Mobtown Fermentation (Wild Kombucha)
In 2015, three friends started making a family kombucha recipe in a small room in a juice shop and selling it locally. Demand for the fermented drink was so great that they moved into a production facility in Baltimore County; when they outgrew that space, support from BBL helped Mobtown Fermentation move into a 13,000 square foot warehouse in Northwest Baltimore. Today, Mobtown Fermentation produces 10,000 bottles of kombucha and yerba mate per week. The drinks can be purchased in six states and Washington, D.C. in stores such as Giant, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, and MOM’s Organic Market.
While attending Morgan State University, Kevin Antoine was a manager at the largest East Coast facility of a national truck rental company. This experience provided him with the industry knowledge to start his own freight trucking company, KWJW Distributors, with support from BBL. As KWJW began fulfilling more and more contracts, Antoine realized the company needed to buy its own trucks rather than relying on rental trucks, and BBL was able to help. As KWJW continues to thrive, Antoine is pursuing an MBA at St. Mary’s University and gives back to his alma mater Morgan State as a peer coordinator mentor.
Neopol Savory Smokery
In the 1980s, German immigrant and single mother Barbara Lahnstein was smoking fish in her backyard and selling it at farmers markets. The popularity of the delicious food led to Lahnstein opening a stall in Belvedere Square in 2004. Neopol became a family business when Lahnstein’s son, Dorian Brown, stepped in as business partner to help his mother manage the growing business. Neopol Smokery has expanded to two retail locations and a production kitchen to serve artisanal gourmet foods that combine traditional, old-world techniques of curing and smoking with new-world flavors and spices.
Keller Professional Services
This staffing and management firm was established in 1997 by Debra Keller-Greene, a three-time recipient of the top 100 MBE Award, winner of the 2016 Mayor’s Woman-Owned Business Enterprise of the Year award, and Board Chair for the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce. The firm specializes in workforce development and human resource consulting through subcontracting on statewide contracts. Support from BBL helped Keller Professional Services hire more staff and expand its subcontracting opportunities.
This fashion accessory company was founded in 2016 by Barry Benson, who discovered his passion after receiving his first watch from his mother when he was seven years old. Benson worked hard to make this passion his lifework, quitting his job as a consultant to start Benson Watch Company in 2015. After Benson’s initial line of watches sold out, support from BBL allowed the company to purchase additional inventory. Watches and bracelets can be found on Benson Watch’s website, at Macys.com, and at MGM International Resorts.