Since 2013, Hook a Sista Up Collaborative (HASU), a membership-based organization supporting female entrepreneurs, has been creating platforms for West Michigan women to collaborate, empower, and inspire one another. On Saturday, October 6, HASU will present the fourth annual Women who Write Author and Vendor Expo.
Since 2013, Hook a Sista Up Collaborative (HASU), a membership-based organization supporting female entrepreneurs, has been creating platforms for West Michigan women to collaborate, empower, and inspire one another. On Saturday, October 6, HASU will present the fourth annual Women who Write Author and Vendor Expo from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Salvation Army Kroc Center.
Through working with the members of HASU, Linda Otterbridge, president and owner of HASU, knows very well that there is a power in collaboration and if you try to do everything by yourself, you will not go as far. “I created HASU because I wanted women to connect and support each other. Creating in a space by yourself is never good because you don’t have that cheerleader, that encouragement, or that person to bounce ideas off of,” says Otterbridge.
Because of this, Otterbridge’s mission for this event will not only inspire attendees to start writing, but also empower the female authors at the expo, showing them that they have a community of support behind them.
“They’re doing it as a business. They want the community to hear their story and share their story. They’re not writing these books and throwing them in a corner. We want to financially support these authors, promote them, share their books, and encourage them to keep going. Only the community can do that,” says Otterbridge.
Reflecting back on her first time organizing this event, Otterbridge realized just how important this expo was to not only the community, but also to the members of HASU, since many of them were also writers.
Now in its fourth year, the Women who Write Expo invites anyone who is interested in reading, writing, publishing, or editing to attend. Fans can have their books signed by the authors, buy merchandise, listen to guest speakers, and stop by a variety of vendors that will offer resources and services for aspiring writers.
Although HASU’s platform is geared towards women, the Women who Write Expo is “a community event for all,” says Otterbridge. Families are welcomed to check out the children's book authors and meet those from the Creative Youth Center
, which specializes in creative writing programs for youth.
As attendees engage with writing coaches, publishers, editors, and authors of all genres, Otterbridge wants the community to fall back in love with books, emphasizing that reading through electronics can never compare to cuddling up with a paperback or hardcover. “Even though everything is going electronic, sometimes you just want to hold a good book in your hands,” says Otterbridge.
It does not end on Saturday, either, because HASU invites any and all writers to join monthly meetings and check-ins with the Women who Write Accountability Chapters, held in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. These groups were not only made to support women with their aspirations and goals, but also to hold one another accountable. Otterbridge explains that in order to succeed, “You need that accountability piece and women are good accountability partners because we encourage each other.”
Using the motto, “from competition to collaboration,” Otterbridge argues that in any kind of work, it is beneficial for women to work together and collaborate because they add years of knowledge and experience to their skill sets that they would otherwise never have when working alone.
“You want people in a group doing the same thing that you do because they know the ins and outs and you don’t have to do all this work starting it over by yourself. You have people who have done it before and already know it,” says Otterbridge.
After the event finishes, Otterbridge hopes attendees also realize that even though writing can be tough process, “Everyone has a story in them somewhere,” she says.
Photos courtesy of Hook a Sista Up Collaborative.