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Dream Big Fair elevates women of color

April 11, 2014
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Dream Big Fair elevates women of color
The Dream Big Fair unites small businesses owned by women of color for a day of networking, advertising and selling. Courtesy The Dream Big Sister Circle

The Dream Big Fair is showcasing businesses owned by women of color tomorrow.

The Dream Big Fair will be from 12:00-5:00 p.m. at the Kentwood Activities Center, at 355 48th St. SE, Kentwood.

The mission

The fourth-consecutive fair is hosted by The Dream Big Sister Circle. The organization provides resources and encouragement for women and girls of color pursuing the launch, management or expansion of a business or awareness campaign, according to its website.

Della Levi, founder of The Dream Big Sister Circle and The Dream Big Fair, said as a small business owner herself, the idea for the event resulted from meeting other business owners and recognizing the difficulty in advertising with small budgets.

“So I thought about providing a forum where we could all come together once a year, just to showcase the different things we were doing,” Levi said. “And so four years ago, I kind of put the idea together, started looking for different outlets that this could happen in, found a location and started doing it.”

Levi said a lack of familial and financial legacy can often cause business owners to become frustrated.

“People of color are often at a disadvantage when it comes to both business resources and exposure,” Levi said. “Over the years, I’ve seen women of color intently walking in their purpose, yet frustrated because reach seemed so limited.”

Vendors and business owners are charged a small fee to offset the expenses of organizing the event, such as marketing and facility rental.

Fundraising events are held throughout the year to help with some of those costs and assure finances don't prevent people from attending.

“I’m very passionate about helping people,” Levi said. “I think it is very important that we just give back. I remember so many people growing up just investing in me and spending time with me and letting me know that I could do anything. I have received so much support. I think that this was something that was lacking in our community.” 

The fair

The Dream Big Fair draws people from multiple industries: education, photography, jewelry, economic development and more.

Most business owners and vendors involved in the fair are women and girls of color, but anyone who believes in the fair's mission is welcome to be part of the event, Levi said.

The Dream Big Fair features prizes, business resources, food samples, a hair show and a live DJ, as well as a contest for the person who produces the most referrals.

“We tell them, we want to invest in ourselves, but we also want to invest in other people who are a part of the event,” Levi said. “Our families and friends may know the different things that we are responsible for doing, but they don’t know the other things that are available in the community. So we kind of help each other by advertising.”

The event will feature people and organizations from across the community: Dr. Keli Christopher, founder of a math and science resources organization, Mind Boggle; Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women; Jamiel Robinson, founder of Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses; April Harvey and Elizabeth Harvey, co-owners of Candy APEL; and teen entrepreneurs Kishara Davenport and Raqhelle Millbrooks. Davenport pursues fashion design as founder of KMD Designs, and Millbrooks, of Hope, Huggs, and Tie Dye, raises funds to make shirts for children in hospitals in partnership with a nonprofit.

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