abena Boamah-Acheampong, who is the founder and CEO of Hanahana beauty a consciously clean skincare beauty and wellness brand. As a former seventh grade math teacher and therapist. Her work is driven by curating learning experiences focused on holistic wellness, and showcasing stories of black women globally through visual content creation. In the last five years, Abena has built Hanahana beauty into a cult favorite brand, with the mission to bring humanity to the skincare industry while creating results driven products. Plus empowering black women globally by creating sustainable paths from producers to their customers, starting with creating access to living wages, and health care for shea butter producers in Ghana. I really love this conversation. And this is actually one of my favorite new products. So I'm so excited to have her in the guest chair. Let's get right into it.

Welcome, welcome to the guest chair. I'm so excited to have you here.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 2:43

I'm really happy to be on the show. I'm so I'm really happy

Nicaila Okome 2:46

to have you. We were talking a bit in the pre show and it's like I can't believe we didn't do this before but I think it was meant to happen now, as someone who has eczema and my son also has eczema. Just learning about skincare brands and how they come to be is really always been interesting to me. And then when you guys reached out and also sent over the products I mean when I tell you that my skin just thank me like it just breathed a sigh of relief and I am done with the lotions I am done with the motions. I don't know why I ever tried. I think marketing got in my head or something but like, I don't think I skipped what my skin was not meant for the lotion. It's

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 3:27

meant to you I think it's like one of those things like okay, I'll use lotion but on top of the butter like I'll do like a both during the winter when it's like okay, go You gotta do everything right. Sometimes it's a little crazy, but I'm I'm a solid like body butter shea butter person I've grown up so lotions never just doing lotion never did it for me in that way. I was just you know,

Nicaila Okome 3:55

and I just ordered the unscented for my son. So now all right now we have to get into how this all began. Because your initial career path was that of a teacher and a therapist. So how did you get into teaching and transition to therapy?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 4:08

Yeah, so I feel like ever since I was a kid, honestly, I my whole thing is like how can you help people and I really wanted to be a neuroscientist like that was I know like really thinking gonna girl big and that sense? My parents were like, Yes, this is exactly it, you know? And my dad comes from a math background. So when I went to university, I studied math and psychology because I love psychology. I decided right when I got in that like okay, chemistry, you're not going to be a neuroscientist is just not going to work.

I can do a neurosurgeon like let's just, you know, let's go to psychology. So I studied math and psychology and focus in education. And so when I left school, I had a job in Chicago because I was doing a lot of internship programs and clinics and hospitals. And so I did this amazing

program working at the University of Illinois. And it was supposed to be two years ended in a year. And I was like, Well, the thing that I've always wanted to be was a teacher, I have the actual like, I've studied this. And so I just kind of started applying to schools. And luckily one was looking for one at the time. And they're like, Oh, I know, you're like, very smart. But we need a gym teacher right now. So do you want to be and I was like, I need a job. My dad was like, hey, like, what? But they're like, Yeah, you can teach gym. And you can also like, they need help in the algebra program, too. It was a charter school. My first year I was a gym teacher. And then I, in the half the half of the year, I started teaching math and gym. And then I was just teaching algebra. And I was teaching high school, like electives and advisor for a group of 14 young girls who are now women, which is so crazy. But yeah, that was kind of like my start in teaching. And that's how it began. That's how it all began. And when I started teaching, I was like, I want to be more educated in this space around being able to be more helpful with my students. And that, for me, meant being able to get my Master's in Counseling Psychology, because I just found that a lot of the students, it wasn't that you know, demerit demerits, which they always give out to kids, when they're not there, it was more, so you just need to connect with them. And a lot of them are going through things that I had never experienced as a child, but also I was only able to connect with their trauma because maybe I've experienced that trauma. And I was like, we're not trying to trauma bond here. Like I need to get through, you know what I mean? So it was, yeah, that was just like a time of just exploring how I felt like I could be impactful. And I just felt like education and therapeutic ways was my path in that sense.

Nicaila Okome 7:02

That's so interesting, especially given what you do now, just how that word impact continues to come back in your life in different ways. So at what point did you start making shea butter on the side? How did that come about? You know,

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 7:17

is it Chicago is Chicago beans. So I remember my first year moving to Chicago in the winter because I did an internship in undergrad in Chicago, but it was in the summertime. So I was like, I'm gonna move here. This is great. My first one to Chicago. I just remember a time walking from the train the pink line, and I started crying because it was so cold. By the time I hit the building that I was going into, my tears were frozen on my face. And I was just, this was a wild place and my skin I feel like I always tell people I feel like I was blessed. Like to have I never really had breakouts as a kid. Like, I never experienced bad skin. But one thing was dryness. And I felt like you know, when you're home being Ghanaian, you always have shea butter. But you know, you're you're trying to step away from it's too hard. It's like all these different things. But when I moved to Chicago, I was just like, girl, you got to figure it out. Like this is terrible. And so I just this is not

Nicaila Okome 8:20

on like this. Literally, I just like

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 8:23

I'm over here trying to use jargon, like I was trying to do everything. And I remember just having a conversation with one of my students around. I always tell people this, like Hot Cheetos, because I was like, Y'all stay eating hot Cheetos. Do you know what's in there, blah, blah, blah. And like one of my students came at me like Miss Vaughn Do you know every single thing you put in your body? Like, you know, and so we were just having this back and forth. And it really just kind of hit me. I was like, Wait, like, let me try to reset myself, you know, and this is like 2014 where, you know, all the natural hair natural all you know, all those things are happening. And I was definitely into YouTube, like no doing your hair and all of that, but I didn't care too much about it. It was just more like look good, feel good, you know? And one day I was just like, okay, you know what, I'm just gonna start making my own and I remember YouTubing like how people make their own shea butter and I was like, I have my own maybe I can just make it better. And it kind of just went from there. I was like watching different YouTube videos. I was like, Oh, I can do this. I can You can do this. And so I just started I had no intent of starting a business in the beauty space at all. I was very much still like gung ho around the education system. How can I better it I don't think this is like working. It's not working. I was very much focused on that the shea butter was just like and making products was honestly a Self Care Act.

