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Bright Minds of Baltimore

A new generation of makers and entrepreneurs is fostering a creative and inclusive community that is transforming the local economy

Call it what you will—entrepreneurship or the Maker Movement—but there’s no doubt that the last few years have seen a wave of ambition, with an uptick in Baltimore-based maker spaces, incubators and homegrown businesses, led mostly by creative Millennial and Gen X minds. The outpouring (and funding) of big ideas has the potential to enact major change — in Baltimore’s economy, its neighborhoods and its industries. Here, we take a peek at some of the exciting companies emerging from this wellspring of invention, and the places they’re finding support.

RETAIL & PRODUCTS

Write Notepads
Available at area retailers (see www.writepads.com/apps/store-locator)
Founded in 2011 by third-generation bookbinder Chris Rothe, this stationery line approaches notebooks with meticulous attention to quality, a passion for simple craftsmanship and a nod to traditional techniques. The resulting writing pads are made with antique machinery from carefully chosen, medium-weight paper, copper spiral binding and sturdy rubber banding. Custom notebooks can be created, with myriad options available—think letterpress company logos or inspirational messages on each page.

SoBotanical
48 E. Cross St.
Theresa Cangialosi opened this apothecary—one of just a few custom aromatherapy bars in the region—in 2017 after more than 30 years in the aromatherapy and natural products field, which included a partnership with Johns Hopkins Hospital to develop healing products for skin-transplant patients. Her Federal Hill boutique sells Cangialosi’s extensive collection of plant-based essential oils, plus her line of handcrafted face, skin, hair and pet care products. Custom-made blends can be concocted to help conquer ailments, reduce stress or promote a good night’s sleep.

Treason Toting Company
811 N. Charles St.
The origin story of this company starts like a joke: Two entrepreneurial spirits walk into a bar. But that’s the truth of it—Baltimore-bred Aaron Jones (a trained tailor) and Jason Bass (a marketing whiz) met over a whiskey at a bar in Fell’s Point, and set out to create a homegrown line of canvas bags that would be utilitarian enough for daily life, but with a style inspired by their urban setting. Treason’s bags, some of which feature designs created by Baltimore artists of color and intended to reflect the city, have been sold in Nordstrom and J. Crew pop-ups and were featured in Martha Stewart’s holiday gift guide and Travel + Leisure magazine. Make it your own with custom colors and patches—the perfect Baltimore memento.

Homegrown Baltimore
830 Aliceanna St.
A pop-up collective in Harbor East, this shop showcases a rotating collection of products from women-owned small businesses. Currently in the mix: Cedar & Cotton, a curated vintage and new furniture store with an eclectic, distinctive style that mixes midcentury, African printed textiles, metallics and natural motifs; B. Willow, a plant shop, florist and educator focused on bringing nature back into the lives of Baltimore citizens; and Knits, Soy & Metal, which produces all-natural, small-batch soy candles created by Letta Moore, who curates the pop-up’s selection.

MADE IN BALTIMORE BOX:

Curious about other Baltimore-grown brands? Many local makers partner with meetings and conventions for special features. One such spotlight: Last year’s Natural Products Expo East hosted a Made in Baltimore booth, sponsored by Baltimore Development Corporation, which included a stable of up-and-coming local brands such as Hex Ferments, Vagrant Coffee, Woot! Granola and many more.

INCUBATORS, ACCELERATORS & SUPPORT

THE GRID at University of Maryland Biopark
health & biotech innovation center
Designed to support startups through education, funding, community and more, this University of Maryland Biopark hub aims to connect students, entrepreneurs and faculty to help facilitate innovative ideas in health and biotech.

Harbor Launch at IMET
science incubator
The Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology runs this incubator for early-stage science and science support companies, offering affordable wet labs, networking, advising and other resources. Harbor Launch companies focus on developing therapeutics, diagnostic devices, molecular tools, bioservices, big data-enabled platforms, algae and bioproducts technology and more.

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cybersecurity & technology incubator
This University of Maryland, Baltimore County community and research park operates two incubation programs—one focused on growing cybersecurity and IT companies, and one that supports life sciences and engineering technology businesses. And there’s even more specialization within the cyber track, which also offers a scholarship program in partnership with Northrup Grumman and a designated training program for overseas cyber entrepreneurs.

ETC Baltimore
technology innovation center
A nonprofit branch of the Baltimore Development Corporation, ETC supports technology companies through seed capital, mentors, partnerships, community and more, including the city’s first incubation initiative. Now in its eighth year, AccelerateBaltimore boosts six emerging tech businesses each session through a 13-week program and $25,000 in funding.

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