When L.A. native Sannae Hopson made the decision to stop coloring and heat-straightening her hair in her mid-20s, it was just the first step in her natural beauty journey. “I decided to start taking better care of myself—my hair, skin, what I eat, what I do,” says the self-proclaimed “nerd” who became obsessed with reading product labels and researching ingredients. “I was making all these changes, but it was like, ‘Wait a minute, I still have dry skin!’” she says. “The more I learned about all these ingredients in the stuff I was using, it was like, ‘Holy fuck! None of this is actually intended to do the things these products say they do.”
Hopson found that many of the products she was using were filled with ingredients that, at best, have no benefit, and at worst, can irritate skin, cause dryness, or, with long-term use, raise more serious health concerns. So in 2012, she founded Dame Body Butters and Scrubs (damebody.com), creating a line of products that uses active natural ingredients—like shea, mango, and cocoa butters; avocado and jojoba oils; and essential oils—and no fillers. The name of her business was just as intentional: “I love the language of old mobster movies. The dame was always the bad bitch everyone wanted but couldn’t be with,” she says. In 2014, Hopson quit her corporate job to focus on her line—which now includes everything from soap, scrubs, and butters to face wash, serum, and herbal bath bags (see her DIY on the following page). It was an entrepreneurial leap that was a long time coming. “I was the kid who would make their parents take them to Krispy Kreme to buy donuts to sell at school,” says Hopson.
One of the keys to Dame’s success is Hopson’s commitment to listening to her customers’ feedback and adjusting her products, and marketing approach, accordingly. “At first, I wanted to talk to people about ingredients all the time,” she says. “Here I was screaming about parabens killing us and all people wanted to know was what [a product] smelled like.” For the record, they all smell fantastic, with scents like jasmine, rose, eucalyptus, and orange blossom. For Hopson, Dame is about connecting with women on a level deeper than skincare. “As women, we have a very love/hate relationship with our bodies. We only love them when they look the way we want them to look or do what we want them to do,” says Hopson, who often asks her customers, “How do you show your body love?” when they’re introduced to her products. “Next thing I know,” says Hopson, “when they really do start showing their bodies love, they become the cockiest things I’ve ever seen—and I love it! Seeing that light is the most rewarding thing.”
By Sabrina Ford
Photographed by Lauren Crew
This piece originally appeared in the January/February 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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