Expo spotlights black-owned busnesses

1 of 3

Pamela Peterson Dickens, the owner of First Lady Enterprize Beauty Box, makes gift bags Monday at the African-American Business Expo at Greater Joy Church.


Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Greater Joy Church used its presence in the community to provide  a platform for mostly unknown black-owned businesses Monday to showcase their products, services and give out information about their establishments to people unfamiliar with them following the traditional worship service honoring the work the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The second annual African-American Business Expo was a way for the church to provide a venue for more than 100 black businesses located in Rocky Mount, Nash and Edgecombe counties and surrounding areas. Elder Eugenia Dancy of Greater Joy Church said the event allowed the businesses to network with each other and also receive exposure.

“A lot of times for black businesses they’re small, on the Internet and they really don’t have a storefront or some place to go,” Dancy. “By having this expo, this gives businesses a chance to come out from where ever they’re at and show what we have in the black community that we can actually get service from. It’s important that our people stay fed, they have good employment and try to do something about our economy for ourselves, so we can qualify for the grants and the funding that the federal government might be giving out to communities like us.”

Business vendors at the expo represented a wide variety of sectors. Pamela Peterson-Dickens is the owner of a local salon called the Beauty Box at 118 South Pearl St. The salon’s flyer shows it offers women relaxers, updo’s, cuts, sew-ins and natural hair. 

Dickens said something new the salon is doing is a daily discount special such as pampering Monday for cancer patients or transformation Tuesdays focusing on treatments and hair loss. Dickens said her salon ties into her nonprofit outreach ministry, First Lady Enterprize, which helps empower, inspire and motivate women.

Dickens added she also has another nonprofit where she helps special needs children called Serenity’s Project named after her daughter, Serenity Dickens, who is a special needs child. Dickens, who attended the expo last year, said the networking definitely helped with her outreach ministry and expects it will help her three-year-old business be more visibile in the community.

“I’ve been pushing to do more advertising because the area where we’re in is busy through the weekdays, but not on the weekend,” Dickens said. “We’re trying to build more clientele, and this helps greatly with free advertising. I feel we’re going to gain or pick up more clients from this event.”

Treba Howard, who was a local elementary teacher, used the expo to help people learn more about her tutoring and mentoring service in Rocky Mount called Above and Beyond Children’s Academy.

Howard, who is on staff at Greater Joy Church, runs her tutoring services at both Greater Joy Church in Rocky Mount and the church’s north campus in Roanoke Rapids. Howard said she is in the process of finding a building to provide her services, which she hopes to move into this coming spring or fall.

Howard said she started her business in 2005 as a day care center but it evolved to concentrate more on academics. Howard’s vision is to become a charter school down the road. Howard added that she’s in the final stages of becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

As a black business owner still trying to grow her business, Howard said, it’s important to be consistent, which helps build trust with people in the community.

“For black businesses or any businesses, you have to build that good relationship and good rapport with everybody,” she said. “It’s important to also have integrity, so that helps people trust your business. Also, I go to work on time and work hard for the people I work for, so I found we have to have the same type of work ethic as we should working for somebody else. If I’m starting a session at 10 a.m., it’s important that I’m there at 9:30 a.m. prepared and not arriving late or not on time.”

While the focus on the King holiday centered on promoting black-owned businesses, Dancy said, Greater Joy is committed to helping grow the area and bring the area together. The church works with other churches and local businesses at its annual Community for Unity Festival in July.

“We’re doing black businesses on this day because we want to honor Dr. King, but our Community for Unity Festival is where we target all races and we want all races to be involved who are small businesses, so that we can help grow theirs, too,” she said.