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Yandy Smith Harris & Shari Nycole Using JLS

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

This year's 2022 tour of the Sistahs in Business Expo was on fire. The Expo events were jam-packed with influential Sistahs in Business uplifting black-owned businesses. Their motto? “When My Sistah Wins, We All Win.” The Sistahs in Business Expo this year welcomed influential celebrities like the inspiring entertainment manager Yandy Smith and TV/Film producer Shari' Nycole. How to succeed as a black woman-owned business was the focus, and keynote speakers like Bevy Smith shared her journey of being a woman of color entrepreneur.

The SIB Expo aims every year to celebrate, uplift, and skyrocket the achievements of women of color in the business industry. The aim is to network, gain insight on how to create your brand, and build a successful business. Keynote speaker AJ Akua Johnson’s talk emphasized how to elevate your mind, body, and soul so you can lift your brand higher. A woman-owned business can define a community and make it better.

Founder, entrepreneur, and CEO Aisha Taylor Issah created Sistahs in Business in October 2017 and made the only multi-city small business expo that celebrates women of color. Communities are built on consistency and connection, and Aisha Taylor Issah saw a need while attending other expos. Now, Sistahs in Business visits Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Columbia, SC; Atlanta, GA, and recently added the DMV area.

Event Celebs

The Sistahs in Business Expo has no shortage of talented women of color. Cath Hughes, founder of Radio One, and Brittney Shipp, the Emmy nominated journalist and NBC meteorologist, appeared in the multi-city expo to host Q&A chats that let participants network and ask questions from these influential women. Successful community entrepreneurs who have a woman-owned business also come to speak, sharing their wisdom and stories.

Yandy Smith-Harris is a champion of black woman-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, from attending the Sistahs in Business Expo in Atlanta, GA to organizing the Yelle for Culture Fall Fest on October 29th, 2022. It was not surprising to see her enjoy the vendors set up at the Sistahs in Business Expo. Yandy’s story reminds women of color that the gift is the resilience and grit to keep going, and her fireside chat emphasized this.

Sharí Nycole took time as well to connect with vendors and attendees. Co-host of “The Willie Moore Jr. Show”, Sharí is a powerhouse in the TV and Film industry. Sharí’s insight into her audience’s wants and needs in the shows she has produced is powerful. Each of the celebrity guests at the Expo had an endless amount of wisdom to share with aspiring entrepreneurs.

We saw aspiring authors, fashionable clothing brands, black-owned skincare brands, and non-profit organizations set up shop to not only promote their businesses but to connect and network with other entrepreneurs. It’s a reminder that working to build your brand and business means connecting with a community. The heart and soul of your business is your brand, responsible for driving sales and networking opportunities, and all of that begins with your community. Despite stopping in multiple cities, Sistahs in Business focused on the communities that would need them. Women of color who have grand ideas for world-changing businesses. The list of possibilities is endless with black-owned businesses growing.

Living Your Brand

Black-owned skincare entrepreneur Charlottean Levon Handsome, the owner of Joe-Le Soap, presented Yandy Smith and Shari’ Nycole with a gorgeous set of skincare products that focused on nourishing and exfoliating skin without harsh chemicals. Yandy featured a video receiving the Red Turmeric Soap, Ultra Glow Body Butter, and the Pinewood Soap Saver on Instagram, and Sharí Nycole was seen glowing after receiving the White Chocolate Cocoa Butter gift basket here.

Started in 2018, Joe-Le Soap is a company that embodies the spirit of the Sistahs in Business Expo. This company is a black woman-owned business that started out of a search for skincare products that didn’t irritate her or her husband Joseph Handsome’s sensitive skin. When that search turned up empty, Joseph didn’t give up and instead saw a need. There was a need to help sensitive skin afflicted by skin cancer, eczema, and alopecia; not harm it with abrasive chemicals. Many of the passionate speakers at the Sistahs in Business Expo say to have your brand be seen you have to live it - and Joe-Le Soap is a living testament to that.

Despite the devastating passing of her husband Joseph, in January 2022, Levon has pushed to make her brand a legacy in his honor. Levon quickly found that black-owned skincare companies were needed, especially those that used organic and natural ingredients, and developed a line of products that has since expanded to body butter, lip conditioners, haircare products, and will soon have a dog shampoo bar. She makes her body butter, which can be used as a body moisturizer, in an array of enticing scents. The Euphoria Body Butter is one of the premium products that Joe-Le Soap sells. With their blend of ashwagandha and chamomile-infused oil, mixed with eucalyptus and spearmint, this body butter is calming and leaves your skin refreshed all with all-natural, plant-based ingredients. In fact, Joe-Le Soap’s products are all small-batch, all-natural, vegan, and handcrafted to take care of your skin.

Joe-Le Soap sells not only online as an eCommerce black-owned skincare business but also at the Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte.

An Opportunity

Women of color entrepreneurs like Levon fill a need that has been around for a long time with their vibrant ideas. Black-owned skincare brands are important for women of color who want to keep their skin healthy and exfoliated. New businesses can struggle to get off the ground without the right knowledge behind their products, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t needed. It’s a prevailing issue that Sistahs in Business is helping to address with their Expos. The wealth of knowledge that the Expo and their Sistahs in Business Foundation, a 501c3, which provides grants to women of color through their pitch competitions.

Many small businesses struggle with attending business expos. The vendor and attendance fees can bar them from participating, cutting into what profit they would make. Not Sistahs of Business. Costs for one-day tickets range from $10 to $25. At Sistahs of Business Expos, women entrepreneurs of color can engage with customers and other vendors, networking, all while hearing the keynote speakers on stage.

It is events like this that put vendors like Joe-Le Soap in the spotlight, and continue to highlight how important it is to support small black owned businesses.

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