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Amanda Ellis

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We got the buzz on a local skincare and cosmetic company making plant-based, paraben-free products that help the declining pollinator population in the area.

Emily Hoskins, creator and owner of Green Bee Ohio, is a Cincinnati-based stay-at-home mom who saw an opportunity for a local and ethical skincare and cosmetic company. 

Hoskins was working towards her Master’s degree when she learned about the migration of the Monarch butterfly. “The story of these amazing insects inspired me to plant a pollinator garden,” says Hoskins. Since then, she adds, she has raised hundreds of Monarch butterflies in her garden in the last five years.

Before college, she had worked as a makeup artist and fell in love with helping women to feel comfortable and confident. To combine her background in makeup artistry and her passion for the preservation of pollinators, Hoskins created Green Bee Ohio. 

The company may be small, but the waves they are making are monumental, Hoskins says. In fact, Green Bee works to raise awareness of pollinator decline to the community by donating 10% of all sales to help preserve and protect pollinators such as honeybees and butterflies. 

Green Bee’s product line includes a facial cleanser, a facial moisturizer, two different skin serums, a facial mask, several shades of eye crayons, lip liners, brow pencils, and concealers. 

“Our hyaluronic acid serum is one that I am most proud of for being plant-based. Hyaluronic acid is a very popular skincare ingredient, but what many might not know is that is that in most commercial grade cosmetics, it is derived from cock’s combs, the red ‘hood’ on a rooster,” Hoskins explains. “The [hyaluronic acid] in Green Bee’s serum is a wheat enzyme, blended with organic coconut and jojoba oils.”

All of Green Bee’s products are produced and sourced in the U.S. This is important because many so-called “cruelty-free” cosmetic companies also sell their products in China where the government requires testing on animals by law. “I’m showing people that every day they have a choice to purchase an item from a big company that tests its overseas products on animals, or an item that was created by a local businesswoman using your dollar to support conservation and education efforts,” Hoskins says.

In approximately a month, Green Bee will be launching a brand new hemp-derived muscle rub and facial serum, aptly named Green Bee CBD. Make sure to keep up with the company on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to snag the new products, or head over to their website to shop their current line and read the conservation blog at https://greenbeeohio.com

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Learn about the Cincinnati-based sister duo behind a this unique mobile salon concept.

One year ago, local sisters Meredith McCullough and Mallory Brackett decided to pursue their passion for hairstyling by creating their very own bridal hair business, M&M Hair Design. As you might have guessed, the “M&M” stands for “Mallory and Meredith”.

“My sister and I are 15 months apart. We both graduated from Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School back in 2007 and 2008. After working in a few salons, I landed a corporate job and kept advancing and my sister got married and had three children. A decade later, we got creative and wanted to be happy and fulfill our passion [for] helping others feel good,” declares McCullough, co-owner and stylist. 

Their vision led them to creating M&M Hair Design, an onsite wedding hair service boutique. Their services are mobile, meaning they will come to any venue or location in the Cincinnati, Dayton, or Columbus areas. 

M&M Hair Design offers hairstyling for brides, bridesmaids, mothers/mothers-in-law, and flower girls for the big day. They also offer styling for bachelorette parties as well as “Pin and Primp Princess Parties” for young girls that include hairstyling, craft-making, and goodie bags. They do offer trial styling services for brides and wedding parties to ensure everything is perfect before walking down the aisle. 

“[M&M Hair Design] is a company that my sister and I built together so every wedding we do, we have so much passion and fulfillment in making the bride and her wedding party happy and beautiful,” says McCullough. 

McCullough is also a real estate agent, and after building strong relationships with her clients, is often asked to help newlyweds find their first home together. “It is the most rewarding and blessed feeling in the world to me,” she says. 

McCullough and Brackett have managed to find their niche and work seamlessly together. Many might think that running a business with your sister would cause friction, but not for these two. According to McCullough, “our rapport is one of a kind. We listen to our clients and build more of a relationship [rather] than just a service. We are honest and do quality work. Plus, we are two of the coolest stylist sisters out there!”  

To inquire about M&M Hair Design’s styling services or see examples of their work, check out their Facebook page.

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Learn about a local organization with a mission to provide good oral health to all, especially those in poverty in the Greater Cincinnati area.

The CincySmiles Foundation offers dental care to low income residents in Greater Cincinnati.

Proper oral hygiene is key to good overall health. Unfortunately, it can be quite costly. Between regular dentist visits, cavity fillings, dentures, and many other procedures, a great amount of Cincinnati residents cannot afford to keep up with their oral hygiene.

