Hannah Diop Of Sienna Naturals: ‘Beauty Should Be Uncompromised’

Hannah Diop

For Hannah Diop, a Howard graduate and mother to a beautiful, healthy baby boy, the creation of Sienna Naturals was a no-brainer, second nature really. Her late mother was a strong advocate of all things natural. However, many of the products she used on herself weren’t necessarily formulated for Hannah and her sister’s curly, dry hair and sensitive skin.

In the summer of 2013, as a way to honor her mother’s legacy, Hannah went ahead and launched Sienna Naturals, a line of products specifically designed for women with curly, dry hair types that contains naturally-derived, powerful ingredients (Baobab oil, coconut oil, shea butter and vitamin E) and are 100 percent safe to use. And get this: The Baobab Oil Moisturizing Body Cream helps to relieve eczema and psoriasis while also improving skin elasticity, which prevents stretch marks during pregnancy. “I used it during my entire pregnancy and I never had any stretch marks,” Hannah says.

BlackDoctor.org recently spoke with Hannah Diop about her inspiration behind Sienna Naturals, how she learned to embrace her natural curls, as well as some of the new products she’s working on:

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BDO: Why don’t you start off by telling us about your natural hair story and how you came to embrace your natural curls.

HD: I grew up in a natural-oriented family. We didn’t have any soda in the house, we really stuck with organic fruits and vegetables and we were members of what’s called Community Supported Agriculture, so you basically get a delivery of fresh organic produce to your home from a local farm. My parents’ philosophy was really all about turning to nature for all things health and wellness related. I’m also biracial – my mother was white, my father is black. And my mother shopped at a place that was similar to Whole Foods, and the products she purchased didn’t work on my skin and hair type – I had eczema as a child, I had dry hair. And so we would let the conditioner sit on our hair, but they really weren’t engineered for curly hair types so the inspiration for Sienna Naturals – well, actually, quick story first. We went to Kenya, Africa when I was 10 years old for a family trip and through that experience, I wanted to start perming my hair. I had never heard of a relaxer or perm before that trip so when we got back to the United States, I got my first perm I think when I was around 11 years old and then from there, I got them annually. I stopped perming my hair when I was 18 – my freshman year at Howard University. I think being at a historically Black college, you feel very at home in your skin and who you are in your Blackness so I just went back to my natural hair.

My inspiration behind Sienna Naturals really stemmed from my parents’ philosophy, but also, when my sister became pregnant with my niece and she was looking for a strict, natural regime for her beauty care and she had a hard time finding one that was geared toward curly, drier hair types. A lot of products that are natural or have natural ingredients still use synthetic and artificial ingredients so I really wanted to create a company that was very strict in terms of following naturally-derived ingredients that were safe to use so that women who were expecting could also use them.

BDO: Who was Sienna Naturals created for?

HD: Well, my products are much more universal that I present them to be. I have a lot of women who email me and say, “I’m not pregnant. I haven’t even had kids yet and I love your products!” and it’s not just Black women who are using them – many of my customers are white, Asian, Middle Eastern so I’m in the process of changing the look and feel of the brand a little bit to move away from the very maternal feel so that women don’t feel isolated from the product. By June, I will have a fully new website rolled out. Sienna Naturals’ customer is a woman who is really interested in using products that will benefit her hair and skin while she uses them both in the near term and in the long term. She is also very ingredient savvy so she’s turning the bottle over, she’s reading the labels, she’s probably doing her own independent research for her hair and skin care regimen.

BDO: Your newest product – the Rejuvenation Oil – is already sold out! Can you tell us more about it and what makes it so special?

HD: My hairdresser who’s in New York – he often does editorial photoshoots around the world, covering Fashion Week and this past fall, he brought the hair oil to Milan, Italy and he was on set with some very famous supermodels and for one of them, he used the hair oil on her and she like stole it from him [laughs.] She was like, “Where did you get this? Oh my gosh, can I have the rest?” And she took half a bottle with her. That woman was Joan Smalls. I was actually really excited to hear that story, but I think what’s so wonderful about the hair oil is that it’s very lightweight. It’s sort of a mix between a hair oil and a hair serum, but there are no silicones in it, there are no artificial ingredients – it’s pure oil. My hairdresser said it best. He said, “It penetrates the hair and illuminates light, but it doesn’t give a weighed down, greasy look like a typical hair oil would.” It’s light enough to where you can use it every day and it really nourishes your hair and scalp because it has vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids so they help rejuvenate the skin on the scalp and they also help increase elasticity and antiaging of the hair follicles. It should be back on the shelves by April.

BDO: I saw on the website that your next product line is focused on babies. What more can you tell us about it at this point?

HD: I think I might be pivoting away from that idea to be honest with you. I don’t get requests for baby products. I get more requests for more hair products so what I’m in the process of developing is a strengthening line that will feature a shampoo and deep conditioning treatment and possibly some other treatments as well. I have to pivot and follow where the demand is and right now, that’s really what customers are asking for. For women, one of their main hair concerns is length, breakage and strength of the hair, and I’m also working on some protein and strengthening treatments.

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BDO: Anything else new your customers can look forward to?

HD: I’m also working on a new leave-in conditioner spray, an actual styling product and I think one more shampoo, but I think people are most excited about the conditioning and strengthening products [laughs].

BDO: How do you plan on taking Sienna Naturals to the next level in the upcoming years?

HD: Well, I think that now that I recognize that my products are more universal, I think it’s ensuring that the brand is reflecting who our customer truly is. So, it’s moving beyond just pregnant women and that’s still part of our heritage and the ingredient integrity is definitely engrained in the brand and that’s what we stand for. So, the new philosophy is a woman who wants a beauty routine that’s uncompromised. Sienna Naturals stands for beauty uncompromised and using hair and skin products that benefit you while you use them. And we also want to push into retailers both in store and online, but I can’t really talk about anything yet because it’s still in the works, but that’s the plan!

 

For more on Sienna Naturals, visit http://www.siennanaturals.com and @siennanaturals on Twitter and Instagram.