Name: Ola Akintola
Company: O’s Kitchen Catering LLC
Title: Owner & Founder
Instagram: @oskitchencatering @chefola__
Location: Dallas, TX
Favorite Quote: “For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
Meet Olaitan (Ola) Akintola, who’s name in English means, my joy will never run out. Ola describes herself as a God-fearing woman with a giving heart and a desire to bring joy and excitement to everything and everyone she encounters.
Born in Ibadan, Nigeria Ola moved to St. Louis, MO at the age of 8! “Growing up with dark skin and an African accent I struggled with self-esteem and became very shy,” she says. “I didn’t really break out of my ‘shyness’ so to speak until college. That was where I was able to join organizations on campus and pledge Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority Inc.” Slowly but surely, Ola became more confident in herself and her talents & skills. She graduated in 2015 from Mizzou with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology, but her heart leaned more towards business and education. Shortly after graduating, Ola moved to Dallas and never looked back.
We chatted with Ola about her childhood, how she got into catering, and what’s next for her. Read our Q&A below to see why we #COSIGN Ola Akintola.
As a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? If you’re not doing that, what do you think happened?
I wanted to be a lawyer, like my mother. I grew out of that when I realized I had to become and do what I wanted and not what society wanted me to do.
What lead you to create O’s Kitchen?
I always joke that I grew up in the kitchen, but I really did. In Nigeria, my grandpa has a farm where he grows a variety of crops and raised livestock. I found the most joy in plucking the feathers from a chicken and rinsing vegetables. When I moved to America, I would spend hours in the kitchen watching my mother and Aunty preparing various meals. My Aunty would always threw a party for every occasion you can think of, so I was front and center to see how each meal was prepared to placement of the décor. In college, I was on the executive board for the African Student Association. We had events almost every month that required some type of food preparation. I volunteered to cook for each event and additionally, I really liked enjoying facilitating the events. I decided to start selling plates of Nigerian food to friends and they enjoyed it. I knew that once I settled into Dallas I would revive the dream.
What was the first dish you made that solidified your dreams of owing your own catering company?
Hmmmm, I am not sure if I had a first dish because they are all really good! I think what happened is that people would always compliment my food. I knew it was good, but I never envisioned making a business out of it, it was always just a hobby for me. One of my line sisters, Kanesha, was actually the motivating factor behind starting it. She told me to go for it, I took her advice, did some research on the legality aspect of a business and started O’s Kitchen shortly after.
If an up and coming chef wanted to follow your footsteps, what was your blueprint to launching/creating O’s Kitchen?
I think my blueprint in launching and creating O’s Kitchen is faith. I have always been a dedicated person in every aspect of my life. If there is something I want to do, with God’s provision I will do it. Before I started O’s Kitchen, I prayed and asked for confirmation to make sure that I was acting according to His plan and not mine. Running a business is not easy by any means. You have to be passionate about what you are doing or it won’t work. So, I guess my blueprint is passion and faith. With those two things, you can become anything you want to become. I’m still figuring it out, but I know it will work out just fine.
Tell us about your company and what differentiates you from your competitors?
O’s Kitchen provides authentic experiences without breaking the bank. We strive to connect with our clients through relationships. We don’t want people feeling like they are just a transaction so we spend time to make sure we understand our clients’ needs and expectations. We also believe in lasting impressions from our meal prep services to our catering services. Presentation is very important to us!
As much as we love success stories, can you tell us some of your pain points as an entrepreneur and how you overcame them?
This is something I am still working thru, feeling overwhelmed. With O’s Kitchen being a new catering business, sometimes I feel like I should be doing more…or that I am not doing enough. I am learning to slow down and acknowledge that I am exactly where I need to be. It is easy to compare yourself to others or skew your definition of success based on what you see everyone else doing. I have to constantly remind myself that I am running my own race at my own pace, in my own lane.
We believe the Power of a #COSIGN is real. Can you tell us how a #COSIGN has impacted your business. Whether it’s been through word of mouth? An influencer #COSIGN or celebrity #COSIGN?
#COSIGN is such a powerful platform. I remember moving to Dallas and coming across #COSIGN on social media and being in awe at the amount of positivity I was seeing. It was a good feeling to know that such a space exists.
If a stranger asked a co-worker or friend about you, what do you think they would say?
They would say that I am a sweet, spontaneous, self-driven and determined woman. They might also add that I love working with youth, cooking, and that I am an introverted extrovert.
Where do you see your company a year from now?
A year from now I see O’s Kitchen thriving and bringing people together through the love of food all while impacting the community through various food education classes.
Last but not least, who do you #COSIGN and why?
@theliquordistrict, Shawnece Williams
@shunhicks, Shun Hicks
@chefconfitz, Connor Fitzgerald
@gabriellemcbay, Gabrielle McBay
@__2livelaughlove, Shakayla Coats
@queen_octoria, Kanesha Hoover
@motherlucillecatering, Andre Mitchell
@chickslinkup, Cionna Franklin