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Next Up Columbus 2021: Aja Miyamoto

Aja Miyamoto
Aja Miyamoto

Photo by Matt Reese / CityPulse Columbus

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Aja Miyamoto
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Age: 25
Profession: Owner at Opanova Digital
Neighborhood: Beechwold
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Political Science Minor at The Ohio State University
Community Involvement: Asian American Commerce Group, Ohio Progressive Asian Women’s Leadership (OPAWL), YES! Columbus
Quote: “When times are hard, do something. If it works, do it some more. If it does not work, do something else. But keep going.” ― Audre Lorde
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram (personal) | Instagram (work) | Facebook

What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you going through the workweek?
My clients and colleagues. It’s the other business owners doing the same thing that I am, who have families, passions and lives separate from their business that keep them hustling. Owning and operating a business is about something bigger than yourself – and every single second counts. You set the tone for the type of day and week that lies ahead.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
In college, a professor reminded us to get to know the people around you. The people sitting next to you in class, the person you run into everyday in the library or while grabbing lunch. We rush through life so quickly, take the moment to get to know the people around you, because they’re doing some pretty cool stuff too.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
Read a book in a hammock, hot yoga at Modo Yoga, or a cold beverage on a patio.

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
There are so many I had to make a categorized list – but if I had to choose my top, my favorites local spots are Mardi Gras Ice Cream, Savor Pint Bar and Franklin Park.

Coffee: Boston Stoker, Cup O Joe, Stauf’s
Drinks: Savor Pint, Seventh Son, Watershed
Food: Dosa Corner, Arepazo, Cuco’s Taqueria, Harvest Pizza, Tensuke Express, Heirloom Cafe
Ice Cream: Mardi Gras
Fun Day: Franklin Park & The Conservatory, Schiller Park, The Park of Roses, Trapper John’s

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
An entrepreneur or teacher of some sort. As a kid, I often wanted to be an adult. I created a spa in my childhood bedroom servicing hot rock treatments with river rocks I put on the heating vent. I always knew I wanted to give back and help others.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I have a huge stack of library books I’m trying to make my way through (thanks Columbus Metropolitan Libraries!). Currently, I’m reading a book of poetry and a book on exercise as medicine. I like to listen to Ted Talks or Radio Lab as well as Stuff You Should Know.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
I’m currently into The Book of Moods by Lauren Martin accompanied with various baking cook books to perfect a pie crust recipe.
In podcasts, Hey Girl by Alex Elle, The Moth, and The Memory Palace.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
It means progress. As a young minority woman, I’ve been overlooked many times in my life. The young people being discounted today are the leaders of tomorrow, teach them and give them the opportunities to succeed.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
To me, the pulse of Columbus is community and our history. When we come together through our mutual experiences and interests, we succeed as a city.


The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2021 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Future Possibilities and Zipline Logistics for their support of this awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2021” »

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