For seven years now, Black business owners have had the opportunity to get their names and products in front of the public at the S.H.E. Event and become better educated in the process about what it takes to operate a successful business.
The S.H.E. Event comes around three times a year — the first week of April, August and December — in an effort to help Black-owned businesses garner more exposure.
The next event is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 7 at Lafayette Square Mall, 3919 Lafayette Road.
The event also includes a fashion show and local entertainment.
Almost all of the businesses that participate are hand crafters and what founder Katina Washington called “grassroots companies,” meaning the owners create their own business and products, as opposed to being part of a chain or reselling products they’ve already purchased.
Some of the most common vendors include those selling beauty accessories, hair products and skin care products. There are also boutiques and even Black farmers.
Every S.H.E. Event also has about 10 kids who aspire to become entrepreneurs — or “kid-trepreneurs,” as Washington calls them. They usually have a lemonade stand or bracelets and hair care products that they make on their own.
The first S.H.E Event seven years ago attracted about 75 guests, Washington said, but now there are more than 6,000 people who will be able to browse through 159 Black-owned businesses.
“It definitely grows the business,” said Washington, who is also owner of U~Niq Nation, which has custom accessories, “even the businesses who attend and they don’t have a product to sell right there.”
Along with the opportunity to attract and retain customers, owners get a basic education on how to make sound business decisions.
Food vendors, for example, learn how to go through the approval process for the health department. And if there’s a vendor who has already done that, they’ll get paired with a business that still needs to do it.
The S.H.E Event also awards college scholarships and business grants at every event.
Jerilyn Lewis, a partner at Jael LLC, said her business has been represented at every S.H.E. Event since starting six years ago.
Jael LLC produces skin care products. Lewis, who operates the business with her sisters, said the event has been helpful in increasing customer recognition, and they’ve been able to build relationships with other business owners. Lewis and her sisters host their own vendor events, for example, and they’ve been able to attract vendors because of the connections they make at the S.H.E. Event.
“It’s a cultural experience,” Lewis said. “… The atmosphere is electric. Everyone’s happy to be there. Everyone’s prideful.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.