Body and Sol Women’s Expo Embraces Healthy Play

October 16, 2013

by Christy Krueger


Body and Sol advisory board member Sabrina Rigas, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Holly Baker and Barbara Peters at Hotel Congress. Photo by Hotel Congress.

Enthusiasm for Downtown’s meteoric rise in development is attracting more than retail, residential and restaurants. Despite predictions that event bookings at Tucson Convention Center will continue to fall until major facility renovations take place, some eager convention organizers may help to prove otherwise.

Body and Sol Women’s Expo, which made its debut in May 2012 at an area resort, chose to move Downtown specifically for its new vibe, hip image and business opportunities. And when the mayor gave a thumbs-up sign of support, it was a done deal.

“We met with Mayor Rothschild for breakfast at the Cup Café and did a presentation,” said Body and Sol co-founder Barbara Peters. “He said, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this,’ and he told us we can quote him. We asked for six things that we wanted from him, he said yes to all of them.”

The list included a proclamation from the mayor and an appearance at the event, an introduction to the city councilwomen and opportunities to be in city council newsletters that go to constituents.

Eighteen months of planning went into the first expo, which Peters developed with Kellie Ing. After a successful inaugural event, Ing was unable to devote the necessary time to continue her participation, so Peters reached out to Holly Baker, a 2012 exhibitor.

“Because of her stunning personality, I thought there would be a business opportunity for us,” Peters noted.

A peek inside the 2012 exhibit hall. Photo by Jose Beltran of JHB Photography.

A peek inside the 2012 exhibit hall. Photo by Jose Beltran of JHB Photography.

“It’s been a good melding,” added Baker, who publishes the Tucson edition of Natural Awakenings. The healthy living magazine will have a greater presence at the upcoming event, sponsoring the Healthy Kitchen stage, which will host cooking demonstrations by local chefs.

“We have 37,000-plus readers in print and digital each month. Seventy percent of readers are female 35 to 70 years old – the demographic aligned with the show,” Baker reported.

She and Peters had an early start planning Body and Sol’s second chapter, which will be held March 8-9, 2014, at TCC. Their decision to move Downtown was based on several factors. Peters explained that while Casino del Sol, site of last year’s event, was everything they expected and management wanted them back, the space was not large enough.

They sold out the ballroom with 110 exhibitors and hope to triple the attendance of 1,400 for the 2014 installment. And feedback from attendees indicated the site was too far away. “We wanted to bring it in to Tucson so it’s more accessible to all women,” Peters said. “We wanted to be part of the bigger picture with Downtown changes, the new stores and eateries, the economic development and re-growth. We wanted to be involved.”

When Peters and Ing began creating concepts for Body and Sol, the effects of the recession were heavy on their minds. Their number one goal was to stimulate the economy by giving small, local businesses an opportunity to promote their products and services. They wished, also, to embrace Tucson’s heritage and to inspire women, which continue to be priorities for Baker and Peters.

Keynote speaker Paul Boynton will discuss his book Begin with Yes, which has become the expo’s theme for 2014. Peters describes the book as a combination of the law of attraction and the law of action and says, “It’s taking the first step of moving yourself up – personally, in business, in health.”

Also speaking will be Becky Aikman, author of Saturday Night Widows, a book about grief and grieving. “It’s presented with humor, which makes it more palatable,” noted Peters.

Seminar featuring speaker Sunny Kobe Cook. Photo by Jose Beltran of JHB Photography.

Seminar featuring speaker Sunny Kobe Cook. Photo by Jose Beltran of JHB Photography.

Attendees can select from a variety of seminars throughout the two days. “We’ll have presentations about one time an hour in two rooms both days with sex, love, relationships and wellness topics,” Baker said. “It’s all inclusive and because tickets are only $10 (including parking), it embraces all Tucson women.” The presenting sponsor is Perfection Plastic Surgery and Skin Care with Dr. Peter Kay.

Two local charities have been selected to receive proceeds from the expo – Youth On Their Own, which supports high school graduation and the success of homeless teenagers; and Wings for Women, an organization founded in 2010 that helps women and children get back on their feet after a crisis.

Mayor Rothschild’s comment about Body and Sol’s uniqueness may be attributed to the out-of-the box thinking by its organizers. They aim to cover every aspect of presenting useful, fun, healthy information to women, while always keeping in mind the goal of growing the local economy. Businesses can be a part of Body and Sol by purchasing an exhibitor booth or sponsorship, providing food samples, taking part in the fashion show, entertaining attendees with music or providing fitness demonstrations. The expo will also be participating in Second Saturdays Downtown.

Reilly Craft Pizza and Urban Fresh, both Pennington Street restaurants, will have a presence at Body and Sol. Because of TCC’s contract with ARAMARK to provide concessions, outside restaurants can’t sell food during conventions, but they can offer free samples and cooking demonstrations. In addition, a number of food trucks will be based in nearby parking areas of TCC, so attendees will have an extensive choice at mealtime.

A book signing at the 2012 event. Photo by Jose Beltran of JHB Photography.

A book signing at the 2012 event. Photo by Jose Beltran of JHB Photography.

Beer, wine and tequila tastings will be part of the showcase, as will artist exhibits. Pascua Yaqui tribe member and internationally renowned classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala, who performed at the Vatican last fall and at the 2013 presidential inauguration, is expected to make an appearance, as he did last year.

Sinfonia Healthcare, Fletcher McCusker’s new company, has committed to a booth and may have a larger part in the expo, according to Baker. Southern Arizona Home Builders Association plans to build a mini display to promote its March 28-30 spring home show. And media partner Journal Broadcast Group moved its La Encantada health fair to a different date to avoid a conflict with Body and Sol.

“There’s so much enthusiasm about this,” stressed Peters. “We can provide greater exposure to small businesses, boutiques, restaurants. We want to break the barrier about what’s downtown. We don’t want to ride on the coattails; we want to be the doers – that’s why we’re doing it there.”

Body and Sol will be at the Tucson Convention Center March 8-9, 2014. Visit the Body and Sol website or email Email Barbara@bodyandsoltucson.com or holly@naturaltucson.com for more information.