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Community Business Expo

A day of entrepreneurship, networking and a showcase of talent was presented in November by Matthews Hats and Showcase, two local women-owned businesses. Owners Merrill Matthews and Ms. Jacqueline James collaborated with friends, family and business associates in a community business expo.
Belinda Cruz, 38, came to the event not knowing what to expect. It was not long before she realized that the event was very informative. There was a great opportunity to network with different types of people and find out about the latest business that have developed in the black community. For example, OBK  (On Bended Knees) is a company founded by Arielle Johnson, gospel talent coordinator. She was honored that day for her creativity and persistence in bringing gospel talent shows to popular restaurants like Justin=s and Windows Over Harlem.
Other businessmen and women set up their displays to show and sell their unique ideas and products. Exhibitors included Matthews Hats, Diana Smith=s Uhane Lomi, Sandy Baker, Gureje, Global Creative Nutrition, Linda Linsey Home Accessories, Leroy=s Framing, Mama=s Love, Carol=s Daughter, Debo=s Fashion and Shash House.
Ms. Baker, who has been creating and selling jewelry since 1971, said that she doesn=t usually sell through a  Ashowcase@. But events like this one was something to look forward to because she really enjoys Athe mix of people and the uniqueness of the goods offered.@  
There was a wide range of products and services including: Mama=s Love offered baby-shower gifts such as noneatable diaper cakes; massages by Ms. Smith, a licensed massage therapist; tips on healthy eating by Valerie Lee; a personal chef and unique fashions of hats, bags, clothes.
Unlike other business expos, this event not only gave entrepreneurs the opportunity to gain exposure, it allowed singers, poets, dancers, actors and models to show their talent. The program, hosted by actor Kim Weston-Moran, had something for everyone. There were drummers, a group called Songhaidjeli. They had people out of their seats participating in singing and dancing as they gave a little history on drums. Gospel singers and praise dancers performed as they gave honor to their faith. The DJ gave a mixture of music as the models  presentedx fashions. A dramatic presentation of ASomething Positive,@ directed by Cheryl Byron, was performed with actors wearing colorful costumes that included  Ms. Merrill  Matthews= hats. It was an event to remember, Ms. James best explained it as a day of Alove, networking and God.@ 
AIt is good to see black  people coming together and supporting each other,@ said 45- year-old Jeremiah Dueno who brought his family to the event. He enjoyed the Acomfortable atmosphere,@ he recommends others to bring their family to the next event. Darren Harvey in his late 20=s   said that this was his first experience at this type of event and hope that they do it more often.
The outcome has been a success  and the date for the next show will be announced. It will be sometime in the spring around Mother=s Day. To find out more information about the next event call Merrill Matthews at (718) 859-4683 or Ms. James (718) 778B8145.
By Iris Hoskins

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