A celebration of community and small business with a female theme Saturday in Bend.
The Bend Women’s Expo returned after a break from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Small business owners, women, really suffered during the pandemic actually more than male business owners,” said expo organizer Jennifer Rychlick.
The expo’s mission is to enrich, empower, and elevate women.
Over a hundred local businesses, many women owned, filled the Convention Center at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes to show their wares and meet customers in person.
“We took over in March of 2020 and brought it to town. Great timing,” laughed Stephanie Young-Smith of Tiny Tent Co.
Her family owned business stages themed sleepovers for children.
“It was really rough,” said Smith-Young when asked about launching the company during a pandemic.
She says interest picked up last year and 2022 has been very busy.
With the growth in population and small businesses in Central Oregon over the past few years a gathering like this helps.
“Some people don’t have Instagram or Facebook so it’s really nice to connect with people face to face, especially after the rough two years we just went through,” added Young-Smith.
The event felt more party than trade show, as a steady stream of ladies turned out to see, sample, and purchase from women focused businesses.
“It’s great to see them have their liftoff and share with the world their brand,” said Rychlick.