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LASHESIA HOLLIDAY, one of the featured speakers at the event. She is the mastermind behind Naptural Beauty Supply.

For their last event of the school year, the president and vice president of the Black Student Union at Community College of Allegheny County decided that, rather than a party or a social event, they would give Black entrepreneurs a chance to promote their companies while promoting entrepreneurship to CCAC students.

With that, their inaugural Black Business Expo made its appearance at the Foerster Student Service Center on April 25.

“It was definitely a different idea than the Halloween Party or our Rhythm & Soul event,” said CCAC BSU Vice President Jayl’in Clark. “Black business owners are underrepresented, so we wanted to showcase them.

Janaya West, BSU President, said with the help of their advisor, Associate Business Professor Gerald Ferguson, they reached out to business owners through social media.

“We had a total of 14 responses,” she said. “So hopefully we’ve set the bar and next year they can take it to the next level.”

The event was set up to allow the business owners and students to interact prior to a panel discussion in which the entrepreneurs discussed their successes and setbacks on the road to being their own bosses.

The BSU team managed to get a variety of Black businesses to attend. For instance, did you know there is a traditional publishing house in Pittsburgh—as in, they pay authors to publish their works? Well, there is—and it’s a Black-owned business run by Tara Bailey and her partner, Darcia Reed: Bailey Publishing House.

“We started out as ghost writers and editors and took the plunge from there,” said Bailey. “We’ll have 20 books in print by the fall, and one that I wrote is being turned into a play and will be performed at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater.”

In addition to Bailey, Simone Quinerly, owner of Quinerly Financial Group, was promoting her business, which provides taxation, bookkeeping, accounting and financial consulting services.

“I think this is a great event. My office is right over on Western Avenue, but I just opened a new one in the Hill District at the Hill CDC,” she said. “My next move is to expand my services once I’ve completed my master’s degree and get my CPA license—both of which I’m pursuing now.”

Also on hand was Sharise M. Nance, a licensed therapist and author who works with those who are caretakers on stress and anxiety prevention and reduction.

Relieving stress of a decidedly different kind is the focus of Bethany Smith’s Pure Romance Parties by Bethany.

“These are ‘partnership enrichment products,’” she said.

Nicole Narvaez Manns, whose Nikki’s Magic Wand makeup tool has been featured on the Home Shopping Network, also participated and was promoting her book on succeeding in the corporate world: “Here’s Your Script, keep your foot out of your mouth and your butt employed—What to say in every business situation.”

Joining them for the panel discussion were Tyleda Worou, owner of 360 Café; Darnelle Turner Sr., owner of DT & A Cleaning Solutions LLC; Lawrence Michael, owner of Destination Shipping and Auto; and Sylvester Ywomeje, whose IT consulting firm concentrates on helping fledgling entrepreneurs.

 

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