This is where CincySmiles Foundation comes in. CincySmiles was founded in 1909 to provide dental care to low-income or impoverished residents of the Greater Cincinnati area. Today, they serve over 13,000 members of the community each year.

CincySmiles operates an array of oral health care programs such as the Dental Road Crew, the Discounted Dental Services Program, the Maternal/Early Childhood Oral Health Program, the Workforce Development Program, as well as their very own denture laboratory and dental center. 

“For the majority of the patients we serve, we are their only option for oral health care,” declares CincySmiles President and CEO, Sonya Dreves. “They are uninsured, underinsured, homeless, veterans, the elderly, physically, mentally, and developmentally challenged. They are children, adults, and entire families who rely on us to provide them with preventative and restorative dental treatment services and dentures they need to live in good oral and overall health without the pain and embarrassment of decaying or missing teeth.”

In 2002, CincySmiles was awarded the Impact100 Grant, which allowed them to purchase equipment for their dental center when it was located previously in Over-The-Rhine. More recently, the foundation has been named as one of six finalists by Impact100 for their Denture Manufacturing Laboratory, which will make them the first non-profit oral health care program to manufacture affordable dentures for low-income patients. “The winners have not been announced yet, but this is an exciting time for us and we are hopeful for a positive outcome,” says Dreyes.

The foundation has also recently made a big move into their new facility on the West Side of Cincinnati. According to Dreyes, “the goal was to combine our administrative offices with our dental center and when the opportunity and space became available, we took advantage of it.” 

With only five operating rooms in two separate buildings previously, their new location has 10 dental operating rooms within 4,000 square feet. 

If you are interested in giving back to the community through CincySmiles, they offer volunteer opportunities across every area of their organization. Some ways to help out, Dreyes says, are to help assemble dental kits or simply donate items to put into the dental kits (toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, mouthwash, etc.). There are also opportunities available in the administrative, technical, and committee departments. 

To learn more about the programs and volunteer positions that CincySmiles offers, go to www.cincysmiles.org

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All the way from California, Peaches Skincare brings a cure-all facial for all skin types at their new location in Montgomery.

Peaches Skin Care is a California-based skincare company that opened a new location in Montgomery.

From cystic acne and acne scars, dryness to oiliness, or fine lines to wrinkles, could there really be one fix-all facial? Lisa and Kent Pfeiffer, owners of Peaches Skincare, say they’ve created just that. 

In fact, they say it’s the secret to success that’s led to multiple locations across the country. With their first locations being in Santa Barbara, CA and Long Beach, CA, Peaches Skincare was created to give Midwestern clients a luxe but laid-back skincare experience. In July 2012, the Pfeiffers brought their California-like skincare to Cincinnati by opening their next location in the heart of Old Montgomery. 

“We liken ourselves to a luxury hotel, say, for example a Four Seasons or a Ritz Carlton; no matter which location you set foot into, you know that your experience will be phenomenal,” says Director of Operations, John Brinkley. “This is what we aim to achieve in our salons: a consistently superb and friendly experience. From the moment our clients walk through our vibrant pink door to the moment they leave, we attend to each detail of their experience with extreme care.” 

To go along with the consistency of the experience, the treatment offered is the main aspect that customers, and their skin, rely on. Brinkley says Peaches Skincare has a simple philosophy: only using wholesome and natural products and no invasive procedures, their treatment eliminates confusion by consisting of one facial that can effectively combat all skin conditions. 

This simplicity keeps loyal clients coming back, Brinkley says, and now those in Cincinnati can experience their favorite facial in a new location as they recently moved to a larger space in Montgomery. 

“Our new location offers all of the same natural skincare services and products that we are known for around the area, but adds four more treatment rooms in a bright and more conveniently located space,” Brinkley says. 

Now at 7840 Cooper Road in Old Montgomery, a block and a half away from the previous location, Brinkley says the new space offers updated amenities, more treatment space, more parking, and an improved waiting area. 

To learn more, visit https://peachesskincare.com

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Meet the nurse-turned-aesthetician transforming faces through age-reversing dermatological procedures.

Jennifer Bleser, owner of Skin Esteem LLC in Fort Thomas, KY is not only an aesthetician and entrepreneur, but she also holds the titles of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). 

Bleser worked as a Registered Nurse for nearly 20 years before becoming a consultant for Rodan and Fields skin products, wherein she discovered her passion for aesthetic dermatological procedures. In September of 2018, she opened Skin Esteem LLC. 

With all of her certifications, Bleser says she knows what her clients want and how to give them the best results. With one clinician at Skin Esteem LLC, Bleser says she “offers a tailored plan for each patient’s individual needs without the concern of getting a different provider each visit,” she explains. “The patient/provider relationship is very important to us here at Skin Esteem.”

