Published: Will Livesley-O’Neill; of the Gateway
Alliance of Women Owned Businesses, the Gig Harbor nonprofit dedicated to networking and support between female entrepreneurs, will hold its first trade show from 5 to 8 p.m. May 8 at the Inn at Gig Harbor.
aMayZing Showcase of Businesses Owned by Women will be an opportunity for more than half of AWOB’s members to showcase their businesses, said Lisa Markman, the organization’s president. Markman said the inaugural trade show will fulfill many of AWOB’s goals for its members, including increased publicity and sales training.
“Not only is it going to be important for our members to get this exposure, but they’ll also get the education that comes with it,” she said.
aMayZing will take up three rooms at the Inn at Gig Harbor, one of AWOB’s partners and host for its monthly meetings. Admission is free. Door prizes, giveaways, appetizers and other enticements are designed to get the public in the door to check out the displays of AWOB-member businesses.
Markman said the idea of a trade show has been ruminating for a while, since the organization was founded in 2010 by a small group of women business owners who were looking to connect with others in the region.
Markman has a background in nonprofit start-ups, and she managed parts of AWOB’s growth as its vice president as the organization began to charge for membership and holding its monthly meetings. She became president in 2012.
In the past few months, discussion of holding the group’s first trade show grew more serious. A committee was formed to plan the event in March, Markman said.
“It was all very busy people running their own businesses, and in just a few months, (they) have put this together,” she said. “It’s the power of a group of committed women to get together and make this happen.”
Many of the businesses will have products to sell, from jewelry and other handicrafts to books, and products to give away. Markman said organizers hope to get at least 100 people into the trade show, a larger audience than most of the participating businesses usually get in one setting.
“Attendees should come prepared to buy and receive,” Markman said.
Markman plans to use the aMayZing Showcase to launch a new model at her business, a business, nonprofit and career coaching and consulting firm called Jigsaw Solutions. For the past few years, she has studied with bestselling author and high-performance coach Brendan Borchard and recently became certified in his training model.
Markman plans to integrate Borchard’s model into her own and will make her official announcement at the trade show, giving away Borchard’s books and discounted rates to her upcoming workshops as a launching pad.
If aMayZing is successful, it could become an annual event, Markman said. AWOB has expanded its membership in a relatively short time, and Markman would like to grow the organization beyond Gig Harbor.
Currently, AWOB has some members from Tacoma, Puyallup, Olympia and elsewhere, and it’s looking to expand into Mason and Kitsap counties.
“We’ll see how successful we are (on May 8),” Markman said. “We’re trying to grow. I’m hoping to get some people from across the (Narrows) bridge.”
Based on past AWOB events and the level of support the organization gets from its members, Markman said she’s optimistic about aMayZing.
“We have such a core group, and they really make sure that our events are always successful,” she said.