On a recent morning, Merry Green, the founder of the Black Women’s Expo, was a little tired and a little wired, but she had her coffee in hand and was ready to go as she organized the final preparations for the 2018 Black Women’s Expo.
“I was up at 4:30 this morning doing some work, I placed all the orders in for McCormick Place. The booths, carpeting, tables and chairs… I knew I needed to get that done before I met with the new Toyota agency that came in to view McCormick Place.”
Although the president of MGPG Events for more than 24 years with many top shows and events under her belt, Green admits that she still looks for unique ways to make each show better—for the attendees as well as the sponsors. This year, Green has formed a partnership with Real Times Media, the parent company of the Chicago Defender.
Green stated that there had been conversations earlier about connecting. “We (Hiram Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media, and I] had talked about this for the last year on how we can partner more or build a better relationship/partnership on Black women expo specifically, but now we’re partnering on this in terms of [broader] promotional support.”
Real Times Media and The Black Women’s Expo have brands within their brands to serve their end users/audiences and clients. It is important to support each so that the team will be successful whenever it comes to reaching its goals. In this regard, Green and Jackson will support one another as they collaborate and communicate freely together. Of course, this support also consists of encouraging one another through the struggles.
“The Partnership is going to be great. It’s a win-win for both of us because he [Jackson] has his relationships that he’s bringing alongside me and vice versa; I really do think that the sky’s the limit,” Green told the Defender.
Green and Jackson have been talking for several years about a collaboration and it ultimately materialized when Green had to find a place for her business to move from her downtown location.
“It just so had happened that at the end of the fall of last year (2017)…we had been in our downtown office for 8 years and it was sold so we had to find new office space. Just so in passing I had a standard conversation with Hiram about matters and a couple of weeks later I got a call saying, ‘why don’t you move over here (Real Times’ Chicago Defender building on South King Drive). You know it would be closer in proximity to everybody that you’re working with on our events.’”
Green’s company, MGPG Events, already produces many events with the Chicago Defender such as, Women of Excellence, Men of Excellence, The Bud Billiken Parade and many more.
Green said thus far the decision to move has been great for her company as well as Real Times Media.
Green stated, “What I’m finding out, which is making more sense to all of our vendors, it does help being here and they can get here quickly to pick up badges and tickets, that kind of thing, or pay for their exhibitor booth or bring in their application… so it’s been really refreshing to be here on the South Side with The Chicago Defender and work closely with real times media as well.”
Black Businesses Can Collaborate
At this time there won’t be any changes in Green’s and Jackson’s working relationship, but they do plan to make The Black Women’s Expo even more extraordinary. Green stated, “I want to do it in a bigger way; when we went down to Atlanta, the Atlanta paper did some promotion with us as well but also with their digital components and with Who’s Who, which is in multiple markets that we will be promoting what we are doing in those 3 markets throughout the country. Real Times Media will bring all of that to the table and we bring a brand that has a long successful track record as well, so the partnership seemed ideal.”
The future is bright for Green and Jackson. Even with the common misperception about business connections though, Green has no dispute that they’re already off to a great start.
“We all have been kicking and screaming in terms of African American businesses that we don’t partner as well as everybody else does. We’re afraid of it for some reason; I don’t know if we’ve been taught that way or for some reason we’re hesitant. Our general market counterparts partner all the time and think nothing of it. It’s about business, but we want you to know us, we want to like you. I think that what we’re doing with Real Times and the Defender, we should be doing more in terms of partnership. We’re trying to help each other.”
Also, this year for the first time in the city of Chicago, The Black Women’s Expo has appointed its first African American show strategist Glen Charles. Glenn Charles is the President/CEO of his company “Show Strategy;” he is the first Black general services contractor that will be producing the Black Women’s Expo. Charles is also a Chicago native born and raised in Englewood.
Green stated, “We were able for the first time to work with an African American company; our show is 24 years old and we’ve worked with some great companies. I think that’s pretty good to finally have that happen.”
2018 Black Woman’s Expo
And Green promises that this year’s expo is even bigger and more enhanced. Toyota is a new title sponsor for Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta. Green said, “Sponsors such as ComEd, The Illinois Lottery, The Chicago Defender, United Airlines etc. make it possible to bring in the speakers and entertainers by providing all the airline tickets; our media partners like I Heart Radio and V-103. WGCI, Inspiration 1390, without them, we probably wouldn’t have what we need for our audience and the relationship for entertainment/artist that we go after.” BMO Harris bank is also a sponsor at the Black Women’s Expo and it sponsors two sessions on financial literacy for women as well.
This year there will be conversations about #Metoo, and on Saturday April 7, 2018 there will be a town hall meeting entitled “Enough is Enough.” There will be a panel of people talking about sexual harassment, pay equality and all those things that we know currently exist and are issues especially for the Black woman. All forums support the overall theme: She Matters– and they empower, inspire and uplift the Black woman!
Green stated, “I think it’s important for women to come together to converse and engage, we will be talking about all of these topics. The Expo is a platform for everything that is going on with us women. That to me is the important reason along with education, it’s not just let’s talk about the things that we don’t want to talk about, it’s also fun. It’s not about just talking about the things that are troubling us, it’s also relaxing and inspiring as well.”
The Black Women’s Expo is also kid-friendly. Green shared, “We have a kid’s corner, for the kids to go play and for activities. There will be a jumping bag, face painting, a clown… so it’s really a place where you can bring your children as well if you want to be at the expo for a couple of hours and have some fun. We have a culinary corner now, there will be African American chefs that will be showcasing their products and their food, they will be cooking and sampling, DuSable museum, NDigo magazine will be there; the satisfying part about it is that we made the opportunity to get our businesses out there.”
Small businesses create rich, diverse, and enticing matters to market to our communities. On the other hand, many small businesses cannot afford marketing/advertising. Green also stated that not only did she envision The Black Women’s Expo to help women come together to address important issues and unwind but to also help support small business.
“When we started the Black Women’s Expo, it was just an expo, now it’s a platform. It’s a way for not only African Americans to connect and engage but for major corporations who are looking to promote themselves to this audience [to engage].” This is also an ideal vehicle for exposure. It has become that inexpensive opportunity for small businesses to showcase their products and services and many of them are jumping on board.
Green said the vendors are as diverse as beautiful Black women; they won’t all be selling the same things. Green states, “It’s not just jewelry, makeup and t-shirts, there will be authors and booksellers, life coaches, hospitals that are doing screenings, The Illinois Department of Public Health, there are galleries, 4-5 artists in an art pavilion… and free health screenings for all of our attendees.”
To experience the great new expo and be a part of celebrating Black women, come out Friday, April 6, 2018 to Sunday April 8, 2018 to McCormick Place for the 2018 Black Women’s Expo. Speakers will include Bonnet Chronicles with Tami Roman and critically acclaimed actress Kimberly Elise Neal; music artist Johnny Gill will be performing on Saturday and Gospel Elite, Latice Crawford and Rapper Remy Ma will hit the mainstage Sunday, April 8.
Purchase tickets at your local Walgreens for $10 until the show opens on Friday, April 6. For more information on the show or to purchase tickets online, go to http://theblackwomensexpo.com/