As the face of the recently opened Impact Hub Oakland co-working and event space, Ashara Ekundayo wears many hats. A budding creative and serial community builder, Ashara’s work has been impactful yet varied. A co-founder of GrowHaus, an interactive aquaponic farm in Denver, CO, Ashara has been committed to food justice as well as empowering her communities through inspiration and education. We recently sat down with Ashara to learn more about her latest project, the recent launch of Oakland’s newest co-working space, Impact Hub Oakland.
I’ve seen you running around Hub for the past couple of weeks doing a ton of different things. What would you say your official title is at Impact Hub?
My title is Chief Creative Officer, well, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer.
And what does that entail?
So there’s seven founders. Three of us who work in the space, the CEO, COO, and I’m the CCO. For the last two and a half years, my work on this team represents the outward facing identity of Impact Hub Oakland. I’m a cultural worker, I’m a community activist. I’m a bit of a social butterfly considering I’m such an introvert. The work that I do in the community is very public, so I’ve been the public face. So under Chief Creative Officer it means that I’m the Creative Director. I manage the digital media director. I manage the graphic designers, I manage the production manager, so I actually have the most amount of staff that answer to me.
Impact Hub is a mobile brand, and we’re the latest one to open. But the brand and the parties, and the message and the story we’ve been telling started two years ago. It was my job to tell that story.
I see. How have the events contribute to the goals of Impact Hub thus far?
I try to create opportunities for everyone to feel welcome. How do we get the kids in deep East Oakland to know that they can come here too. Which is why it was really important for us to sponsor and host Start Up Weekend for Male Achievement. Our job was to create a safe container for them to be creative. We’ve tried to make it very clear that this is your home. That the people who run this business, look like the people in your community.
Which in my opinion is remarkable, right?
Well, yes. The founders of Impact Hub Oakland look like the demographics of Oakland. Oakland being a very racially, culturally diverse city. One of the most diverse cities in the United States. So the seven of us, we reflect that. So we want the programming and the space to reflect that.
There’s Impact Hub San Francisco in the Chronicle building, and there’s Impact Hub Berkeley off of Shattuck and Kitteridge. There are other Hub’s in the Bay Area, but San Francisco and Berkeley don’t feel like Oakland right? This is Oakland. We have a particular style, a particular flavor a particular vibration that is distinctly Oakland, and we want this Hub to reflect that.
Can we talk a little bit about taking an idea like Impact Hub from ideation into a real thing? In your mind what went into this coming to fruition?
Impact Hub is a particular kind of story. But the steps of taking an idea to fruition are generally the same. You see something, whether in your head or outside. You proceed to copy or imitate it in some way. You come up with your own thought and identity and brain around it. And you go about the business of connecting yourself to people that know how to do it. And you get some resources around that idea, mainly folks that are all about the idea as well. And then you do it. I mean that’s what we did..
Where does passion play a role in entrepreneurship?
Well there is no entrepreneurship without passion. Entrepreneurs are passionate about their project. It’s the passion that feeds and fuels it. I mean passion has driven Hub Oakland… The question that we’ve asked our community is, “What makes you come alive?” That was our question? So bring it! What you got? Show us! This is what we got… We love Oakland. We all live here, we all chose to live here. All of the founders chose to live here because this is the bomb city.
Where do you see Oakland going?
Oakland is in its own Renaissance. It’s on the come up for real. I look and see the vibrancy of people who pretty much see that old business is broken.
What do you mean by that?
The old way of doing business doesn’t work anymore. When the economy tanked, people got really inventive and really creative. Necessity drives innovation and I see a lot of people wanting to do something doing it, and they’ve tapped into what makes them come alive. One thing we know about Impact Hub is that it’s an idea, whose time has come.