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Original photo by Jennifer Gable

Pandemic Passion Project Turned Woman Owned Small Business

The NextNOWFest is an annual festival at the University of Maryland, taking place at The Clarice Performing Arts Center. The event showcases student and local music artists, art workshops, performances, and comedy shows. The festival also features local vendors. This year, The Lucky Penny Bar made its debut. 

The Lucky Penny Bar is a women-owned vintage mobile bar in the D.C Metro area. The portable bar serves specialty cocktail drinks for both alcoholic and nonalcoholic events. Selena Malott and Kristen Dill run this successful small business.

“This was my COVID project, a passion project. I am a graphic designer and photographer; I had my own business for 22 years, it came to a grinding halt,” stated Malott. “So I applied for some grants for women in Montgomery county that own small businesses, and I got grants.”   

Malott and Dill joined forces in 2020 after the onset of the pandemic. They became known as the “Trohv Travelers” and opened two vintage-styled affiliated businesses, The Lil’ Tin Cam and The Lucky Penny Bar. Both businesses are portable and feature props from the 1950s and 60s.

When starting their business, Malott and Dill purchased and restored a 1968 Dupage camper. 

The camper is now home to the Lil’Tin Cam and is hired for private parties and events throughout the DC metro area.  

After renovating the camper, Malott and Dill began curating their next idea. The two purchased a two-horse “farrier” trailer adding walnut bar tops, vintage lights, and mid-century barware. This once-horse trailer is now home to The Lucky Penny Bar. 

The bar is pulled by a vintage 1966 Ford F250 truck, allowing easy mobility. The vintage truck also makes for a unique photo opportunity for guests. 

The idea behind these portable businesses was to cater to the “new normal” post-COVID by bringing people together outside safely and efficiently.

“We have this whole vibe; we bring the party to you. We bring tables, chairs, fire pits in the fall, like everything; it’s all for private events”, said Malott.  

Guests of NextNOWFest were impressed when informed that The Lucky Penny is a women-owned and operated start-up. 

“I’m personally on the lookout for like, women, and yeah, you know, non-male-owned businesses and organizations within the greater D.C area to support,” stated event worker Gab Franks.  

When asked about advice for young women pursuing opening their own business, Malott said, “Certainly don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do something, especially if you are a woman.” 

Jennifer Gable is a junior Journalism major with a Law and Society minor at the University of Maryland, College Park. She serves as Assistant social media manager for HC UMD. Jenny is also a staff writer for the publication. Writing, politics, photography, and mental health activism are her passions.
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