Long Island women entrepreneurs make their mark at Centereach’s Women’s EXPO

Long Island women entrepreneurs make their mark at Centereach’s Women’s EXPO

EXPO shoppers. Photo by Miranda Gatewood

Fall brings with it a chill in the air, pumpkin spice everything and the Women’s EXPO at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach.

A recent study by American Express shows that between 1997 and 2017, the number of women-owned businesses increased at a rate 2.5 times higher than the national average with many of these businesses being run by creative women from their homes and studios. 

The annual Women’s EXPO, now in its 18th year, celebrates these women by connecting them with their peers, local business women and potential customers. This year’s event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 4 and will feature 83 exhibitors. 

“Our favorites are back along with a great selection of new women entrepreneurs just starting out,” said Sophia Serlis-McPhillips, director of the library. 

With a diverse group of entrepreneurs, there is something for everyone. Shoppers can find items such as jewelry, pottery, handbags and home decor. Serlis-McPhillips reminds us that the EXPO is much more than a trade show. “The library’s Miller Business Center works with these and other entrepreneurs all year, educating them on business topics and offering them ample opportunities to network with business professionals from throughout Long Island.” 

Here are some of the great women entrepreneurs you can meet at this year’s event:

Victoria Collette

Victoria Collette

According to Victoria Collette, she is in the business of empowering women. She started her fragrance company, POP SCENTsation, which allows shoppers to create their own fragrance; in the process they get to “discover what it means to be their unique self.”

Since launching, Collette has expanded to 23 fragrances and recently added Perfume Creation Kits. Participating in last year’s EXPO helped her get the word out about her new company and she is excited to be a part of this year’s event. “The energy of the day, being surrounded by and meeting so many amazing women entrepreneurs is incredible.”

Linda Johnson

Linda Johnson

Linda Johnson has always been a maverick, living outside the box. Her dream of owning her own business came to fruition in 2014 with Chocology, which was born out of her family’s “love of chocolate paired with a passion for learning and sharing.” The chocolate and fudge are delicious but, more importantly, it is sold with excitement and education. Beyond her businesses she created #ChocologyCares, supporting charities such as American VetDogs and Stony Brook Cancer Center.

Johnson’s commitment to community and supporting other entrepreneurs can be seen in her new venture — the Three Village Artisan and Farmers Market in Setauket, a gathering place bringing people together. This support and community is also what keeps Johnson coming back to the EXPO. “I love the camaraderie, I love the women and I learn so much!”    

Carly McAllister 

Carly McAllister

After Carly McAllister’s son developed eczema, she became concerned about the ingredients in store-bought soaps and started making her own using organic ingredients. McAllister gave extra bars to friends and family who told her it was so good she should sell it. Encouragement from her husband Michael and others resulted in Modern Primal Soap Co., whose goal is to make products that are as natural as possible. 

Having been an EXPO shopper for years McAllister (top photo) was excited to join the event as an exhibitor. ”I would love to be able to participate and applied as soon as I could.”  She is looking forward to another successful show. “The EXPO is something really special! I love being in a room with so many smart, talented women! The fellowship between the participants is amazing.”

Angelique Velez

Angelique Velez

A bad breakup didn’t slow down Angelique Velez; in fact, it was the impetus for Breakups to Makeup, her company that sells travel makeup clutches, T-shirts and tanks featuring motivational and inspirational words. Velez  (photo on right) realized that makeup inspires and lifts people up. “Making other people feel better inevitably helped to lift my spirits,” she said. Breakups to Makeup’s first slogan Love Raised Me, Lipstick Saved Me “encompassed everything I had been going through and showcased the importance of makeup in our lives as artists.” Since its inception, her products have been sold in major stores like Sephora and have been featured in InStyle, Refinery29 and Latina.

Velez is looking forward to her first time exhibiting at the EXPO. “Anything that supports women and women-owned business is very important to me. The fact that this also caters to Long Island businesses is something unique as well and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

The annual Women’s EXPO will take place on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd, Centereach. Admission is free and there is ample parking. For further information, call the library at 631-585-9393, ext. 296 or visit www.womensEXPOli.org.

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