Black Owned Businesses Expo sees large turnout
Last weekend’s Small Business Saturday gave locals an opportunity to contribute to the success of neighborhood businesses. But at the Waldorf Culture Center, it went deeper: the Black Owned Small Business Expo, hosted by Danielle Jones of Waldorf, shined a spotlight on local enterprises owned by African-Americans.
Charles County Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D) said the expo had “a great turnout” on her way back for a second go ‘round in the center.
This is the first year the expo has been held in the Waldorf Culture Center and the first it has been “this size,” Jones said. In total, 53 vendors participated in the event with more than 500 attendees circulating throughout the day.
Jones had to turn down more than 60 others because they would not have fit in the center. “I wanted to use the venue because the venue is black-owned,” she said.
The expo’s purpose, according to Jones, was to not only highlight small businesses in Southern Maryland and the Washington region, but to put a spotlight on black-owned businesses in communities where business owners may struggle to succeed when competing against larger companies.
Some feared the event would not gain traction by being called “blackowned,” Jones said, worrying it would alienate others.
“Some people wanted to call it minority, or just keep it small business,” she said. “But that’s not what my goal was. I wanted it to be black-owned for black people.”
Ultimately, all people are welcome at the expo, Jones said. But the black community needs to be highlighted — especially when it comes to entre- preneurship, she said.
Angel Hill, owner of Therapy Works LLC, said the opportunity to showcase her business and reach out into the community was something she could not pass up. The event gave her an opportunity to potentially affect someone’s life, she said.
Hill is a licensed clinical professional counselor who started Therapy Works in Odenton about a year ago. She works to help people open up and relieve stress from their lives, she said, which often involves getting people to share extremely personal stories with her.
Because of that, she said, “most of my clients are not in my area” and come from all over the region — including Southern Maryland.
“Events like this down here help me reach more people,” Hill said. “And we need more people of color participating in therapy. We need this.”
Vendors like Hill were very satisfied with the turnout and were able to turn around a lot of prod- uct for good profits on Saturday, Jones said, noting that many have already signed on for the next expo.
However, the date of the next event has yet to be determined. There will always be one on Small Business Saturday, Jones said, but after Saturday’s turnout there are many people who want to see another event for the summertime.
Jones said she is looking into doing one then, but still needs to piece logistics together before she can guarantee it will happen.
One thing is for sure, though: so long as she is around, there will always be a connection for black business owners to use and make a mark on their communities, she noted.
“We can support each other and we can create our own local economies,” Jones said. “Who knows? I have this saying, these small businesses can turn into the next Fortune 500 companies. You never know.”
The Waldorf Culture Center is filled up to capacity on Saturday afternoon during the Black Owned Small Business Expo on Small Business Saturday, hosted by Danielle Jones.