Tuesday, August 31, 2021
The Mississippi Black Business Pages will host two events in Jackson and Gulfport next year, bringing together Black-owned businesses at those locations. MBBP will hold the business expos in two places for the first time after having it once a year in Jackson metro in the last seven years. Steering committee member and MBBP Tech Lead Sabir Abdul-Haqq shared the plan with the Jackson Free Press during the 2021 event held Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Jackson Convention Complex.
"So in terms of a turnout for the (2021) expo, we had about 180 folks (who indicated interest). But on the week of the event, we have folks that let us know about COVID-19 and everything. Out of the folks that we had to actually come through, we had roughly 105 vendors," Abdul-Haqq said Aug. 31.
"So a good number of our folks weren't able to make it," he added. "But in terms of shoppers that came through, I would say we had well over 350 to 400 that came through. We're really grateful about that because it could have been a whole lot worse.”
The 2021 event also featured various workshops within the noon to 5 p.m. time frame. They included a health workshop shop by Open Arms Healthcare, a Doing Business With the City Workshop and an authors-focused workshop.
"It's been a really great time," Abdul-Haqq said during the event. "We're really thankful for the weather; we are really thankful for all the folks that are coming in."
Steering committee member Goerge Chuck Patterson explained the COVID-19 precautions at the event to include limiting the number of guests in the auditorium, provision of facemasks, and 10-by-10 feet spaces for each vendor in a phone interview. He also noted that many intending vendors canceled because of COVID-19’s fourth wave in the state
"Some folks have had to drop out as they say that they would feel better about not participating and waiting for things to be in order in terms of the rising delta variant of the COVID-19 virus," he said.
Three Vendors at the Event
Leadership consulting company Wake Your Successful Self Up Global founder Felix Anderson said at the event that this year is the first time he will participate as a vendor.
"It's good to be able to see other entrepreneurs coming together. And that's one of the primary reasons why I came here to find out who could add value to what I have and who I can add value to, and then sharing some of the key principles with other entrepreneurs," he said.
Oxford-based wood-design company Magnolia Core Academy co-founder Kawana Brookins came to the event to showcase her company's products. The business is less than a year old.
"The business is basically one that allows us to transform wood," she said. "We use the equipment, laser equipment, modern technology, and we were able to transform metal, wood acrylic, and we can also do some designs with glass as well."
"It's a partnership between my husband and I, but we basically paint everything you see, we have tic-tac-toe sets, we have door hangers, we have earrings."
‘The Networking Experience—a Win’
Brookins described the event as a positive experience for her, and she has been connecting with other businesses for mutual benefit.
"I liked the fact that a lot of people who are also vending have come over here and tried to figure out how we can be a resource to them, and we can figure out how they can be a resource to us," Brookins said. "I call it the networking experience—a win."
Attorney Marcus Roseman set up the stand to publicize the law practice he just opened on Lakeland Drive in Jackson. "I opened my law firm about a month ago, and I saw the opportunity to come here and meet some people. And so I jumped on it," he explained.
"It's been great," he added. "I've met a lot of great people (and) received a lot of support."
While participating at the business expo comes at a cost, registering a business in the Mississippi Black Business Pages directory is free at the website.
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.