The first annual Support Our Sisters Expo took place at ADAMS Center in Sterling, VA this past Saturday. According to the event’s organizers, Sisters in Solidarity to Educate, Respond & Serve (SISTERS), the goal was to showcase the efforts of some of our local Muslim businesswomen. “We intentionally kept table rental price low [only $25] because this wasn’t about raising money as much as it was about promoting women-owned and operated businesses” Laurie Jaghlit, SISTERS’ Chairwoman explained. “Just within our small organization we have women doing remarkable things and we knew if we reached out to the local communities, we would find more of the same…and we did.”

Even though the temperatures outside reached over 100 degrees, a steady stream of shoppers filled the bazaar area. The vendors included those selling clothing, hijabs, jewelry, skin products, magazines, toys and an array of delicious delicacies at the SISTERS bake sale tables. Several businesses offering services were also represented including a real estate agent, a Quran school, and home health services. Two new area businesses were also in attendance; the Nur Café, a Center for Art, Fitness and Enrichment (CAFÉ) scheduled to open in September, 2010 in Falls Church, VA as well as a wellness studio and boutique located in the Tyson’s area. Hip Muslim Mommas, an organization for young mothers/families was another group present at the Expo. They have a network of young Muslim families in the Fairfax/Loudoun County areas who offer organized playgroups, mom’s night out and other events aimed at young families.

Along with the bazaar, the Expo offered several business-related workshops. Sr Inayat Sahin presented a workshop entitled, Turning your Passion into a Business. She shared with the attendees how she took her love for the environment and all that is green and turned it into her business, Beyond Green Living, a consulting company that teaches families how to “go green.” The room listened intently to Sr. Zainab Alwani expound on the lives and works of famous Muslim businesswomen throughout history. From some of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) to various waqfs (endowments) set up and maintained by Muslim women, the audience learned how women run businesses were not only allowed, but also played a vital role in the development of the early Muslim communities. Finally, Sr Nadhira Al Khalili, staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) presented a “Know your Rights” workshop focusing on issues concerning women in the American workplace.

“The event was well received by the community and we look forward to doing it again in the future,” said Laurie Jaghlit. If you have a woman-owned business or organization and would like to be contacted about future SISTERS Expos, please email your contact information to sistersinformation@gmail.com. Please include the type of business/organization as well as a phone number.

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