We had the good fortune of connecting with Abiola Akanni and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Abiola, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking has played a large role in my business but not on purpose. When I left my corporate job as a fashion marketing copywriter in 2014 to be a full time entrepreneur I had no idea I was taking a risk. Similarly when I decided to pivot from one business to another or create a new business model in the midst of a pandemic. I wasn’t aware that these decisions were risky at the time, rather I was so committed to the vision I saw in my head that I wouldn’t see it any other way. You could say I’m a bit risk tolerant.
What should our readers know about your business?
I’m the founder of Iya which means “mother” in Yoruba, the native language of my family’s tribe in Nigeria. Iya is an online membership platform offering self guided yoga courses that honor the experience of marginalized communities while inspiring social change for all. Iya was born after noticing how ‘other’d’ populations were underrepresented in the mainstream yoga world, particularly communities of color, folks with disabilities and/or mental health and plus size populations. However the vision didn’t start here, it began in 2016 with my second yoga business, Trap Vinyasa. Trap Vinyasa is a body-positive, underground hip hop yoga collective advocating for traditionally underrepresented communities. TV classes are laced with trap music, a beat-based genre of hip hop originating from the South, and combine yoga with dance cardio, boxing and bodyweight exercises. We take yoga out of the studio and position our licensed instructors to bring accessible and culturally-relevant yoga to the neighborhoods that need it most! This is where our vision for equitable and approachable yoga for all truly began. There have been many challenges along the road of entrepreneurship and new one’s are most likely to present themselves, however I’m not afraid of them because I know I will only have the experience of that challenge and/or plight for a short period of time. With that being said, I focus on enjoying it as much as I can because I won’t get an identical learning experience like it again.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m not sure if this question is in relation to Miami or Seattle where I currently reside so I’ll answer from the lens of both cities! Miami – If I had a best friend visiting Miami the 3 areas I would take them are midtown, downtown and south beach! Midtown offers a casual, family friendly feel and the restaurants are spot on, with a favorite being Sugarcane raw bar and grill. The people are also warm and conversational. Downtown gives you the high-end vibes you crave for drool-worthy window shopping although folks are a bit standoffish because everyone is too busy looking good to stop and chat. It’s a modern day catwalk. South beach, on the other hand, has miles of white sand beaches and the traditional night life that Miami is known for meaning you’ll meet all walks of life and be fully entertained. Seattle – If I had a best friend visiting Seattle we’d definitely start with a hike up Mt. Si or Pooh Pooh Point. The inclines are no joke but the views are unforgettable. From there we’d grab a fruit smoothie before heading to City Sweats Infrared Sauna studio to amplify the feel good vibes! We’d close the evening at Assagio’s, the best Italian restaurant in town, before heading to to underground bar, Bathtub Gin, for a nightcap cocktail.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to my future children and marginalized communities! They inspire everything I do, possibly without even knowing it.
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