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See how this Cincinnati-based fashion designer is making her mark around the world one handmade piece of art at a time.

For a little over a decade, Tara L. Smith has been crafting unique jewelry creationsTara received her B.S. in Art Education with an academic minor in Art History from Miami University in 2009. While her full-time job is an art teacher at a local Cincinnati high school, her passion for fashion shines bright through her one-of-a-kind Etsy shop. 

“I love the fact I am able to still be an artist and make some extra income by selling my work while working full time as an art teacher also,” says Smith on her Etsy page.

The pieces initially started selling through various pop-up shops, and then launching an Etsy Shop was the next step to build the business Smith and her team quickly found that e-commerce dramatically increased exposure and clienteleTo date, Smith’s pieces have been shipped to more than seven countries, including Dubai, United Kingdom, Germany and even Japan. 

“All of the pieces have so many layers. They have a simplistic look, but each piece has personality and bursts with color and boldness. The pieces do not come from inventory, they come from the customer’s stories, Tara’s mood, and pure wonder. They are each handmade 100%, that is 70% creativity and 30% custom.” says Leah Michelle, fashion stylist and owner of FashionYellow LLC., “Her biggest inspiration comes from her grandmother, who originally inspired Tara to start making jewelry. She loves vintage jewelry and art, so she combines an ‘old soul’ feel in each of her modern and high-end creations.”

Since each creation is handmade, the materials are gathered from local boutiques, thrift stores, online ordering and through global personal connections. Depending on the type and specifics of the piece, customers spend between $75-$500 on an order. “Some pieces are on the lower scale and some are custom, handmade route. It is a great range for anyone to shop in,” says Michelle

To reach an even broader audience, Smith and her team have utilized both photoshoots and social media to their advantage. “We have a lot of free giveaways on the website and across our social media pages. Our followers tag their friends and have them follow our account for a chance to win. We have found an increase in traffic and customers lately,” says Michelle. 

To enhance the image of the brand, Smith and Michelle directed a photoshoot that incorporated all things athletic and chic, the theme for the new spring line of jewelry. “Each look was personally pulled together by me. I mixed Tara’s athletic pieces with womenswear and shoes to highlight her passion for fitness and fashion. We formed the looks around the necklaces to make the concept cohesive and creative. We wanted a mix of bold, bright necklaces and also soft pastels with deep undertones,” says Michelle. 

Both Smith and Michelle have been pursuing their passions in both the fashion and business industries for a combined total of 10+ years. 

To learn more or visit her Etsy shop at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/taraleasmith.

Photo credits:

Hair and Makeup: Katie Haggard, Wild Hare Salon.

Photographer: Christina Denise, 33 West Studios / Heyman Talent Agency.

Models: Kianna V. and Chloe H., both represented by Heyman Talent.

Coordinator / Director: Tara Lea Smith & Leah Michelle

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In need of a perfect way to spend Mother’s Day? Check out this one-of-a-kind brunch artfully made with you and mom in mind.

Metropole at 21c Museum Hotel is hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch.

Mother’s Day is just right around the corner! On Sunday, May 12th, the 21c Museum Hotel will host guests and families celebrating mothers for a memorable morning. The venue is unique due to its inviting environment and open doors. “The 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati and Metropole are cultural hubs where all are welcome. It does not matter how you dress, whom you love, or where you’re from, as long as we collectively appreciate the art of self-expression and acceptance,” says Iona Muir, Food and Beverage Director of Metropole.

This special Mother’s Day brunch will be full of love, food, and artwork.

“Guests are invited to peruse 21c’s newest exhibition before or after brunch located in the museum’s galleries, free of charge, open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The exhibit is called ‘Truth or Dare: A Reality Show’. Artwork will be featured addressing the importance of questioning both knowledge and belief, featuring works that utilize illusion to entice, entertain, and explore the terrain between fact and fiction, presence and absence, reality and imagination,” says Muir. 

Not only will attendees experience artwork, they will also partake in a brunch crafted by Executive Chef David Kelsey. “Our main takeaway we want guests to take away is how incredible our new Executive Chef is making out beautiful Metropole experience. David has continued to craft fresh, scrumptious meals that are both artistic and fulfilling. We hope that you come and experience on this very special day,” says Iona.

