Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kamra Hakim, Founder of Activation Residency, located in Brooklyn, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Activation Residency is a forest farm able to host and soak. We serve people who are intentional about how they live, in pursuit of ecological euphoria and compelled by their relationship with nature to relax. They need adventure, peace and quiet, food justice, raw luxury, and the space and time to heal.

They live fast-paced lifestyles in the city, which limits access to nature uninterrupted, and come to Activation Residency to ground, relax, and be well. They are the people that prefer picking Basil from a stem over plucking it out of a plastic container.

Tell us about yourself

I am Kamra Sadia Hakim, a Black American transgender artist supported by Munsee Lenape land (Brooklyn). I am the author of Care Manual, the musician behind Kamra, and CEO/Founder of Activation Residency. Virgo sun, Leo Rising, Cancer moon, Libra venus, meaning, I get beautiful shit done in the deep and look good while doing it.

I was born to two Muslim teenagers in the Wahpekute (Minneapolis) metropolis. I have been bold/shy, fake/real, and firm/soft my entire life. I got into the work of caring as a teenager relentlessly devoted to extracurriculars and excellence. I am governed by self-respect, loving interrogation, laughing until my guts fall out, and leaving when it is time. My experience on earth is about the depth of being alive.

Activation Residency is one of the first post-festival experiences. I spent my early 20s deep in the culture of places like FORM Arcosanti, Bonnaroo, and Okeechobee. I was excited by the collective warmth, the relentless hum of live music, and what happens to the energy when we pull back from status quo reality and bathe in the fringes of utopian gestures, even if only for a weekend.

I was attending these festivals during the heightened rise of social justice activism, made festival organizers make public declarations of solidarity, and began to dream of an intimate space for artists struggling to find a sense of belonging. Activation Residency was born out of a desire to tackle the lack of creative opportunities available to working artists. Artists like Basit, Van Newman, Annika Hansteen-Izora, Julie Byrne, and Qween Jean frequent the residency.

The business is transitioning into a forest garden able to host and soak on eight bucolic acres in Bethel, NY. Sold to me on August 15 of this year, this land will become a beacon of hope in ecological recovery. My work here is to listen to the land and employ indigenous and permaculture practices to create a site-specific, ecologically literate garden space providing monthly produce boxes to its patrons, handcrafted cabin rentals, and hot tubs and saunas scattered throughout the property for human relaxation and enjoyment.

Part of the environmental degradation conversation this is missing is how human wellbeing is an environmental concern. Humans are plagued by ecological despair. Environmental racism is on the rise. Who gets to see the stars at night? Who has Covid-19 isolated most? Despair is a natural and normal response to environmental racism, climate disaster, and dislocation.

We have a despair crisis as a result of a rupture in ecological connection — and unlike grief requiring acceptance of loss, despair is where loss has not yet occurred, which means despair is remedial if properly tended. I intend to do the work of tending to that despair.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is 7.66 acres in Bethel, NY, the location of the business.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Everything about being a business owner has its challenges. I would namely say choosing a path outside of the 9-5 corporate status quo.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Prioritize your personal financial literacy, and build a community around your business.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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