What Women Want Fest connects with community

DOVER — The Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus Conference Center saw women of all ages Saturday for the first What Women Want Fest.

The What Women Want Fest, or W3 Fest, was created by the Delaware State News after noticing that there weren’t many events geared specifically to women and their needs in the local area.

“We knew we wanted to do an event for the community and for the businesses in the community, so we were thinking, ‘Well, what isn’t being done?’” said Heather Cregar, promotions manager for the Delaware State News.

With other events usually catered toward career building, Ms. Cregar and her co-workers looked to do something a little more fun and engaging for women.

With the help of four sponsors, the YMCA of Dover, Dover Federal Credit Union, Charitable Dames and Merrill Lynch, the W3 Fest aimed to connect women with their community and local businesses in a fun and light atmosphere.

The event featured more than 20 tables of local businesses, big and small, for women to network with through simple conversation, as well as a variety of demonstrations.

Christen Maroulis, director of Merry Maids, grabbed the interest of visitors with a presentation on homemade cleaning products.

“I have this business to make lives better and to give women more time with their families. So [this event] is a great opportunity to meet people that I serve,” she said.

The event continued its women-only day by participating in the Charitable Dames Purse Exchange, which encouraged women to swap out their gently used handbags for a small fee.

The fee would later go to the Charitable Dames Success Program, which works to help women re-enter the workforce after a period of unemployment and give young professionals a boost in their career.

An afternoon fashion show by Style Encore also presented how women can dress professionally on a limited budget.

“As far as we know, this is the first of its kind at these types of programs,” said Natasha Knight of Charitable Dames.

In between the conversations and presentations of the day, business vendors also aimed to educate their female visitors on different topics, from fitness to home decorating.

Kathleen Hawkins, a wealth management adviser for Merrill Lynch, spoke enthusiastically about how women make choices.

“Women think differently and make decisions differently than men do, so this is great,” she said.

“[This event] gives [women] an opportunity to ask question and have conversations from their point of view. The more informed we are, the better decisions we make.”

The goal was to help women analyze what they realistically want in the future and then make plans on how to achieve it.

“It’s all very empowering,” said Jenay Friend, owner of Clean Genie and W3 Fest visitor. “It shows us we can be business owners and be just as successful.”

With the success of the What Women Want Fest, both for women in the community and women in business, Ms. Cregar hopes to continue the event in the upcoming years.

“We like having something that’s different, something that you don’t generally get to experience,” she said.

“We want to add more of those fun experiences for people, and we’re hoping for more growth and to add more vendors in the future.”

Lexi Coon is a freelance writer living in the Camden area

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