This personal one-on-one experience keeps clients loyal to the company and to Bleser. “Follow up is key to having your patients satisfied and returning. Most aesthetic businesses collect their money and send the patient on their way, not knowing if the patient is completely satisfied,” Bleser says. For this reason, Skin Esteem always schedules follow-up consultations/phone calls to ensure patients are happy with the results of their procedure. 

By going out of the way to ensure patients are getting exactly what they want, Bleser says she has built many strong relationships. “By far the most rewarding part of owning Skin Esteem and being the practitioner there is my patients light up when they see their results! I’ve cried with my patients, laughed with them, and even provided somewhat of therapy sessions [for] them,” she explains. 

Personal relationships with your aesthetician, no crowded waiting room, and follow-ups to ensure your satisfaction are just some of the benefits of seeking out Skin Esteem’s services. 

Skin Esteem offers a variety of procedures meant to transform the face and reverse the signs of aging. Some of these procedures include Botoxâ/XeominâJuvedermâBeloteroâRadiesseâKybellaâ, and Sclerotherapy. 

Bleser says that she plans to expand Skin Esteem’s services in the future to include hormone replacement, wholistic pain therapy, and weight loss procedures. 

If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment or consultation with Bleser, you can do so on Skin Esteem’s website or call (859-957-5916). 

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Learn about a microblading, waxing and lash extension expert who recently opened her own studio in Milford.

Minx Studio offers eyebrow microblading, eyelash extensions, and other services on Cincinnati’s East Side.

Megan Raabe was spending her days performing treatments at a local waxing center when she noticed a pattern of clients asking how to fill in their eyebrows after she waxed them. Many had been over-tweezing or over-waxing them, and were left with very sparse hairs. In 2016, Raabe discovered an up-and-coming treatment called microblading and she knew she had found the answer for her clients. 

Microblading has been all the rage in the past few years. Simply put, it’s a process of tattooing semi-permanent hair-like dashes within the eyebrow. It appears similar to what an eyebrow pencil would do, which is just drawing on fake hairs to fill in the brow, except it lasts one to three years depending on skin type.

After discovering this new treatment, Raabe went and immediately got certified to perform microblading. Shortly after, she got certified to do lash extensions as well and ended up opening her salon, Minx Studio, in April of 2017 in Milford. 

“I was the first person to offer both services on the East Side [of Cincinnati],” Raabe proudly declares. “Being able to offer lash extensions and permanent makeup in an unsaturated market sets me apart from everyone else.”

So why get microblading? “There are a multitude of eyebrow creams, powders, and pencils on the market, but it takes an expert to apply them in a way that looks natural. Also, just like other makeup, these can fade throughout the day and require touchups,” says Raabe. 

Although the process is similar to that of a tattoo, requiring ink to be deposited into the skin by needle, it’s far less painful. At Minx Studio, they apply a numbing cream to the area so clients only feel slight discomfort. 

Aside from microblading, Raabe also offers eyelash extensions, eyebrow and eyelash tinting, eyelash lifts, permanent nanoeyeliner, facial waxing, and makeup application.

“My favorite part about what I do is being able to make people feel better about the way they look. The eyes are the window to the soul – and I believe some lashes and fresh brows can make the biggest difference in someone’s face,” she states. 

Minx Studio is located at 137 Main St in Milford. To learn more, visit www.minxstudiocincy.com

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A new Dayton-based company makes hand-made, organic body care products that are not only good for you, but also good for the environment.

Baba Love Organics offers skin care products that are good for you and the environment.

If you’ve ever looked at the back of the bottle of one of your favorite lotions or skincare products, you’ll probably find several unfamiliar, and difficult to pronounce chemical names. While those chemicals might perform a job well, they might be good for you or too harsh for sensitive skin.

In February of 2018, Dayton native Vaniti Byrd launched her very own skin and body care line, Baba Love Organics, so that consumers could find natural products that perform well, but are free from any harsh unfamiliar chemicals. 

The company’s official launch included only four products but now has a range of 27 different face and body care items.

The mission of Baba Love Organics is to support total well-being, inside and out. “What we use on the largest organ of our body is ultimately going into our body,” Byrd says. “If we are placing toxins on our skin, we are placing toxins in our body.” 

The entire idea behind the brand was to create skincare formulas that are free from toxins, made with organic and raw ingredients, cruelty-free, and ethically packaged. 

