We had the good fortune of connecting with Thamicha Isaac and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Thamicha, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The thought process behind starting my business was I needed someone that looked like me, there were no one that could relate or modeled what I was looking for. In 2017 when I was homeless, jobless and living in a hotel with my kids. Being HIV positive not receiving the medical care I needed in a state that receive funding for HIV adherence and continuum of care I found it very difficult to continue to stay in that state and remain stable mentally, emotionally and physically. I made the hard choice to return back to a state and city I know would take my care seriously and I would continue on my adherence journey. In returning back to NY I knew I had to create a program where others could relate and benefit from the services I would be offering to people who are newly diagnosed with HIV, living with HIV and don’t know where or how to start navigating their new way of life. I started Openly Positives because for far to long people living with HIV have been stigmatized, isolated and believed to be less than, I wanted to prove to my self and to society that I am more than my HIV diagnosis that was my thought and process for starting my Openly Positive Inc Organization.
What should our readers know about your business?
Openly Positive Inc is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, offering services that includes HIV testing/counseling, linkage to care and resources to people living with HIV. Our Mission is to eradicate stigma in the HIV/AIDS community by empowering them to live proactively and not in fear. Our Vision is to live in a world where people living with HIV are free to be their authentic selves and not live in fear, guilt or shame about a diagnosis. One of the things I’m most proud of is to see someone who is newly diagnosed find their smile again after having a discovery session with me, knowing they are not alone in this fight with their new way of life. It definitely wasn’t easy given the arena of business I’m in, no one wants to have the difficult conversation about having and HIV diagnosed much less living out my lived experience as an Openly Positive woman living with HIV. However it is necessary in today’s society, I had to become the woman I needed and that meant braking the stereotype and going against the norm. Some of the lessons I’ve learned along this journey is I am my own barrier, when you show up like a blazing ball of light people have no choice but to see that light and two things is going to happen: – 1) they will embrace you for your authenticity – 2) your light will be to much for them and they will close their eyes (Haters). In all continue to show up in a way that pleases only you while not causing harm to no one and helping the people you where created to help. I want the world to know that a person diagnosed with any chronic illness does not have to conform to their limited way of thinking and our lives matter our voices will be heard and we are no longer accepting crumbs. I want my brand to be remembered as the trailblazer of a new era in HIV/AIDS community and beyond.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my favorite spots in Brooklyn NY is Aunts et Uncles a cafe on 1407 Nostrand Ave Brooklyn NY www.instagram.com/auntsetuncles.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to shoutout: – Dr Simone Ross, the woman i am today is because of Dr Ross, she was my 1st caseworker when I was diagnosed in 2003 with HIV, she planted seeds of hope and life into a very fragile and frail nineteenth year old, for that she will always have a special love and respect from me, giving Dr Ross her roses every chance I get brings me the outmost joy. – Master Coach Lakeisha Dixon The Breakthrough Strategist, I met coach Dixon at an event where we were both speakers, it was one of my very 1st speaking engagement after becoming Openly Positive, she can tell I was very nervous and reading from a piece of paper where I had my speech written down, when I was finished speaking I went back to the table where Coach Dixon was sitting and she asked me to sit next to her and she asked the following questions who’s story did you just tell? And I reply and told her mine, she said to me I want you to know the power of your I AM, then she wrote in my note book The Who, what, where and why as she explained to me no one knows your story but you, fast forward to the next month I signed up for coach Dixon’s coaching program in 2019 I became an Alumni at the BCLA academy and let’s just say my speaking style have done an entire 360 all thanks to coach Dixon. – My family & Friends for being my support system and apart of my tribe I appreciate and have an Immense amount of love for YOU all. – My People Living With HIV/AIDS you are the real MVP, let’s continue to stomp out and eradicate STIGMA when we see it, that is the only way we can live free and be free in this society.
All Photo credit to Delilah Williams of Delilah Peach Photography