Nicaila Okome 9:54

And it's so important to call that out. Like sometimes things begin as just a way of having something as a release a form of just bringing you joy, just something to have a creative release, right? And it's up to you to decide what you want to do with that. It's okay if you never make it into something that you monetize. But for you, I also find it interesting that you went on YouTube. I think it's great that you mentioned that because everyone always thinks, oh, you know, I can learn that on YouTube. And it's funny, I've seen YouTube tutorials and I tried once and you know, it's fine, but I'm I'm not doing all this. It sent me the website. Hey, here's your Apple Pay. Here you go. I'm not doing all this. boiling it on the stove. No way. No, ma'am.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 10:43

That was me. That was me. Like, okay, I need to double. Like, oh, my God.

Nicaila Okome 10:52

Look at the rest. Because not all shea butters made the same. They're no less smooth. Which is why I really like the Hunter Hunter beauty ones because it's like whipped. It's so soft. Now. Did you start giving this to family and friends? Is that where the popularity started out? Yeah, I

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 11:07

started giving it to family and friends. And then it started getting expensive because I would make a batch but I would do it like maybe like, you know, once a quarter. But then every time I made it, everyone's like, Okay, well, mine is out. So can you give me some and then my mom, I remember giving it to my brother. My brother was like, okay, like, I'm out. And I'm like, Okay, relax. My mom was the one because you know, it's always like, I always tell people, I'm definitely like, if my parents is a go in it, like I'm a please my parents type of girl. My mom being like, okay, so I'm out. Nurse, like, you'd like this like you really? You know, because you know, sometimes you just give people things and you don't know. And I remember Yeah, my mom kept on and at that time, I don't know if you're familiar with black girl and own, but Lauren ash and Dion, who actually ended up she's, I still work with Dion till this day with Hannah. Hannah shoots our campaigns but I remember I was doing it was like my first time doing a photo shoot. And I was like, You know what, let me just bring this Shane because I've never done this type of photo shoot before it was for Nouvion skin. And so I brought it in and everyone was using it. And I were Lauren was like, oh my goodness, you need a call this like up and as butters. And I was like, girl I was just like, so many people, like for many years, like kept on saying I remember I was dating a guy, his sister, they still have this amazing brand. And he was like, you should sell your formula, my sister and I was like, Okay, relax. Like, we gotta let me live my life, you know, but I was very much like, I'm not trying to start a business y'all. And I remember my roommate at the time shout out to her. She sat me down one day and she was like, Okay, how much would it be to start a business? She's like, what if you need to buy bottles? I was like, kinda me like $200. Like, it's so I was like, oh, yeah, just making that like $500. And I think like, we came to the fact of like, maybe you need like, $1,000 or something to start this. I remember talking to Dion. I was like, You know what, I think I need someone to design like a logo. For me. I don't really know how it is I went to this like Chicago Athletic Club. This photographer RJ. We were sitting down. And we were just because I was I was more so inspired around the women behind making Shea like the raw producers. Because that was like, I was like, what like, I'm Ghanian. They're Gandhi. And I didn't even know that it was made in the northeast, but I just knew I was using it. And it's something that Ghanians use, you know, but I didn't realize shea butter was used in so many different products like your makeups all those different things. So he was like, you know, what, how about the actual, like the shea nut itself, like, why don't you make that the logo. And I was like, okay, like, and I remember we did like little SketchUp I sent it to Dion, her and I met like we had just started our friendship too. And so I just remember as meeting and like, December maybe I went to New York, I talked to my brother and some friends there. I met these girls and talked about it with them. And then I was like, Well, I'm a Pisces, I want it to launch. And that was in three months. And so yeah, we just got to work.

Nicaila Okome 14:30

So did we end up costing $1,000 to start?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 14:33

It ended up costing $1,000 I didn't I really it's so funny to think about now, you know, like, as we're about to go into year six and launching brands, or even when I talked about brands like fundraising, all these things. I was just so naive, you know, and I think it's good that I was naive, because I didn't really think about it being this big thing. I really was more so like let me just start this thing. I want to go back to Ghana anyways and just like take photos of these women and learn more and just Like, share, let me just make some money to, like, you know, get me to Ghana and come back and teach people around the production of che, I definitely didn't at that time. Think of it as like this business plan. And I'm going to like, take over in this space that right this huge brand

Nicaila Okome 15:21

like it is today. Yeah.

But I love that though, you know why? Because I think that is how it should be. And that's the whole purpose and premise of this show, like starting small. And going from there. Because if you start with like, Oh, I'm coming out the gate, like a big brand, that's gonna be in Sephora. You're doing big brand things, but you don't have big brand money.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 15:50

And I did not help.

