Today we’d like to introduce you to Aisha Taylor Issah.
Aisha, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but spent every summer and holiday growing up in South Carolina. So, I’d have to say my story is the perfect blend of city girl hustle mixed with southern charm. My passion for helping people, whether it be the young people I lead as a Youth & Young Adult Pastor, the clients I assist with their careers and recruitment through my first business, TAYLORmade ~ Professional Career Consulting, or the entrepreneurial women of color that I empower through the Sistahs in Business Expo, pushes me to go hard every day.
I was inspired to create the Sistahs in Business Expo because I wanted to provide a platform for entrepreneurial women of color that I didn’t have when I first started my career consulting business with my sister back in 2005. Most expos were geared towards products, rather than services, and they all had extremely high vendor fees. This excluded us from a lot of expos because we owned a business that provided service and couldn’t afford thousands of dollars in vendor fees as a new small business.
Additionally, when I learned that women of color are the largest growing demographic of entrepreneurs but the least earning, it frustrated me. It disappointed me to know that so many women of color were starting businesses, but they weren’t earning much compared to other demographic groups. I wanted to create an accessible and affordable platform for women of color that would help to close that gap.
Since our launch in 2018, the response has been overwhelming. Thousands of entrepreneurial women of color have become a part of our community and the number continues to grow daily. More significant than the numbers is the impact. So many women in business have shared their stories of how the expo helped to motivate, educate, inspire, and inform them in ways we could have never imagined. This is what really has gotten us to this point, and what keeps us moving forward.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Ha! Far from smooth! Building a multi-city expo tour is a huge undertaking that requires a great deal of planning and an even larger amount of support. Each market presents its own set of challenges. Whether it be finding the right venue, securing the right partners, booking the right speakers, or developing the right marketing plan… there is no shortage of challenges around here. We’ve learned to build on what works and immediately repair what doesn’t.
We’ve also learned that everyone who starts with you, won’t stay with you… and that good talent doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good match for you. Despite these challenges, we’ve been able to build a strong core team who works really well together to ensure that this train keeps moving in the right direction.
Please tell us about Sistahs in Business Expo.
The Sistahs in Business Expo (SIBEXPO) is the country’s only multi-city small business expo with a focus on entrepreneurial women of color and provides an affordable and accessible platform where women of color can significantly expand their reach and grow their businesses. While other small business expos usually require costly vendor fees, the SIB Expo offers a more cost-effective option for small businesses, thereby guaranteeing their ability to earn more on their investment. Additionally, our expos cater to a larger audience by including a broad range of vendor types including both products and services. The expo’s most unique quality is that the large majority of our vendors are businesses that are owned by women of color (the largest growing demographic of entrepreneurs), thereby including and attracting a larger audience of entrepreneurial women of color and those who support them.
As a multi-city venture, the SIBEXPO has been held in Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Columbia, SC; and Atlanta, GA annually since 2018. Our keynote speakers have included MC Lyte, Cynthia Bailey, Dr. Lynn Richardson, Vivica Fox, Cathy Hughes, Kim Fields, Yandy Smith, and many other notable women in business. We’ve been able to garner media partnerships with Radio One, iHeart, and Cumulus Radio. Our sponsors have included Merrill Lynch, Sanaia Applesauce, State Farm, AT&T, Miss Jessie’s, Curls, NY Life, and HSBC.
We are known for creating experiences that are full of sisterhood, support, and positive energy for participants and attendees. Many have raved about how well-organized and professional our events are run. We are both humble and grateful every time we hear this. We want to continue to be known as having a high standard of excellence.
Be sure to stay connected with the Sistahs in Business Expo for information on the 2020 tour cities and dates.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I might not have gone to so many cities in our very first year. We kicked off our first tour with expos in four cities. This was a pretty big undertaking for a new initiative. We had no blueprint and were really figuring things out as we went along. This was multiplied by four because each city requires great attention-to-detail. If I could start over, I would probably only start off with two cities before adding more stops.
- Website: www.sistahinbusinessexpo.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/sibexpo
- Facebook: facebook.com/sistahsinbusinessexpo
- Twitter: twitter.com/sibexpo
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sibexpo
@kreedphotographyac Kreed Celisse Photography