New Year. New You:
Sarah Akiba Transforms & Manifests
Body Care , January 1, 2022
As we close out everything that was 2021 and swing merrily into 2022, letting the “New Year New Me” vibes settle in, it’s important to reflect on how you may have transformed in the past year, or maybe even several years of your life. That’s what we did with Sarah Akiba of AWOM (Angel Watching Over Me), a local non-profit that has transformed the lives of many.
It Started With a Hashtag
Akiba, born in Paris and raised in Miami, lost her father Charlie Akiba in 2013 to lung cancer. Her world was shook, and she started a simple hashtag on social media that represented how she felt her father’s presence with her everywhere: #AngelWatchingOverMe. People started to ask what it meant, resonating with it as they were also grieving lost loved ones. Understanding the power of human connection, Akiba started to gather small groups at coffee shops to express their losses together. Over time, these sessions got bigger and bigger until she started spreading awareness through larger events.
The story behind how she turned the Foundation into a Non-Profit is something that we would call spiritual. She planned on selling AWOM hats for the first time ever and she got a call saying they would be delivered earlier than expected –on November 15, her father’s birthday. She took this as a sign that what she was doing was bigger than making a profit off of some hats. Akiba decided then and there that she would donate the money and also turn the AWOM Foundation into a Non-Profit Organization.
What AWOM Does:
AWOM drives a multifaceted approach to helping people who have dealt with grief or trauma. Today they still host monthly support groups for those who have lost a loved one. During the 2020 pandemic they went completely virtual, and people needed them more than ever that year. They also host a weekly Girls Club at Olsen Middle School and Broward High with an end-of-year fashion show to build self confidence and self-love for over 200 young girls. Even more, there’s now an AMEN Club, a boys club started by a male student from the school – because self-love has no gender! We actually met with Akiba the week before her annual Gala, where she raises funds for the Foundation as well as feeding over 350 families full meals for Thanksgiving, even providing table decor to make for a beautiful holiday (because it’s all in the details).
While AWOM helps people to heal from their past and strengthen their present, Akiba also created AWOM Lab to help brighten people’s futures as well. The Lab is a female creative agency, a full-production studio that helps brands bring their visions to life with everything from photography to makeup to web design.
How They’ve Transformed:
We asked Akiba how AWOM has transformed those who they have helped. Most notably are the young girls they work with. Akiba spoke on the massive transformation she sees in the girls from the beginning of the year to the end where they have their fashion show. She tells her girls that they’re “walking the runway of life, walking as the new you,” reminding them that their struggles are their superpowers.
How She’s Transforming:
Speaking on past transformations, Akiba says that in the beginning of AWOM her goal was to help every single person on earth, but has come to realize the powerful domino effect that simply helping one person can have. She admitted that she was currently going through one of the biggest transitions of her life; “My whole life is dedicated to others, and I don’t have room for my personal life or relationships. My transformation for 2022 will be making room for that, making space for other people in my company to lead. Letting the student become the teacher,” expressed Akiba. She noted how her Girl’s Club students from 6th grade are now in college and teaching the Club themselves.
It’s hard to move into the future when you haven’t healed from the past, and AWOM + AWOM Lab help people to do both. As Sarah says, the best thing we can do is to make our struggles our superpowers.