We had the good fortune of connecting with Akiala I and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Akiala, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
From a very young age I became enthralled by the lotus flower, it is considered one of the most beautiful flowers in the world yet it grows out of the muckiest water. That to me is extremely inspiring… that despite your environment or the apparent contradictions you can find a way to grow, be glorious and fully be yourself. I am also inspired by people that strive to better themselves and the world around them and dare to envision new ways of thriving. My son has been my greatest source of inspiration, his existence has pushed me to create some of my best creations. Having a child has made me constantly think about how I can make this world a safer place for him and aware of what legacy I am leaving behind for the current and future generations.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Every month I/we witness the city of Denver, my hometown, change and not necessarily for the better. The homeless rate is going up, the arts become more limited, and inaccessible and staple businesses in the community have closed their doors due to increasing rent. The Five Points District is truly the heart of Denver and it is getting bought out by hotels and corporations that have begun to demolish the historic and rich culture. If Five Points, once “The Harlem of the West” is not revitalized I fear that what makes Denver truly special will no longer exist. With the community’s help, we will create a hub to showcase the many artists and tastemakers in Denver and sustain the rich culture to keep this extremely historical district intact. The building will be located on Welton St. and will be an emporium for local goods, performances, and acts of service to the community. Starting a community space for people to create, heal and plan has been a passion of mine since I was very young. I have successfully created spaces for artists to gather since 2015 but ultimately I was still operating within someone else’s space and limited in what I really wanted to create, until now. In just two months our initiative “Buy Back the Block” has raised $35,500 just from community donations. The community is very passionate about the effect of gentrification on Welton St. and I am grateful to be a stand for how powerful cooperative economics can be and that the community should have spaces and a say in what happens in our rapidly growing city. Absoulute Vibe is my fashion/media company and since 2017 I have published two books “100 Things” and “The Mind Which Exists: A collection of thoughts, poems & experiences”, created an 80s space workout series (“Aki & The Virtuals”), designed three fashion collections and have recently launched the “Adornment” body oils. I call myself a “Multidimensional Artist” because I love pushing myself to work with different mediums and the use of diverse mediums influences all the aspects of my various creations. Being very young, a mother and a woman of color I have noticed when my voice wasn’t heard or valued in spaces. I have experienced not being taken seriously and have not taken myself seriously because of what society told me I was or wasn’t capable of. I overcame and am overcoming the challenge of not believing in myself and not placing limitations upon myself. The more I create art, the more I learn about what makes me unique. My uniqueness is my gift to the world and I share my gift to encourage others to find what makes them unique and brave enough to share it with the world. If there was only one lesson I could share with the world it would be… consciously create your reality by being yourself. You Are Magic.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Day One: I would take my friend to Bang up to the Elephant, the decor is amazing and it would be a fun place to get a drink and some spicy Caribbean snacks. Visit the Dairy Block for an artsy event and then Ifish for their “crazy spicy tuna” and “orgasm” roll. Day Two: Gypsy House Cafe, Red Rocks and Garden of the Gods, and then Axum for a delicious Ethiopian dinner. Day Three: Five points day! Coffee at the Point for breakfast, history tour of Welton. St, Order some soul food from Welton st Cafe (since it’s an hour wait) get something tasty to drink from Sherry’s Soda Shoppe and walk to Alchemy Ritual Goods on Champa to get some spiritual needs, and visit Akente Express to get moisturized, smelling good and just be in that beautiful healing space. Once we get our food, drive to the Denver Museum of Nature and science and walk to the back of the museum for dinner and a scenic Denver sunset. Day Four: SPICE ROOM! Spice Room has the best Indian food ever. After we’d go to the Wizards chest and just play around. Walk down south broadway and peek in all the unique shops. Then go to the Mercury Cafe for a dance class or event. Day Five: A day at Vibe Palace! During quarantine I turned the shed in my backyard into a whimsical tiny home and workspace. It’s one of my favorite places ever and I love to create art and food with people so it would be a day for creating, resting, and reflecting. Day Six: Gross Reservoir (North side) for one of my favorite reflecting and stunning sights. Then have tea at Dushanbe teahouse in Boulder and a quick stroll around Boulder. Pick up a Indian Taco and some ribs from Tocabe. Meet up with some of my favorite artists/friends (Emma, Niyankor, Zea, Sur Ellz, Michael, Irene, Superlove, Typhy, Kayla Marque, Marthe, Aubrey, Crispyz and so many more) at Garage Sale Vintage on Larimer for an open mic. Day Seven: Lucille’s for beignets, Denver Art Musuem, New Saigon Bakery for the best Banh Mi, a stroll down Larimer to see the mural art and Corner Ramen for the Poke bowls.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I‘d like to give a huge shoutout to Emma Fox, for being a great friend, a wonderful witness, and one of my greatest supporters. Thank you for completely seeing and investing in the vision of “Buy Back the Block”. Emma is the founder of the Wild Ride Collective whose mission is to heal & liberate humans from systems of oppression & use play and creative expression to build new paradigms. The Wild Ride Collective activates a culture rooted in generative systems of care that empowers us to stand confidently in our whole human truth. The work she & her collective is doing has greatly impacted my life and made me braver to heal and be myself.
Instagram: @akiala_I @absoulute.vibe
Other: “Buy Back the Block” bit.ly/savewelton