Ayana Obika

Connect with Ayana

Love Richmond? Tell us why and receive invites to exclusive events and more.

Why do you love Richmond?

There is such a wonderful variety of things to do. There is always something to do! For a city of it's size, the amount of cultural activities is amazing. And OMG! I simply love my neighborhood Church Hill - historical, friendly, walkable...

What’s your favorite thing to do in Richmond?

There's so much that I love, it's hard to choose. I do love all of our free concerts and festivals. And the food! Oh my, we have some really great restaurants.

What do you do here?

I own Gratitude Rising Events, a company that specializes in creating entertaining, educational, and engaging events for the LGBT community. I'm also very involved in community engagement, volunteerism and fundraising.

But really I'm a busy body that loves my city and the people in it. One of the things that I offer is a tour of the city called "Built by Blacks". It's based on a book by the same name. I love showing people all of the hidden treasures in the city. I am so proud of the history that people really don't know about.

I also coordinate two LGBT meetup groups, so if you need something to do...I'm your girl! :)

What’s your favorite restaurant?

Really, you want me to choose one? Just one? Impossible! LOL But since I'm thinking about sweets right now, I'm going to just mention Shindigz! It's a dessert cafe...no, it's dessert heaven. And they have Ladies Night. The biggest slices of cake you have ever seen and Sangria. Wicked!

What would you tell somebody who has never been to Richmond before?

Explore the city. The suburbs are nice.... but the city is where it's at.

What's your favorite store?

I love handcrafted items, especially things made by local artisans. I tend to buy things like jewelry and soap from local artisans. I really like The Artisan Cafe in Stoney Point Shopping Center. Everything in it is handmade by mostly local artisans and the owners are wonderful.

How do you spend your free time?

I like hiking or taking long walks with my dog, Teena (best dog in the world) or chilling on the deck of a local restaurant. I also like dancing a lot! You will find me shaking it to anything from J-Pop to Salsa at a local club.

What's your favorite neighborhood?

Why, Church Hill of course!! I am completely spoiled living here. Great restaurants, great views of the city and the river, great neighbors, great markets, the best vet in the city, etc. It's all right here within walking distance of my front door.

How do you describe your community?

We are "neighborhoody." My community is active and friendly. Everyone seems to have a dog, we all walk or run or bike or skate. Any given Saturday you can walk to one of our 4 parks and find families on blankets, people playing with their dogs, joggers and groups doing zumba or yoga. Everyone stops to chat. The people in the neighborhood coffee shops and bakeries know your dogs name! Let me stop or you will be jealous.

Anything else you would like to add?

Like any city we may have issues to overcome, but Richmond is a growing, thriving, wonderful place full of awesome people. I love my city and you will too!