( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Tokunbo Koiki, a Mompreneur With a Goal to Spread Literacy and Diversity Through Books
ENSPIRE Contributor: Wesley Tran
Tokunbo Koiki, a mother of one, social worker, serial entrepreneur, and avid reader, has launched a business that delivers quarterly book boxes to subscribers, featuring titles from Black authors and other underrepresented voices. She is a mompreneur who is making a difference in her community by promoting literacy and diversity through her Iya Ni Wura book boxes. Each quarter, subscribers receive a box filled with carefully selected books, gifts, and materials to engage readers of all ages. The boxes are designed to promote reading as a fun and enriching activity, while also exposing readers to new ideas and perspectives.
Tokunbo affectionately known as Toks, is passionate about promoting literacy and exposing children and adults alike to a diverse range of perspectives. She noticed a lack of representation in the books available at her local library and bookstores and took matters into her own hands by curating a selection of books that celebrate Black culture and history. But Toks’ mission goes beyond just promoting literacy. She is also committed to showing mothers it is ok to prioritize themselves. She has a box specially curated for mothers to reclaim their identity outside of their role and duty to their children. Besides that, she’s committed to showcasing Black authors and other underrepresented voices in the publishing industry. By featuring their work in her book boxes, she amplifies their voices and promotes greater diversity in literature.
ENSPIRE was given the amazing opportunity to interview Tokunbo about Iya Ni Wura book boxes. Read about it below!
What was your inspiration for creating book boxes instead of another service to promote diversity?
As an education and social work practitioner, I was inspired to create Iya Ni Wura book boxes as I have personally seen the transformative impact reading can have not only for children but also for adults.
What is it like balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship?
Like anything in life, balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship comes with its challenges. Thankfully, I have been able to nurture and foster a love of reading in my daughter so it makes it easy for me to involve her in my entrepreneurial endeavors. One of the book boxes is named after her and she has a Junior Editor role in the selection and curation of the young adult books.
What methods/things do you use to de-stress when these types of problems arise?
I try to have age-appropriate conversations with my daughter as and when possible especially when my business demands start to take precedence or infringe on my parenting role. But I also ensure that we have regular quality time doing activities we both enjoy. I have also learned the importance of outsourcing things that are not in my zone of genius so my time is better focused on working with and not on my business.
If readers would only gain one thing from these book boxes, what is the one lesson you hope everyone takes away from your boxes?
I hope that readers will learn to understand that reading is a valid form of self-care. Even taking just 10-15 minutes at the start or end of one’s day to get lost in a novel can be life transformative. I also hope the boxes will help readers to discover the wide range of amazing Black authors and creatives who are working hard to reshape narratives around the Black experience across the continent as well as across the Diaspora.
How do you choose the books that go into the boxes? Would you ever consider taking suggestions from your subscribers?
I am sometimes sent advanced reader copies from publishers but will also curate books based on classics. The boxes are multi-genre as we recognize that our readers have wide and varied interests. We also hope to be able to take suggestions from our subscribers once we are in a position to restart the book club element of the boxes.
Tokunbo stresses the importance of promoting literacy and diversity in our communities, along with reshaping how society views motherhood. Her innovative business model is not only making a difference in the lives of her subscribers but also in the publishing industry as a whole. Each box supports three to five Black-owned businesses in their goal of education. Tokunbo goes above and beyond the challenges of motherhood to not only follow her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur but also to combat the idea that mothers are meant to parent.