On Saturday, July 23, over 350 shoppers gathered for the inaugural Black Business Expo at the Urban League of Greater Madison on Madison’s south side.
Over 40 Black-owned businesses, organizations and community partners participated in the Expo from all over Dane County and the country. Socialpreneur Sabrina “Heymiss Progress” Madison organized the Black Business Expo, with partners Summit Credit Union and Madison365. Madison’s goal with the Expo was to encourage the greater Madison community to support Black-owned businesses and create a space for Black business owners to network.
“It has been magnificent,” Madison told Madison365. “It has exceeded my expectations. Our community is super supportive and super dope.”
Opal Tomashevska, a native Madisonian, appreciated the Black Business Expo’s ability to unify the city, despite recent racial tensions. “I’ve never seen anything like this in Madison where there are so many Black-owned businesses on display,” she told Madison365. “I think the support from the Black community and people of all colors are beautiful.”
As she departed the Expo, with several bags in tow, Alicia Pressley described her experience as, “Absolutely amazing! Everything was affordable, and it’s more fun to shop at a business that you know care about who you are.”
Latoya Adkins, candle artisan and owner of Solitude Scents, came all the way from North Carolina for the Expo. A former employee of Milwaukee Public Schools, Adkins also spent eight years in Madison as a student and young professional.
“I relocated to North Carolina recently, and I’ve been looking for ways to keep my connections to my family and friends back home in Wisconsin. The Black Business Expo is a great opportunity for me to invest in the Black community and connect with other entrepreneurs,” she said.
Adkins further evidenced her commitment to the Black Business Expo through her long and cumbersome journey to Madison. Her flight was canceled due to a nationwide computer glitch, resulting in no departing flights from her home airport for several days.
“I had to drive seven hours to Atlanta and we didn’t land in Milwaukee until 2 a.m.,” she said. “It was a little challenging getting here, but the fact that it worked out means it’s meant for me to be here.”
Eneale Pickett, a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, developed Insert Apparel, a clothing company that seeks to empower marginalized communities, particularly students of color who experience discrimination at predominantly white institutions.
“Students would always tell me, ‘the only reason you made it into this university is because of affirmative action,’” he said. “I developed Insert Appeal to counteract that mindset.”
For more information about the businesses and partners featured at the Black Business Expo, visit the Facebook event page.