Successful entrepreneur, ordained minister, and former public administrator and college professor, Aisha Taylor Issah is also the Founder & CEO of the Sistahs in Business (SIB) Expo. The country’s only multi-city small business expo and community was created to celebrate and educate entrepreneurial women of color.
Can you tell us, who is Aisha Taylor Issah?
Aisha: Aisha is a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and an around-the-way girl born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I’m also a champion for women of color entrepreneurs and the Founder & CEO of the Sistahs in Business Expo
Tell us what is the Sistahs in Business Expo and the motivation behind creating it.
Aisha: The Sistahs in Business Expo is the country’s only multi-city small business expo and community created to celebrate and educate entrepreneurial women of color. We provide an affordable and accessible platform where #sistahsinbusiness can showcase their products and services while gaining valuable resources and information. This is achieved through our expos hosted in several cities across the country, our Sistahs in Business University which provides free or low-cost training and resources, our Sistahs in Business Foundation which provides grants to women of color entrepreneurs through our pitch competitions, and through The Sistah Shop, our retail and e-commerce destination which features the brands of 125+ entrepreneurial women of color with locations in Elizabeth, NJ, Atlanta, GA, and online at thesistahshop.com.
What is the impact you would like the Sistahs in Business Expo to have on entrepreneurial women of color?
Aisha: Our goal is to provide a viable community and accessible resources that give women of color the tools, skills, and platforms needed to start, grow and scale their brands.
What are some things that attendees can expect to gain from attending the expo?
Aisha: Our expos are high-energy and high-impact experiences that leave a lasting impression on participants and attendees alike. They can expect to be challenged, inspired, educated, motivated, and to have an overall fun time.
Can you tell us more about the guest speakers and how they came to join the expo?
Aisha: (Yandy Smith-Harris, Bevy Smith, MC Lyte, Vivica Fox, Cathy Hughes, Gizelle Bryant, Kim Fields, Nicole Walters, Cynthia Bailey, Bevy Smith, and Quad Webb). We’ve been blessed to have a wide array of #sistahsinbusiness over the years who have poured into our audiences in a major way. Many have returned for multiple years and are now a part of our family. We didn’t have any special connection or plug. We simply present our brand and what we stand for. These sistahs, and so many others who have taken our stage, shared our mission and supported the work we are doing to empower entrepreneurial women of color. More importantly, they are also hugely successful entrepreneurs and have been willing to share their experiences and expertise with our audience.
Can you tell us more about Sistahs in Business University Conference and Pitch Competition that award women of color with close to $20k this year and the impact it could have on the women and their businesses?
Aisha: The Sistahs in Business University is our brand’s teaching and training arm where we provide our audience with the tools and skills needed to start, grow, and scale their business. In-person courses and webinars on various key topics are held throughout the year. The conference is our one-day gathering filled with intensive training by some of the country’s best entrepreneurial leaders. Following the conference, we hosted our 3rd annual pitch competition where we awarded close to $20K in grants to the finalists. The grants awarded are our way of not waiting for others to provide capital to our sistahs. Instead, we provide it ourselves.
You also created The Sistah Shop, which features all women of color products. Can you tell us what the motivation behind it was?
Aisha: The Sistah Shop was birthed out of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a primarily event-based business, we began to feel the impacts of the shutdown as the pandemic lasted much longer than anyone could have anticipated. Not only was our business suffering, but the women who were created to serve hadn’t been able to vend at events for over a year and many were going out of business. We knew that we had to think outside the box. So, The Sistah Shop came to be. It was an answer to my prayer of “what do we do now?” The Sistah Shop is a premier retail and eCommerce destination that now features the brands of over 125 women of color from around the country. We have locations in New Jersey at The Mills at Jersey Gardens and in Atlanta, GA at Atlantic Station. Additionally, our eCommerce site serves as the “Amazon” for black women-owned brands. The Sistah Shop is a one-stop shop for all things Black Girl Magic. Our stores feature products in almost every category including clothing, accessories, skincare, home goods & décor, children’s and men’s products, and so much more. It’s our “sanctuary for sistahhood” and we couldn’t be more proud to have created this opportunity for so many sistahs.
What is some motivation that you would want every woman of color to hold on to that is looking to start a business and doesn’t feel they have the support to be successful in it?
Aisha: I’d tell them to believe more than they doubt. So much of what stands in our way as entrepreneurs are in our minds. If we decide to be successful and genuinely believe that it is possible, then it will happen. Now, of course, their success will still require a great deal of work and strength. I’m not saying it will be easy. In fact, it will be the total opposite. However, it will be worth it.
What would you like our viewers to gain from this interview?
Aisha: I’d like them to see my story as an example of what happens when you trust God and work hard. So much of what we’ve accomplished as a brand is simply because I trust God to do what I can’t do…but I always make sure to do what I can. If they are serious, passionate, and committed to starting or growing their business, there is nothing that can stand in their way.
How can people connect with you and Sistahs in Business?
Aisha: They can follow us on IG, Twitter, and TikTok @sibexpo and on Facebook and YouTube @sistahsinbusinessexpo. They can also visit our website and join our mailing list at sibexpo.us to receive updates on what we have coming up next. Personally, they can follow me on IG @sibfounder and connect with me on LinkedIn
Photo Credits: Sistahs in Business Expo