"Women mean Business" may be the theme of the CCBC Women's Expo, but education is also a significant component, for the organizer as well as those attending.
"Positive and negative changes, the same as anybody being in business will experience," said Patsy Anderson, on what she has learned during the 12 years she has promoted the event.
The 12th annual Expo will be held March 16 and 17 in the gym on the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County.
This year, it will feature more than 150 exhibitors from women-based businesses, crafts and jewelry, holistic health and fitness displays, as well as motivational speakers and business finance and business start-up workshops.
Anderson, the founder of the Women's Expo Forum, said her most difficult lesson came in 2010, when the expo hit its 10-year mark.
"We were going strong, doing great, incredible attendance," she said. "Then we hit a wall."
Sponsors, including five that had been with the expo for 10 years, all left, she said.
The economy was a factor, she said, but not the sole reason for the unexpected decline that year.
"There was also the influence of technology. I lost a lot of money because of it. Another show came into Baltimore at the very same time, going after the very same demographics," she said.
Unlike in the past, when she would see a competitor putting up fliers or visiting businesses around town, she said the Internet allowed the show to make its contacts without her being aware of what was happening.
"That did hurt us," she said. "That was a wake-up call for us, to embrace technology."
This weekend's event, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, will help those interested in starting their own business how to use technology to their advantage. There will be session on, among others, growing an audience using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and on setting up an eBay store, in addition to public speaking, practical strategic planning, modern ethics, secret weapons for small businesses and how to start a small business.
"It will be a gentle introduction to technology," Anderson said. "If you are 20-30 (years old), you get that. But a lot of small entrepreneurs are not experienced to that."
There will be a fashion café sponsored by Baltimore Fashion Week, Smarty Pants and Suited to Succeed, fashion talks, the latest styles in hair and make-up and a previously-owned clothing sale.
"But this doesn't have that girly-girl feeling some women's expos have," Anderson said. "It was never about pink, about pocketbooks.
"This was really built for the community, which is why it was at the community college," she said.
She said the expo provides a setting for women to see the variety of ideas other women have turned into successful businesses.
"There is a huge interest in entrepreneurship," Anderson said. "So my message is, 'You are the CEO of your future.' "
Admission to the event, which is sponsored by the Community College of Baltimore County's Enterprise Institute and Women's Expo Maryland, is $5 per day. Students and military personnel with IDs are free.
Admission for a Sunday "Super Talks" series is $35 for one session or $55 for a pass for all sessions. The sessions include:
• 11 a.m.— "Movin' on Up! Why Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office" by Carolyn Owens, a life coach with Infinity Coaching in Odenton, Maryland.
• 12:30 p.m. — Launchbox Workshop with Sonata Venture Solutions
• 2 p.m. — "The Wealthy Bag Lady" keynote speech by Linda Hollander, nationally known industry leader in teaching entrepreneurs about business success.
• 4 p.m. — "From Concept to Sponsorship" by Esther Michaels of Team Radio Baltimore 1010 AM WOLB and Patsy Anderson, Business Expo.
For the complete schedule of events and sponsors, go to http://www.WomensExpoMd.com or call 410-977-2898.
The expo will offer mammograms in conjunction with the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates on Saturday, March 16, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. by appointment only. Call Mardina Boykins at 443-904-0855 to make an appointment.
The mammogram is free for those who meet financial eligibility requirements. Have doctor's information and insurance card information available when calling.