Maryland Economy / Maryland Small Business
Pride Month: Meet a few Maryland LGBTQIA+ owned businesses
By Samantha Foley /
June 16, 2021
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The month of June marks the official start of summer, but for many it also kicks off Pride Month, a month-long celebration dedicated to uplifting and honoring the LGBTQIA+ community. A great way to celebrate Pride Month is by supporting Maryland’s LGBTQIA+ owned businesses!

In recognition of Pride Month, Maryland is placing the spotlight on unique and inclusive businesses within its LGTBQIA+ community. From cupcakes, to doughnuts, clothing, knick-knacks, real estate, and everything in between, these businesses all have one thing in common: overcoming adversity while heading toward inclusivity.

Check out our list of just a few LGBTQIA+ owned businesses in Maryland:

More than just a label

EC Pops has become a household name in Maryland, with three locations in Old Ellicott City, Cockeysville, and Fells Point, the brand truly has something for everyone. Owners Lance Sovine and Doug Yeakey are not strangers to rebuilding after setbacks. The couple moved to Maryland with dreams of opening a business, and this led to the original EC Pops location, a popcorn shop located in Old Ellicott City.

When the Ellicott City area was devastated by flooding, the duo was forced to reconvene. Struck by loss and devastation, Lance and Doug made a plan to rebuild with the Ellicott City and Howard County communities in mind. Through support and merchandise donations from other Maryland businesses like Route One Apparel and Maryland My Maryland, the couple was able to rebuild and expand, opening up new locations in Baltimore County and Baltimore City. This community support and partnership has continued throughout the COVID19 pandemic, building the brand into what it is today.

Doug and Lance perpetuate the idea that their brand is “more than just a label” and provide LGBTQIA+ centered education, good fun, awesome treats, and a welcoming environment to everyone who enters their stores. All are welcome!

Home sweet home

Brenda and Jane Hulle of the Noble Team with Exit Landmark Realty are focused on helping their clients build their own wealth. During a time when buying or selling real estate has become a booming and competitive part of Maryland’s economy, the couple is an expert team of agents here to make the process easier.

The Noble Team mission is pointed at building relationships with amazing clients, making a difference in their community, and empowering others through homeownership. They believe that “A Home Changes Everything” and anyone is capable of being a homeowner, no matter their background. The team offers their services and knowledge throughout Maryland including Southern Maryland, and the Washington, D.C./Baltimore Metro regions. Brenda and Jane promote that Maryland has a diverse set of real estate opportunities, no matter what the customer may be seeking, and is the perfect place to buy a home or property.

Catch some shade

With summer in full swing, finding the perfect summer accessories is an absolute must. Check out Shades of the Bay, located in the heart of Annapolis–this business is the place to find all of your gear for the perfect beach day or sitting by the Chesapeake Bay! Linda Mann and her sales team aim to make customer service their number one priority. The team puts customer needs above everything else, making sure every purchase is handled in a personalized manner and every customer leaves with a smile.

The shop offers a large selection of sunglasses, hats, flip flops, goggles, and sport-specific gear ideal for taking on Maryland’s spring or summer weather. Linda has a driven entrepreneurial spirit and has strived through adversity to create a successful and community minded business. Her spunky personality is contagious, spreading her influence to her staff, who love to interact with customers and hold regular fun-focused events to engage customers or window shoppers. Shades of the Bay provides an open environment where Linda and her employees love what they do, join in the fun!

Giving back

Jay Rosenthal of Montgomery County has two main passions in life: culinary arts and giving back to his community. This led to a fusion of the two ideas, creating Cupcakes with Purpose, a bakery business with a very unique company model. Jay donates 15 percent of all proceeds from his sales to non-profits organizations; customers can choose from a selection of baked goods and donate a percentage of their purchase to a non-profit of their choice.

Jay has created partnerships with 501(c)3 non-profit organizations such as The Lupus Foundation of America, The National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI), and the Special Olympics. His list of donation opportunities keeps on growing and he is always looking for more partnerships. As his partnership program continues to expand, so does the menu. In addition to dozens of uniquely flavored cupcakes, Jay has also expanded to cheesecakes, pound cakes, cookies, and the menu keeps on growing. Top selling cupcake flavors are coconut, lavender, mint with chocolate cake, lemon with lavender, and of course, chocolate on chocolate! Jay’s motto is: “Life is a gift, you just have to learn to unwrap it.” Be sure to unwrap one of his sweet treats with an even sweeter way to give back.

“We make ‘em like they used to!”

Nestled in Frederick County, Alissa and Keirsten Straiter have perfected the recipe and
atmosphere of a classic diner for the modern food lover, with a vegan twist! The couple first opened Glory Doughnuts in 2013 out of a home kitchen with the mission of bringing a thoughtful, classic and nostalgic menu to the area, while sharing their own homemade plant-based meals for everyone to enjoy.

Glory Doughnuts quickly expanded over the years and has remained focused on their mission of environmental sustainability, promoting animal welfare and locally-sourced products. The business has become a local hot-spot in the Frederick area and is known for its classically styled vegan doughnuts and comfort food. The shop feels that visibility in the community has been a key part to its success and helps to encourage this acceptance through holding local LGBTQIA+ fundraisers or events.

The Straiters are grateful for their employees and their customer base. They are inspired by the ongoing level of creativity, support, love and dedication that is put into their doughnuts, food, and service each day. Pop on over to the store in Downtown Frederick to grab a doughnut!

 

Activism, equality, diversity, and acceptance

Elizabeth Harring, LCSW-C and her team of therapists over at Chesapeake Behavioral Health in Baltimore City specialize in providing trauma certified mental health and therapy services throughout Maryland. The Chesapeake Behavioral Health team are allies to, or members of, the LGBTQIA+ community and are passionately committed to providing affirmative therapy services to children, families, individuals, and couples.

Elizabeth and the therapists at Chesapeake Behavioral Health are driven by helping people feel better, feel heard, feel accepted, and feel at peace. The group aims to make their customers feel supported by giving them appropriate and personalized care. Elizabeth was motivated to open this practice by the limited mental health resources available for LGBTQIA+ children, individuals, couples and communities. The team has made it their goal to provide affirmative care through an experienced network of licensed therapists and social workers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has shifted to online services, making appointments and services more accessible for all Marylanders.


As the state plunges into the rest of the summer months, it's important to keep in mind the impact these businesses not only have on the state’s economy, but its communities as well. These businesses are at the forefront of inclusivity and diversity in the Maryland business community, showing that lending support during Pride Month and every other month is an important part of continuing to lead Maryland into the future.

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