In honor of Black History Month, the Maryland Department of Commerce is placing a special spotlight on Black-owned businesses that are continuing to lead the way in our business community. Check out our list of unique up-and-coming Maryland Black-owned businesses to support year-round!

Digging up Maryland history

Affectionately known as the “Indiana Jones” of Baltimore, Evan Woodard, the founder of Salvage Arc. Credit: open.maryland.gov

Affectionately known as the “Indiana Jones” of Baltimore, Evan Woodard, the founder of Salvage Arc, has always had a knack for history. What began as a simple hobby has blossomed into a booming global business centered around archeology and history found in Maryland’s own backyard. Evan and his team have made a name for themselves by literally unearthing the state’s rich history through one simple task: digging. The company started small, by mapping out and targeting key areas throughout Baltimore City with the most potential for locating lost historical items or relics, and this idea grew to expand across the state.

Salvage Arc has managed to “dig up” long-lost items that tell a story of our state’s past. The team has located everything from original artifacts from Baltimore’s Bromo-Seltzer company, to bottles from Maryland’s historic Chesapeake Brewing Company. Salvage Arc has also unearthed items dating as far back as the 1800s like toys, dinnerware, and other historical glass and ceramic items that paint a picture of everyday life in Maryland’s history. Evan and his crew have shared these relics with various museums like the Baltimore Museum of Industry, and have spanned their services passed the DMV, shipping nationally and even globally to locations in South Korea, the U.K., and Germany.

Coming to “FRUITition” in Washington County

Nestled on Main Street in Hagerstown is a little splash of flavor called Tribe Cold Press. Erika Bell and Danielle Cassignol have not only been hard at work bringing the freshest ingredients to Washington County, but fostering a deep sense of community throughout their city.

Nestled on Main Street in Hagerstown is a little splash of flavor called Tribe Cold Press. Credit: Open Maryland

The company uses only fresh whole fruits, vegetables, and ingredients in every smoothie, tonic, juice, and baked good it produces for its customers. Tribe Cold Press is not a typical juice bar – it thrives off of its welcoming environment – and it’s business owners see the store as a pillar of networking in Washington County. The shop’s location has been used to host networking events, community gatherings, and even serves as a neighborhood spot to stop in and relax with a refreshing drink. The company is even sponsoring a scholarship fund for local students.

Erika and Danielle say that their business was able to come to “FRUITition” through the amazing help received from the City of Hagerstown. They also work hand in hand with much local government and community organizations, such as the Washington County Board of Education. Tribe Cold Press truly builds its business from the ground up, growing its own ingredients like microgreens, spinach, and kale. Next time you are in Washington County and are in the mood for a quick pick-me-up, look no further than Tribe Cold Press for a business centered around healthy treats hand-picked for its customers.    

Ali Mulaga of Wonky Wicks candles in Montgomery County uses the principle of sustainability and transparency in every product she makes. Credit: Open Maryland

Reduce, reuse, repurpose

Ali Mulaga of Wonky Wicks candles in Montgomery County uses the principle of sustainability and transparency in every product she makes. Wonky Wicks’ handcrafted candles are all-natural, fragrance additive-free candles created using soy wax and essential oils that are packaged and poured into repurposed glass bottles. The company, which got its start in January 2020, prides itself on creating a sustainable line of non-toxic products for customers to add a little light into their lives. Wonky Wicks uses donated glass bottles to create a variety of handcrafted candles ranging from unique scents like its staple “London Fog” aroma, which uses a scented base of black pepper mixed with coffee and tobacco, to seasonal scents like its “Forever Autumn” candle, which evokes notes of Fall with ylang-ylang, clove, and nutmeg.

As a Black and mixed-race business owner, Ali echoes the importance of representation in the business community. She has relied heavily on the support she has found from her fellow business owners in fostering a strong foundation for her business to build on. Wonky Wicks’ candle creations can be found at various retailers throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. The company has even partnered with businesses to source and repurpose unused or leftover bottles, creating a sustainable product for everyone to enjoy.

Security and peace of mind

The security team at Blackout Investigations and Security Services has one priority; its clients’ safety. The owner, Guy Black, a former U.S. Marine and retired Maryland State Police First Sergeant says the company offers a variety of security guards, private investigations, and personal protection services. All services are aimed at keeping its customers safe by protecting against physical harm and property loss.

Headquartered in Waldorf, Blackout Investigations provides services across the Washington D.C, Maryland, and Virginia areas, for both public and private sectors. Established in 2006, the company has managed to stick to its goal of outstanding services through a rigorous hiring and training process for all security staff members. The superior quality of protection services offered by Blackout Investigations has led the company to provide security and cash/personnel escort services for both presidential inauguration events for former President Obama, allowing the company to work side by side with presidential Secret Service staff.

Mr. Black founded Blackout Investigations based on a dream of building something that could be passed on to his family as a pillar for success.  He says that security is a service that is most in-demand during trying times, and he takes pride in providing his clients with the peace of mind, safety, and security they need and desire.

Barbecue with a family-style kick

Phat Daddy’s BBQ Shack and Catering has become a household name in Kent County.

Phat Daddy’s BBQ Shack and Catering have become a household name in Kent County. Owner Wiliam Holland has been in the barbecue and catering business for more than 25 years, and some of the local community members even tout that William and his crew over at Phat Daddy’s BBQ Shack make the best mac and cheese in Maryland, or at least on the Eastern Shore! What started as a curbside barbecue catering business grew into a thriving brick-and-mortar BBQ restaurant and a one-stop shop for event catering. Holland uses a family recipe for barbecue sauce that has been perfected and passed down through generations. The company serves up traditional barbecue items like ribs (one of William’s favorites), chicken, brisket, and pulled pork, as well as some non-traditional items like tacos, chicken wings, and loaded nachos.

As a Black business owner, William hopes to act as a pillar and role model for his local community and for Maryland. He aims to inspire up-and-coming business owners to go after their dreams and offers support to anyone who is willing to try. The business hopes to expand over the coming years to include more event and catering services for any event needs and credits his cousin Rozlyn Hill for the company logo and slogan. Make sure to make a special stop and try some of that Holland family famous barbecue sauce!  

Although Black History Month is dedicated and celebrated during the month of February, it is important to support Black, minority-owned, and other small businesses throughout the year. These businesses and business owners truly foster a sense of fellowship and determination that can be seen all across our state.

From the Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Business (or VLT) fund, to the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA), our state has the programs to help your business succeed. To find resources available to support your business, visit our website.


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