One of the area’s favorite fall events, the Middle Country Public Library’s Women’s EXPO is back in person on Nov. 5 and, for the first time, outdoors. The annual event, which will feature more than 40 exhibitors this year, celebrates women entrepreneurs by connecting them with their peers, local business women and potential customers.
“We are eager to see some of our favorites and to meet a great selection of new women entrepreneurs at this year’s EXPO,” said Elizabeth Malafi, coordinator of the library’s Miller Business Center.
As always, the EXPO welcomes a diverse group of entrepreneurs with something for everyone. Shoppers can find items such as jewelry, pottery, handbags and home decor. Library director, Sophia 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.”
TD Bank has been a sponsor of the EXPO since 2007. Maryellen Ferretti, Retail Market Manager, V.P./Long Island East Region says, “The Middle Country Library is a great partner with TD Bank because we both believe in giving back to the community in which we live and work. The Women’s EXPO is a great example of TD Bank’s commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs and business on Long Island.”
Let’s learn more about some of the women you’ll meet at the EXPO.
Jessica and Jennifer Morales, Luv Chic Boutique
On their birthday in 2019, twins Jessica and Jennifer Morales tossed around the idea of starting their own clothing business. They wanted Luv Chic Boutique to help “women feel beautiful, comfortable and confident.” Having worked at the Middle Country Library since 2014, Jessica knew the Miller Business Center can help entrepreneurs like her and her sister. Librarians at the Center connected them with the Stony Brook Small Business Development Center, where they were able to get their business going.
Learning as they went, Jessica and Jennifer started with big clothing drops, promoting via social media, but soon found that smaller collections were more successful. Both women look forward to growing their business, eventually adding accessories and even a store front. Jessica and Jennifer are eager to finally be a part of the EXPO as exhibitors as they have seen the energy of the day. “We are excited to do the show because it is such a big and important event.”
Shannon Messina, North Fork Creations
Shannon Messina of North Fork Creations is an EXPO veteran. She worked with her business partner and mother-in-law, Elaine, to create beautiful hand painted glassware. After Elaine passed away, Shannon had a difficult time picking up a paint brush so she tried something new. She started hosting paint parties at wineries out East and was building her new niche when Covid happened.
Like most small businesses, Shannon pivoted to survive, creating kits for people to paint at home and investing in a laser cutting machine. She loves the creativity involved with both painting and designing laser cut items and is looking forward to showing her new products to EXPO shoppers. “What’s so nice about the EXPO is that you speak with so many different types of people. Whenever I meet another woman [business owner] from Long Island, I tell them to do the EXPO.”
Cathy Buckley, Cathy Buckley Cat’s Meow
Cathy Buckley always loved seeing the beautiful, unique handmade jewelry when she attended art fairs and felt inspired to make her own. Being a registered nurse, designing jewelry with copper, brass, silver and vintage items is also a way for Cathy to keep her sanity. During the pandemic, she shifted sales to online and worked hard to increase the presence of Cat’s Meow on Instagram and other social media outlets. Cathy even participated in the virtual EXPO last year but is eager to get back to in-person events. “I love the EXPO! It’s very empowering to be in the presence of so many women entrepreneurs.”
Diana McDonough, ACD Vinyl
Diana McDonough is BUSY! She works full-time and is a full-time grad student in Cyber Security at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC. Oh, and did we mention she runs ACD Vinyl? As many entrepreneurs did, during the start of the pandemic, Diana took her graphic design background and turned it into a business. She was happy to be able to use her creativity to make her own designs in cake toppers, stickers, cards, banners and more.
Each month, Diana donates a portion of sales to an organization focused on getting women & girls into STEM such as Girls Who Code. While most of her sales are online, Diana loves to attend shows so she can network with other small businesses. She is excited to attend the EXPO for the first time because “celebrating women and helping women is something I am extremely passionate about.”
The annual Women’s EXPO will take place outdoors on Friday, November 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd, Centereach. Admission is free and there is ample parking. The rain date for the EXPO is Friday, November 12th. For further information, call the library at 631-585-9393 x296 or visit www.womensEXPOli.org.