We had the good fortune of connecting with Keyana Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keyana, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
I love being organized. I run my personal life like a business in itself. I make lists and charts and outlines for nearly everything that I have going on. When HIKEOLUTION was in its formative years, this really came in handy. I wrote up the Mission Statement, got clear on our values and held quarterly meetings with the original team members. I knew that I wanted HIKEOLUTION to have a very social feel to it, so I focused on what that experience would be and laid out the signature events that are still in place several years later. Overthinking is a trait that most people want to stop doing, but I do find comfort in knowing that I’ve left no stone unturned in the planning process. I walk it through in my mind from start to finish and envision myself as a hike participant. What questions might they have? What might they be feeling? How can HIKEOLUTION provide what is needed? Some of my regular habits include journaling, meditating, and breathing deeply. All of these things help me to relax enough to have the clarity I need to accomplish tasks.
What should our readers know about your business?
HIKEOLUTION aims to introduce the joys of walking in the woods by providing exceptional hiking adventures that promote camaraderie, build physical strength, teach reverence of nature and spark inner peace. We offer weekly public group hikes, youth hikes, specialty themed hikes, private group hikes and one-on-one individual hike “therapy.” Our vision is to bring people together, connect them with nature, and promote healthy lifestyles by inspiring individuals to get outdoors, rebuking the myth that “Black People Don’t Hike!” Furthermore, HIKEOLUTION was started to allow people of color to access and engage the great outdoors with very little fuss. The idea of hiking is sometimes so large that we neglect to acknowledge a simple walk in the woods. What I find that really sets us apart is that we are beginner friendly. Most hiking groups do hikes that are so challenging that it intimidates those who are looking to try the activity out. I’ve heard many stories about first-timers going on hikes that they were not prepared for. It discouraged them from wanting to try it again. We, however, don’t put much value on conquering a mountain or gaining bragging rights from a particular trail. Instead, we want you to get outside for a peaceful, enjoyable experience. HIKEOLUTION encourages participants to leave all grandiose notions behind and just receive the rejuvenation that nature has to offer. We’re proud that we can be that bridge to the great outdoors for others. People can start with us and then feel comfortable enough to tackle more challenging hikes with us or others. I know that we got where we are today because of the non-competitive culture that we provide. The testimonials received after people hike with us says it all. They’re so thankful for the time we shared. I love holding space for others in that way. I love the vibe that HIKEOLUTION carries wherever we go.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
HIKEOLUTION basically lives at the South Mountain Reservation in West Orange, NJ. Aside from the many hiking trails that span over 2,000 acres, it is also nestled amongst other attractions and cities in Essex County. One could enjoy shopping and eateries in Millburn, South Orange, Maplewood and Livingston, catch a show at SOPAC or the Paper Mill Playhouse, visit the animals at Turtle Back Zoo, enjoy indoor ice-skating at the Codey Arena, relax on paddleboats along the Orange Reservoir, take in the beauty of Greenwood Gardens, There’s really so much to see and do in the surrounding area, and if you go a few more towns over to Montclair, you’ll find even more of the same in that bustling chic city. We frequently do long treks of 10-20 miles that venture from the reservations through the streets and parks of the neighboring towns.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I could never tell my HIKEOLUTION story without giving a shoutout to Mr. John Sowell who introduced me to hiking and paved the way for me to become a hike leader. That idea was never mine and he was adamant that I could do it. I was hesitant at first to accept the challenge, but he believed in me from the start. He took me out on the trails several times and encouraged me to get a group going to enjoy the experience as well. It was like learning to ride a bike. At first he provided the training wheels, then took them off and held the bike until I got rolling. When I finally looked back and realized that he was no longer holding me up, I was already miles down the road. I’ll forever be grateful for that. It was exactly what I needed at that time in my life. Discovering the outdoors was extremely therapeutic and continues to be one of my favorite self-care activities.
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