Smooth + Confidence Series: Dedo
To Be Careful + Carefree:
The Smooth + Confidence series is our platform to highlight the skin, voices + stories of black women, from the Chicago, Illinois, to Accra, Ghana, through interviews + photography. It's important for our words and narratives to be captured with our pictures, for us, by us.
I'm so excited to introduce you all to Dedo Azu! I met Dedo on my trip to Ghana last summer when I visited her restaurant, Tea Baa. Not only did I leave with a full belly, I also left with laughter, new friendship + inspiration. Fast-forward to this past December in Ghana: I spent many of my afternoons at Tea Baa, having meetings as well as talking with Dedo herself, over good food, about our passions + Ghana's creative future. Through our conversations, I learned not just about our shared love of dancing (if you haven't been to a party at Tea Baa, you're missing out!), but also our drive for collaborating with other creatives, especially Ghanaian women. I hope you are as inspired by Dedo's drive + unapologetic outlook as I am. Enjoy our conversation on what it means to be careful + carefree and make sure to follow @Teabaagh on Instagram. And if you're in Ghana, be sure to stop by + tell Dedo that Abena sent you. (The coconut rice + kelewele are everything!)
Abena Boamah: Tell us about yourself! Whether it's what you do, your passions, your drives, your faves, your feats—who are you?
Hi, my name is Dedo Azu and I’m the owner of Tea Baa, the first and only tea bar in Ghana. I’m passionate about tea, people and good food. I am driven by creativity and passion.
Abena Boamah: So how do you start and/or end your day? Are you a morning person or a night person?What rituals and routines do you do to prepare?
Dedo Azu: I’m generally a night owl. There is something about being up when everyone is sleeping—I plan better, I listen more to myself, and I scheme on ways to rule the world. In the morning I start my day by praying, because that is important; a bit of social media, make a post to @teabaagh; and then I jump in the shower. I really enjoy my morning routine by slathering Hanahana's shea body butter on my face and body. I try not to rush the process because this is a time to plan the day, think of what wonderful teas to make, daydream a little and spend time with myself. After that, I’m ready to face the world.
Abena Boamah: Do you connect with the idea that you can be carefree + careful at the same time?
Dedo Azu: I believe being careful is a bit overrated. Of course, you don’t [have to] throw caution to the wind, but there is a certain freedom that comes with being carefree that doesn’t come with being careful. Being carefree means that you get to live a little. It ain’t that serious; we get to be on earth once, so do what you love, chase your dreams, make a mark, meet new people, and don’t give too much attention to fear and failure. Bask in God’s grace and believe that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord.
Abena Boamah: How do you embody the notion of being a carefree black woman in your everyday life?
Dedo Azu: I do things I believe in. I like to create things that I crave but are not available to me. If I had listened to the countless reasons why I couldn’t start a tea bar in Ghana, I would not have a business that I absolutely love and which allows me to meet the most awesome people from all over the world, including you, Abena. Heeding to the voice that says go for it, and you can do it, is how I embody the notion of a carefree black woman. I’m not intimidated by fear, so I like to honor my dreams by at least giving it a try, and cheering on other sisters who dare to take this crazy route of entrepreneurship.
Abena Boamah: What self-care and self-love practices do you currently engage in that relate directly to being carefree/careful or make you feel smooth + confident?
Dedo Azu: I feel so and calm around bodies of water. When life gets a little much and I can’t think, I like to stop everything and find a beach. That’s where I recharge, regroup, ground myself, and [am] one with nature. I also believe getting regular massages is good for soul and body. Sometimes in the middle of the day, when I’m feeling tense and grumpy, I love myself enough to take the day off and run to the spa. There are a lot of things that I can imagine going wrong in my absence, but I love myself enough to know when it’s time to take a break from it all, even if it’s only for a couple of hours.
Abena Boamah: "Smooth + Confident" became a tagline for Hanahana Beauty over a phone call with my friend Kenya and has now become my everyday mantra.
What does the phrase smooth + confident mean to you?
Dedo Azu: Smooth + confident means moisturizing my elbows and knees and charging forth like a lioness to slay my goals one at a time.
Abena Boamah: What is your personal golden rule? Do you have a mantra, a quote, a lyric, a philosophy, or any words that you live by or want to incorporate in your life?
Dedo Azu: Give it a try. Put the work in until it works out.
Abena Boamah: Name one thing that you want more of in 2018 and one thing you want less of in terms of personal growth.
Dedo Azu: I don’t know how I fell into social media trap, but this year I want to look at my phone less and look at people and books more.
Abena Boamah: And finally, what's your favorite Hanahana Beauty product?
Dedo Azu: Oh, does it have to be one? The shea body butter with lavender and the black + brown scrub.
Thank you for sharing your powerful insights + affirmations with us, Dedo! We're already excited to bring the team to Tea Baa + have our brainstorming sessions over tea in the future!
"Being carefree means that you get to live a little.
It ain’t that serious; we get to be on earth once,
so do what you love,
chase your dreams,
make a mark,
meet new people
+ don’t give too much attention
to fear and failure."
Stay Smooth + Confident
- Abena Boamah