Sia Alexander established Pure Lagos as a contemporary African art gallery and artisanal boutique. The idea came from Sia wanting to bring to her hometown of Norfolk a window into the beauty and creativity she experienced whilst living and working in Africa.

Her global travels began when working as a fashion model shortly after she completed her BS in psychology. During her time as a model, she realized her heart was less in the fashion industry and more into indigenous art/artifacts from the African Diaspora.

After she met her soulmate in Nigeria, Sia put her talents into healing African youth through creative artistic expression and curating/directing a community health and art center in Lagos. She eventually returned home to Hampton Roads and brought her passion for African art and its capacity to heal into the retail business concept.

Pure Lagos started out as a one day pop up at Selden Market in February 2018. They did so well that they stayed for the weekend, then a week. As success continued, they stayed for the entire month and are now a storefront tenant in their business incubator program. From there, their success expanded beyond the confines of the market, and they opened a brick-and-mortar gallery in the historic Freemason district. With their increased leverage to take on more African artists, they increased their art collection and opened two more gallery spaces inside MacArthur Center.

Sia works directly with African artists on the continent and then exhibits/sells their works in the Norfolk galleries. This causes some challenges. Pure Lagos ships goods all the way from West Africa and periodically encounter delivery carrier challenges. Currency devaluation in African nations also affects the livelihood of their artists so they aim to maintain a fair market value for all artworks and artisanal goods that they buy and sell.

When asked what the best part of owning her own business, Sia replied, “I come from a generational line of African American entrepreneurs, so it feels natural to work for myself. I love the independence, ingenuity, and creative nature of entrepreneurship. My family on both sides go back to the beginnings of the Virginia colony and as soon as they were freed men and women, they started their own businesses. I hold that heritage and legacy in high esteem and aim to fulfill the big shoes they have set before me”.

With her entrepreneurial spirit and the success she’s already achieved, Sia Alexander continues to set an amazing example on how to run a business with passion, creativity and integrity.

Sia Alexander

Pure Lagos African Art Gallery & Boutique


251 W. Bute Street, Norfolk, VA 23510

Written by Abby Schiano