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Founder Feature: Toyin Kolawole

Words are sweet, but they never take the place of food. (Nigerian Proverb…and the guiding principle of Toyin Kolawole’s business, Iya Foods.)

Toyin’s West African roots, her love of great food, and the better-for-you food movement converged to inspire the Kellogg School of Management grad to found a company selling spices, one-pot meal mixes, and gluten-free flours.

Iya Foods was launched in August 2015. After tweaking the packaging and aligning branding, Toyin got Iya Foods onto the shelves of Jewel-Oscoe (a Chigacoland retailer), Walmart, and the virtual aisles of Amazon.

Toyin is proud to be a Chicago-based company. She sources as much of the ingredients for her products as possible from sustainable farms and small local businesses.

Iya Foods is the third business Toyin has founded. Her previous companies were focused on consulting and e-commerce in sub-Saharan Africa. Her love of good, healthful food reminiscent of her homeland led her to venture into the food startup space, and she hasn’t looked back yet.


Katelyn Murphy-McCarthy

Katelyn is a writer and editor specializing in creative nonfiction. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and loves hearing and sharing the stories of women who are making a difference.
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