Minority-run Small Businesses in Montgomery Co. Get a Boost at Shop and Drops


In Montgomery County, Maryland, budding minority-owned businesses were boosted by government-sponsored get-togethers called Shop and Drop’s at community centers.

Bluffajo Cosmetics was one of many small businesses featured on Saturday.

OMCP / Dick Uliano

Maisie Dunbar of Bluffajo Cosmetics in front of their makeup display.

Maisie Dunbar of Bluffajo Cosmetics in front of their makeup display.

OMCP / Dick Uliano

Marcell Brown of clothing brand Hope.

Marcell Brown of clothing brand Hope.

OMCP / Dick Uliano

Hope Clothing Brand wanted their work to bring inspiration and positivity.

Hope Clothing Brand wanted their work to bring inspiration and positivity.

OMCP / Dick Uliano

Frankie Alika hopes to grow her business and eventually open a gallery in Montgomery County.

Frankie Alika hopes to grow her business and eventually open a gallery in Montgomery County.

OMCP / Dick Uliano

Not far from Brown's exhibition, artist Frankie Alika greeted clients at his table covered with his oil on canvas paintings - luminous paintings, many in silver and gold.

Not far from Brown’s exhibition, artist Frankie Alika greeted clients at his table covered with his oil on canvas paintings – luminous paintings, many in silver and gold.

OMCP / Dick Uliano

Not far from Brown's exhibition, artist Frankie Alika greeted clients at his table covered with his oil on canvas paintings - luminous paintings, many in silver and gold.

Not far from Brown’s exhibition, artist Frankie Alika greeted clients at his table covered with his oil on canvas paintings – luminous paintings, many in silver and gold.

OMCP / Dick Uliano

COVID-19 has made it difficult for some small businesses. In Montgomery County, Maryland, budding minority-owned businesses were boosted by government-sponsored get-togethers called Shop and Drop’s at community centers.

Gatherings give business people the opportunity to exchange ideas and the opportunity to sell their products, which they display.



At a Shop and Drop event on December 11, held at the Gaithersburg Recreation Center, Marcell Brown showed off his clothing brand Hope – activewear sporting Brown’s concepts and designs.

“There’s a lot of negativity out there right now, and I kind of wanted to bring inspiration and positivity…” said Marcell Brown, owner of Hope Clothing Brand. “… I feel like God put it in my heart and I’m going to keep doing what God tells me to do.

Not far from Brown’s exhibition, artist Frankie Alika greeted clients at his table covered with his oil on canvas paintings – luminous paintings, many in silver and gold.

“I took art classes at home… I’m from Nigeria, but I didn’t really pay attention, until COVID hit, and I was, like, okay, – I have to get back to the talent that I did, “said Alika. She hopes to grow her business and someday open a small gallery in Montgomery County.

Maisie Dunbar, from Germantown, owns Bluffajo cosmetics, available online at Bluffajo.com. The name comes from Liberia in West Africa where Dunbar said “Bluffajo” is a term of affection.

“It’s a term that designates a person who is always well dressed, sophisticated, confident. It doesn’t have to be a woman, it could be a man, just someone who embodies all the looks, ”Dunbar said.

State of Maryland De. Pam Queen of Montgomery County, a member of the Economics Committee, has brought minority businesses together at quarterly stores and chutes at community centers.

“After the pandemic a lot of them need a little push, so we’re trying to make sure we do that and let them know what resources are available to them,” Queen said.

Two Shop and Drops are planned for the spring, focusing on businesses run by women and Asians.

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