Sip & Shop opens up unique opportunities for local small businesses

December 19, 2023

A vendor at the Sip & Shop event speaking with a customer.

Kicking off its third year, M&T Bank Center for Women and Business and M&T Bank Center for Entrepreneurship's Sip & Shop is a vibrant series focused on entrepreneurship, diversity and unity.

On February 3, 2024, small businesses owned by people of color both within Quinnipiac and the surrounding communities will have an opportunity to come together as vendors in a dynamic pop-up shop and festive gathering.

As the years progress, Sip & Shop continues to grow. This year is set to be significantly larger in scale and, unlike previous events which were focused primarily on women, this one is inclusive of all people of color who own small businesses.

Tuvana Rua, associate professor of management, co-director of M&T Bank Center for Women and Business, and Tamilla Triantoro, associate professor of business analytics and information systems, co-director of M&T Bank Center for Women and Business and faculty coordinator of masters in business analytics program, have been working together to make these events a successful reality.

“We are elevating the experience into a festival-like atmosphere complete with live music, a DJ, an array of food trucks and an overall festive environment — making it a unique and vibrant celebration of entrepreneurship and community,” said Rua.

Throughout the event, participating vendors have the opportunity to network with fellow business owners, meet potential mentors, and engage with representatives from different resources such as the M&T Bank, Small Business Administration (SBA), Women's Business Development Council (WBDC), Grameen America, ConnCORP, CT Next and various Chambers of Commerce from surrounding communities.

“The M&T Bank Center for Women and Business has been actively forging connections across Connecticut, collaborating with these influential organizations. We are also teaming up with local artists to promote their music and art during the event, adding a creative flair to the atmosphere,” said Rua.

Emphasizing the multifaceted approach to community enrichment, Rua underscored that the initiative extends beyond creating meaningful connections and supporting local businesses. According to Rua, the event serves as a pivotal platform by bridging the gap often faced by small businesses striving for wider exposure and support.

"This event is a fantastic opportunity for community building, aligning perfectly with our mission to assist women and their allies to achieve their professional goals. Oftentimes, small businesses don't have access to the resources necessary to promote their offerings to a broader community. Our initiative aims to bridge that gap,” Rua said.

Additionally, there will be a range of resources available including representation from organizations that specialize in offering loans and educational opportunities. These resources are designed to support and enhance the growth and future development of their businesses.

“Through this initiative, we aspire for participants to broaden their networks and expand their reach. We also hope they discover valuable resources and connect with potential mentors, which can be instrumental in driving the growth and success of their businesses,” said Rua.

Danisha Collins, a member of the Steering Committee at the M&T Bank Center for Women and Business, initially conceived the idea for this event.

“Danisha envisioned an opportunity for women, people of color, and small business owners to effectively promote their products and services. This concept was also designed with the intent to include our own students, staff, and faculty members who run small businesses, providing them a platform for exposure and growth. The event is essentially a celebration of diversity and entrepreneurship within our community,” said Rua.

The event stands as an essential celebration of diversity and entrepreneurship within our community, providing opportunities for the businesses of the future.

“We believe in the power of community to uplift and empower small businesses, and this event is a vibrant expression of that belief,” said Triantoro.

Sip & Shop: A Pop-Up Shop and a Festive Event Celebrating Black History Month and People of Color who Own Small Businesses will take place on Saturday, February 3, 2024 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Recreation and Wellness Center on the Mount Carmel Campus.

Small businesses with any service and product are encouraged to register as a vendor before the deadline of January 15, 2024. Local community vendors, staff, students, faculty are all welcome to participate. Space is limited, so register today.

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