Aisha Adams of Aisha Adams Media Group on Leveraging Business as a Pathway to Freedom
Written by Angelina Gurrola
Searching to make an impact, Aisha Adams took up a path of purposeful entrepreneurship and community engagement.
“It’s been ingrained in me that whatever I did, it needed to free me, and it needed to resonate with generations after me.”
So says Aisha Adams of Aisha Adams Media, who began her career as a high school teacher, recruited by the Asheville City system as part of a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative to support struggling readers. “Teaching completely centered my viewpoint. It makes you realize that schools are nothing but reflections of the challenges facing that particular city,” she says.
During her tenure, Adams became accustomed to supporting her students as they encountered violence, gang affiliation, and early interactions with the criminal justice system. She also noticed that the majority of her struggling students were Black, a reality that deepened her resolve to make a broader impact on the systems which held them back.“The work that I was doing, it was good work. But I was never going to make the impact that I wanted to make,” she adds.
In 2014, however, her life changed drastically. Aisha was driving home one evening when her car hydroplaned upside-down into a body of water. “In that moment of reflection of laying there in the water, I just thought to myself that I need to make some very real changes in my life,” she remembers. This near-death experience and the gruelling period of healing that followed triggered a mindset that would set her on a path of purposeful entrepreneurship and community engagement.
The physical limbo of healing from neck trauma and other broken bones offered Adams a lot of time, despite her immobility, to venture into blog writing and social media content creation. “You know, half of my body was broken. I was getting on everybody’s nerves. I needed something to throw myself into,” Adams says of this period. “And that was really the beginning of it all, the creation of my platform.”
The progression of Adams’ voice online in 2014 quickly turned into a profitable business that made her more money in the first month than she had made in her entire length of teaching. She started by receiving paid sponsorships through her blogging about incarceration and human rights, but her knack for social media landed her opportunities to teach socially-conscious entrepreneurs how to market themselves online, leading to the creation of the Aisha Adams Media Group. “I was starting a business, but I didn’t have a product. I just had a purpose,” she says. Socially informed by her writing and teaching experience, she began teaching others how to make the greatest societal impact online.
Over the past five years, the Aisha Adams Media Group has grown into a multifaceted organization that places equity at its core. Aisha and her team provide small businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs the tools to create socially conscious media through the facilitation of workshops, business coaching, speaking engagements, web design, and social media strategies. Her partner organization, Equity Over Everything, works to close gaps in entrepreneurship in low-income communities. In addition, Adams manages her personal blog, Nappy Thoughts, and is an active social media influencer, taking paid sponsorships to speak or write on timely issues as a respected voice in her community.
“This is not fun work. This is life work. This is the work of humanity and the work of morality.”
In this era of mass national protest and the centering of difficult conversations regarding race in America, Aisha’s services have been highly sought after. She’s realized that businesses and corporations, now more than ever, are brainstorming how they can create more inclusive atmospheres for their employees and provide equitable opportunities, and she is well-equipped to guide them in the right direction. “This is not fun work. This is life work. This is the work of humanity and the work of morality,” she says of the guidance her business offers clients.
During her years of writing, teaching, and community engagement, Adams has drawn a clear link between socially-conscious business practices and the justice she fights for. “Capitalism is the art of pulling in money and reinvesting it into the things that you want,” she says. Adams acknowledges that her ability to provide individuals and organizations with the tools to advance themselves and overcome obstacles can only happen when these services are valued monetarily, emphasizing that we should not view capitalism as antithetical to progress.
“What I hope to do is to change the narrative. You can be socially conscious and have money. None of these systems can be overturned in a minute, but business is about solving problems. I truly believe that ‘socialpreneurship’ is the way the world is going.”