Cedar Rapids Expo promotes Black businesses

Cedar Rapids Expo promotes Black businesses
Published: Aug. 6, 2023 at 11:22 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Saturday, the community group Black Men of Cedar Rapids hosted its 3rd annual Black Business Expo at the Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids.

It was the third year for the expo, but the first time ever Amaya Dawson, 16, had attended an event to sell her art.

“It’s helping me not only sell my work, but it’s also helping me gain the confidence to do that,” she said.

Beside Dawson was Messiah McDaniels, chef and owner of Melanated Meals.

One was selling art, the other food, but what the two women had in common was that they were trying to turn their talents into something more. McDaniels said she was working on a brick-and-mortar location for her business; Dawson said she was looking forward to doing more commissions.

Both women said the Black Business Expo was helping them in the process of growing their businesses.

“It’s an opportunity to talk to other Black business owners in the community,” said Armond Dawson, a member of the host group Black Men of Cedar Rapids. “Share some best practices, things that work for them, things that they’re being challenged with.”

The expo was a chance to network, but also get the word out to customers about their work.

“They may not have the brick-and-mortar space for their businesses, but they still have good products that people should be aware of,” said Armond Dawson.

Even more than making the sale, the vendors said it went back to that idea of confidence.

“If this event didn’t pop up on my radar, I probably would have been stalling for like more— for like years, to actually start selling stuff,” said Amaya Dawson.

McDaniels added, “You just got to trust in yourself and have the faith you’re going to attract what it is that you’re looking for.”