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NORTHAMPTON — City officials and community members gathered on the second floor of Thornes Marketplace on Jan. 18 to celebrate the official grand opening of Positively Africana, LLC, a new retail and wellness business that celebrates African culture in multiple facets.

Aimee Salmon, the founder of Positively Africana, LLC, said that she obtained an entrepreneurial spirit during her time at Mount Holyoke College, where she graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and education and a minor in entrepreneurship, organizations and society.

It was there where she was asked to create a company for a business class related to her minor. A former resident of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Salmon knew she wanted to evoke her passion for African culture, fitness and wellness through her business. Positively Africana became that channel.

“It represents my passion for Africa, my passion for movement and my passion for community also,” Salmon said. “I recognized that there was a need and a market for this in the community.”

Positively Africana showcases Africa’s diverse artistic culture through authentic fashion, jewelry, accessories and bold prints, all of which are offered on the website and at the shop in Thornes.

Among the items sold at Positively Africana are earrings, bracelets, beaded sandals, bags and other accessories. The shop also offers an athletic line of items.

According to Salmon, what makes these items special is a lot of them are made by makers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ghana and other African countries. She told Reminder Publishing that she plans to send 25% of her profits back to the people of Congo.

“The idea is to empower other African artists and businesses,” said Salmon, referencing her collaboration with other artists in Africa.

Positively Africana also exemplifies Salmon’s passion for physical well-being and mental health improvement. Aside from being an entrepreneur, Salmon is also certified in many fitness-related fields, including as a Zumba instructor, group exercise instructor and personal trainer.

Salmon puts these certifications to good use by also offering group fitness classes at Positively Africana, like Afrobeats Dance Fitness, and she also offers a monthly fitness membership and corporate wellness programs.

By combining the physical and mental fitness portion of Positively Africana with the retail shop, Salmon’s passions are on full display.

“What we’re doing here is a movement,” she said. “It’s a movement to stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy through fitness and also a movement to share African culture through fashion.”

During the ceremony, Salmon said she spent the last three years traveling across New England to sell her products before landing on the location in Northampton.

Since officially opening in November, Salmons said that the community has already embraced her business.

“I’m grateful to be part of this community,” she said. “Our product has been embraced here; I’ve been embraced here … it has been a joy.”

Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra was also in attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony. She expressed gratitude for Positively Africana’s presence in the community.

“I just want to thank you for your investment in Northampton and for bringing the joy and the spirit that you bring to Northampton,” Sciarra said to Salmon. “We’re so happy for your shop.”

Readers can learn more about Positively Africana by visiting the shop on the second floor of Thornes or by visiting the website: https://positivelyafricana.com/. According to their social media, the business can also ship items anywhere across the country.

rfeyre@thereminder.com | + posts