Get it Downtown - Frederick

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Frederick Faces: Whitney Bingham

Whitney Bingham dabbled in many different aspects of art and business before opening The Muse (19 N. Market Street) in 2003. Growing up, the natural artist spent time sewing and doing other crafts, and she eventually attended an art-focused high school to develop her skills. Whitney then received a degree in psychology with a minor in art from the University of Pittsburgh, leading to her post-graduation career in retail management and merchandising. Throughout her journey through the education system and working for various big-box retailers, Whitney continued creating her own pieces and furthered her love for art, giving her the inspiration and confidence to open her store in Downtown Frederick.

The Muse sells handmade American gifts to the unique Frederick crowd. Most of the pieces they carry are both functional and artistic so that “people can enjoy art in their daily lives and routines.” Whitney shared some of the creative pieces her artists have come up with, such as candle holders made of tractor metal and wallets made of vintage books, explaining, “Creative minds never run out of ideas.” 

Though Whitney loves being surrounded by art on a daily basis, the relationships she has developed with the artists through her business are what truly inspire her. ”I feel so happy and excited when I work with a new artist and their work takes off.  I have watched many of them grow and expand their businesses and it makes me feel really good,” she said. 

When Whitney isn’t scouting new artists or managing her store, you can find her creating her own art. “I have tried many different mediums and enjoy them all but stitching and sewing is where my heart is,” she divulges. Whitney’s talent and dedication are apparent, as she has been juried in two national quilt shows and the Delaplaine’s annual regional juried exhibit. Outside of her work and art, Whitney loves reading and spending time with her fiancé, Nick. 

When asked for something the average person may not know about her, Whitney revealed, “I am a ketchup and mustard connoisseur! Don't even think of serving me eggs unless you have a full bottle of ketchup on the table.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Frederick Faces: Jean Frank

Ever since she was a little girl, Jean Frank, Gift Gallery Manager at The Delaplaine Arts Center (40 S. Carroll Street), knew she wanted to be involved in art in as many ways as possible. The Maryland native began her career in the arts right after high school as a photographer. After working for 8 years and being featured in several exhibits, Jean decided to take up framing as well, which led to the opening of an art and framing shop in Mt. Airy, Maryland. Through her photography and framing career, Jean became well-acquainted with many local artists, who she continued to support when she began working at The Delaplaine Arts Center in 2000. 

The Delaplaine was established in 1986 as a non-profit dedicated to visual arts and has since developed into a social and tourist attraction in the City of Frederick.  In addition to its galleries, the Delaplaine has a gift shop that offers fine art and handcrafted gift items by local artists for visitors to purchase. “It’s a wonderful opportunity and a good exchange of support,” Jean says about their bimonthly Featured Artist gallery. 

Much like many other downtown merchants, Jean’s favorite thing about her job is the people and atmosphere associated with Frederick. With over 200 artists on display, the Delaplaine’s collection brings in both local art enthusiasts as well as tourists seeing what Frederick has to offer, and Jean enjoys meeting and connecting with people who share her and the artists’ passion. Jean also loves that she has the opportunity to work with art in Downtown Frederick. ”The downtown area is vibrant with so much to see and do. There is a good vibe, with good food, good people, and good art!”

Jean’s interest in art is apparent in her personal life in addition to her professional one. As a member of the Frederick County Art Association for the past 20 years and a frequent participant in the Barnstormers and the Box Show at The Artists Gallery, Jean has supported artistic growth and exposure in the area as well as worked on her own artistic creations. “I work in pastel, drawing on black paper is my favorite, but it is very messy. I also like working in acrylic when I get the time.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Frederick Faces: Neil Gager

Originally from South Africa, Neil Gager, owner of Exotic Lumber Inc. (329 E. 2nd Street), now takes pride in calling Downtown Frederick his home. Neil began his working career in the marketing department of a large plastics company in South Africa. Throughout his experience in the corporate environment with all of the “rules, politics, and meetings,” Neil dreamt of owning his own small company. Twelve years ago, Neil moved to the US with his wife and two young daughters to pursue this dream. 

Exotic Lumber Inc. imports and stocks over 100 species of exotic and domestic lumber to be used in various projects or sold to woodworking companies. Neil genuinely enjoys the nature of his business and the product he handles, stating “It is a very exciting and rewarding business – selling an organic, raw material that is eventually transformed into beautiful furniture or objects.” In addition to taking pleasure in providing his customers with high quality, unique wood, Neil loves the connections he makes through his business. In fact, he claims that the most interesting aspect of his business is “the incredible cross-section of customers that we deal with on a daily basis,” adding “without our customers we are nothing.” 

Neil first opened shop in Gaithersburg, MD, but fell in love with Frederick while searching for a warehouse location. “We discovered unique, interesting, creative, and friendly people, who welcomed and supported the idea of a lumberyard in their midst,” he says. “And the networking here is invaluable.”

Though running his own business and caring for his family are the priorities in Neil’s life, he still finds time to run and play golf. He is a member of the Frederick Steeplechasers’ Running Club, as well as participates in the Frederick Half Marathon and the Rescue Mission 1o Miler. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Frederick Faces: Meline Baron

Meline Baron, owner of VISIONS (16 N. Market Street), describes her position as business owner and optician as “the perfect career for [her].” However, it wasn’t a straight path getting to where she is today.

