This coming Saturday will be extra special. Not only is it the day before Easter, but something big is making its debut in Beijing’s market scene.
BlackEXPO, which happens coincidentally on Black Saturday, puts the spotlight on the talents, businesses, and services of the black community. As the organizers put it, BlackEXPO “is more than just a market” that promises to bring “a fun and interactive cultural experience” to the entire Beijing community.
We had a chance to talk to one of the event organizers, Olivia Nadine, who works at an international relations research center in Beijing. She told us that there will be at least 28 talented people and businesses appearing at the event (visit this page to see the full list of vendors). In addition, there will be workshop sessions as well as a raffle with over RMB 2,500 of prizes.
BJK: Tell us more about BlackEXPO. What inspired the organizers to hold it in Beijing? Or whose brainchild is it?
Nadine: BlackEXPO is a market and cultural experience. Like most markets in Beijing, we will have great vendors who are excited to bring their unique wears and tasty morsels to the larger Beijing community. However, we will also highlight different cultural elements through live art performances, dancing, and music. We decided to hold it in Beijing because we live here, we have our friends and our networks here, and we are firm believers in the business principle to “start where you are”. In our case, that is Beijing.
What kind of products and services will we see at the expo?
We will have a number of vendors that the Beijing market crowd has yet to meet. At least five businesses are making their public debut at BlackEXPO. While every business has their own draw, some are going over and above to make their booths into immersive experiences. We will have boozy cupcakes, frenzy-inducing hummus, fashion that will elevate your wardrobe to new heights, and authors whose works make you explore new depths. From custom baby clothes to sophisticated wares, there is absolutely something for everyone and every walk of life.
It might seem coincidental but the expo’s happening just when Black Panther is slaying theaters worldwide. How do you think BlackExpo can raise more awareness of diversity and equality in Beijing?
The Black Panther premiere and BlackEXPO timing are coincidental, but it is certainly a happy coincidence. The success and hype of Black Panther create an energy that is almost palpable. From the OPOPO premiere, people have become energized and excited to connect with one another, create new platforms, and uplift the community. We hope that energy continues as people recognize the chance to experience the onscreen beauty of Black Panther in living color at BlackEXPO. This is a fun and simple way to engage with new people and cultures through something we can all appreciate, shopping and sharing in experiences.
What were the challenges that your team has faced during the planning stages of the expo?
One challenge is that the planning stages don’t seem to end. We are a team of creatives and entrepreneurs, taking a risk to try something new, so planning is a non-stop adventure as new opportunities and obstacles are constantly presenting themselves. The other is making sure to properly identify which new addition is truly an opportunity, and which will quickly become a challenge. While there can be a steep learning curve, we are definitely taking notes on all the lessons we are learning so that we get better each time.
What’s next for BlackEXPO?
We would love to do this as an annual or semi-annual event, while also creating an environment that springboards new businesses. We’ve had interest from people and organizations in other cities to extend our efforts. At the moment, it really feels like we can go anywhere. Considering that a few months ago this was just a faint idea and it has already grown into a much-anticipated event shows that the support is there and desire for something like this is very much real. The way that the community has gotten behind this project makes us think that there is just so much more we can all do together.
BlackEXPO, Mar 31
All ages. Free admission. Noon-6pm. Visit this page website to register. 北京市东城区内务部街27号, Chaoyangmen Cultural Center: Neiwubu Jie 27, Dongcheng District, Beijing, 27 Courtyard, Line 5 – Dongshikou
Photo: Courtesy of BlackEXPO organizers