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Life and Work with Ola Akintola

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ola Akintola.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ola. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started learning about food on my grandfather’s farm in Nigeria. My grandfather was an agriculture enthusiast who spent his life learning and teaching about the cultivation of land and the breeding of animals. He taught me how to feather and butcher chickens as young as eight years old. When I moved to the United States in 2001, my desire to learn how to cook intensified. I spent weeknights and weekends helping my mother and Aunty in the kitchen, carefully paying attention to what spices they were using. My Aunty also used to throw occasional gatherings, allowing me to shadow her work and take mental notes of event design from start to finish.

As I transitioned to a full-time college at the University of Missouri-Columbia, I found joy in cooking for friends and events around campus. I was part of the African Student Association and I often volunteered my gifts to cook Nigerian cuisine for outreach events. Eventually, I came up with the idea to sell $10 Nigerian-inspired plates to coworkers and family. That is when O’s Kitchen was born. I graduated in 2015 and moved to Dallas, TX shortly after, temporarily putting my dream on hold amidst the chaos of moving. In 2017, my line sister, Kanesha Hoover, encouraged me to relaunch O’s Kitchen in Dallas. I was nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time. I knew my food was good and I knew God gave me the gift of cooking, but I didn’t know how many people in a big city would be receptive. I prayed, did some research on establishing a business in Texas and purchased the LLC in 2018. The rest is written. I wake up every day chasing my dream with the support of God, my family and friends and the community around me. In due time, I plan on using my gifts to reinvest back into the mission I am passionate about – bridging the gap between accessibility to grocery stores and healthy eating in low-income communities – just like my Grandfather once did.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
“Nothing worth having comes easy” is a motto I truly believe in. The mission, purpose, and values of O’s Kitchen came easy because God has His hands over it, but putting myself out there was the tough part. As soon as I became confident in my ability to grow my business, it has been a smooth road. I often tell people that I am figuring it out as I go. I try to soak up as much knowledge as I can and learn from those who came before me. I wholeheartedly believe in creating your own lane and running your own race. Everything I do, whether business or personal, is intentional. Anybody with a business knows that sometimes ideas will fail or something unexpected will happen. When this happens to me, I give myself a small time frame to get through all the mixed emotions. Then, I pray about it and get back to business. I know at the end of the day that I’m doing my best and that is all that matters. My advice for young women who are starting their journey would be to stay original and run their own race. In today’s society, it is easy to compare and feel inadequate based on others success. Once you realize that your only competition is yourself, the world gets smaller.

Please tell us about O’s Kitchen.
We specialize in building relationships with our clients while providing authentic and delicious cuisine. O’s Kitchen is known for our impeccable customer service, professionalism, and all around good food! We pride ourselves in being a Kingdom-led business as God is – and will always be – our CEO. In addition, we strive to be a social impact business that gives back to communities. It is our goal to circulate the black dollar within the community by investing in areas where it is needed the most. Furthermore, we want to teach food education classes to communities that have limited access to grocery stories, vehicles and are identified as low-income, formally defined as food deserts. By partnering with local farms, organizations, and individuals we can join forces to eradicate food deserts locally and beyond.

Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well positioned for?
In real life, I am actually an introvert, but I become an extrovert when networking about my business because it is what I love. The strategy that’s worked best for me is soaking in as much free knowledge as possible, from podcasts to articles. I am always reading and/or listening to how other Black women navigated entrepreneurship. As long as you remain true to who you are and your purpose, the success will follow.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Danielle Fork & Ada Lee Photography

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