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How these creative startups are looking to grow in Baltimore

A look at the pitches from the first cohort of startups in BCAN's Founder Fellows program.

BCAN's Founder Fellows in 2018. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Demo day for a MICA-backed accelerator supporting creative entrepreneurs from across the city inspired the crowd at Falvey Hall with personal stories of entrepreneurs, and how they’re looking to help the city.
With the May 22 event, the first cohort of BCAN’s Founder Fellows program Baltimore Creatives Acceleration Network (BCAN) concluded two months of workshops running in partnership with Santa Fe–based Creative Startups. Throughout the program, members get advice and help from more than two dozen members, and access to free legal services from DLA Piper and Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. The resources going forward include space to work at incubators around the city like Open WorksEubie Blake Jazz and Cultural CenterBetamore, ETC and Impact Hub.
Here’s a look at the pitches from Founder Fellows:

Le Monade 

What started as a way to bottle lemonade to sell at the farmer’s market has turned into a collection of small-batch drink mixers in a variety of flavors. Founder Carleen Goodridge offered a host of examples of how they’re used, from salad dressings to dessert toppers. “It’s a foodie waiting for you in a bottle,” she said. At a pitch night held with eight regional investors on May 24, Goodridge was selected as the winner of a $15,000 cash award.

Mess in a Bottle

 
Kalilah Wright and Jerome J. Hill launched this company during the protests that followed Freddie Gray’s death to allow people to customize T-shirts with a message. The T-shirts come in reusable bottles, drawing on the tradition of sending letters by sea that dates back centuries. “We are a form of communication and we give a voice to the voiceless,” said Wright. This summer, the company is launching T-shirt vending machines.

Kalilah Wright pitches Mess in a Bottle. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Kalilah Wright pitches Mess in a Bottle. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Pretty Much Academy 

Working in the beauty industry, Jamaya Moore found that there could be a new way to learn the art behind applying make-up. “I’ve worked with a lot of big brands, but I kept coming back to my every day clients,” she said. The Academy aims to offer in-person and online classes for aspiring artists.

Power Decals

The company was forged by a cross-continental friendship of Charlotte James and Valentina Fiamma from Baltimore to Argentina. “We want you to wear your power with our fly nail wraps,” said James. The duo’s “temporary tattoos for your nails” are designed to provide a way for women of color to celebrate their culture, and fill a gap in the beauty business while they’re at it.

Power Decals. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Power Decals. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)


 

Six Point Pictures

The creative agency helmed by JaMar Jones and LaTonya Joyce specializes in video production for corporate, government and medical clients. They are equally committed to increasing inclusivity both in front of and behind the camera. With the Filmmakers Meetup Program, they’re also training the next generation of filmmakers.

The Regal Group

Akos Regal, Ola Faleye and Patricia Faleye create clothing celebrating the spirit of Africa in their customers. The combine craftsmanship and prints inspired by West African roots with  modern silhouettes. As Faleye put it, “We are the dreams of our ancestors.”

The Regal Group. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

The Regal Group. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

The Rise of Charm City

The creators of the podcast that offers oral histories of neighborhood-level landmarks in Baltimore. They found that residents want to share their experiences. And they were also contacted by companies interested in producing podcasts. Now Stacia Brown, Ali Post and Marsha Jews, are extending their work with a consulting business that brings a community-centered approach to podcasts for clients.

Style Trail

A barber shop is both a place of business and a community center. Eric Warner took value from both. “The barber shop for me was the first professional environment that I saw, and the place where I found my first mentor,” he said. Along with Lana Adams, Warner is building a two-sided marketplace platform to help licensed barbers and stylists find work, and shops fill empty chairs. “Together we have spent countless hours interviewing beauty professionals so we can build something that will serve them best,” said Adams.

Eric Warner and Lana Adams pitch StyleTrail. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Eric Warner and Lana Adams pitch StyleTrail. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Marta Ali Studios

Marta Ali came out of a traditional architectural setting, and now combines expertise in digital design and fabrication. She creates 3D building materials that are used as interior elements like wall panels in homes and on studio sets. Working out of Open Works, Ali is tapping into the city’s maker movement.

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