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More than just ‘girl power’: Bend Women’s Expo to support small businesses

(Update: Adding video, interview with event organizer)

Inaugural event to debut next month, feature 100 vendors

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The effects the pandemic has had on many small businesses have been devastating. We've seen hiring shortages, businesses closing for good, and a divide between communities. However, Central Oregon is beginning to make a comeback.

Jennifer Rychlick, a small business owner, said Wednesday she wanted to revive a women's expo after her experience as a vendor at the Cascade Women's Expo in 2020.

Rychlick says that event suffered from the early impacts of the pandemic and did not return the following year.

However, she believes in the power a women's expo holds -- which is why she's excited to host the Bend Women's Expo for the first time, to be held Saturday, April 16 at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes.

After a two-year halt on expos, Rychlick, who owns and operates She Flower Therapeutics in Bend, stepped forward to get one going again.

"It's time to come together, and to celebrate each other, and to support each other," Rychlick said.

As a result, she's organizing the Bend Women's Expo. It's designed to be a place for women-owned small businesses, entrepreneurs and creators to come together. There are 100 vendors signed up who will be there selling and promoting their goods, as well as live music, a fashion show and spa pursuits. Its mission is to empower, enrich and elevate women.

"The magic, whether it's 10 or thousands of women -- there's something that just happens when women get together," Rychlick said.

The Bend Women's Expo stands for more than just girl power.

While the pandemic did not discriminate in which businesses it hurt, female-owned businesses statistically don't do as well as male-owned businesses. According to Forbes, women-owned business profits averaged $88,995 last year, much less than 2020’s figure of $119,654 and $47,152 less than the average for male-owned firms ($136,147) in 2021.

All highlighting the reasons entrepreneurs, like Rychlick, believe in women's expos.

"From being moms to being wives to being partners -- to being entrepreneurs, we wear a lot of hats," Rychlick said. "And I feel like we have this drive in us to never stop chasing that dream."

This is the first Bend Women's Expo, but Rychlick says it won't be the last. While it is centered around female empowerment, everyone is welcome to attend.

Article Topic Follows: Business

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.


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