Nicaila Okome 15:55

With that when we start so when you started, what did that actually mean for you? Like, I am setting up a website, or I am putting up an Etsy shop, what did starting mean for you?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 16:06

So I remember being like, I don't want to be an Etsy brand. Like that was my one thing that I just remember that being like, No, I want to have my own website. So we basically we launched on March 12. And we launched everything on that day, we launched our website, we launched our social media, like a week before, I think, because we we did a launch party. So I did this launch party, where people came in, but I thought, but I definitely did have hopes, like I was like, Oh my God, so many people are gonna buy from the website, because I did a little tester in December where I just put it on my Instagram, like, Hey, guys, the shea butters, you guys see me making all the time like for friends, I'm gonna sell it if anyone wants it. Let me know. And I remember making like $200 And I was like, oh my god, are you rich? Like what like dollars like I was, again, I was teaching at this time. So I remember my students used to use it, the teachers use these it like, I just always have it like Miss Bama. Let me get some Shea, you know. And so and my students even came to the launch, like they were manning my table at the launch.

Nicaila Okome 17:15

I love that.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 17:17

And it was just so funny, because I remember we did the launch, I think the launch we made like, I mean, like maybe $650. And then I remember sitting with one of my friends at the time, after like waiting on the website, like who is going to be the first person and no one bought from the website. And I was like, so salty. And I think one of my friends just found your website and bought it at the time. And I was like, We gotta sell like, Oh my God. No, it was, it was very much like, I think I was just so excited. Like, I didn't really know, I was more so proud of myself, because that was also during those three months to march, where I had I experienced seasonal depression. So I didn't I was coming out of that. And I didn't realize how much it would affect, you know, that too. So I was just so happy with myself that from the December to the March I actually launched it in time. While like going through seasonal depression. I think I broke up with my boyfriend at that time. It was just a really like I had an experience. That's a lot students passing away. So it was a very hard time right before. And I honestly I was just like, Girl, it's your birthday. You just launched this random brand. Like, you know, you have grad school still I was in grad school at the time. I was just happy to get it done. And it was like it. Yeah, I was just so excited. And it was so funny. I a couple I think was like a month or two later, a Lor randomly sent me an editor from a lawyer was like, hi, a Lawyer magazine. Yeah, a law magazine, we would love for you to send our products. I mean, honestly, nothing ended up happening from it. But for me to get an email in the middle of my workday as a teacher from a law magazine. I was like, Okay, that

Nicaila Okome 19:12

was like a taste of what was to come. Yeah, I

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 19:14

was like, Yeah, two months. I call my brothers I guess who just hit me up in email a lot. He's like, I'm gonna do this. Yeah, like you gotta do it. And so it was like, you know, these small things that just people my community around me, Tanya this girl, she is my heart. She just kept she supported me so much and just as like, you can do it help, like taught me so much round social. Just I just felt like the

Nicaila Okome 19:43

fact that your your community really rallied for you and helped you to keep going especially with all that was going on at that time. And you know, I also love the fact that you had a let's see where this goes attitude. You didn't put too much pressure on. Oh it has to be says I have to do this many sales to make it worth it or I'm going to quit make my money back at my XYZ date. I'm quitting.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 20:11

I'm happy I didn't have that either because then the girl would have quit

Nicaila Okome 20:15

Yeah, I think that that is the key to success with side hustling and starting your business like you have to have a let's see where this goes. Of course you have dreams of course you have goals eventually start to gradually you know when you see those signs like oh wait, a magazine is interested in this. Yeah, those signs start to show you what's possible. But having a open mentality at the same time allows you to not get bogged down and disappointment too early on. If you're anything like me, you're 2023 is probably off to a busy start. As a leader, it can be challenging to align your teams on a shared mission and goals for the year. But with HubSpot CRM, you can keep your marketing and sales operations and service teams in sync on one powerful platform that grows with your business and leaves your competition in the dust capture leads, boost sales and engage customers all from one powerful platform tools like a unified contact record. Help Desk automation, and customizable reporting make it easy to unite your team around a single source of truth, which means you can spend less time managing your software and more time connecting with your customers. Learn how HubSpot can help your business grow better@hubspot.com You hear that? That is your sign to start selling on Shopify. Shopify is the E commerce platform revolutionising millions of businesses worldwide. Whether you're selling sweatshirts, or candles, Shopify simplify selling online and in person so you can focus on successfully growing your business. And Shopify covers every sales channel, I'm talking about in person point of sale systems to an all in one ecommerce platform. It even lets you sell across social media marketplaces like tick tock, Facebook, and Instagram. And it's packed with industry leading tools ready to ignite your growth. And Shopify gives you complete control over your business and your brand without having to learn any new skills and design or code. So clutch, and thanks to 24/7 help, and an extensive business course library. Shopify is there to support you and your success every step of the way. I know for me when I started selling on Shopify, it just made my whole process of having a side hustle shop seamless. Like they say you don't have to have any technical experience. You don't need to know how to code. And then your shop looks professional, and it worked professionally as well. Now it's your turn to get serious about selling and try Shopify and today. This is possibility powered by Shopify. So here's what you're going to do sign up for a $1 per month trial period at shopify.com/hustle. Pro all lowercase, go to shopify.com/hustle Pro to take your business to the next level today. shopify.com/hustle Pro

now, you touched on this, but I wanted to also talk about the process of actually bringing the shea butter from Ghana to America and how you even met the women of that shea butter collective and decide to work with them.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 23:37

Yes, so when I decided to start the company, like I went to my parents right away my dad's actually the person who helped me come up with the name everything and so I was asking them like where how can I source this Shea. And so my dad's on Auntie rose, she knew a contact and so I was just like literally what's happening her like, hi. You know, 50 kilos or like Andhra cute. And I remember the first round of che to get to me, like maybe like three months, like and it was literally they dropped it at my door. And I was just like, You know what, I have to figure out another way and I started again, YouTube, just watching videos around how it was made. And so I decided that's when I decided I'm just gonna go back to Ghana. I think I can just meet a cooperative again. naivety is like what has really pushed me through this. I was like, I'm just gonna go to Tamela I'm my favorite is not even from telling the tamales all the way up north were from the mountain area. We live in Accra and Kumasi so I don't know why I thought I was just like, Yeah, I'm gonna go up there. My dad's like, Okay, girl, my mom's like, what are you getting there? Like, who are you? And so I remember that summer I think June, I booked a trip to Ghana at the first time as an adult and In the first three weeks, I was just chillin, you know, just enjoying with my cousins with my family. And every time I'd be like, Okay, who's gonna come up with me to tumble it? Who's someone who would be like, Okay, I'm gonna come and then last minute, I can't go, Okay, I'm gonna come, I can't go and I was like, Okay, well, I'm just gonna go by myself. And so my aunt set me up with a driver, PA. And he picks me up. And this is a time when my hair is like big afro. I had, like, I had my nose ring, and the North is quite a conservative area. So when he picked me up, he's like, who are you? You know, and I was just like, yeah, just, I started a business. I'm really interested in telling the story around women behind the process of che, I remember I had reached out to visco, at a friend at visco, and I in front of Apple. And I was like, I think I can tell a really amazing story through photography, about these women and what's going on. Right. And so he the driver, he was so great, how was amazing, he's like, okay, you know, I'm gonna take you to the scrapper that I know some women that work in the Katara cooperative. And he took me there. I think I met them for like an hour. And they're like, come back at the end of day we're working right now come back, we'll share with you about like how we process Shea. And I spent like over five hours with them than just teaching well, how to make Shea from their process. And I think actually, at that time, pa had told them that I was like from a nonprofit, because there used to be a lot of people that would just come steal or take money from them just like really like abusing the experience. So he was like, let me just like as a women don't really trust a lot of outsiders coming in, in this way. But I was just so honest that his lie kind of went away because I was just like, like, I just, I'm just interested. I have money, like I will buy whatever like I can. And so after they showed me everything, I was like, Yeah, I would love to buy some che. And when they gave me the price, I was just like so shut because it was so inexpensive. I like like how inexpensive at that time, it was for cities for one kilo. And at that time for cities was even under $1. I mean, and the exchange rate was gonna goes up and down. So what they were charging me was going to be less than $50 for like almost 100 kilos. Wow, che and so I was like, this doesn't really seem right. Because you just showed me everything. So if I can just double the amount that you're asking me for? And they're like, wow, like, that's a big deal. You know what I mean? So just stuff. Yeah. And that's where we started, like paying two times the asking price for raw materials. So if the price right now and especially because with how the process of shea goes is that if the seedlings costs a lot, then the Shea will fluctuate. But if the harvest is good, there'll be a better price. If it's not, you know what I mean? So, yeah, that's how we met the women and we still work with them to that is

Nicaila Okome 28:11

amazing. And I love the fact that you still work with them today and that you pay, you know, twice the asking price

How did it feel for you, especially being a gummy and woman, but obviously, you know, being raised in America and going back and starting this type of business, I can already see that it was important to you to have this level of trust and integrity and respect for this raw resource that's coming from your country, but will yet be sold and making all this money in America.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 28:46

I mean, I think for me, I had a lot of emotions, and even still to this day, like I think there's this level of like anger at moments because I was like, these women's are these women and the cooperatives and the people that are making these products. It feels like a level of abuse that's happening with how much I mean you acuto che beans, like this small of amount of money and the amount of money that has been made in the beauty industry. Just it it makes sense, right? At the same time, it was so exciting because the same type of level of intentionality and passion that I had around therapy, and like teaching, I could see just flowing into this. And it just started to click, like all these different you know, because I was also while this was happening, I was still in grad school. And so I was like, oh shit girl, like, are you gonna finish grad school? Are you gonna keep being like, this is becoming really fun. How can you use these skills that you've been learning? You just spent all this money? You know, so it just felt it was a really exciting time because I wasn't really focused around the sales aspect of the beauty space. I was more so like how do you do this right, you know, and that's why I ended up moving back to Ghana, I was like, this is bigger than me, I can't just be like, This is what I think these women need. Like, I have to create a relationship, like at the format of relationship, just like you would in business. Like, without the story of how we even process che or get che sore che, I don't think kind of Hana would be what it is at all, you know, so how can they're helping me sustain my business by the amount of work they're doing? And so it was, I was, I think I was just so open eyes in that moment, you know, I was really also just finding myself as a Ghanaian I was, you know, I was born here in the States, I went back to Ghana, as a kid, I spoke the language, but I wasn't as comfortable speaking the language, I could understand it. And so from that time, so now, being able to come and live here, going back and forth has just like really made me who I am as like a Ghanian American, and even feeling more confident in language and communication and all of that. So I really owe it to the women in that way. And I think that's what always pushes me, even around our mission. It used to be the fact of like, how do we disrupt the space, you know, which was kind of very angry, you know, in that sense, because I think I had a lot of anger at me around that time. But we changed our mission to how do we bring a level of humanity into it, because that itself is disruption. Because it seems like everyone has this possibility when you are a founder. And the same way I found as a teacher, like, you have so much opportunity, when you are a leader of something because you get to make choices. So you can make a choice to be sustainable, you can make a choice to not be, it can be based off of costs, it can be based off how much money you want to make, but I had the opportunity to be like, yes, we're gonna go in this direction or not. And that was just like, so much like, not even I think power or authority that I had that I've never really felt before. So it was just like, okay, like, every choice you make. Now, let's actually be intentional, because you're, you're talking about it. So let's do this.

