Black Girl Magic is a rallying call for women to come together, connect, inspire, empower, and unite as one! Boss Women Media is the force that creates these magical moments for women. 2021 is the year where women get highlighted. You know the ones that are sitting at the table and who are taking the world by storm.
100 Women Sitting at the Table is all about honoring women who are bucking tradition, making history and fighting for change in the workplace and the world. Over the next several weeks, we will highlight each woman in our year-long campaign and her story.
Meet Toyin Kolawole, Founder and CEO of Iya Foods
1. Please tell us what your role is and what it entails?
I am the founder and CEO of Iya Foods – my role entails primary responsibility for growing the business. I also lead product R&D – a big part of who we are at Iya Foods is how we add nutrition and taste to everyday American foods using African Superfoods so because I grew up in Nigeria and love good food made with good ingredients, I spend a lot of time working on amazing stuff for our customers.
2. How did you land this position?
I started the business
3. What does your everyday “workday” look like?
A typical work day starts early, getting my kids off to school and working out. Then I check on our teams in Nigeria West Africa to set the daily goals and provide guidance when challenges arise. Then it’s off to our Illinois facility to run the day to day operations of the business.
4. What keeps you motivated?
Iya is a passion and purpose endeavor so this really keeps me motivated. Passion for good food – Purpose to Share Love. Everyone has a purpose – I believe that. For me it’s to contribute to efforts to make the world a better place through food. We recently launched Iya’s Share The Love initiative which I think captures the heart of who we are and who we serve – #1 is the customer, #2 – Our community, #3 The Farmers, #4 The Planet. I see daily the impact we have even as a small business for example earlier this year, we ‘adopted’ an orphanage in Nigeria with 13 beautiful children. We help with feeding, housing, education and mentorship. To be in a position to help this orphanage was such a pure moment for me and my team – there is joy in giving back and being blessed to have the opportunity to love on these children. This was made possible by Iya’s customers and motivates me to keep going strong.
5. Who/what inspires your drive as a woman?
My faith in God – I believe everything we are, we do is for God so I focus on this especially on tough days.
My Family – My husband, Sholape and I have two amazing sons. Founding and growing Iya has definitely been…still is…a bit of a real world education for them on creating/retaining value.
My Iya Family – Many people depend on me at Iya. I don’t want to let them down so I am driven to make sure we all win.
6. What’s one important thing you’ve learned while being in your role?
To trust in God. This is #1 for me! It takes the focus off the wins and also off the losses both of which can be.
I work smart – I plan, I strategize and I execute properly but entrepreneurship can be very stressful and very challenging given it is a high risk, potential high reward type fo work so after all is said and done, I let go and trust God. My faith is an important part of how I balance life and trusting God is #1.
7. If you could switch job titles with anyone in the world for one day, who would it be and why?
I smiled thinking about this one – I’d be Jeff Bezos , Executive Chair Amazon for a day. Why? As a business owner I understand the power Amazon has to shape things and impact people’s everyday lives, I think Amazon’s power comes from the customers so and executive chair level insight into Amazon’s customer centric approach to winning even for one day I think would be so much fun and empowering.
8. What do you think is the first word that comes to mind when others describe you? Why?
9. Where can our followers connect with you on social media?
@iyafoods and @huebytoyin
10. Any additional information you’d like to add?
Thank you! I remember when I first heard about Black Girl Magic! It’s such an amazing and empowering movement. I am grateful for the opportunity to inspire black girls and even women my age (I’m 44), the world writes off women after 40 when so many women have built successful businesses after 40. It’s a perfect a time as any to go for your dreams so here’s to black girl magic everywhere at any age!