So what is on the menu? The brunch will consist of two courses, beginnings and entrées. Beginnings will serve light dishes including smoothie bowls, mixed lettuces, and caramelized onion soup, and more. The entrée course will include breakfast burritos, smoked salmon toast, biscuits and gravy and that’s just the beginning. Metropole will do its best to accommodate any dietary restrictions attendees have.

On May 12th, the morning will begin at 9:30am and conclude around 2pm. Each ticket will be $32, not including gratuity. “Reservations are filling up fast so please make sure to call and reserve your spot as soon as possible,” says Iona.

For more information, connect with Metropole on both Facebook and Instagram.

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See what this local food market is cooking up to help entrepreneurs launch their food businesses to the next level.

Photo courtesy of Erin Glass, graphic designer at the Corporation for Findlay Market.

Cincinnati’s own Findlay Market is known around the state of Ohio for being one of the oldest operating covered food markets. Each week, the market serves as a hub for vendors to sell their  fresh, local food. 

For a little over a year, the Findlay Launch Advisory Team has been developing a concept to fill the gap their entrepreneurs face during the transition from a pop-up shop into an individually-owned storefrontFindlay Market’s director of communications and human resources, Kelly Lanser, has played a key role in the execution of this feat. “For some food businesses, they start out right away in the kitchen, others tend to stick with the part-time vending. We want to fill the gap entrepreneurs face during the transition period between the two models in hopes to find what works best for their business. Our goal is to learn quickly and sell fast.”

For a little over a year, Findlay Market has been developing the plan. From working on the concept, seeking out mentors, and renovating the spaces, the team has had their hands in every aspect of this development. “Our team has designed three built-out storefronts on Elm, as well as a fourth food hall. The application process is designed to be ongoing. We never want all three shops on Elm Street to ever have their lights off; we always want at least one storefront to be operating at all times,” says Lanser.

So what exactly will this process look like for the business owners? Once the clients who applied are chosen and selected, they will embark on quite the journey. Findlay will schedule for 9 months in the storefront and another 2-3+ months to work on post-graduate support. 

“The process starts with filling out the application. Once selected, the business will gain a mentor who will teach and lead them throughout different aspects of what it takes to run a business. They will also be led in different learning modules, such as branding, HR, accounting, costing, etc. from local professionals. At the three month mark, the businesses will go into the space and have full support from the Findlay Launch Team. The mentorship meetings will continue as well. At 9 months in the process, we will provide them post-grad support. We will aide them to face topics such as scouting out business plans, tweaking their plans, transactional setting, etc. We want our people to be supported before, while and during their transition,” says Lanser.

In order to get the word out and recruit for this opportunity, they have utilized every outlet. “We have physical signage on storefronts, word of mouth from our vendors at market, and social media to reach the most diverse crowd we can. We are looking to support minority immigration specifically women, by giving them room to build equity and gain knowledge to launch a businessWe believe everyone deserves to have opportunity for success at Findlay market and we cannot contain our excitement and passion for this project.”

For more information or to apply, visit here.

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See how a local suit shop is celebrating diversity both in-store and out with a campaign that’s getting national attention.

Since 2011, Pursuit has been using a combination of modern style, a simplified shopping experience with great service, prices that are affordable, and a strong media presence to stand for something that’s more than just clothing. That inspired its recent campaign that’s now garnering national attention.

“The ‘You Are Who We Are’ campaign is all about celebrating the diverse group of inspiring people who make Pursuit who we are. It was inspired by a deep sense of gratitude after the growth we’ve seen in the past year with recognition we’ve received and the new store and community in Cincinnati” says Nate DeMars, founder of Pursuit and also named Columbus’ Top Entrepreneur of 2018 by Metropreneur.

Since the campaign is centered around the people, their stories and backgrounds are prominent in the campaign as well, DeMars says, highlighting Pursuit‘s impact as a whole. “We shot a video featuring over 150 people from the Cincinnati and Columbus communities who have shaped Pursuit. We also created an interactive page on our website that allows you to learn about all 150 people in the video, their story, and their connection to Pursuit. From leaders, to athletes, artists, celebrities, to customers and Pursuit team members – it’s an impressed group of people, mostly from Ohio roots.” 

The video highlights individuals of all races and ages, copious Ohio scenery, wedding parties, live music, artwork, and much more – a perfect inside look into the thousands of stories that Pursuit has had a hand in writing.

