His associates, household, and associates have all described Owens as a pushed entrepreneur with a robust social conscience, a lady who dared to threat all of it and by no means gave up. That’s even when she faces the prospect of shedding her pure skincare and spa providers enterprise to a doubtlessly career-crushing pandemic and the potential of her dying of most cancers. Owens, who was recognized with the illness in 2019, struggled with each on the similar time. These near Owens mentioned that if she feared monetary break or her personal loss of life, she just about stored it to herself.
“It was courageous,” mentioned Owens’ daughter, Maya Johnson. “She was taking issues day in and day trip, and we have been on that journey together with her.”
Owens’ journey started in Atlanta, the place she has spent her total life, besides for faculty and her early profession. She grew up within the Adamsville neighborhood within the metropolis’s southwest, performed soccer on the street and pursued a wide range of inventive pursuits, together with dancing and portray. Nevertheless it was her summer season visits to Shreveport, Louisiana, to see her grandmother, Cusata Blackmun, whom everybody known as “Mom,” made the best impression on Owens. These experiences ultimately led Owens to show to an entrepreneurial profession.
Owens felt drawn to her grandmother’s wild and eclectic backyard, the place not all rising issues have been organized in neat rows. From that backyard, Blackmun cured Owens’ childhood eczema by bathing him in a mix of onions, garlic, and collard greens. And when the Charles Lincoln Harbor Excessive Faculty graduate goes to school—first Tuskegee College after which Albany State College—Blackmun will ship care packages containing pure pores and skin therapies she constituted of vegetables and fruit from her yard.
It took a few years for Owens to return to the roots her grandmother had planted. After convincing her dad and mom to comply with an inexpensive profession path, Owens, who attended faculty on a arithmetic scholarship, earned a pc science engineering diploma and graduated from Albany State College. She then adopted a company profession path, first with IBM in Dallas, and later at House Depot and SunTrust Financial institution in Atlanta.
However over time, Owens felt a pull in a special course. She left SunTrust to develop her new fledgling firm. Owens known as it the preliminary acronym “IWI”, which stands for favourite slogan: “It’s what it’s”.
Her determination unnerved the members of the family. In spite of everything, Owens was the primary to graduate from faculty. Within the “Made in America” interview, Owens remembers telling them “I gotta go after who I actually am”.
Owens downsized, transformed her house right into a small manufacturing unit, and made a reputation for herself by establishing cubicles at public occasions and commerce exhibits. She taught workers within the spa areas about the advantages of pure merchandise that require refrigeration and methods to use them.
In 2010, Owens opened the Recent Farm-to-Pores and skin Spa in Castleberry Hill, Atlanta. She invited different entrepreneurs, together with musicians and artisans, into the area and gave workshops on entrepreneurship. Celebrities started visiting her spa, and in 2017 her merchandise started showing on the native Complete Meals retailer.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Owens moved by increasing her enterprise on-line, providing curbside service, and efficiently convincing Complete Meals to promote iwi merchandise in additional shops. Owens utilized for and acquired grants and enterprise loans to assist hold the corporate afloat and delayed opening a 12,000-square-foot “Resting Retreat Spot” on Jonesboro Highway.
This facility is now open and Owens’ enterprise is recovering regardless of her departure.
“Yolanda was extremely decided. As soon as she units her eyes on one thing, she’ll work till she will get it,” mentioned Shanta Robinson, the cousin, who works at iwi. “She used to say, ‘How would I do know if it did not work out? If I do not strive?”
Owens is survived by two sons, Jordan and Austin Johnson, together with a daughter, Maya Johnson, inside days of giving start. each dad and mom, Ralph Hill and Maury Henderson; two brothers, Corey Henderson and Berald Hill; and one grandson, Jah Johnson.
The household will quickly announce plans for a memorial ceremony.