For Hannah Diop, hair care is self-love. But when she was growing up with textured hair in a family committed to natural products, the act of caring for and styling her hair wasn't the nurturing experience she craved. Sienna Naturals was born from her mission to rewrite the narratives around textured hair, and to reclaim hair care as the self-loving experience nature intended.
Cultural narratives around textured hair are riddled with misinformation. How does that contribute to your brand purpose?
Society often tries to dictate the way our hair should look, when in reality all hair is good hair that deserves celebration and care. One cultural trope that has been consistently harmful is that textured hair is difficult—and in turn, not desirable. From my personal experiences, my textured hair has been called "unprofessional" and "unruly" to name a few. This is so damaging. It caused me to internalize at a young age that there is something wrong with my hair the way it grows out of my head.
This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, textured hair is the most versatile hair in the world. In a week's time, I can have half a dozen completely different looks—and to me, that is beautiful.
When you were a child, natural hair care products that catered to your textured hair were few and far between. What's it like to fill that market void?
I always say Sienna Naturals has been with me since childhood. I still strongly remember the moments growing up using globs and globs of natural conditioners and the feelings I felt when my hair still wouldn't detangle. It made me believe my hair was the problem, not the product itself.
For many people with textured hair, early moments like that can alter the way you approach your hair care journey, and I'm so proud that with Sienna Naturals I can change that experience for others. Infusing essential oils that create a sensory experience in the shower. Adding clean alternatives to silicones and synthetics that provide slip and make our textured hair feel hydrated. Utilizing clean technologies to provide relief to our dry, irritated or inflamed scalps. These are just some of the self-care and self-love practices that I can share with others through Sienna Naturals.
Finding the right products to make our hair do the things we want is so freeing. How do Sienna Natural products promote freedom of expression?
Like I always say, it starts at the root. Regardless of how you want to express yourself through your hairstyles, at Sienna Naturals we believe you should always have a way to get back to your best hair and scalp health without having to compromise on clean and sustainable ingredients that are safe for your body and the environment.
You'd be surprised how many people reach out asking if the products will work on their hair if they heat-straighten it, relax it, color it—the list goes on. When I say the answer is yes, they're shocked because they're so used to only being offered natural products if they wear their hair in its natural state. But at Sienna Naturals, we take a stand that you deserve natural and clean products that perform no matter how you choose to style your hair. Our products are always free of harsh sulfates, parabens, silicones, phthalates, petroleum, mineral oil, formaldehyde and artificial fragrances—and still get the job done.
You're very hands-on in the formula composition of your products. Did you have a background in science and botanicals before launching Sienna Naturals?
Funnily enough I didn't, which is even more proof that with hard work, determination and your local public library, anything is possible. While I still had my job in corporate America, I would head to the New York Public Library on the weekends to learn firsthand how to formulate. I knew that eventually I would need the help of someone in the field, but I did not want to go into that process blind, so I did the research.
Through my investigation, I discovered the higher rates of dermatitis and skin and scalp irritants for Black and Brown people are largely due to chemical exposure from the products we use. So from that revelation, my focus for Sienna Naturals revealed itself to me. After hiring our chemist, who is a Black woman by the way, we took to my kitchen and together created the first batch of what is now Sienna Naturals. As an extremely hands-on founder, I am still learning and growing with the industry daily, all in the continued mission to make Sienna Naturals the best it can possibly be.
Who are your heroes?
My grandmothers are my heroes. They come from different walks of life, but they both faced obstacles and overcame challenges presented to them at very young ages. My grandmama McCoy is 98 years old. She was adopted and faced many challenges as a child. She also raised five sons as a single mother. When I was little, she would come and stay with us during the summer. She has so much class and style. I used to love watching her put on her makeup and adorn herself with jewelry and accessories. I loved getting dressed up with her and taking trips downtown to window-shop.
My grandma Julie was an incredibly hard worker. She dropped out of school at a young age and worked in a factory most of her life to help support her family. When she retired, she and my grandfather built a house next to a lake and lived mostly off of their land. She loved feeding us vegetables from her garden. She took me on walks in the woods to gather wild blueberries for homemade pies and taught me how to fish.
What's one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?
I would tell her to worry less, that all of her curiosities and hypotheses are worth exploring, and that she is beautiful—just as she is.