Borough women discuss basics of entrepreneurship ship

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When Celeste Morris began selling pot holders for pocket change as a little girl, she learned her first lesson in marketing by watching her grandmother peddle her own wares at a local stand.

Many years and a few business ventures later, Morris passed on the wisdom that comes with experience in a panel discussion Friday morning at the “Queens Women Minding Their Business Conference” at the Citibank tower in Long Island City.

Morris, who publishes a directory of black-owned companies called the Big Black Book, admonished the more than 100 business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs attending the conference to always have ready access to their business cards, the most basic form of marketing.

“You have to get it out fast,” she said. “People are not waiting for you.”

The women were quick to comply, with some exhausting their supplies over the course of a day filled with speeches and panel discussions focused on marketing — the business tool that “enables you to let customers know that you exist,” according to Patricia Thomas of Thomas Coaching.

The annual conference, dubbed “To Market, To Market” this year, was sponsored by the Queens County Overall Economic Development Corporation to bring together businesswomen from across the borough.

“There’s a lot of women here who started their own businesses, so they know what you’re going through,” said Lisa Haverlin, a participant who hopes to open a kennel on Long Island.

The women ended the day on the top floor by celebrating the creation of the Queens Women’s Business Center, which opened last summer in the Queens County Overall Economic Development Corporation’s Borough Hall offices, and the formation of an advisory board to support the development of women-owned businesses.

“It is so important that we as women continue networking,” New York Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue said from the 50th story of the Citibank building, offering a view of the entire borough.

Earlier in the day, Veronica Rose, one of the first women to be licensed as a master electrician in New York, shared the tips that made her company rank 140th among the country’s 500 fastest-growing privately held firms.

“Until you know what the world is about — be it yourself, your business or your market — you can’t sell yourself to what you don’t know,” said Rose, the founder of Aurora Electric in Jamaica. “In order to be successful at business, you have to market and brand yourself.”

Speakers hammered home the lesson that businesswo­men’s success is often tied to the way they present themselves and their accomplishments.

Irene Navero of the Queens Women’s Network said women entering the work force often do not realize their volunteer activities can be used on a resumé — like 15 years of service as a PTA treasurer.

“They don’t translate that into being a bookkeeper,” she said.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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