Quantcast

4 Women Share Their Tips To Maximize Your Next Vendor Opportunity

Business

If you are a business owner with a product to sell, you've probably considered becoming a vendor as a marketing tool to make additional revenue. The personalized interaction you get with prospective clients and customers is essential for every business. Vending doesn't just look like a booth at a conference, and it's not just for people who sell jewelry or hair products.


Vending can come in the form of a conference buying your service or products for gift bags, pop-up activations, VIP lounges, or decor. On August 3, in partnership with Toyota Corolla, xoNecole is hosting our first-ever ElevateHER Crawl event in Atlanta, where black women business owners are encouraged to apply to become vendors in a mecca of black girl magic.

If you're curious about what it takes to become a vendor, we spoke to four women who know firsthand and shared their advice on making the most out of vending:

Why Vending May Work for You

Gwen Beloti, founder of women's apparel and accessories brand Gwen Beloti Collection

Courtesy of Gwen Beloti

Vending is a great way to supplement your online and purchase order sales or be a standalone side hustle. "It's also a chance to get feedback about your product. You get true, real, and live reactions. I think it's a great idea to invite people to share their thoughts on your items and to welcome the feedback," shared Gwen Beloti, founder of the women's wear brand of apparel and accessories Gwen Beloti Collection.

Beloti, who started her collection 2008, was hesitant to become a vendor and did not think it would be necessary for her business, but her thoughts about the process were proven wrong once she started vending in late 2018.

"There is so much value in the opportunity to tell your brand and product story to new people in a variety of settings. For a while, I found some comfort in hiding behind the laptop screen, but there is so much power in human connection," she shared.

Since she runs her clothing line as an e-commerce business without a brick and mortar, she has found vending to be a pleasant experience "to engage up close and personal" with customers at events, pop-ups, and markets.

Vend Where Your Audience Is

Understanding your audience and what events they are attracted to will help you decide what conferences, brunches, or panels align with your marketing strategy. Joi-Marie McKenzie, the author of The Engagement Game, suggests you "only vend where you have a personal connection with the audience, or believe you can build one. Otherwise, it may be wasted effort and time." Her most successful opportunities vending opportunities are those where there are black women are attending.

Shanae Jones, founder of the hip-hop inspired herbal tea company Ivy's Tea Co., ensures she is investing her marketing dollars in the right events by doing research, asking event organizers for attendee demographics and looking at past exhibitor companies. "Who was there last year? Are they a competitor or do we have some overlap in our customer segment(s)? Are they coming back?" are all questions she asks herself before exhibiting. She takes it a step further by reaching out to previous vendors regarding their experiences.

Leverage Speaking Engagements for Vending Opportunities

Joi-Marie McKenzie, author of 'The Engagement Game'

Courtesy of Joi-Marie McKenzie

As you begin to build your brand and gain momentum for your products or services as a speaker, utilize those opportunities to make sales by setting up a booth. For McKenzie, she leverages her speaking engagements into opportunities to sell her book. "There is no better way to sell your message, your product, and your book than connecting with people face to face. When you're interacting in person, not only do you share your message more fully and completely, you're able to connect better with your audience," she explained.

McKenzie asks event organizers if she can set up a table to sell her book before and after her speaking opportunity and finds this tactic to be helpful for book sales. "Most authors know that you don't have a lot of money on tour, but still I'd invest in book stands, Square card readers so you're able to accept electronic payments, a nice table cloth and a pop-up sign, which you can buy for as low as $99," she shared.

Product Placement is a Form of Vending

Lashae Bey, founder and creator of Lotti Belle Beauty

Courtesy of Lashae Bey

Lashae Bey, founder and creator of Lotti Belle Beauty, said that her vending experience has come in the form of product placement in gift bags and activations. The eco-friendly and organic beauty products was a vendor for Blavity's Summit 21 beauty store, Chateau 21. The pop-up experience gives attendees access to beauty products where they can select five complimentary items to take home with them.

Bey also sponsored Karen Civil's 7th Annual Live Civil Brunch by sponsoring product for the gift bags. Her opportunities to vend vary as some companies reach out to her while other she pitches with a partnership marketing deck and product pitch deck to share with companies. "If I feel it's a good fit for me and I can expand my visibility to a new market, I'll consider it. When I first started my company Lotti Belle Beauty [in] November 2017, I knew my goal was to do 1-2 sponsorship collaborations per year. That meant either donating my products to go inside gift bags or vending for special events," she explained.

Make Sure to Cover Vendor Costs

Before you become a vendor, you have to understand the costs that some opportunities will bring. Budgeting for vendor booth costs and other fees will allow you to make goals to hit profit or recover the investments you prepared to participate in the event. Jones estimates what she will make before investing in a vendor opportunity. She cuts the expected attendee amount by half, then considers how many items she's likely to sell considering the demographics, which lets her know how much product to bring. "Factor in travel expenses, lodging, food, and miscellaneous expenses and you're not likely to make a ton of money unless the event is very close to home for you," she advised.

