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72 Hours In Ghana With Abena Boamah, Founder Of Hanahana Beauty


The most beautiful thing about your favorite beauty product might be the shade in the tube, or its vanity-worthy packaging, or even the way it makes you feel when you wear it. But for Hanahana, the Glossier grant-winning line from founder Abena Boamah, its beauty comes from care. With roots in Ghana, Boamah and her team source shea directly from women's cooperatives there. They make a point to pay two times the asking price per kilo of raw shea, and also provide resources for healthcare and financial management to ensure the sustainability and wellbeing of these communities. It's a beautiful symbiosis so central to Boamah's mission with Hanahana that she's actually working on a documentary about their behind-the-scenes work even more. In the meantime, she offered to take ITG along on her most recent trip to visit the cooperative in Ghana. Spend 72 hours in Boamah's life, and you'll see the ways care informs her relationships with the Katariga community, her coworkers, and her self. It's a busy three days ahead—ready to go?


It’s 6:30AM and I’m waking up in Tamale, Ghana, excited and slightly tired from our previous day in the hot sun. Tamale is honestly one of the most peaceful places I’ve visited—it’s pretty rural here, but we’re going to spend most of our day in the even more rural community of Katariga. For some context, my Social Impact Team and I are about to host our 5th Biannual Healthcare Day for the Katariga Cooperative and community. We hold this activation twice a year through the Hanahana Circle of Care, and it’s one of my favorites. This is the first time I get to share this experience with Teniola Odunsi, my dear friend and Hanahana’s Social Impact Lead, and Nana Ama Kyeremeh, our Customer Service lead.

Teni and I start lathering on shea butter (Hanahana of course) and Supergoop at 6:45, as we talk through the plan for the day. And by 7:30 we’re leaving for Hotel Katargia, which is about 40 minutes away by car. Usually I can get there more quickly, because when I’m in Tamale I travel around on a motorbike with Nat Quasion, our Healthcare and Community Coordinator. But today we’re five people—we also have an outreach team of 20 nurses, doctors, and a lead nutritionist meeting us there.

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Once we get to Katargia we start setting up the nursing and doctor stations. It takes us about 20 minutes to set up, so we have some time before the first education session starts at 9:30. Anyone gets to participate in the healthcare session, and then they receive a full check up, a doctor consultation, and a free pharmacy visit. For this healthcare day, the focus is on nutrition.

At 1:30 the sun is at full blast and we’re wrapping up the visits. We’ve served over 250 people, including the producers, pickers, farmers, their children, and anyone else in the neighborhood who wanted a check up. We finish some production tasks for the documentary we’re filming, and as we’re packing to leave, the Katargia Cooperative surprises me with a gift of two live guinea fowls. It is a huge honor, and an expression of gratitude. I was shocked and felt so much love.


Another early morning! We’re flying to Accra on the first flight. Before our trip I have to make sure to get kose and cocoa, my favorite breakfast in Tamale. Kose is made from black eye pea batter and the cocoa is like porridge. I also prepare and freeze the guinea fowl so I can take it on the plane. It’s a short flight, and before 9AM we’re in Accra.

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We head back to my apartment in Chado, which is near the beach, for a social impact debrief meeting with Nat and Teni. To decompress from the busy four-day trip, Teni and I decide to have some mask and skincare time. I’m all about self care every day, especially taking time for skincare. When I’m in Ghana my skincare is pretty minimal. I usually alternate between Hanahana Beauty’s gentle Exfoliating Cleanser and Klur’s Gentle Matter cleanser, then use Tower 28 SOS Spray and a hemp oil. But today we also use some unreleased Hanahana skincare products—I can’t say much about them yet, but they’ll be coming to you soon!

After our little skincare session, I season the guinea fowl. I love to cook so I’m gonna give y'all the seasoning recipe, which you can use for any chicken or fish dish. It’s just salt, pepper, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, olive oil, fresh ginger, suya pepper, and curry powder. Use amounts of each to your liking, mix it all together, and then add chopped up onions, garlic and pineapples. After all the ingredients are combined, pour them onto your chicken. Let it marinate for at least a day—you can even freeze it for up to two weeks and save it for your next barbecue. Later that evening Teni and I head to Bondai for drinks and dinner. In Accra you can find a lot of different cuisines outside of local dishes—Thai, Jamaican, Japanese, Chinese, Lebanese, Italian… Bondai is actually Japanese Mediterranean fusion. It’s my friend’s sister’s restaurant so I wanted to try it out, and it was delicious!


We had originally planned to head to the beach early, but the plans changed so I got in a morning yoga session on our rooftop instead. Pro tip: if you plan to exercise outside in Ghana, I suggest you wake up at around 6ish so you get it done before the sun comes out. I'm done within 45 minutes, but if your workout is longer you might even want to wake up an hour earlier. Around 11AM I have a call with our production team. We’re working with Cozy Global, a creative studio run by Mahaneela and Sade Lawson, for a summer product launch. Part of the campaign is being shot in Ghana. We review what needs to be prepped for the shoot, then I check in with our producer in Ghana to pick up things that we need for tomorrow’s shoot.

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Later that day I’m also participating in the Every Stylish Girl Sip n Slay event, and speaking on their panel about the balance between being an entrepreneur and focusing on your mental health. Every Stylish Girl is a network that connects Black and brown women with opportunities in media, fashion, and beauty. Nana Agyemang, Every Stylish Girl’s founder, is always styling so I get back home around 1 to start prepping. I have to get my fit together! After an hour of showering, doing my hair, and switching outfits I’m finally ready. I take a few photos outside and then hop on for the panel. I sign off at 4 and spend some time on the roof. It’s been a busy but rewarding few days in Ghana!

—Abena Boamah

Photos via the author