One of the ways Baba Love Organics has made an effort to stay true to their vision of sustainability is by hosting “Bring Your Old Bottle” events where fans and customers can come by to give old packaging a new life by refilling them with organic body butters and oils. These events also bring the community together and provide a way for Byrd and her team to get feedback from the customers in real life. 

Another popular event the company holds is their “Masks and MUMosas” beauty brunch. They feature a DIY mask bar, bottomless mimosas, vegan brunch foods, and one-on-one facial consultations with Byrd herself. 

As an Etsy-based shop with no brick-and-mortar location, it’s extraordinary that loyal customers get to have experiences like this. “The experience keeps customers excited about using plant-based beauty care products,” says Byrd. 

With products ranging from tooth polish to “bath tea”, Baba Love Organics offers a variety of products for those looking for a natural approach to self-care. 

To visit the Baba Love Organics online shop, visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/babaloveorganics/. To follow along on the company’s Facebook page, click here.

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After years in the beauty industry, one local lady decided to venture out on her own. Read on to learn more.

Toolbox Studio Salon offers a variety of hair and beauty services in its O’Bryonville-based location.

After working more than 22 years in other salons, Heather Cooper turned her dream into a reality when she opened Toolbox Studio Salon.  

“I owed it to myself to see if I could do it,” says Cooper, of her O’Bryonville-based salon that’s now been open for four years. She was ready to be independent and create her own space where she had creative liberty, Cooper adds.

“Most people start out as a client, change over to a friend, and eventually become family,” Cooper says. With just herself and four independent co-workers, it’s a tight knit community of beauty gurus, she explains.

Cooper says customers and clients of Toolbox Studio can find unmatched hospitality in the salon. “I want to always put myself in their shoes,” Cooper adds. “If I forget what it’s like to be a client, I will stop relating to the needs of others.” 

Cooper says making the salon unique is a labor of love, but it comes naturally. “I have pieced this place together over the years with antique and vintage finds, modern touches, and a bit of country,” she explains. “It’s bright and welcoming and everyone feels it.”

It’s the people, though, who make it truly unique, Cooper says. “[We] make you feel at ease and provide you with the knowledge needed to make the best choices in your salon services.” In an industry with a lot of competition, Cooper adds, Toolbox Studio stands out by going above and beyond in customer service, as well as providing fair prices and a salon menu with variety. 

The Toolbox Studio menu of services includes: hair services, manicures and pedicures, waxing, facials, dermaplaning, permanent cosmetic makeup and microblading, eyelash extensions, and bridal makeup and styling. 

Toolbox Studio is located at 2037 Madison Rd. To learn more, visit www.toolboxstudiosalon.com.

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Transport yourself to the Cote D’Azur one lather at a time with these locally-made small batch luxury soaps. 

South of France has become a nationally-known soap brand.

South of France Natural Body Care defines its mission as “small batches, big hearts.” Founded in 1999 by two local sisters, Molly and Katherine Oliver, the brand has grown into what is now one of the highest sellers of all-natural bar and liquid soaps nationally. 

The original formula for South of France soap was developed by a French expatriate living in the United States. The soap was manufactured in France using the traditional Marseille “triple milled” recipe. Triple milled means that the soap is milled three times in order to guarantee the bar is long-lasting and dissolves slower. 

Today, the soap is produced in the United States, with the company is based in Erlanger, Kentucky, but still uses the traditional French recipe. 

Molly and Katherine, both mothers, value the use of natural ingredients in their products. Each one of their bar soaps are Non-GMO Project Verified, assuring that they’ve been produced according to consensus-based practices for GMO avoidance. Both the bar soaps and hand washes have also been certified gluten-free by the National Celiac Association. 

Continuing their consumer-friendly certifications, all of South of France’s products are cruelty-free, according to the Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ Leaping Bunny Program. This means that no animal testing is conducted by the company or any of its suppliers or producers. Another bonus: all of South of France’s packaging is recyclable.

The brand remains as transparent as possible for its consumers by including an “ingredients glossary” on their website that gives a breakdown of every ingredient used in their products and what its purpose is. 

Molly and Katherine drew upon their love of the Provence region of France for inspiration. They have filled their products with “scents that evoke happy memories of times spent wandering through small towns, picnic-ing in the countryside and playing with our children on the beaches along the Mediterranean sea,” say the CEOs. 

With different scents in categories such as citrus, floral, and indulgent, there’s truly a product for any preference one may have. 

According to the sisters, “Our family and its employees stand behind the quality of our products and believe in our traditions. We find joy in sharing the love of great soaps with you and yours.”

You can find South of France Natural Body Care products at a local Fresh Thyme Farmers Market (in Montgomery and Newport) or on southoffrancebodycare.com.

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