FAIRBORN — A brand new business held it’s official ribbon-cutting event March 27.
The African Utopian Boutique has been open since Jan. 16 but only recently had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate it’s opening. Sylvia Chess is the owner of the store, and brings in ethnic robes an jewelry from all across African cultures.
Chess began in the trucking and transport industry in 2019, and as she went through training and eventually law school, she became passionate about recognizing problems in her community and doing everything she can to solve them.
She struggled with racism and sexism through school and the extremely male-dominated field of trucking but remained confidence throughout.
“I made it through it,” she said.
As Chess worked through her career field, she found other passions, such as the clothing and jewelry worn in African cultures that was not available anywhere in Fairborn.
“I’ve done a lot,” she said. “I have lots of passions.”
According to Chess, when she finally settled in Fairborn after being transferred, she realized no local stores sold the authentic clothing she was looking for, so she “decided to do something about it.”
What might take a lifetime for most people starting a business took Chess less than a year. Shortly after uncovering the problem the community had with selling authentic African clothing and jewelry, she used the resources at her disposal to buy the building in which the store is now located.
Alongside this particular business, Chess works with groups rehabilitating incarcerated individuals and providing them with resources to get their CDL, a license required to be a trucker, and get back on their feet. According to her, it’s all a part of doing what’s right when you see a problem.
“I don’t want to be where I’m limited in helping people,” said Chess. “So I do all different kinds of things.”
These things include rehabilitation, CDL certificate instruction, fundraising for disabled children, and spending time sharing her knowledge of African cultures with her community.
The African Utopian Boutique is, according to Chess, “a place where people can come in and just enjoy themselves.”
Almost all of the items Chess sells at her boutique are hand-made and come from either Ghana or Ethiopia, in addition to local artwork and even Indian products she has come across.
Throughout her life, Chess has remained constant in her desire to help those around her and solve problems as they arise. The African Utopian Boutique is, according to Chess, another solution for the cultural uniformity she experienced when she moved to Fairborn.
“This is a place for everybody,” said Chess.
Contact Ethan Charles at 937-502-4532.