Rockville small business owner faces twin challenges of COVID, cancer

Kenia Garcia, owner of Nature by Trejo, shows her wares at the Wheaton Recreational Center. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

The pandemic has been hard on many of the D.C. region’s small businesses, but the owner of a Rockville, Maryland, gift shop has double the challenge because she’s been diagnosed with cancer.

“One thing happened … I got a cancer diagnosis in August, and I had to deal with the pandemic and also with the disease,” Kenia Garcia said. “But now I’m here, strong and I’ll keep going.”

Garcia is the owner of Nature by Trejok, a store featuring collectibles, exquisite handbags, shoes and home furnishings.

Garcia discovered her leukemia diagnosis after reopening her Rockville gift store, following a nine-month shutdown amid 2020 pandemic restrictions.

She relied on family members to tend the store while hospitalized, but refused to be idle during her illness.

“I was doing the social media from the hospital, now I feel better and the doctor says I will be good to work regular hours in January,” Garcia said.

Garcia named the gift shop in honor of her grandmother — who she recalls was a woman of fine taste.

“Trejok is the last name of my grandma. She was the person who inspires me,” said Garcia, recalling the elegant tables that her grandmother would set each day for afternoon tea. “And if you go to my store you’re going to see her spirit.”

The store offers personalized products, and the artfully-designed handbags are made in Italy.

Garcia said doctors told her she has a 90% chance of beating cancer with chemotherapy, which she is currently undergoing.

Despite the twin challenges of COVID and cancer, the Rockville small businesswoman maintains a positive outlook and offers holiday wishes.

“I hope everybody gets whatever they are looking for, but the main thing I want for the people is health and peace and a lot of hope for the future,” Garcia said.

Garcia displayed some of her products Saturday at the Wheaton Community Recreation Center during an event meant to lift minority-owned businesses, led by District 14 Delegate Pamela Queen of Montgomery County.

“We know that after the pandemic, a lot of them (small businesses) need a little jumpstart, so we’re trying to make sure we’re doing that,” said Queen, a member of the House Economic Matters Committee.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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