By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For The Birmingham Times
Business leaders and entrepreneurs gathered Friday evening for the first ever “Woosah” networking event which drew dozens of people to the black-owned Avondale Gallery & Loft.
The event was sponsored by the “sisterhood” of Zondral Nunn, Renetta Pollnitz, and Courtney Woods.
Nunn said Woosah — which is a term she associates with having a moment of clarity “after you accomplish [your goal], taking a moment to take a deep breath and a moment to relax and reflect” — is an opportunity for business owners to get a break, take their minds off their day-to-day work, relax, network and interact with like-minded folks.
“We have a lot of good speakers . . . here to share with people how to start their own businesses and create their business plans,” she said.
The event was hosted by actress, producer, writer/director, Terri J. Vaughn, best known for her role as high school secretary Lovita Alize Jenkins-Robinson in the WB sitcom The Steve Harvey Show.
Featured speakers included Bob Dickerson, Executive Director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center; David Tucker Jr., Founder and Executive Director of On The Set Summer Film Camp and Kimberly Meadows Clark, owner of Birmingham’s Men’s
Professional Basketball Team, the Magic City Surge.
Dickerson said, “there’s a lot of power in our connections, and too often we don’t explore that. “All of us are doing ok, but we could do so much better if we learned how to get together and find out what we [one another] can do.”
Tucker said his foundation was built by his own experiences in the film industry as a man of color.
“There was no one else [in Birmingham] that did the same thing that I did, that looked like me,” he said. “In my process of making films…people started to ask me, how can our kids learn to do what you know how to do? So, what I created a non-profit…in 2008, I launched On The Set Summer Film Camp and it focuses on young people in the state of Alabama…, and we teach them the full realm of cinematography and . . . produce a short film,” Tucker said.
Woods said the event inspired business minds who need a blueprint for getting started or taking the next step. “It helped to point them in the direction of who to reach out to at local banks and foundations, the things they need to have prepared before they reach out [and more].”
She added that attendees were really motivated and it gave them the push and help they needed to discover what goals they need to focus on.
Attendee Cambria Dickerson, 26, said the event was open and inviting. “I enjoyed learning more about entrepreneurship and meeting a few entrepreneurs that I hadn’t known previously,” she said.
The best part connecting with “other people working within my market that can help guide me along my entrepreneurial process,” she said.
Destiny Edwards, 20, the event was “something that I definitely needed in my life because I am trying to figure out how to build a business of my own…I don’t want to work for someone else’s company my whole life.”
Pollnitz said it’s important to connect with people who can help in business and give guidance on next steps . . . “bankers, people in marketing and entertainment who can help you advertise your business and get people in the direction they need to go,” she said, “because, the number one thing you’re going to need some funding…so it’s good to be able to connect with bankers and lenders, and advertisers so that the public can know what you’re [your business] representing.
Other speakers included Kamonte Kelly, Assistant Vice President of Bancorp South 280; Jarvis Escott, President of First
Impressions Marketing Group, Glen Finley, Founder and C.E.O. of Plan B Marketing Group; and Anthony Hicks, Founder and Executive Director of The A.N.T.H.O.N.Y. Foundation Inc.
Finley, a 20-year business veteran said, “a marketing plan is imperative to small businesses because it serves as a road map to help you get to where you want to go Unfortunately, there’s not a navigation system to tell you where that should be…”
The Woosah closed out with sounds from local singer/musician, Ashley Sankey.