GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It was a chance make a little money and make a big difference.
The second annual Black Entrepreneur Expo in Gulfport gave small business owners an opportunity not only to sell their products but also to build a better future.
Ramonica Day of Mobile is an entrepreneur. But on this day, she just wants to shop ... and maybe hear a story or two.
"At Walmart, or any other store for that matter, you're not able to really get hands on service about the particular product and hear the back story," she said. "Everybody here has a backstory as to why they started their business."
Her expertise is in customer service.
"I'm on a mission to help business owners understand the importance of creating an experience," Day said. "And that's what's happening here today."
The event is a chance to build strength in numbers. Thirty-seven vendors offered products including hand-made beauty products, hair products, personal massages, cultural artwork, sweet treats, colorful fashions and even business advice.
"Before we started this event, we didn't have a lot of black business owners talking," said organizer Lawrence Robinson.
His purpose is simple.
"I want people to come out," he said. "I want them to see the entrepreneurs that are here, and I want them to spend money."
Robinson is a veteran and also owns a clothing line that celebrates all things Mississippi.
"I don't want to be one of those individuals that are leaving the state," he said. "I want to be one of those individuals that is coming to Mississippi that's going to make Mississippi better."
Robyn Day owns Daylight Bling, where $5 can buy more than something to wear.
"A piece of jewelry will take a woman's confidence straight through the roof," she said.
Her story is like that of many other small business owners.
"Freedom and flexibility allows me to just be out and do what I need to do on my own for family," she said. "It allows me financial freedom as well. In the corporate world, that 9 to 5 you're on somebody else's time. I like to be on my own time."
For more information about black-owned businesses in the area, just look at Facebook under Black Owned Businesses - Mississippi Gulf Coast.