Nicaila Okome 32:05

I love that. And I think that's one of the reasons why it feels so good to shop with your brand. You know, like I know who's behind it. I know, the source of the raw shea butter. And I know how you work with this cooperative. And we'll talk a little bit later too, about just how important it was for you to provide health care. But before you can even do that, obviously, you have to make money. Yeah. So I'm curious. What how is the process of actually manufacturing the shape into the bottles? Like were you getting the ship to Chicago and making it in your kitchen into what is what we actually get?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 32:44

Literally, yeah. I mean, so our formula is still the formula today, we use shape, we use three butter, so Shea mango, cocoa, and then we have oils, too. So I at the time was just bringing Shea over I was a luxury over Shea. Like I was just, I mean, the airport, I just felt like I was like, Am I doing something illegal here or not? Because

Nicaila Okome 33:08

did you have to like claim it? And

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 33:11

do all those things are like what are you bringing over? I'm like shea butter, like food. I'm like, no shea butter, like, like butter. And I was like, okay, so you know, every time and I was making it in my kitchen. And then I had that time I was living with roommates. I ended up like, it was time for one person to like renew their lease. I was like, Do you really want to live here anymore? Like I could use that extra? Whoa. So we're like, yeah, actually, I'm ready to move out like, and I was like, they're like, it's a good day. Okay, if like, I like that would be perfect. So I ended up just having one roommate. And I would use one room as the Office for myself. And then I ended up getting an intern, my cousin was working for me at that time, like editorial wise. And you know, it started just coming together. And also that understanding of like, for me to do the work that I actually want to do in Ghana, I need to be strategic around how I want to grow the brand. And that was where things got really exciting. Because it was like, how do you want to grow this brand? How do you want to activate and that's when we started doing these different activations and being able to be like, again, I had that really teacher mindset where I was like, I want everyone to learn about this, because I was like, I just learned about this. Do y'all know about this? Do you know about that? You know, and that's really just razz. So I was like, how can people learn about beauty or self care in this way or the process? And so we did these process activations, where from the photos that I took, I would literally be making che in front of people and showing the photos and videos and it was an exhibition. We took it to South by Southwest, but at that same time, yeah, not only was an exhibition, it was a shopping experience. You know, we were Do What is it beauty and chill where we like had a card and Maya Allen and all these women in the Edit like beauty space, I was just like, reach out, I started just making friends with people and be like, Yeah, I'm doing this now, this is great. You know, all of us were starting in these formats.

Nicaila Okome 35:17

Were you ever like afraid that someone would like you're almost encouraging people to start a similar business? You know, your story is unique in that most people have this fear of like, oh, competition and all this other stuff. But you're like, Hey, I found out how this is made guys. Like, show it though, while you're growing your business.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 35:39

The thing is, like, I don't know, if I, I don't have the fear of someone starting my own business, like a business like mine. Because for me, shea butter was everywhere in Ghana, right? So like, I was just like, of course, this is gonna happen. I, again, I think it was the naivety of it like, and I remember I remember so early on this person. Someone gave me the book from zero to one or from Yeah, from zero to one. And it's like a business book. And I use Google as this study. It's like a professor, he wrote it with his student. And I didn't even read the whole book. I'm not even gonna lie to you. I read like the first. You know, I think I got it. But the one thing I got

Nicaila Okome 36:23

my MO I got the point.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 36:29

What are the things they talked about was competition and how Google, like at the end of the day is a monopoly. And they just make things seem like it's a competition, but they're literally an advertising company. They're like, there's really no true competition. But other brands can look at them like one but there's really no need to make it seem like a competition, you just need to be more aware. And so I think because I really wasn't so focused on like, let me be the biggest beauty brand. I wasn't too worried around that. I think the more I've like grown and being a little bit more intentional around like, okay, the marketplace and all those things not knowledge wise, I'm like, aware. But yeah, I really wasn't. I was just like, I mean, I was like, honestly, you should make your own shave. But I was like, but my mind first. And also, I was realizing

Nicaila Okome 37:20

that's my thing. That's what I love about competition is like, most of the time, 90 Most of the time, all of the time, people are not willing to do it. Like they want to copy probably because they see the results of your success. Like this is awesome. I want to article and you know, the cut, too. But are you really gonna get those w double boilers and like, tinker around with the formula? No, no, you're not?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 37:47

Like, no. And then it's like, if you are though, right? It's gonna be your own. Yes. And I think like, yeah, the beauty space, I feel like there's this message around the fact that like, there's just so many brands, the space is taken up, you'll talk to a fundraiser investors, they're like, I don't know if like, this is the space to really invest in because there's so many. But at the end of the day, I think there's just there's always room there's so much money to be made in this space.

Nicaila Okome 38:22

So at what stage were you able to scale from side hustle making a senior kitchen juggling teaching and grad school to deciding to do this full time

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 38:33

2018 When I graduated, I decided to move to Ghana. And that's when I told my parents that I was going to study for my clinicals in Ghana, I didn't do that. I was a therapist for like six months while I was in Ghana. And then I was like this, I'm just gonna focus on this full time. 2019 was the year I was like, full time fully. And then 2020 hit and I was like, Oh my gosh, I had to let go the team that I was building, because of COVID. But that is the year we grew over 200% of our sales. So I remember like our first year we made like, $18,000 I think 2009 To me, like $65,000. And I was like I wrote I remember writing a goal like, Okay, this year 2020. Let's just make $10,000 Each month consecutively. And then it just, it just kept going up. And I was like, wait, what we're actually passing our goals, you know, like, and so I feel like 19 2018 2000 Yeah, 2019 was when I was like fully into it. That was it. And since then, it's been around the strategy around growth and the next steps and what does it mean to be truly a sustainable brand in the sense of Yes. How do you sustain the people that are working for you? How do I sustain myself? How do I sustain the people I need the brand and so yes, the strategy has just been, I think It's very exciting, you know, because it's like all these different things that maybe I was playing around with him doing. It was organic marketing. And now it's just being more intentional around it and being able to plan and organize and work with team and have people that are so skilled in their space. How

