Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Akiba.
Sarah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am 26 and originally from Paris, France. AWOM is an acronym for Angel Watching Over Me. Angel Watching Over Me all started with a very sour lemon that turned into very sweet lemonade. I lost my father to lung cancer back in 2013. After I lost him, I would post photos on Instagram and hashtag #angelwatchingoverme no matter what the photo was, because I truly felt he was still watching over me. So many people related and would respond with kind words… their experiences… and their angels.
At the time, my main work was in wardrobe styling and designing. So, the hustler that I was I designed and logo and decided to design a hat (since you wear it on your head, “Over Me”) with the Angel Watching Over Me logo. I reached out to a friend that designed hats himself and asked him if he could make them for me. With great pleasure, he did and he told me they would be ready by November 15th. November 15th was my father’s birthday. After that, I knew this couldn’t just be a hat I sell to make profits, it had to be something bigger. So, I put together, what I thought would be small, event and ended up with 300+ people. Everyone who came in purchased a hat and I donated all the funds two different lung cancer associations. After not knowing what those funds were used for, I called a friend of mine who was an attorney and asked how I could start my own non-profit, so I would know exactly where funds were being allocated. That’s how the Angel Watching Over Me Foundation came about.
AWOM Foundation is now a twice a month support group for people who have lost a loved one, a support system for anyone in need, the best Halloween and holiday party at Joe DiMaggio Childrens Hospital and Miami Childrens Hospital, also a girls club where I go every Friday to an inner city school to speak to 6-8th graders about the importance of being a female leader, personal hygiene, compassion, and everything that is not learned in class and hardly learned in their homes… if they have any.
That is the non-profit portion. I do not take a penny from, just to help make a difference.
Luckily, I figured out a way to take AWOM with me and make it my full time, although still dabbling in my past life of wardrobe styling and original company, who some may recognize as So Akiba. Angel Watching Over Me Foundation, starting off as a non-profit that I don’t take any profit from what so ever, Is the foundation to my other two companies. I decided to take its acronym and build off of it. I wanted everything that I do to be AWOM because my father, my angel, is what drives me every single day. That is how AWOM Club, my clothing line that is now carried in three different cities and one of the best streetwear stores in Miami, Kith, came about. Then, AWOM Lab, a female co-working space and photography studio grew. The first in Florida.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were and still are many struggles along the way. I am young and learn about the process every single day. Simple things like being confused if my choices are rights, finding the right partners, doing everything on my own, finding employees, managing my personal time and my work life. These are all constant struggles, but when we overcome the struggle that’s what makes it all worthwhile and helps build the brands. I run three different companies, so managing my time is the biggest hardship of mine.
AWOM Lab, Club, Foundation – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I think I pretty much answered this question in the first question, but to go into why I am proud of what I have built is because it holds much deeper meaning and I get to help so many people along the way. I think what sets me apart is that there are no creative female-only spaces so I’m glad to be the first with AWOM Lab. As far as my clothing line it gives women strength with the new collection of Woman, Femme, Mujer being stamped on all the pieces. And as far as the foundation, no matter how much my personal businesses grow we give back and I know exactly where the money goes and who it benefits which is one of the things I am most proud of. I am not interested in having a big non-profit where we get lost in not knowing where the funds donated go. I do the non-profit work, and people invest in me putting the time in to make a difference.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career so far for each particular brand is different. Being in 6 different stores worldwide for the clothing is huge for me.
For the lab has created a space where women can share such amazing things and their own brands are so beautiful.
And for the foundation being able to help young girls feel good about themselves and give them some guidance. That to me is everything.
- Address: 12 NW 1st Ave Dania Beach, FL 33004
- Website: www.awomlab.com (co-workingspace) www.awom.club (clothing brand) www.awom.org (foundation
- Phone: 305-798-1664
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @soakiba (personal) @awomlab (co-working) @awomclub (clothing brand) @angelwatchingoverme (foundation)
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/awomlab www.facebook.com/awomclub www.facebook.com/awom_org
Sarah Akiba at AWOM Lab