The concept from this campaign was born out of a song from Big Red Machine, a band made up of Cincinnati’s Aaron Dessner of The National and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. “The song ‘Melt’ really helped solidify this feeling of gratitude for the diverse community that has rallied around pursuit,” says DeMars. On March 31, Justin Vernon and Bon Iver helped shoot a collaborative video while they got suits right before they played the Taft Theater. “(Their appearance) was a thriving addition to what was already a super meaningful campaign,” says DeMars. The song was also chosen to be the background music in the campaign video.

As far as next steps go for Pursuit, the sky is the limit. “In Cincinnati, we are only getting started, having just been open in Over The Rhine for just four months. We want to continue to build meaningful connections in the community so we feel as local here as we do in our first home of Columbus,” DeMars explains. “We believe Pursuit has the potential to be a national retail and suit brand and we are striving to build an innovate and impactful business model that helps us grow our reach.”

You can shop Pursuit in Over The Rhine, at 1433 Vine St, Wednesday through Sunday. They offer the Pursuit Tailored Collection of suit separates for $299 along with an in-house tailor, as well as a premium line of Pursuit Custom Suits and Shirts designed by the customer for the customer. Brands such as The Tie Bar, Mizzen + Main, French Connection, and other local brands as well.

To learn more, visit here.

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This Cincinnati-based fashion designer creates one-of-a-kind pieces using unconventional materials. Read on for all the fashionable details.

The idea of clothing and jewelry isn’t limited to just fabric, metals or gems for Da’Mon Butler. For the past 20 years, he has been designing clothing jewelry out of unconventional and repurposed materials through his brand, NOMAD3176. 

“I got started … for myself and my relatives quickly noticed and wanted me to design pieces for them as well,” Butler recalls. “I had no desire to start my business, but as my pieces were worn around, I received more requests for my icing and NOMAD3176 was born.”

Butler says NOMAD3176 is unique because each piece is unique — he has never designed an identical piece. “The [designs] I create is one-of-a-kind. When customers ask if I can make another piece like one I have made in the past, I tell them that I can make something similar, but not alike,” he explains. “I have grown collectors for my brand because although each piece is different, they all carry a piece of me and my love for the creating process.”

When it comes to sourcing materials, Butler finds inspiration everywhere. Friends and family often find random objects and challenge him to design a piece with it. 

I find my materials everywhere. If you set something down too long, I will find a way to create a piece of jewelry out of it. I let the pieces speak to me, it lets me know what it wants to become. Some pieces leave me speechless,” says Butler. “I repurpose a lot of items that would otherwise end up in the landfill, these are my favorite items. For example, when I first started repurposing bicycle inner tubes, a lot of people were apprehensive about wearing bicycle parts for accessories. As I wore my pieces around town, I loved the reaction I witnessed as they noticed what my icing was made out of. People are excited to find that my icing works for their life.” 

NOMAD3176 is based out of the Pendleton Art Center, Studio #107. You can find Butler working Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9:30am-2:30pm, or by appointment by calling 513-709-8803. NOMAD3176 also hosts a studio open house the last Friday of every month from 6-10pm. To learn more, visit here.

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Learn about a Cincinnati-based brand that's not only designing an apparel line for today’s youth, but empowering them as well.

Royal Being, a Cincinnati-based apparel line, is about much more than clothing.

While the clothing line offers t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts for boys and girls from infant to 16 years, founder Ashley Dugar says the brand’s four underlying messages are the foundation of what makes them unique.

“Our mission is to provide apparel for boys and girls empowering them to take on four different concepts. First, we want our customers to know who they are, because no matter how old they are, they are never to young to know that they are important, smart, handsome / beautiful, loved, and so much more,” Sugar explains. “Second, I want to instill in them that they can be themselves and helping them know that it’s okay to be different because there is no one better than you. Third, that our clothes allow them to strive for greatness, because you must always do your best. Lastly, I want to encourage today’s youth to be powerful in their own right, because they all have unique gifts and talents within that can be used to change not only their lives, but the world someday.”

Dugar says she drew inspiration from her family. “The start of our brand was inspired by my two sons, Daniel and Kevin,” she adds. “I wanted to give them both a physical representation of the words I daily instill in them on a daily basis, as well as giving them a front row seat to witnessing their mother build a legacy filled with hard work and giving back,.”

