5 minutes with a founder: Maryam Ajayi

Maryam is hosting a meditation and breathwork session for our community on Wednesday, May 6th, 5pm–6pm EST. Join us for a midweek pause.

We’re exploring founder stories from unique brands, communities, and agencies to celebrate their work and share valuable insight and advice.

Each interview goes deep into a new journey and sheds light on what it means, plus what it looks like, to build movements and lead the way towards change. For this installment, we spoke to Maryam Ajayi, Founder of Indagba, and more recently, Dive in Well.

In a nutshell, tell us about Indagba and your new initiative, Dive in Well.
After 10 years in business and one of those years as both a healer and businesswoman, it became jarringly clear to me that we need more mindfulness in the workplace. Indagba was born out of my strong belief that we could bring more “healing in business” to provide solutions to burnout, along with lack of impact and intentional strategy we see all too often in the modern workforce. We help socially conscious people and companies grow into their full potential through mindful business strategy and workplace wellness.

Dive in Well, my most recent venture, creates space, community, conversations, and change for a more diverse and equitable wellness industry through both on and offline experiences. Marginalized communities are a population that would arguably benefit the most from the wellness movement, yet throughout the massive expansion of the industry over the past decade, subordinate groups have been underrepresented, disempowered and disregarded. 

In February 2020 we relaunched with the goal of bringing even more conversations and resources to the literal and figurative table. Beyond our signature events, we have expanded our team to provide more tools to empower both individuals and businesses in the form of digital workbooks, workshops, consulting, and corporate training.

This is a Big Question, but we’re curious: How is a movement built?
I believe that a movement first starts within. Many people are disconnected with their higher purpose and I love working with others to uncover what their calling is. Once you find your “North Star,” it lights a fire within you. If you’re willing to be brave about living out your purpose, then that’s where the magic happens. When we are truly in alignment with our purpose and expressing ourselves authentically, we will then attract the community, resources and support to build our individual and collective movements.

Courtesy of Dive in Well

In some ways, social and professional connections have shifted away from “network” and towards “community” instead. How do you see this changing the future of power?
I view networks as something you are given primarily due to your life circumstances and community is something you build despite it. Networks aren’t always earned, but communities always are.

As our culture becomes re-rooted in community over networks, I think we will begin to see a shift in power insofar as people feeling empowered to make the change they want to see in the world.

Dive in Well is a perfect example. I was experiencing so much harm in wellness as it has evolved today and was witnessing other folx from marginalized communities experience the same. So, I decided to build a community of people who were committed to making wellness more diverse, inclusive, accessible and safe for ALL. What started as a dinner around building community turned into a movement because of the power of that community. 

Courtesy of Dive in Well

Makers, creators, and entrepreneurs who have traditionally been marginalized are now finding ways to create space for themselves and their communities. What do you think enables that kind of work?
There’s a quote that says, “Pain travels through families until someone is ready to heal it.” A lot of folx from marginalized communities come from families who were never offered a seat at the table or empowered enough to not only ask for one—let alone even think about building their own tables. Those who did were considered radical—people who didn’t know their place in society. This generation was ready to completely destroy that paradigm. I think it took a lot of sacrifice from past generations and a lot of courage to say enough is enough with the status quo. Deep rooted courage that is not only shifting culture—but healing a lot of ancestral pain too.

What has been your experience in building a community from the ground-up, and what do you wish you had known when you started out?
For me, building community has always been second nature. I am a natural born connector so it wasn’t a surprise when I found myself in relationship management and strategic partnerships for most of my career. However, the fulfillment levels changed drastically when I stepped into my true calling. The community I was able to build after I found my purpose has brought me more fulfillment than I ever could imagine. Sometimes I have to stop and pinch myself thinking about the people I am privileged to be surrounded by and continue to meet as I evolve.

Something I wish I knew sooner (and still struggle with!) is being vulnerable enough to ask for help. Community literally can’t be built on its own so you should never, ever be afraid to ask for support when you need it.