It can be tough to be an entrepreneur in this day and age. Especially if you are a person of color or someone who may not have the connections and networks needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
“I think it definitely has its up and downs, but I think that when you have a community that is supportive of your work that makes the struggle and the hustle better,” says Sabrina Madison, host of tomorrow’s Black Friday Black Business Expo. “The community plays an important role in actually showing consistent support to entrepreneurs. Everybody should be really doing more to support black-owned businesses and black entrepreneurs.”
The 2nd annual Black Friday Black Business Expo will take place Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Madison College’s South Campus, 2300 S. Park St. This will be the fourth expo overall hosted by Madison who says that there will be about 30 black-owned vendors at the event. This year, Madison is limiting it strictly to people who are selling – just vendors and not resource tables. “I wanted to limit it to 25, but I believe that I’m at 30 right now,” Madison tells Madison365.
The primary goal of the Black Friday Black Business Expo is to encourage the greater Madison community to support black-owned businesses, clubs, organizations, and service providers as well as to create space for networking among Black business owners.
“I’m pretty excited for Friday because we have some new people this year,” Madison says. “One of those vendors is Sweet Sorrel who make holiday cards that focus on diversity and they have images of black folks, Latino folks, Indigenous folks. It’s great to have new people. People who attended previous events as attendees are now back as vendors.
“It’s all about everybody making a conscious effort to figure out who’s doing what in their own network and really throwing support behind them,” she adds.
Once again, Madison is partnering with Madison College to use the space in the heart of Madison’s south side.
“The space is ideal because there’s tons of parking and it’s right here at the [South] Transfer Point so if you’re not in a car you can catch the bus over,” Madison says. “On the south side, the Villager space is really integral to the community … coming here to use the space for that feels really ‘south side,’ if that makes sense. It’s welcoming. The people are great here.”
Black Friday opens up the holiday shopping season and Madison is asking folks to commit to spending at least $50 of their shopping dollars with black-owned businesses right here in our community.
“I’m definitely hoping that we will surpass the $23,000 that the vendors made last year,” she says. “We had about 1,600 people who came last year, so our goal is to add another hundred or two. That would be great, too.”
Madison adds that “when you buy from these businesses, you support financial freedom and agency in the black community.”
“I hope as people go through the Black Friday Black Business Expo that they can be conscious at each table that even if they don’t want to buy anything that they show interest and help build the confidence in the entrepreneurs at the event,” she says.
“Take your time going through,” Madison adds. “There’s going to be a lot that you haven’t seen before and you might be shocked at who is doing what – like your neighbor next door who’s actually selling earrings on the side. Definitely take some time to walk through the entire space because you don’t want to miss anything.”
The Black Friday Expo is all about economic empowerment, but it’s also a fantastic networking opportunity. “Someone who is just shopping at the event may have a resource that is really valuable for the entrepreneur so there are always connections made at that capacity at the expo,” Madison says.
“This is an event for everybody. No doubt,” she adds. “The good thing is that we always get a super-diverse background of folks who come and shop at these events. It’s just like going to the mall or going to the big box stores except that we have 20-plus vendors in one space.”
The Black Friday Black Business Expo will be full of talented entrepreneurs and small business owners selling their unique goods and services to the public. It’s a great opportunity to buy local.
“There will be some really great gifts at this event. People will come here to do Black Friday shopping for other people but will end up shopping for themselves,” Madison laughs. “There are a lot of cool things here, cultural things and interesting things. You can’t get a lot of what you get at this Expo anywhere else.
“And you are supporting these great entrepreneurs,” she adds. “Our support is what’s keeping these entrepreneurs going. Without support, you don’t really have a business and you are unable to grow. When you have people behind you as an entrepreneur, it gives you the motivation to keep going and to keep growing.”
Black Friday Black Business Expo will be held Friday, Nov. 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Madison College-South.