Darrius and Meagan Peace realized the full benefit that participating in a black expo could have on their company, Hayah Cosmetics, soon after they launched the natural makeup line in 2007. The couple had attended and exhibited at black expos in the South and Midwest but when they’d return home to Birmingham, Alabama, after each trip, they noticed a void. Although African Americans comprise nearly 75% of the city’s population, there wasn’t a platform to help promote its black-owned businesses. So they created one.
“Participating in black expos was a great way to introduce our company and sell our products to our target demographic of African American women,â€ says Meagan, 27, who teamed up with her husband, Darrius, 32, to produce the Magic City Black Expo in 2009. Although other cities in Alabama have sponsored black expos in recent years, Birmingham’s last one was in 1996.
Adds Darrius: “We also realized that there were other black-owned businesses just like ours that needed the same outlet and platform to gain exposure and sell their products and services.â€
Since last year, the daylong event has taken place during Black History Month. It showcases the products and services of black-owned and -operated businesses and offers education, empowerment, and entertainment activities.
During its first year the expo had more than 60 exhibitors, mostly local, along with more than 2,000 attendees. In 2010, they added about 30 exhibitors and the 2011 event had more than 150 vendors. This year, TheCASHFLOW and 100 Urban EntrepreneursÂ sponsored a business pitch competition and awarded three $10,000 business grants to winners. The 2012 expo is expected to pull in 10,000 visitors.
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