Tobi Ayé - Founder and creative director
Wellness activist - Trauma-informed somatic practitioner - Certified breathworker & green cosmetic formulator
Tobi Ayé arrived in Berlin in 2014 hoping to create, share, and put together a new life like many other wanderers and artists. She had the added asterisk, however, of being an African in Europe; a condition and experience that is too rarely the subject of wider discussion despite being something shared by so many.
Africanness is the center and lodestar of Tobi’s mission. European culture and life is exalted not only within the boundaries of its continent, they dominate worldwide. So much so that the lifeblood of Africa -- its fauna -- is incorporated into the production of a multitude of foreign products without a mention of its origins. How could it be that Ximenia, Mongogo, and _ oils that have been honored staples among African tribes over the centuries are never spoken about as integral parts of African traditional medicine?
Tobi has been studying African healing practices for several years. The traditions of the continent have led her to the world of wellness activism in which she works to build an inclusive space to learn. She is a passionate breathworker and somatic practitioner -- two parts of her identity that formed the foundation for the creation of RECONEKT. Learning formulation of skincare products isn’t only a science to Tobi. It is a convergence of all she’s learned and is still learning to improve quality of life.
There is a voracious appetite for the fruits of Africa while at the same time there is a casual disregard for the Black bodies that bring those fruits to life. Part of Tobi’s journey has been correcting this ignorance, but not through lip service and de-racialization. Instead, Tobi understands the immense importance of unapologetically centering the Black body and Black skin as things to celebrate, and, above all, cherish.
It’s no coincidence that Journey and Soft Land are the names of her flagship products. The African remains on a journey through the rest of the world. Tobi is not only aware of the physical dimension of this existence, but the importance of acknowledging, preparing, and allowing for the spiritual journey of Reconekting with the ancestors of our homelands. IN doing so, an opportunity for a Soft Land arises. Our ancestors practiced meditations and somatic practices which allowed us to hea and awaken so that our point of contact with the world could be as tender and gentle as possible.
Tenderness is the key practice behind RECONEKT and Tobi’s mission. It’s a philosophy Tobi learned outside the halls of academia, a place where Tobi knows is not the greatest holder of knowledge. The work she’s dedicated herself to rejects the colonized manner in which formal education is given. Unlearning and understanding our conditioning holds even greater importance to her than possessing a stack of degrees.
Tobi understands how limiting and harmful defining one’s existence by schooling can be. Learning is a meaningful experience, and allowing herself to learn from ancient knowledge, wisdom and practices innovated by Africans has proven to be a source of joy.
And in the end, the goal is joy.