Joyce White made these faux Georgian and Victorian chocolate tartlets are made for a museum, so you can’t eat them. (Photo courtesy A Taste of History with Joyce White)

‘In demand’

A Taste of History, Annapolis

Joyce White’s work as an independent food historian has led her to many interesting ways to express her love of the topic, including giving virtual lectures, writing gigs and consulting with the Maryland State Archives. But only recently has she discovered a new way to boost her bottom line: creating faux foods.

White creates most delicious looking artwork for use at historic sites such as the Laurel Museum and the Hammond Harwood House, in Annapolis, as well as others across the state. To make her creations, she bakes with silicon, resins and salt dough, which allow for such realistic reproduction.

“I also use various old-time culinary gelatin, cake, sugar paste and pie molds,” she said, adding that she had “always made a limited range of items, but used other artists” for larger projects. Then she realized that she could make them, too.

So today, working from her new home workspace, White designs faux foods that cost as little as $20, “but can rise to hundreds, since materials can be expensive. I’d like this to be my primary job,” she said, “because it involves a variety of skills and is in demand at many museums.”

Cinnaholic recently hosted the Central Maryland Chamber. (Central Maryland Chamber photo)

 ‘Love and support’

Cinnaholic, Waugh Chapel

After spending her career in corporate America. Laurin Wallace wanted something different, something more her own. That required soul searching and outside input from a franchise consultant; all told, it took almost a year before she was presented with the idea of opening a Cinnaholic location, with her first at Waugh Chapel Towne Centre.

So she perused the company’s locations in Baltimore and Gaithersburg, and found that she loved the company’s 100 percent vegan options. “Then a space at Waugh Chapel suddenly popped up on my real estate broker’s list,” she said.

As it happened, the COVID-19 pandemic gave Wallace time to contemplate this career step. “It took me too long to make the move because I was risk-averse, since the investment was north of $300,000,” she said. “However, now I’m closer to, and growing within, my community.” 

As is often the case, finding the right employees has been a challenge, but the new shop is off to a great start. “I wasn’t expecting all of the love and support,” she said. As for going the franchise route, while she “never” wanted to start her business from scratch, Wallace added “at Cinnaholic, we bake from scratch  every day, all day.”

 ‘It’s going well’

Beaningful Services, Odenton

Like Wallace, the pandemic inspired William Hill to start a business, though he diverted from the franchise route. It was in April 2021 that he saw an opportunity in the coffee business at a franchise expo, which caught his attention because “Starbucks didn’t lose any market during the shutdown.”

What Hill did do was buy coffee vending machines from Java Brew Corp. that brew espresso as well as regular coffee and “offered a way to dispense coffee without people having to handle pots, cups, condiments,” etc. “The boilers keep the water hot all day, so clients can always get a fresh, customizable product,” he said, noting options ranging from French Vanilla and Pumpkin Spice to Cappuccinos and hot chocolate.

Plus, he only has to come on site once weekly to service the machines. So Hill took the plunge and invested $25,000 for his first three machines, including one at a COPT property at 901 Elkridge Landing Road; then last July he bought three more and plans to place them within the BWI Business District.

A good week for a machine, he said, is selling 100 cups. “So far, my best is 125. It’s challenging to establish a business with no brand recognition, but overall it’s going well.

Shané Gooding, owner of Imiivo Photo Studios, celebrated the opening of her new studio at Historic Savage Mill with an appearance by County Executive Calvin Ball. (TBM / Jason Whong)

 ‘Loving my career’

Imiivo, Savage Mill

What does one do when they’ve been a full-time professor at a Howard University, their contract wasn’t renewed, they’re in the midst of a divorce and have an 18-month-old to raise? At the start of a pandemic?

If you’re Shané Gooding, you start a photography business. Even if you’d been avoiding it for 15 years. “I’d stayed away from turning photography into a profession because I didn’t want to lose my passion,” she said of founding Imiivo (an acronym for “Infinite memories in, infinite visuals out), her commercial lifestyle branding and portrait photography studio.

That was in May 2020. Then came a stint in an Ellicott City yoga studio followed by her recent move into Savage Mill. Her services and wares start at $575 for an average session and rise to include customized, framed artwork. So far, business has been up and down, “but within an upward trend,” Gooding said. “Some months, the drinks are on me.”

But now, she’s gaining traction. “I work with different makeup artists and wardrobe stylists, and even outsource the framing,” said Gooding. “Our work is for exhibiting, so we use the best materials that last generations. And I’m loving my career change because I’m making people feel celebrated.”

‘Business is great’

 Max Powers Lighting & Events, Severn       

Max Powers has been running his lighting and events business for 15 years. He’s spent 75 percent of that time handling lighting and production for weddings, the rest working private events. He said the business has been good to him aside for during the COVID-19 shutdown. 

“We just had to survive until things picked back up,” said Powers, “but while we waited, I consolidated the usage of items like porta booths,” which are used for taking pics of people at events.

“When the market was hot for porta booths around 2015, we invested in several of them. They can cost more than $10,000,” he said, “but we’ve only been using about four, so we’re in the process of selling several others. We also worked with a pool of up to 15 contractors, but that’s down to 10.”

A PPP loan provided more relief, as did  finding a new market for creating graphics like monogrammed wraps for dance floors before the return of events. “It’s been slow lately due to the winter off season, but overall business is great. We’re getting back toward previous levels,” Powers said. “For us, it’s come down to running leaner.”