McKenzie learned through experience that some conferences and events require insurance to sell. "It's typically not expensive (no more than $150), but it should be added into your budget."

Bey learned that you need a plan A, B, and C when it comes to vending your products. "Shipping constraints when shipping large bulk orders and factoring in the cost for damaged or lost items. Also, having a great assistant or someone to help you during the day is a bonus, too."

Make Your Presence Known at the Conference

Joi-Marie McKenzie at one of her booths while vending at an event

Courtesy of Joi-Marie McKenzie

If you want people to visit your booth and buy from you, then you have to let it be known that you are at an event. Start by using social media to let your followers know you will be attending and vending at an event. Promote this information on your website as well as your mailing list. While on site, you may have to do more than just man your booth. According to McKenzie, to be a successful vendor, you should never be sitting down.

"You may have to go out and get customers. If you're walking around the event or conference, pass out fliers or bookmarks to reach your audience even further. Vending is not for the faint at heart; it's for the seller," she explained.

At events, people will pass by your table even if it looks interesting, but what draws them in is an engaging seller. "Speak to every single person who walks by, even if they don't speak back. Very few people are going to stop by your table overly eager to buy whatever you're selling, but if you are nice and welcoming and engage them, you can turn that person from a looker into a buyer," shared Jones.

Beloti believes knowing what type of space you will be utilizing at the event is essential for managing your displays. "With this information, I can then spend time making sure that my display and inventory is conducive to the structure of the event," she shared.

Her favorite set-ups are the ones where she is given the space and freedom to curate her mini boutique. "Curating your display is super important, probably the part I enjoy the most. It should be representative of your brand aesthetic. Working within the parameters of the space given, I want to showcase my brand in the best way possible," Beloti said.

Be Direct in Your Sale

Early in McKenzie's experience, she lost out on book sales because she forgot to be direct in asking for a purchase. She started incorporating her ask in her pitch to seal the deal: "So do you want to take a book home?"

She had to get comfortable saying that and asking visitors if they'd like to take two books home. "You'd be surprised at how many people said, 'You know what? Sure! Let me get one for my sister, or cousin, or line sister.'"

Prepare to Sell After the Event

Shanae Jones, founder of Ivy's Tea Co.

Courtesy of Shanae Jones

A high touch business is one that maintains a relationship with its customers whereby the customer can reach a member of the staff anytime. "For Ivy's Tea Co. that means, my staff or myself respond to every email, every comment, every DM, and engages with our supporters all the time," Jones revealed.

Taking that experience into an in-person market helps strengthen her brand with consumers. "I think more businesses should treat vending like a marketing tool and not an in-store pop-up. Always have your sign up sheets or iPad ready to get email addresses. This is what you want for future contact and sales," she continued.

So are you ready to be a vendor? Apply to become one at xoNecole's first annual ElevateHER Crawl in Atlanta by clicking here.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

If there's one thing Historically Black Universities are known, it's fostering a sense of interconnectedness for collaborative genius to thrive. Of all campuses, it was on the soil of The Mecca, Howard University, where She'Neil Johnson-Spencer and Nicolette Graves rooted their friendship and aligned their passion for beauty and natural brains. Today, the two have founded a skincare brand of their own, Base Butter, that has not only carved out their niche space in the market but rallied a community of women to glow from the inside out.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Maya's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

I know this may come to a surprise so many, but here we are. Yes, I got a BBL. If you aren't aware, a BBL is a Brazilian Butt Lift, a cosmetic surgery process where the doctor uses a combination of liposuction and fat-grafting, transfers the fat into the butt, resulting in added volume, defined curves, and a lift. It is technically lipo and a fat transfer. But yeah girl, this has been on my to-do list for a while. And now that I am able to afford it, I went for it.

Keep reading... Show less

As an extension of my monthly self-care routines, facials have become top priority when it comes to maintaining healthy skin. For months I've noticed excess oil, stubborn breakouts and dry cracked lips forcing me to seek an alternative to my everyday skincare routine. Unable to solve my skincare troubles, I decided it was time to seek the help of a professional to help revive my dull skin.

Keep reading... Show less

I will never make an apology for the fact that I adore the Scriptures. There is something very, remarkable is the word that comes to mind, about the fact that even all of these years later (thousands and thousands of years later), there is so much wisdom within the Bible that is still relevant and — if you want to live a content life — even necessary. Matter of fact, some of the people in my world who aren't Bible followers or even believers in God will admit to me that Proverbs (King Solomon's book of wisdom) has some real gems in it.

Keep reading... Show less

August invites you to shine bright like the sun which requires you to leave behind the sob stories of being the underdog. Recognize your power as a reflection of the Divine and watch how far you can go. Be mindful of that inner critic when Mercury enters Virgo. For every negative thought, counteract it with three compliments about yourself. When Venus enters her home sign, relationship matters get a whole lot sweeter after the wild ride that was Mercury Retrograde.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts