‘Doing Business in Baltimore’: Community Conversations Part II Unites Community Members,Business Experts, Entrepreneurs

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The second segment of The Baltimore Times’ three-part community conversation series, titled “Baltimore’s Gems:

Insights for Doing Business in Baltimore,” provided business experts, entrepreneurs and community members an opportunity to network, gain insights and exchange ideas at Impact Hub Baltimore on February 29, 2020.

The public forum consisted of a panel discussion that explored varying subject matters followed by ‘table talks,’ which was a time for participants to break off into small groups to discuss partnerships and business-related opportunities, among other topics.

“We are completely thrilled with the series so far,” said Baltimore Times publisher Joy Bramble during her opening remarks. Likewise, event moderator Cassandra Vincent welcomed guests and facilitated the discussions throughout the community conversation.

Members from the community participate in The Baltimore Times “Baltimore's Gems: Insights for Doing Business in Baltimore” event February 29, 2020

Dr. David Marshall

Members from the community participate in The Baltimore Times “Baltimore’s Gems: Insights for Doing Business in Baltimore” event February 29, 2020

Through the panel, resource panelists – Kylie Patterson, Director of Economic Inclusion at Johns Hopkins University; Sherry Curry, PNC Bank executive; Paul Taylor, director of the Mayor’s Office of Small, Minority and Women-Owned Businesses; and Andy Cook, campaign director of Made in Baltimore – covered an array of business-related topics and answered various questions from community members.

Some of what was discussed included access to capital, proper cash flow, economic opportunity in Baltimore and resource scaling. Resource panelists also spoke about how they support local businesses in addition to offering helpful resources for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs that were in attendance.

“No one’s coming to save us, so that means we as a community must save ourselves,” expressed Taylor, also a founding member of the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce. He and fellow panelists answered questions about affordable means of finding an attorney, gap financing and community engagement.

DIFFERENTREGARD, a luxury clothing store based in Mount Vernon, and Fleurs d’Ave, a floral boutique in West Baltimore, were the two businesses that were represented.

DIFFERENTREGARD co-founders Dominick Davis and Steven White along with Fleurs d’Ave co-founders Brandon Wylie and Ashley Rock shared their entrepreneurial passions and the resources that supported the growth of their respective businesses.

“What drives my passion is having a sustainable business in Baltimore that’s Black-owned,” White said during the panel discussion.

James Malone, an aspiring business owner, said he attended the community to seek information. He said he is enrolled in an entrepreneurial training program and is in the process of trying to start a business in West Baltimore.

“Basically I’m just listening and absorbing information because [the panel] said a few good things I liked,” said Malone, who hopes to open an establishment similar to a community center in the Upton area.

“West Baltimore, that’s the area I’m trying to help out. It’s not about me per se wanting to take from the community, I want to help the community.”

Fleurs d’Ave, founded in 2018, is more than a floral boutique, but has a philosophy of consistently providing the highest degree of quality, creativity, and attention to each and every client.

“We just want to continue to repurpose our neighborhoods and add value back to our communities by not letting our businesses leave our community but to continue to develop businesses within the community,” said Wylie, also the CEO of Wylie Funeral Home.

“The importance of today’s function is… networking; being able to meet different people that understand your same struggles and your same successes in business.”

Davis, who also serves as the art director of DIFFERENTREGARD, took time after the panel to connect with community members. He and White were in their early 20s when they conceptualized and founded the apparel company.

“It’s important to get the information out there,” Davis said in reference to the community conversation’s theme.

“Bringing economic development is always an important part in any community. And for us to be able to provide jobs within the community is essential not just for us, and we can inspire another business to do the same thing.”

Jenell Steele, an entrepreneur with services specializing in health and wellness, attended the “Doing Business in Baltimore” forum intending to network with like-minded individuals and become more involved in the local business community.

Results With Nelly was established in October 2019 by Steele, a registered nurse and fitness coach.

Though Steele is slated as a featured speaker for Baltimore Times’ next community conversation on health, she figured showing up to “Doing Business in Baltimore” as well would be a valuable networking opportunity and learning experience.

“As I am going into new territory, unfamiliar territory, it’s important to seek guidance or at least seek someone who’s been there and traveling the path that I’m looking to cross,” she said.

Jerome Stevens, community outreach director from Sen. Ben Cardin’s office was on site to give remarks along with licensed tax consultant Michael Irving, who offered advice and his services to attendees.The Baltimore Times will conclude its three-part series on March 7 with a conversation themed “Vision For A Healthier Baltimore.”