ST. MICHAELS — The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels will begin its annual winter speaker series on Wednesday, Jan. 26, and continue on select Wednesdays through March 16. Some sessions will be presented virtually, while others will be held in CBMM’s Van Lennep Auditorium. Advance registration is required; virtual and in-person ticket packages are available.
For generations, enterprising businesspeople have found opportunity and inspiration on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. This year’s winter speaker series, titled “Building Business,” will blend the perspectives of CEOs, industry leaders, and historical scholars for a varied look at businesses that are uniquely Chesapeake.
The speaker series begins at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 26, with a virtual session titled “Route One: Styling Maryland Pride through Apparel.” Founded in a University of Maryland dorm room in 2010, Route One Apparel has built a brand that reflects regional identity through iconic, trendy design. Founder and CEO Ali Von Paris will share her journey as an entrepreneur, taking inspiration from the local community for both product lines and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
“Chesapeake Light Craft and the Business of Building Boats” is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2, in CBMM’s Van Lennep Auditorium. Since 1991, Chesapeake Light Craft has manufactured and shipped more than 40,000 kits, helping thousands of boatbuilders assemble everything from dinghies to kayaks to teardrop campers. Owner and managing director John C. Harris traces his path from building boats in his parents’ garage to leading the largest build-your-own-boat-kit business in the world. He will talk about how he designs wooden boats accessible to amateur builders, and the contortions required to write assembly manuals for rank beginners — always difficult, sometimes futile and often hilarious.
At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9, CBMM will present “A Chicken in Every Pot: The Rise of Delmarva’s Poultry Production” via Zoom. Long, low chicken houses punctuate the landscape of rural communities across the Eastern Shore, producing more than 4 billion pounds of chicken annually. In this session, Roger Horowitz, director of the Center for the History of Business, Technology and Society at the Hagley Museum and Library, will explore the rise of Delmarva’s poultry industry, as well as the environmental, social and economic impacts of this substantial agricultural production.
The seafood industry has grown rapidly over the past few decades, while natural seafood resources have slowly decreased. In “Oyster Aquaculture: Past, Present and Hopes for the Future,” at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 16, in CBMM’s Van Lennep Auditorium, Imani Black, Founder of Minorities in Aquaculture, will explore the opportunities presented by aquaculture, farming seafood like oysters in a sustainable way.
“Burn: Finding the American Dream in the Chesapeake,” will be held at virtually 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2. Drawing inspiration from the environment, entrepreneur and international businesswoman Mei Xu built Chesapeake Bay Candle into a multi-million-dollar brand that filled the home decor shelves at Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and eventually Target. In this session, Xu will reflect on how her embrace of design-driven entrepreneurship and thoughtful manufacturing powered her growth and prosperity in a truly international company.
An additional virtual session, “Port of Baltimore: The Wealth in our Water” is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9. The Chesapeake Bay plays a critical role in national and international maritime commerce. The Port of Baltimore is closer to the Midwest than any other East Coast port and within an overnight drive of one-third of the nation’s population. In this session, Dominic Scurti, deputy director of planning, will share the Maryland Port Administration’s role in developing regional trade, examining the Port of Baltimore’s history and current happenings, as well as the Port’s preparations for the future.
The final offering in the series — “Crab Industry Catalysts: Coulbourne and Jewett Seafood Packing Company” — will be held in CBMM’s Van Lennep Auditorium at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16. Once the largest employer in St. Michaels, the Coulbourne and Jewett Seafood Packing Company was a pioneer in the crab packing industry in the early 1900s. CBMM’s Chief Curator Pete Lesher will explore the successes, challenges and legacy of this Black-owned business, which operated on Navy Point until the 1960s.
The cost per session is $7.50 per person, or $6 for CBMM members, who are offered a 20% discount on all programming. Register online for the in-person and/or virtual program packages for an additional discount. To sign up, or for more information, visit bit.ly/CBMMSpeakerSeries.