It started with 2 friends (Jonathan and Erika), who went to Africa to volunteer and help out at an animal sanctuary with tigers, lions, rhinos, and elephants. I like clothes so we thought of trying an apparel company. We came up with the name Isoji, meaning revival, in the Yoruba language. Revival means a second chance at life, and that correlates with the lotus logo representing rebirth. I have known Jon and Erika for a long time, so it was a no brainer to be part of this journey with them.
I find the groove with an active lifestyle. Our company is an active lifestyle brand, not focusing so much on the gym aspect but more on outdoor training, running, surfing, and yoga. We want to be able to inspire a better world through active living.
We’re a very new company and it was an interesting process. We decided to partner up with non-profits, so from everything that’s purchased, 10% of our profits will go towards those non profit animal causes (International Rhino Foundation, Sea Turtle Conservancy, WildAid, and Conservation International). Our vision is to help out wildlife habitat restoration worldwide. I find the groove in inspiring others to give back.
As a dancer, too, it’s helped me to network and meet with new and exciting people not just in America, but all over the world. As a dancer, you travel a lot. And with a brand, you want to be able to spread the brand as much as possible. I wear my shirts when I dance: it’s comfortable; it’s active.
My friend inspired me to get into dance and taught me a simple basic move. I learned a couple freezes, which were easy for me to learn and kind of my specialty, but everything else was a little harder. After that, I loved it and enjoyed it. Dancing has been a lot of fun and I like music, so it helps me groove. I can be myself and I don’t have to worry about others judging me. It kind of correlates with my personality because I like to stand out. I always had that personality where I didn’t care what people thought about me. I’ll do what I can and I know my identity.
It’s also important to be inspired by other people. Watch videos and watch other people dance: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Daniel Cloud Campos. Watch them and see how much fun they’re having. Try to understand how they move. Just keep watching people because the more inspired you are, the easier it is to do things. You have to be inspired. I always continue to strive to watch other people. A guy in Taiwan named Bboy Aya inspires me a lot because he has like the best groove I’ve ever seen in the world. If you watch him, he’s having fun. I think overall as a dancer and someone with a promoter personality, I like fun. I have this quote I like to use: ‘If you’re not having fun, you’re not dancing.’
With Isoji, too, I’m having fun promoting what I believe in. The most important part of a company is that you have to believe in it. If you don’t believe in it, it’s hard. That doesn’t mean you’ll never believe in it, it just takes time to understand. I am currently working as a business developer for Isoji.
I believe that to win, you have to lose. Many times. In my life, I’ve always lost. I’ve always gotten rejected. I’ve made many mistakes, but I learn from them and become better each time. I’ve learned so much through experience, and I’m still learning. I have to keep learning; I have to keep losing; I have to keep going through ups and downs. Luckily, Jon and Erika have challenged me to push myself and become better each day.
It’s been hard and it’s been easy. There’s been some months where I don’t know what to do and start feeling bored of it, but you have to push yourself to keep going, to make it happen. Especially for the future, if you want to make this work, you have to put in the effort. And have fun with it! I think that’s the thing. Have fun with whatever you’re doing. Don’t worry so much about making it big. If you treat it more as a hobby, it will grow by itself. I would say the greatest enemy is myself.