Grace Aguilar; On Being One of the Vehicle of The Expo Hut– Canada’s Leading B2B Halal Trade Show Organizers

by Demi Rosseau

Photo by Grace Aguilar

From the gigantic halls of Dubai to the massive venues of Toronto, of endless booths and halls, Grace Aguilar’s petite frame and coquettish demeanor strikes a beautiful contrast against the enormous scale she had to put together organizing the grandest B2B fairs in North America and the Middle East; to date, at least 10 successful trade shows as the Director of Operations for The Expo Hut- Canada’s leading B2B trade organizer.

Grace started her journey as an entrepreneur in Dubai. When her husband, Nasser Deeb decided to venture on organizing trade shows, she worked alongside him and built a company that specializes in Exhibition and Marketing Services for trade shows, in 2006. Albeit having no experience in the business, but owing the charm and warm personality to her Filipino roots combined with her Bachelors degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Grace successfully pulled off event after event and started enjoying it. While Nasser had to gain more experience in the North American trade show market, they started branching out in Canada in 2007 and Grace began representing local and international organizers to promote their shows among various markets and sectors, and in 2012 they decided to move completely to Toronto. In 2017, The Expo Hut, officially took the leap and spearheaded one of the country sectors niche trade show- the Halal Expo Canada, and Kitchen + Bath Canada.

“As an entrepreneur and being an organizer of the platform that we organize for Halal Industry; our show is not a consumer show but a B2B show. We have responsibility to our community and people around the world. We have to convey the importance of the healthy Halal Living.

Being in the trade show business, Grace takes pride in wearing her stylish modest attires and turban-style head dress/ hijab as a Muslim, and present her identity in a country where Muslims are still a minority, with such easeful grace.  Grace who embraced Islam in 1997, started her hijab journey while she was in Dubai. Like any other converts hurdles, she also lost few accolades when she started wearing hijab. But she remained steadfast and took the changes positively to her favour. It did not deter her performance to gather companies together and create successful events.

Grace donning a styled hijab [Photo by Grace]

When it comes to dressing up, Grace does not look at the brand name but the quality and the style that can be comfortable with. She admits that she is mostly inclined towards the boho chic style. Fluid pants, lengthy shirts, high heels and a good pair of comfortable sleek boots are part of her staple look. She also likes wearing accessories such as bangles and earrings.

And her advice to the aspiring entrepreneurs;

“We are living in today’s world where everything is run by technology and Artificial Intelligence. My advice is, (try) to bring out your talent or passion, make it as a business and enjoy the freedom of being on your own. Since we organize the HEC (Halal Expo Canada) I meet so many young entrepreneurs and we encourage them to use our platform to reach out to their client… Keep going and create awareness to people and show our ways of halal healthy living, from food to modest fashion to investment.”

Grace in jeans and knee-high boots [photo by Grace]

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