Najma Jamaludeen dreamed of opening her own shop with made to order natural body care products and space that would reflect her brand—affordable, but elegant and ideally a space with an ornate ceiling. Najma opened Pink Walnut Body Care Bistro as the world was shutting down for COVID 19, but the pandemic didn’t deter her. Najma used the slower paced start of her business to get a website up and running and renovate the store.
Najma’s retail space became a virtual classroom where she could teach her Morgan State students about merchandising, consumer education and textiles. Najma joked that she moonlights as a college professor, utilizing her Master’s of Science in Apparel and Textile Science degree.
“I’m a business person at heart and I like to teach what I like to talk about,” Najma said, “I think it adds value to teach from the store and seeing it in action gives students a better real-life view.”
Najma started her retail space hunt in the Fells Point area, but was discouraged by the high rent price. On her way home she drove by a vacant store front in the Historic Dundalk Town Center and saw it was for rent. On her walk through of the space, Najma inspected every inch and found the gorgeous ornate ceiling hidden behind the old barbershop’s drop ceiling. “The universe conspired to have me open in Dundalk,” Najma said.
Najma quickly became active in the Historic Dundalk Town Center’s Second Saturdays and willing to do whatever it took to help her shop and other HDTC shops flourish, despite the uncertainty of COVID 19.
“Najma has been an amazing addition the HDTC. It’s wonderful when a business owner is invested in more than the businesses of making money. Najma is invested in building a community,” Nick Staigerwald, Business Development Manager said. “I think Dundalk is a place where people form strong bonds. Najma is an amazing example of that spirit. Dundalk has a bright future because of people like Najma.”