The Rochester, New York native started her working career as a saleswoman for XEROX, though she claims she “never wore a blue suit” during her days of selling printers and copiers. Her career as an optician began in 1996 when she met her current VISIONS partner and significant other, Phil Bromwell. 

Meline and Phil spent the first few years of their relationship managing a friend’s optical boutique in Baltimore. When the couple opened their Frederick shop in 1999, Meline was able to combine her lifelong interest in art and design with her career as an optician.  

“VISIONS is a combination of the best of function, fit, fashion, and fun,” Meline explains, though she admits, ”the frame fashions and artistic environment may be what catches peoples’ eye and brings them in the door at first, but it’s the time we take engaging our customers, and, most important, our expertise that keeps them coming back.”

Meline loves creating pieces of “living art” by helping people find the frames that best fit their face and optical needs. But, her true inspiration comes from “making happy faces,” which occur when her customers see themselves in a new way when they get their first pair of glasses. Meline shared a heartwarming story about dispensing a pair of progressive lenses to a customer from Kazakhstan during his annual visit to the US. She recalls, “When he put on the new glasses he was so happy to be able to see and read clearly that he wanted to read anything we had in the store, even though it meant struggling with the English!”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Frederick Faces: Misti Morningstar

Misti Morningstar’s interest in aromatherapy and soap began in her childhood. Growing up, she spent much of her time in her Carroll County home in her mother’s flower and herb garden, creating signature scents out of leaves and petals. As she grew older and began to travel, which became another one of her passions, Misti began collecting soaps from everywhere she visited, intrigued by their scents, ingredients, and packaging. 

Since then, Misti pursued her interests and opened Savage Soaps (10 E Church St), a natural bodycare boutique. In the store, shoppers can find a variety of products with natural benefits. Though soap is the primary product, Savage Soaps also carries lotion, body butter crème, shower gel, salt scrub, linen water, body/massage oil, and essential oil blends for yoga and meditation. 

“I have a passion for helping people feel great mind, body, and soul, through our products,” says Misti. “It’s one thing to smell a scent and to like it but when you combine that aspect with a package that they can also relate to and then have the soap serve their need, whether it’s anti-aging, dry, or other sensitive skin issues, overall mood enhancer… that was my goal.”

Misti’s inspiration for her business comes from a combination of art and health. She knew it was important to have products that not only help people feel their best, but also have relatable and artistic packaging. Her inspiration for creating trendy packaging came from artistic labels she saw on micro-brewery beers. “Funny, how it came full circle that we now create soaps from those types of beers,” she noted.

The City of Frederick has been special to Misti since her childhood as well. She came with her parents to shop and dine in the wonderful places Frederick has to offer. In addition to enjoying the vibrant and bustling downtown, Misti loves the fact that “business owners work together and we have created partnerships with some companies to make unique and beneficial products.”

Frederick Faces

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Frederick Faces: Kathy, Primitive Homespuns

“I was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and since then I have seized opportunities and have not been afraid to take risks,” says Kathy, owner of Primitive Homespuns (  N East St), “that’s why I opened a business.”  Kathy, who has run Primitive Homespuns for 12 years, opened her first storefront on Shab Row in October.

At Primitive Homespuns, it is truly a family affair. “I make a majority of my products, and we are a three generation business,” notes Kathy.  Kathy makes folk art, her daughter makes scarves woven items, and her father makes furniture by hand.

For Kathy and Primitive Homespuns, the sense of family and community extends outside of their front door. “[Downtown Frederick is] a great community,” says Kathy, who also notes that Shab Row is hosting a garden walk to support each of the businesses in the neighborhood.

Aside from the great sense of community, Kathy enjoys the “unique-ness” of Downtown Frederick. “I love the history of our downtown and all of the unique shops.  You can’t go to another city and find so many gems in one general area.” 

Frederick Faces

Friday, March 28, 2014

Frederick Faces: Catie & Carlo Serio

Photo by Natural Artistry

Pretzel and Pizza Creations (210 N Market St), a 23-year-old Downtown Frederick staple, puts true meaning to the term “family business.”   Catie and Carlo Serio are the husband-wife team behind Pretzel and Pizza Creations and together, they work to support the local economy through small business ownership. 
Catie’s parents opened Pretzel and Pizza Creations in 1991. “My parents saw a great opportunity in Downtown Frederick,” says Catie, who took on the business with Carlo after moving back to Frederick from New York. Catie and Carlo met at Syracuse University and moved to Manhattan shortly thereafter.  Carlo notes, “it’s nice to be in an urban environment within a small town.  We get to keep a little bit of the Manhattan vibe we left behind.”
For Catie, the creations don’t stop with pretzel and pizza- “I frequently bring my work home with me and I'll make these big, elaborate meals for my family and friends—themed of course!” Catie’s experimentations have led to the addition of several regular menu items, including Matzoh Ball Soup and Hummus Salad.
Both Catie and Carlo have interests in photography; Carlo considers nature and wildlife photography a passion, while Catie admits “I take an embarrassing amount of pictures of my cats.” 
When asked what is most inspiring or enjoyable about running Pretzel and Pizza, Carlo says, “I love that our customers talk with us and tell us about their day or their kids or what’s going on in their neighborhoods.” He adds, “I’m inspired by the feedback I get […] people are always taking selfies with our pizza!”

Video by Archai Media