We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Colvin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
When thinking on how we came up with the idea for Issa Vibe Adventures, the answer is simple. We all experienced the great outdoors for the first-time in adulthood and once we experienced it, we were immediately hooked. We fell in love with being outside, waterfalls, hiking, and more. However, this new hobby demonstrated that there were not a lot of other Black people experiencing nature with us. In fact, many times we were the only Black people on the trail. It was at that very point that we knew we had a job to do. Analyzing the health and mental benefits of being in nature, there was no way we could not share this with our community. At first, we started the business just for fun. However, the support picked up, but we quickly noticed that there was a lack of basic hiking and safety knowledge amongst our people. So, we took the business seriously, got an LLC, educated ourselves, took classes, got certifications, etc. so that we could educate and create a safe outdoor atmosphere.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career is actually a completely different focus from my business; however, it is my career that helped prepare me to operate the business. I currently work as a program coordinator for a pre-clinical animal welfare research committee at a local hospital. The training and experience I have accrued in organizing, planning, writing policies, submitting reports, and research has truly aided me in operation. With this experience, I am able to guide the founders in researching new locations, group planning, itinerary scheduling, resourcing, securing supplies, interviewing and presenting. This background allows us to set ourselves apart from others. I have a vast knowledge and understanding of research whether big or small.
I can’t really expound on how I have gotten to where I am today professionally. I consider it a blessing, a little bit of luck and the gift of being in the right place at the right time. A few days before I was set to graduate from NC Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, NC, with a bachelor’s degree in Laboratory Animal Science, my advisor talked me into doing an interview with spokespersons from Duke University’s research laboratory animal program for an externship opportunity in Durham, NC. I wasn’t sold on the externship because with growing up in Durham, I wasn’t ready to go back so soon. I was just graduating and wanted to explore a new city or state. However, the interview went extremely well, and I was hired on the spot. I started working at Duke University the Monday after Saturday’s graduation. I gained so much knowledge at Duke. I became a trainer. I trained people on how to work with animals, getting over their fears, record keeping, assisted in animal surgeries, etc. The job was amazing, but the pay was not the best. At some point I felt trapped and stagnant and needed to climb or advance in my career, but Duke was not giving that to me. After giving Duke 6 years, I made the conscious effort to go back to school. I got a master’s in Public Health from Capella University and hit the ground running. After a few missed applications, I was called back for two interviews. One in Charlotte and one in Maryland. Because I had lost my mom about two years prior to getting my masters, I opted for Charlotte to stay closer to my dad and family. Plus, the job in Charlotte seemed more ideal for me.
I did a phone interview for Maryland and an in-person interview for Charlotte. Maryland got back to me faster than Charlotte, but I couldn’t let myself accept right away. Maryland was too far and too pricey for my ‘down south’ accustomed living style. I finally declined Maryland and prayed that Charlotte accepted. After a grueling few weeks, Charlotte finally got back to me and I actually received the best news that I wasn’t expecting. Not only did I get the job, the interviewer, my now boss, decided I was too advanced for the position I applied for and decided to put me in a more advanced (my current) position of Program Coordinator. The pay was also substantially higher than what I applied for. The job was challenging but I have always believed that if the next person can do it, so can I. We are no different. I may have to do more or provide myself with the tools, but at some point, I will be able to do it too. My favorite affirmation or chant to myself is, ‘You got this girl. If you believe you can do it, you can. You can do whatever you put your mind, time and effort to.’ For some reason that always gives me superpowers and makes me go just a little harder to achieve my goals.
The lessons I have learned along the way include:
-Never underestimate yourself
-You can do anything that you put your mind, time and effort to
-There is always a way; it may not be an easy way, but there is a way
-If you aren’t happy in your life, put in the work to change it. Only you have control over your life
-Do not be afraid to ask for help
-Don’t stay where you are not welcomed
-Selfcare is essential
-Don’t be afraid to take a break, a mental health break, a vacation break, etc.
I want the world to know that Issa Vibe Adventures LLC is simply a group of close friends that had a dream and ran with it. Our community are our stakeholders, and they keep Issa Vibe alive. Our main goal is to obtain a van in the next year or two to better transport our participants to and from outdoor destinations. We only make this thing happen through donations and community support. Any little bit helps!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was visiting Charlotte NC, I would take her to the local bodega, Paper Planes. They have the best breakfast and quick meals. On another day, we may hit Ruby Sunshine for some southern cooking brunch. I would take them to the Harvey B Gantt Museum to see the newest black installation. After that, we may head across the street to the Mint Museum for some captivating modern art or catch their evening yoga class. I would have to take her to Nebedaye Farms, where we could pick fresh moringa, blueberries, plant our own moringa or enjoy fresh soup made from vegetables grown on the farm. We may swing by a local favorite, Steak and Hoagie, for a quick lunch before heading to Romare Bearden or Freedom Park to sit in the grass and eat our lunch. On another day, we may bring our computers and have a working lunch at Optimist Food Hall. If she is up to it, we may ride our bikes through the outdoor playground at Camp Northend and explore a few local establishments like Dupp and Swat, Leah and Loise or MacFly Fresh in the process. We might catch an evening yoga class by our favorite yogi, Tiya or hit a roof top lounge. If we are feeling adventurous, we may do some optical courses at the WhiteWater Center. We will grab some fresh herbs, seamoss and crystals from Musa Moon and maybe stop by a Panthers or Hornets game afterwards. And if we feel like dancing, we may hit Su Casa, Afrobeats or Orbitz for a good authentic party. On her last day, we will hit the Rosa Parks Farmers market and I will send her on her way.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The people that deserve the most recognition for our success is our community. They hail from our home city of Charlotte, NC and surrounding areas. They truly are the reason the company still exists today. They continuously show up for our excursions, donate to all of our efforts, engage with us on social media, buy our merchandise, and they spread the word to everyone that they know. We truly would not exist without them.
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Co-Founder Charles Gbenyon takes all of our pictures and is our social media director.