Nicaila Okome 40:17

big is your team now?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 40:19

So we are Team of because we have we have our space in Chicago. And so we have production under us right now, as well as like marketing and everything. So I think round 12 in our team,

Nicaila Okome 40:32

well, wow. So is it manufactured in Chicago or overseas?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 40:36

Is manufacturing in Chicago? Yeah, so we get our raw materials from Ghana, and then also other vendors for the other materials. But we're actually going through the process, again, around scaling is that we realize, you know, as a team, we can have, we have so many skill sets. And the focus shouldn't just be around production, because production is a lot. So now we're moving into working with a co packer, which has been a whole experience of transforming our formula. As we said, of me working in the kitchen, we have a team of producers, we have chemists that do our formulations now. And we're really building our team around how do we strategically grow and elevate this brand. So how

Nicaila Okome 41:19

are you paying all these people and yourself? When your experience with that

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 41:28

is God and swear and? No? Well, we definitely I mean, right now we're fundraising. So we decided to start fundraising last year, we started our fundraise. But honestly, our pay and everything has been from our sales we were able to sustain actually adding people through the sales that we have been growing as a brand. But last year, I mean, I tell people last year was the first time I started paying myself. And that was because our accountant was like, it's actually illegal not to pay yourself as a founder. I was like, oh, okay, I guess I'll get there. And even our HQ, I was living out of our HQ, which we moved into 2020 this beautiful, like, huge loft area I was living there just last year is when I moved out and moved into my own apartment. So it's definitely like, I mean, it's, you know, on social looks so great. And it is, but it was a very hard time I think 2021 where I was like, wow, I am living working. 2020 21 living working every day. I know everyone else was but as the Raven sailing, eating this Yes. Like, I'm literally living in a production and like, this is not my Oh, like, I have so many different people coming into the space. I gotta get out of here. And that's when I was like, Okay, I actually need to pay myself. So I can do that.

Nicaila Okome 42:52

I'm so glad you mentioned that. Because a lot of times when people say, Oh, I haven't paid myself, you know, you naturally wonder, well, how do you live? How do you eat? Like, where do you live? You know, all of these things?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 43:03

Yeah. And it's like, and it's one of those things, you know, for me, I found myself in this space where like, I'm kind of a micro influencer found, you know, that little weird response? Like, I don't actually enjoy doing this, like, I don't want any in that way.

Nicaila Okome 43:20

You're so interesting and talented at it.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 43:23

Like it's like how do you maneuver but and I think 2021 was one of those times where I was like, You know what, I really want to focus on what it means to be a founder see, oh, like, I can't focus on just like myself, but I can prioritize my growth to be able to do that. And so I had a step back from sharing, sharing chain so much around just like me are working with other brands, I had to start turning down working with brands, because I was like, You know what, I need to focus in on the brand that I'm trying to build right now. And really give it all to do that and give it all to my team when I'm asking them to work and these hours and all those types of how can I do that?

Nicaila Okome 44:03

And that's a tough decision, too. Because how do you balance wanting the exposure, the brand exposure, the marketing exposure with knowing when it's time to scale back and say, You know what, the business isn't a business without the business. So I need to put that first.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 44:19

Yeah, it is hard. But I think it was so important because it's allowed us to be out where we are right now. One of the biggest things that we've changed last year, I'm 2022. And this year, which is really exciting was around how do we expand our financial model outside of just direct to consumer and going into retail? And so we really were like, I love London. We used to do activations in London, I was like, I want the London girls to be eaten up our stuff like how do we get you know, how do we get so everyone can just work more accessible. So last year we partnered with 13 Lun JC Penney, then we did revolve and on My birthday, actually we're launching with alta. So that's just going to be

Nicaila Okome 45:06

exciting. Oh, I'm so happy about that I could just go into Alta stackup. I love it back up. That's it. So congrats.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 45:14

But it's been great. It's been really good to just like, I think it's the one thing that I continue to learn around business is like, I used to think you have to prioritize the brand to do anything. And I've realized I just really have to prioritize my growth to be able to even prioritize the brand.

Nicaila Okome 45:36

You mentioned that you're fundraising. So along this process and journey, are there any grants or programs that you took advantage of loans or anything to fund the business?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 45:47

Yes, hello, Alice is a website that I've utilized a special and they're amazing. We just won a grant from them a couple months ago. And it really helped us out on our runway, because one of the things with scaling is there's a lot of upfront costs, you know, that come into scaling. So we've won some grants from Hello, Alice, we were part of the Glossier grant initiative, which was 50,000, I was a part of an accelerator program, a 16, Z, which was 100,000. So we've definitely done a lot of different grants. Recently. Now, I think it's called like bags actually, or get that bag. I probably say it wrong, but they help you get loans, because that was one of the things that I was trying to get was around loans, and they're like, but you don't have enough money to get a loan. I'm like, but that's the point of why I need a loan

was about the point. So, you know, and that's one of the reasons why I went into like doing an equity round right now and taking an angel investors and all that. But it's hard, like I mean, fundraising. I'm trying to change my mindset and language around it. But it's something that I've realized with my personality, fundraising takes up all the things I dislike to do asking people for money, like pitching yourself and

