Food For Thought

Small-business owners start group to share expertise and ideas.

By Jess Blumberg Mayhugh - June 2014

Local small-business owners start A’La Carte to foster collaboration

Small-business owners start group to share expertise and ideas.

By Jess Blumberg Mayhugh - June 2014

-Photography by Sean Schiedt

About a year ago, Baltimore Coffee & Tea's regional retail director Mary Romeo attended a social media one-day course. She realized the industry was rapidly evolving.

“Social media was changing daily, and I wondered how I could keep up," she says. “I decided that, if I was overwhelmed, other small businesses had to be also."

So, last June, she formed A'La Carte, a group that consists of 22 local business owners who meet monthly to discuss social media and the general challenges faced when running a small business. The group includes marketing companies but also has an obvious food slant, with members like Charm City Cook, Mouth Party Caramels, Popsations, Mallow Munchies, Michele's Granola, The Charmery, and The Arthouse Pizza Bar.

“We kind of live in a vacuum sometimes, and this is such a nice way to bounce ideas off of each other," Romeo says. “Plus, each of us can bring a certain expertise to the table."

One month Katherine Kozelski from Pixie Social gave a tutorial on Facebook and, another month, Charm City Cook's Amy Langrehr, pictured, right, with Romeo and Joan Dolina, left, owner of Arthouse, shared tips about Instagram. The group brainstorms about business challenges and their klatches have produced many tangible results.

“When I was baking brownies for The Emporiyum, I needed a commercial space, so BG [Purcell] from Mouth Party lent me her kitchen," Langrehr says. “It's crazy because I am where she was seven years ago. Running a small business is a scary thing, so it's nice to have people tell you it will all be okay."

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