West Tennessee women entrepreneurs were recently given the chance to rub elbows with like-minded women at The Edge Conference for Women held in Dyersburg, Tennessee. Edge stands for Encouraging, Developing and Gaining Connections.
Women owned clothing and jewelry boutiques, women artists, and craft type home based women business owners were just some of the over fifty vendors who set up at the vendor fair at The Lannom Center. The vendor fair was open to women from all over West Tennessee to browse and shop.
Held just before the start of the holiday season, it was a great chance for the women entrepreneurs to make extra money, get their name out to the public and make business connections.
Following the vendor fair a luncheon was held featuring Lisa Whelchel whom you might remember as Blair from Facts of Life, a popular 80s TV show. Ms. Whelchel herself is an entrepreneur. Her first book, “Creative Correction” was released in of October 2000 and has sold over 200,000 copies. She went on to write thirteen other books including, “The Facts of Life and Other Lessons My Father Taught Me,” “The ADVENTure of Christmas,” “The Busy Mom’s Guide” Series, and her most recent, “Friendship For Grownups.” Whelchel founded her own business MomTime Ministries.
Ms. Whelchel is also an international speaker and has toured with “Women of Faith,” “Extraordinary Women” and “Women of Joy.” She was also a vendor at the EDGE Mart signing copies of her latest book.
Organizer Landy Fuqua, director of the Regional Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and Tennessee Small Business Development Center of Martin, TN said the name of the conference reflects its purpose. “EDGE is designed to aid local women in encouraging, developing and gaining excellence,” she said.
Mrs. Fuqua said vendor booths were available for $55 and tickets for shopping the vendor fair and lunch were $29. Jean Mathis of Union City attended the vendor fair with her friends from church. She said it was a good chance to do a little Christmas shopping and she liked the idea of supporting local businesses. “It’s hard to find gifts that aren’t made overseas these days.”
Vanessa Bell bought a vendor booth to showcase her homemade goat’s milk products from the Shepherd’s Farm. She sold soaps, lotions and bath products that she makes by hand from milk that she gets from her goats on her farm. “The $55 vendor fee is very small compared to what I get in return.” By mid-day she had already sold $400 worth of products. “Every customer today also gets my business card with a link to my website and a coupon for free shipping if they order over $50 worth.”
The conference is sponsored by the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, the University of Tennessee at Martin Reed Center, Dyersburg State Community College and the U.S. Small Business Administration.