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Business owners feel ‘misled’ by Women’s Expo; The event plans to return to COS in November

COLORADO SPRINGS — Starting a new business isn’t always easy.

When a marketing management company asked several small business owners to attend a women’s show in Colorado Springs, they jumped at the chance.

However, several of these event attendees told News 5 Investigates that they felt cheated and misled.


Small business owners chat with chief investigative reporter Eric Ross

Megan Morris, Jenna Wilson and Pari Sveinsson are three small business owners from Colorado. The three women express the same concern with “Donnell Productions” — a marketing management company that hosts women’s expos where small business owners can advertise and sell their wares in a farmers’ market-type setting.

The group says they heard the same story from company owner Barbara Donnell.

Donnel Productions

Better Business Bureau

Profile of Donnell Productions BBB

“She said she came to my store and there was a women’s expo coming up that she thinks I’d be perfect for,” Megan said. “She (Barbara Donnell) said it would be this huge expo with 3,000 to 5,000 people guaranteed to go through.

Pari says she also got a call about buying a sales booth at the event.

“She just called me into my brand new company and recruited me,” Pari said. “At the time, I was just starting to get into farmers markets. I thought the reason I was recruited was because I looked so fabulous at farmers markets and they wanted me. at this women’s expo. I was honored and excited. She also made all these promises to me.

As for Jenna, she says she was skeptical at first, but eventually gave in and signed up to participate.

“Even schpeel,” Jenna said. “I was told that my products would be absolutely perfect for the salon.”

News 5 also obtained an email Donnell Productions allegedly sent Jenna.

“I think your company would do very well at Expo,” Donnell said. “We usually have around 3,000 to 3,500 attendees.”

As the event kicked off at the Norris Penrose Events Center, Jenna, Megan and Pari said it was a total disappointment. They all said that very few people showed up.

Upcoming Women's Expo Events

Women’s Expo website (Womensexpoliving.com)

Next Women’s Expo event in Colorado Springs scheduled for November 5-6

“You arrive at the salon and there’s no signage,” Megan said. “The morning of the event, I’m in the wrong building because there isn’t even a sign directing vendors where to go. The event starts and no one shows up. You might be thinking this is a slow start, but no one was there.The promised 3,000-5,000 people, there were maybe 300. They were vendors supplying each other because everyone was bored.

Jenna and Pari agreed with Megan.

The group says they quickly wondered if the Colorado Springs Women’s Expo was even organized by locals.

Although “Colorado Springs” is pictured at the top of the company’s event logo, we found that Donnell Productions is actually based in Connecticut, according to BBB records.

We started contacting Donnell several months ago. We called and sent three separate emails between January and April. We were hoping to speak with Donnell about his marketing and advertising strategies as well as address any complaints that have been raised.

Donnell did not respond.

Now News 5 Investigates has learned the company advertises its latest Women’s Expo right here in Colorado Springs later this year.

“We would love for them not to come back to Colorado Springs,” Pari said.

According to their contractual agreements, there are “no refunds” and the $600 fee paid by each business owner guaranteed a booth at the event.

Before signing a contract:

-Be sure to read the fine print before signing

-When paying in advance, it is important to understand what services you are purchasing

– If you see a “local name” in a business logo or advertisement, don’t automatically assume a business is local. You can verify a business address through the Secretary of State’s website or the Better Business Bureau

Have a story idea or issue you’d like News 5 Investigates to address? Email: Eric.Ross@KOAA.com