Nicaila Okome 47:05

your worth. Oh my gosh, I know that position. It's like, Don't you get it? If you don't get it? I don't want to talk to you. I'm out of here.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 47:14

You're asking me about shea butter, like it's shame. You know? Who's gonna bow Oh, frustrating. Black women. Anyone? That's Ashi. Like me? No, no, but definitely, it's it's been a learning curve. It's an important skill. It's an important skill. And it's something to that I realized, I want to do really well that like, there's one thing about me, I like to be good at things. And I, you know, and so with this I used I was having this like kind of narrative in my head is like, I'm not good at this. It's okay. You're just not good at it. And then I was talking to she's our deal lead or looming. And she's like, relaxed, you're good at it. It's not that you're not good at it. It's just that you may not like it, but you can get

Nicaila Okome 48:02

it and you also need practice. You also get better with practice.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 48:06

Exactly. But yeah, I mean, we definitely have taken out outside of that. We've also done a lot of the shop of fine loans that they do too, because okay, if your sales are growing, they see and it's okay. Do you got any money? I'm like, Yes, we do. We do.

Nicaila Okome 48:22

Shout out to Shopify, they're sponsoring this episode. But they're awesome. Yeah. And if you guys didn't know, yes, that's one of the things they provide opportunities for loans for your business. So thank you for mentioning that. Now before we jump into the lightning round. Speaking of ashy, I got to talk about this campaign you did was it called New Year never asked you. So I read that that actually came to be due to a supply chain setback. So tell us that story. Because I think it's so cool that you were able to pivot.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 48:56

So we were planning a rebrand, which is so funny, because we're literally about to launch another rebrand. But we were planning a rebrand in October 2020. It was supposed to launch in November 2020. And literally, I think the first day of November, I was walking to the grocery store, I get a call from our vendor, and they're like, hi, yeah, the products have not left, your packaging is still in Taiwan. And I said, that's crazy, because I thought you were calling me to tell me it was coming. She's like, No, it won't get here until December. You know, COVID supply chain all the things and so we just had to I mean, I think that was a there's a video probably I do these like, what is it journal, video journal sometimes for myself, and I was just like, crying. I was like, What am I gonna do? I'm spent all this money. It was the first time I think I spent like, a chunk of like, $20,000 straight like, I was like, What is this? This is crazy. And then I I remember talking to my art consultant at the time. And we're just like, You know what, let's just flip the switch. Let's change it up. Let's just put it into the new year. And so then it was like, you know, it's a new year, and we're not gonna actually we're never actually be gonna be ashy. And so it's, that's just every year just to remind people like, there's no need to be ashy when Hannah Hannah is around. And so that's been our push, I mean, just kind of flip the switch.

Nicaila Okome 50:28

I love that way to pivot. What did you learn from a supply chain and planning perspective, from that experience?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 50:35

Plan ahead. And also, the best thing about these things is no one ever knows when you're actually going to launch until you tell them, you know, like, no one knew we're gonna launch. So it was only a setback for us, like our customers didn't know. And also just, like, be ready. It just I think it helped us, like, as a brand. If we want to launch something in July, we start working on it, almost like eight months beforehand. And it just really got us to this point as a team where we could we understood you can't launch something a brand in three months. You know, like, that's how I started, you know, so

Nicaila Okome 51:12

we held about it, everything can happen in 90 days.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 51:16

Everything can happen in 90 days. But But yeah, I think it just really helped us around planning and understanding that like, you can always pivot and you can always be able to strategize around things.

Nicaila Okome 51:27

Have you been you said, you move back after you graduated? Have you been there since like, you just live in Ghana, or you kind of go back and forth. So now

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 51:35

i i live in the States now. So when 2020 happen, I came back, and I was supposed to just come right back again. But then no one was able to fly. And that's when it allowed me to really like settle down and build my business. But I go back and forth. I'm in Canada right now. We go, you know, twice a year for our healthcare days. I would love to be able to move here and be a little bit here more permanently. But I think right now in the growth stage of Hana, Hana, I need to be a little bit more, my team. But anytime I think I'm back, I'm here. I'm from India.

Nicaila Okome 52:08

Yes. And how are you managing the health care the total care that you incorporate it in your business for the women of the cooperative?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 52:17

Yeah, so the Hannah's circle of care. I mean, what's really been great about that is that I've gotten a chance to work with my best friend Tammy, who is our Executive Director, now, we've changed the scope of care into a nonprofit, we're actually going through the process of becoming a B Corp. And so one of the things that we learned from the time that I was living in Ghana, we would I would come up to today on a monthly basis, and was around the access to health care and optimization of production was like an issue. And so what we do is bring healthcare to the neighborhoods, and we're actually going to simulate tomorrow. And so we do twice a year, which is mimic after like six month checkups, of bringing health care activations to the neighborhood so people can see their doctor, they can get a checkup, and we do a focus round of it.

Nicaila Okome 53:08

Oh, I love that just that is how it should be. That is how it should be when you go to a country and you know, you're doing international business relations like that, you know, take care of your people. And I know it's not easy. I know it costs money, and time. So I just give you kudos for that for making sure that's part of your business. So as someone who started with a more of a let's see where this goes, perspective, once your vision these days for HANA, Hana,

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 53:39

I mean I I'm excited for how product development can look like for us, I really want us to tackle this space around like your daily use body care and skincare products. You know, from pre Shower to Shower to after, I want to see how we can create results driven products in that area. And the same intentionality that we put into our shea butters into our body bars. Like what does that look like for a shower experience? I'm really excited to see how we can grow just like internationally and globally to like, you know, being a household name, because I think the funniest thing about this is that like, you know, our age group we're having children like there's kids that have grown up on HANA Hana now and like what does it look like to be like a family brand that you know I you know, Juergens you know all these different you know, everything like that, but like on a Honda been one and that's the space that I really want to continue to like evolve in in that market space for sure.

