BELOIT—There were salads, cakes, chicken-on-a-stick, earrings, candle holders and more at the Second Annual Black Business Week expo held Saturday afternoon at Community Action Inc.
The event was the culmination of Black Business Week, which encouraged shoppers to spend some of their holiday dollars at Black-owned businesses. The event, held in partnership between Rock County Jumpstart and Black Women in Business Beloit, featured Santa Claus, kids’ activities, an ugly sweater contest and 35 vendors selling all types of items.
“It’s exciting. It’s nice to see so many vendors. I may have done more shopping today than selling,” said vendor Jessica Scott. “There’s so much talent in Beloit.”
Scott of Beloit is a newbie to selling after a lifetime of making her hand-crafted decor as a hobby. She noted she made everything except her wedding dress for her wedding. On Saturday, Scott was selling upside-down and decorated wine glasses, which serve as a candle holder and a ready-made holiday decoration to cover the mantle. Some of her wine glasses were painted and others were snow globes. She began selling her items last year and was glad to be at the expo.
For Que Johnson and her partner, Quinton Selvy of Beloit, the expo was a great opportunity to share information about Que’s Private Cleaning which serves commercial business, organizations and private homes. Johnson, who is also a social worker and CNA by day, said she started the business a year and two months ago to provide a future for her daughter. Johnson has cleaned homes, carpets and even refinished a table as part of her many duties. Que’s Private Cleaning is in high demand. As there are more folks getting older, those who care for them have less time and need help with cleaning.
Johnson and Selvy are serving primarily the Madison area and have the before-and-after pictures to show their work. They hope to do more in Beloit. Their dream is to buy a four-plex in Beloit in 2022 to help people who are struggling to find housing in Beloit to give back to the community.
Julie Berberich had already purchased a poster, barrettes and hand-crafted items from other vendors and some taffy apple grapes by Michelle Bozeman of Sweets by Sweet out of Madison. Bozeman was treating her customers to complimentary wine when they purchased the grapes, caramel pecan cheesecake or caramel cake. Bozeman said the event was a great-way where vendors could network.
Angela Morgan of Food Junkies out of Madison was sharing with customers the many offerings of her business, including meal prep, chef classes, meal kits and more. At the event Morgan was selling jerk chicken salad and vegetarian walking tacos to go. Calling herself the “Queen of Presentation,” she said her items are artfully arranged and her salads contain a little sweetness, spiciness and cool crunch. She has held pop-up shops and shares kitchen space with other businesses in Madison, but she is hoping to get her own storefront soon.
Norma Joseph was purchasing food from Tennisha Loggins, owner of Snacks and Stuff Truck, which offers a variety of foods including cakes, salads, pasta salad, ribs and more. Her foods have been sold via truck and she also sells items at Uptown Janesville Mall. Loggins was selling a special deep-fried chicken-on-a-stick offering with vegetables made for the Black Business Expo.
“Everything I’ve had from her is awesome,” Joseph said.
Rock County Jumpstart Founder and Executive Director Genia Stevens said this year’s event attracted 35 vendors. She said Black Business Week went well with many of the businesses reporting increased traffic on their websites and Facebook pages and increased orders as a result of the promotion.
A link to a directory of black-owned businesses is available at Rockcountyjumpstart.org.