This Event Planner Generated Over $2 Million In Sales For Black Businesses During Pandemic

Memphis-based event planner Cynthia Daniels generated over $2 Million in Sales for Black-owned businesses during the pandemic.
Daniels exceeded her own expectations, to say the least. The evolution of what happened in 2020 was not a part of her master plan but it was truly a game-changer for many small businesses.

From Pennies to Profits

The pandemic impacted many Black-owned businesses. New and experienced entrepreneurs quickly saw sales plummet within days due to orders forcing brick-and-mortar operations to halt. Even Daniels had to cancel 10 large-scale events due to gathering restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
At first, Daniels was going to take the year off and plan to come back strong in 2021. But a few viral posts changed everything. In an effort to support other businesses, she started sharing social media posts of her favorite black-owned products during Mother’s Day weekend. Her posts were a success, leading to a quick boost in online sales for black-owned businesses in Memphis. Daniels saw an opportunity to go beyond social media and create virtual experiences to help more black businesses around the world attract revenue.

Event Planner Pivots to Virtual Experiences 

In April 2020, Daniels managed the What’s Next and Networking After Work virtual series.  She planned 30 lunch and learn topics for the What’s Next series. She also organized 30 networking experiences with community leaders through Networking After Work.
But Daniels didn’t stop there. In less than four weeks, she launched the Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience which generated over $1 million in sales. “I wanted to create a virtual platform that would help black businesses that had experienced a loss in income and had to halt business operations. My goal was to get at least 50 black businesses in Memphis to participate,” Daniels says. “When I put the information out there, I started receiving emails from all over the country from business owners who wanted to be a part of this. That’s when I knew this would be something big.”
The success of the Juneteeth Shop Virtual Black Experience led to Daniels organizing more large-scale virtual events throughout the year. “$1.2 million was spent with Black Businesses in Memphis with the 3 virtual shopping experiences,” Daniels reported. “$800,000 was spent all over the country outside of Memphis with Black businesses. Collectively, $2 million was spent with all three events.”

Helping Other Entrepreneurs Thrive

Daniels expanded her vision during the last quarter of 2020. She doubled the number of Black businesses she was able to assist.

“Due to the pandemic, my company was able to work with 125 new Black businesses all over the country and 2 international Black businesses,” Daniels said in an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE.

During her Black Business Friday event on November 27th, Daniels created a virtual marketplace for 200 Black businesses. Then, she turned her in-person annual Black Christmas Expo into a virtual marketplace. People were able to shop during the holiday season with 100 Black Businesses.

Daniels also positioned her 4th Annual NYE Party Life to be successful as an online experience. Her virtual event gave attendees a chance to enjoy live entertainment and a DJ in the safety of their homes.

Daniels was able to pivot during the pandemic and create success for others on her journey. For entrepreneurs who have been impacted by the pandemic or any other unexpected challenges, Daniels offers these words of wisdom: “When faced with challenges, don’t be afraid to pivot and focus on what’s needed at the moment.”