This is the 6th year of me producing International Women’s Day Tea Detroit. For 5 years I have planned, paid for and endured the entire process and all its stress with a tiny team of people (that equals no more than 4 usually) behind me. I have never made a profit from the annual event and for 3 years, I took a loss. But I did it anyway, because I believe in the purpose of International Women’s Day and the women’s movements that have grown through it and are recognized and supported by it. I use this time of year to support women owned businesses by providing an opportunity for them to get involved with my brand. There’s no geographical limitation. We’ve had women come from Canada, Ohio and Chicago in attendance.
Which is why it’s so frustrating to me when other women show me little or no support, target me, intentionally seek to dismantle my brand and act unreasonably when I say “no“.
Every year, without fail, some woman from somewhere wants to turn #iwdtdetroit into a vendor fair because they want to be a vendor, but have absolutely no interest or desire in attending the event, promoting the event, or sponsoring the event. They only want to be present if they can sell something of their own. For 5 years the event has only had 4 vendor spots available. Each year, there have been vendors contacting me wanting to be included, but not unless they can be vendors, even when I have explained to them that the event is not a vendor fair and tables have been sold out already.
This year I rented a larger venue. As a result, I was able to offer more than 4 vendor spots, but I never publicly stated exactly how many, because once again, #iwdtdetroit is not a vendor fair. I rented a larger venue in the hopes that there would be more attendees, because the previous location had a 40-50 person capacity and the new venue would allow us to have 150 attendees so that more women could celebrate International Women’s Day together in Detroit, Michigan. That was the intentions behind the larger venue. Yet, again, this year I’m being bombarded by messages from people who only want to be vendors and nothing more.
Apparently #iwdtdetroit is the best thing ever, the way people desire to become vendors at it.
I also changed how I selected vendors from previous years because I noticed that vendors wouldn’t tell anyone about the event, and if they did, often it was at the last minute and not as a show of support to encourage others to attend. It was just a “hey look at where I’m going to sell __” or “look at where I was” post on Facebook, usually with a picture of them and their product; no mention of the event, the purpose, the honorees, me or my company. That didn’t help me or the vendors, even if they thought it did. Their desire to keep #iwdtdetroit a secret from others was hurting me a lot more than it was helping me, because they had people in their circles that would probably attend, had they known.
I also received feedback through surveys I’ve sent out to attendees that some of them didn’t feel that vendors were even necessary or an added benefit to the event. Someone even said that some vendors “weren’t memorable” and that they didn’t make a “lasting impression that would make someone want to become their customer after” #iwdtdetroit.
So who is really doing whom a favor?
This year I completed the vendor selection process on February 2. I selected women owned businesses that we hope will be partners that we can do business with in the future and refer to others. I also asked them all to commit to sharing their involvement in #iwdtdetroit and information about the event at least once each week until March 12, so that people in their circles who may want to attend could receive the information to do so. This helps them also by increasing engagement and attracting potential customers to their businesses, even if they don’t attend #iwdtdetroit on March 12. In addition, each vendor received an eBook, “How To Get The Most Out of Your Vendor Partnership” that helps them develop a marketing strategy and improve their marketing skills, before, during and after #iwdtdetroit. After all, being a business owner doesn’t end at being a vendor at one event.
As usual, the emails and messages from women who want to be vendors are coming in. And again, some are laced with venom. One in particular was from a year 5 vendor, we’ll call her Woman A, who gave misinformation to an associate of hers, whom we’ll call Woman B, then demanded that I refund money to her associate, who bought a ticket to attend #iwdtdetroit assuming it included a vendor table, which it did not. Woman B, like too many other women, didn’t want anything to do with the event if she couldn’t be a vendor at it. Woman B failed to inquire before her purchase, ignored the visible “no refunds” policy and assumed she could get something from me based on what Woman A told her. Woman A then tried to hold me accountable for the misinformation she gave and threatened to blacklist my business and write negative reviews about me and my business.
🤔 Is anyone else feeling the lack of love and support I get from other women….or is that just me? #womensupportingwomen
I find it interesting how many women want their businesses included as a vendor yet never want to attend. Mathematically do they ever consider that if there’s just a room full of vendors, but little or no attendees, who is going to buy products and services from them? I’m just saying. If I have dozens of vendors and only 20 attendees, who will drink all the expensive tea and sushi being served? Who will take home all these gift bags at the end of the event? I’m already not making any profit from #iwdtdetroit as it is, so who exactly will win if I let everyone become a vendor and no one gives me any support? Did I mention that I think I’ve only gotten 1 thank you note from any vendor in the last 5 years?
This is just one of the many ways women have attacked my business and brand over the years. Yet, here I am “doing what’s right” for the sisterhood, once again, in spite of the abuse that comes with it from other women. Hopefully, when my life is over, someone will be grateful for the sacrifices I make today to help other women. I won’t know it. I’m just hoping.
If anyone truly and genuinely wants to be involved in #iwdtdetroit, what I need is sponsors and attendees. It would be nice to meet or exceed capacity at the new venue and feel like I make a difference in the sisterhood instead of feeling like a punching bag when I go to sleep the night of March 12, 2018.