MEET THE OWNER
Meet Akyah Atkinson, the CEO and founder of Snow Social, the only shave ice shop in Miami Beach. Akyah is a 24 year-old Charlotte, NC native. She is an Elizabeth City State University alumna, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Science, graduating with the highest honor, Summa Cum Laude. In November 2016, Akyah became a commissioned Officer in the United States Coast Guard and was lucky enough to get orders to Miami Beach for her first duty station. Art in all forms has always been apart of Akyah’s life. From painting four murals in Charlotte, NC, and two in Fort Lauderdale, FL, having an art show for her 18th birthday before college and making a couple thousand dollars so she didn’t have to show up empty handed, to now being a published artist. In 2017, realizing there was an upcoming break in her schedule, Akyah got her tattoo license to further her craft and art education... Pretty cool right?
Back in Charlotte NC, Akyah lovedddddddd standing in the long lines at shave ice/snowball shops for a sweet treat to cool her down in the summers and during school breaks. You could literally find her in those lines 3 times a day. Everything about Miami Beach was perfect, except she was missing one thing. SHAVE ICE!! There was a complete void. If a business like that could survive in the Carolinas, she knew it would thrive in Miami Beach because of the hot weather, the beach, the many tourists, and really because shave ice is just THAT good! If you’ve never had it, people often describe it saying it looks similar to a carnival snow cone, but it’s not crunchy at all. The texture of shave ice is soft like winter snow in the north, coated with fruity syrup flavors, then garnished with toppings making it an out of this world, refreshing treat! The combination of two things ultimately lead to the birth of Snow Social. Number 1: missing the sweet treat, and number 2: her undying drive for entrepreneurship. Akyah would go to her mandatory job from 7am-3pm, then hop online to do research from 3:30pm-12am. EVERYDAY. Double time on the weekends. A long time ago, someone told Akyah that your 20s are made for grinding and she was ready to do just that.
For the next couple of months, she didn’t listen to music in the car on the way to and from work, or while cleaning her little studio apartment. Instead, she listened to audiobooks on entrepreneurship, negotiating, how to sell anything to anyone, finances, tax free wealth, building relationships, memoirs from influential people, and how to not give so many f*cks. People had a lot to say.... “how are you gonna open a restaurant and be in the coast guard full time?” Her answer was, “I’ll hire staff and offset the hours.” “Why don’t you work at an existing shave ice shop first?” Her answer was “no, I don’t NEED to.” “Why don’t you start at a location with cheaper rent?” Her answer was “no, there’s enough space, opportunity, and money for me to succeed in Miami Beach.” “Why don’t you just open a food truck?” I’m sure you can guess what her answer to that was...”No. Brick and mortar is where it’s at. Set location, set hours, and customer loyalty.” Akyah understood the risk but she also knew how amazing the reward could be if and when she pulled it all off. And she has always recognized the importance of preparation. How’s that saying go...? “Poor preparation leads to poor performance” (or something like that.)
She understands that she will make plenty mistakes but all of her past experiences have prepared her for this big moment in life. Including having three younger brothers, being the child of teenage parents, having three big bully’s throughout school, having the opportunity to go on a middle school mission trip to Haiti, attending Trinity Episcopal School, going camping in the mountains making due with so little, attending a super diverse boarding school all 4 years of high school (Rabun Gap Nacoochee School) earning accolades in the three A’s: arts, athletics, and academics, getting her heart broken for the first time, being a sneaker head waiting in lines for hours for her grails, attending an HBCU, having to use a butt pad just to be able to see out the airplane cockpits for training, but ending up flying an airplane solo, making it through USCG boot camp and officer candidate school, losing friends and family, and so so so much more.