The first-ever SWFL Black Business Expo sold out at Edison Mall in Fort Myers. It is aimed at helping Black businesses in the area grow and flourish.
Every morning when Altemia Diggs opens the doors to her makeover studio and hair academy, she counts her blessings. She remembers daily why she’s still in business even despite the pandemic.
“It’s the fact that local people took their time, Black and all nationalities, started being conscious of the buying power and spending their money with locally-owned businesses so if it wasn’t for that I don’t think I would be here,” Diggs said.
Diggs is the owner of De’Marshawn’s Academy and De’Marshawn’s Makeover Studio and is partnering with Edison Mall and other organizations to put on the first-ever Black Expo. Dunbar Festival Committee and SWFL Impact Partners also helped initiate the expo.
Together, they are creating an opportunity for other small business owners to showcase their talents and products and possibly even learn something new that they can use to serve their customers.
Alfonso Bailey Jr. is the owner of Bailey Custom Shirts. “That gives me the opportunity to go ahead and branch out and become a little well known in the area,” said Bailey Jr.
Kevin Palmer owns Neway Hemp Oils ad CBD Products. “That’s my goal for right now is just to get more exposure for my business,” Palmer said.
Diggs says that exposure is key, especially for new business owners that started during the pandemic.
“During that time of being shut in, they came up with business ideas,” Diggs said. “People are actually hungry, they are trying to recover from the pandemic.”
Recovering with new tools, new customers, and thanks to the expo, new connections. These are all things that Diggs hopes to give back to the community that kept her business afloat.
“We want to keep our city thriving, keep the businesses thriving,” said Diggs.
So much goes into running a successful business, so the Black Expo will also offer workshops on bookkeeping and grant writing to help these owners grow their businesses.
The Expo runs this Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Workshops are free and there is still time to register. If you would like to participate, you can follow this link.