Nicaila Okome 54:46

Now we're gonna jump into the lightning round. You know the deal. You just answered the first thing that comes to mind. Keep it lightning. So let's jump right into it. You ready? Yep. All right. So number one, what is a resource in your business? That It has really helped you that you can share with a side hustle pro audience.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 55:03

Team. I think it's just team is resourceful. I know that seems really like, yeah. So without my team,

Nicaila Okome 55:09

how do you build your team? How did you find these awesome people?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 55:12

I think it's important to take your time with team building and follow your intuition. I think that's the biggest thing, like set up the expectations, like go through the interview process, go through having your reviews, like you know, don't leave it to the side, make time for it. Because I've found when I don't make time for it, that's when things start to boil up, people may not feel valued. And when you do, it's just like honest communication. Another resource, I would say the book The Four Agreements, I make sure that every single person on my team reads it, because it allows us all to be in this set four agreements around how we communicate and work with each other.

Nicaila Okome 55:51

Number two, who is a black woman, entrepreneur, non celebrity that you would want to trade places with for a day just to get a little bit of their insight, Issa? Rae? Oh, well, she's

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 56:01

a celebrity.

Nicaila Okome 56:03

That's true. That's true. let you get away with that. So why so we're gonna let her in.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 56:08

Because, I mean, I grew up watching awkward back girl in college, and now she's been able to expand where she's literally helping people become directors making shows just like in that world, and I secretly feel like there's a part of me that wish I could be in that space of like, directing and production and acting to I feel like she's just a triple threat. And it would be so amazing. Just to see what her day actually looks like in that.

Nicaila Okome 56:35

You know? Yeah.

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 56:39

company like she's doing

Nicaila Okome 56:44

it's just so All right, number three, what's a non negotiable part of your day these days?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 56:53

Rest? Uh, definitely, actually sleeping. I think sometimes, like, people be like, no sleep, sleep when you're dead? No. I got asleep, I have to make time for it, you

Nicaila Okome 57:05

got a reset. Number four, what's a personal habit that you think has really helped you to be successful in your business?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 57:14

Having a structure around my mornings is so important. I think it just helps me set up actually prepare for like teams to come in. There was something that I learned was really helpful when I was living at HQ, because it was like, nine o'clock everyone's in the door. So wake up early, have those hours to yourself, get it together, do your meditation, do a workout, eat something good. And just having that structure and not letting anyone take that away? That has been really, really important.

Nicaila Okome 57:45

And then finally, what is your parting advice for fellow women entrepreneurs who want to be their own boss, but are worried about not having a steady paycheck?

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 57:56

I mean, I think I've even said this earlier. But I think it's two things, I would say that one, you really do have to prioritize your personal growth, like in the things that because when you're working in a startup, everyone sees you, like they see your fault, like they see your value, they see the things that maybe you want to work on. So you really have to prioritize the things that you want to get better in, you know, and I think this just came to me a couple of days ago around the fact that like, blessings happening through people, and you need a lot of blessings for a brand to grow. And so like how you really interact with the people around you will show how your brand will grow. Because it's who you can attract to be in, which can be good or bad, right? It's your own ways of like, you're always gonna be making choices. So like, I think those two and two together and knowing that it's just so helpful, not to get like spiritual or anything or like, but I think one thing that I've learned is like, there's this thing around, I was listening to a sermon once that said, like, understandings really lead to lead you to a level of wealth. Because when you're able to understand how people work, understand what works for people, what doesn't, it really can help you navigate what you can give and what you can get also in that space.

Nicaila Okome 59:12

Very, very important. information. So take all of that in you guys. And so where can people connect with you? And Hana Hana beauty? After this episode? Of

Abena Boamah-Acheampong 59:23

course. Well, you can connect with us online at Hana Hana beauty.com You can follow us on Instagram at Hannah Hannah underscore beauty. If you want to follow myself it's beanie wama on Instagram and like everywhere. And yeah, you know, just search us h a n ha na beauty. We're there and you'll also soon see us in Alta mere youth so

Nicaila Okome 59:50

I can't wait. This has been so awesome. Thank you for what you do. And I want to personally thank you for creating my current favorite product and thank you for for being here, I'm so glad we're finally connected. And with that you guys go out and check out Hunter Hunter and I will talk to you next week. Hey guys, thanks for listening to side hustle Pro. If you like the show, be sure to subscribe rate and review on Apple podcasts. It helps other side hustlers just like you to find the show. And if you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram at side hustle Pro. Plus sign up for my six bullet Saturday newsletter at side hustle Pro, that CO slash newsletter. When you sign up, you will receive weekly nuggets from me, including what I'm up to personal lessons and my business tip of the week. Again that side hustle pro.co/newsletter to sign up. Talk to you soon

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Meet the host:

Nicaila Matthews-Okome

Hi! I’m Nicaila, the Creator and Host of the Side Hustle Pro Podcast. I started Side Hustle Pro when I was a side hustler myself. I was a digital marketer at NPR by day, side hustler by night. Through the powerful stories shared on this show and the courage to launch my own initiatives, I was able to quit my own job and go full time with Side Hustle Pro.

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201: I QUIT my Job! (REWIND)


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