|In 1998, Chris Veazey Brown and Deanna Wheeler came up with the idea of putting together a fair for women of all ages, all backgrounds and all stages of life. They were both veterans in show management and had previously directed the WABA Home Show, bridal fairs, grand openings events & mall promotions so they knew how to do the logistics – all they needed to figure out was what would interest women.
They conducted a series of focus groups to see what kind of event they would like to attend – they ended up with two pages full of interests. From there it was simply a matter of putting together the pieces of the puzzle and creatively packaging everything. Keeping the interests of women foremost is still the driving force for the Wichita Women’s
Planning and managing the Women’s Fair – which has about 385 exhibitors and 15,000 attendees – is a year-round business for Brown and Wheeler, who must balance the demands of a consumer expo with the interests and needs of thousands of attendees as well as the 385 exhibitors/business owners. They also fill out the three-day fair with business and home décor workshops, fashion shows, concerts – which means there are thousands of details to nail down before opening day.
Planning for the next year starts just days after one is completed when exhibitors have an opportunity to critique the fair and attendees’ comments are evaluated. Demographics of those attending are also
The two women found they worked well together because they have strengths and interests in different areas. Deanna particularly enjoys being out meeting people face-to-face, putting together proposals, and working with the media and sponsors. Her other strengths include marketing strategy, research, concept planning, structuring agreements and sales, and she is able to draw on a background in retail
management, real estate sales and marketing as well as advertising. Her consumer-driven marketing philosophy boils down to: “Figure out what the consumer wants or needs and deliver it in a great package.” Chris has a background in art and writing and has years of management under her belt, including project management, show and event production and shopping center promotions. She is comfortable working phone sales, handling the contracts and financing as well as all the details that go together to putting on a fair. She also handles most of the printed promotional materials, advertising and graphics.
They both are marketing oriented and enjoy helping exhibitors market themselves. They attribute their success to having the highest respect for what each brings to the table and for the other’s ideas and creativity. They are friends as well as business partners and admit to having a really good time together. The bottom line is: They enjoy what they do.