Last month, Tawanna and Rico Chapman, who previously owned African bookstores on Bailey and Ellis avenues, opened Afrika Book Café, creating a new cultural venue in Fondren. The shop sells books, clothing, fragrances and refreshments.
The Book Café also hosts events and open-mic sessions for artists. Tawanna, 31, who sings in local group Eclectik Soul, plans to host a monthly concert series, called "Unplugged and Up Close." The series will invited local musicians to perform and discuss their art in an intimate setting. The bookstore is also planning adult and youth literary classes along with a children's story time.
"We want to provide information and educate people on the important of Africa," Rico says. " We want to destroy the negativity pertaining to Africa. You see on television swollen bellies, poverty and war, so our aim is to help put Africa in a more positive light by providing information. We want to get people of African descent a more positive image through information."
Rico admits that one of the biggest challenges of opening a new business is attracting a customer base. He says hosting events is one way to get people in the door. But at the end of the day, Rico says doing what you love has its rewards.
"You have to be patient and be willing to roll with the punches," he says. "Just be willing to stick it out. You have to be disciplined and able to persevere through the hard times."
Afrika Book Cafe, located at 404 Mitchell Ave., is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information call 601-951-8976.