The clothes themselves are filled with inspirational messages and bright colors to allow Royal Being to stand apart. “I believe we stand apart because we are a mother and son trio catering to the building of confidence and growth of our youth through clothing and building to be of service to the families in our communities,” Dugar says. “We believe that children need to know how special and important they are, that they are not alone, and that they posses overwhelming potential to do anything they can put their minds to.” 

Moving forward, Dugar says she has big dreams to make a reality soon. “We want to expand our brand through developing an entire apparel line in efforts to open multiple store fronts. With doing this, we will be able to actively serve more families in our Cincinnati community, and eventually the world,” she explains. “With all that is going on in our world today, it is more important now than ever that we instill and build an armor of self-awareness and assurance in our youth. One person should not have the ability to tear them down. What better way to reach out to our youth than through fun fashion?”

To learn more, visit online, as well as Facebook and Instagram.

 

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The bridal store trifecta is now complete and continues to bring new, fresh ideas into the largest bridal district in North America. Read on for more.

 

Photo: Green Peas in a Pod Photography

When Kelly Hill opened the doors of her first bridal boutique in2011, “Yours Truly, Kelly,” she only had six wedding gowns in inventory. Today, she owns three unique stores, Lace Bridal Couture, Love Bridal and the newest edition, Cincy Bridal in the Reading Bridal District. 

“I have always wanted my own business, but never in a million years would I have thought that I would own three bridal boutiques I love what I do and couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else. It’s definitely not out of the question to us opening other bridal stores in other locations. We have lots of plans for the near future,” says Hill.

The couple’s most recent venture reigns as one of the only luxury bridal boutiques in the Cincinnati area. “Cincy Bridal caters to the high-end fashionable bride and is by appointment only. When the bride is in her appointment, we actually lock the front door and the whole boutique is just for her and her bridal party,” says Hill. “The store holds well-known designer brands that cannot be found anywhere else in the tri-state area such as Anne Barge, Sareh Nouri, Muse by Berta, Antonio Gual, and Atelier Pronovias.”

The success of any business is not only in the product, but the people as well. The foundation of love and passion for brides-to-be that Kelly and her husband have laid is evident in not only Cincy Bridal, but in all of their locations. So much sothat they travel to New York and Chicago twice a year to handpick gowns for each of their stores. 

“I am on the floor in one of the stores almost every day alongside my bridal consultants and love to work with the brides to create their dream vision of their wedding gown. I love watching my consultants grow and develop into amazing sales people who truly care about the bride,” says Hill.

Green Peas in a Pod Photography

Cincinnati has the Largest Bridal District in North America. In the heart of Reading, Ohio, you can find 10 bridal boutiques, all within walking distance of each other. The Queen City truly strives to makes every bride feel like a queen. 

As for awards, Lace Bridal and Love Curvy Bridal have won “The Best of Knot” every year since opening up their doors. Lace Bridal Couture has also won the “Couples Choice Award” by Wedding Wire and holds a spot in “The Knot Hall of Fame”.The future is bright for Cincy Bridal, seeing as it offers a brand-new atmosphere that has never present in the Cincinnati area.

Lace Bridal Couture is located at:  100 West Benson St. Cincinnati, OH 45215

Price points at Lace start at $1,000 and go up to $3,500.

Love Curvy Bridal is located at:  133 West Benson St. Cincinnati, OH  45215

Love caters to our plus size bride with sizes starting at 16 – 32.  Price points start at $695-$2,500.

Cincy Bridal is located at: 307 West Benson St. Cincinnati, OH  45215

Cincy Bridal is a luxury bridal boutique catering to our high-end bride with price points starting at $3,000 up to $9,000.

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Read on as we chat with Tessa Clark, a Cincinnati-based designer competing for a $250,000 grand prize on the next season of Project Runway.

Photos by Brooke Shanesy

DAAP graduate, entrepreneur, boutique owner and fashion designer Tessa Clark, can now add a new title to her resume: reality television contestant. 

As a contestant on Project Runway Season 17, Clark will be competing against 15 other designers for a $250,000 grand prize. “I have watched Project Runway for years,” Clark says. “After I applied, I binge-watched the show and came to terms with what would happen if I got in or not. It is still so surreal the fact that I will be able to watch myself on television.”

Clark’s passion for fashion first sparked in early childhood. My upbringing wasn’t the norm, so it provided me with a lifetime of inspiration to pull from, I often think back to where I grew up and describe it as magical,” she explained in a previous Cincy Chic interview about her eco-friendly clothing line, Grind and Glaze. “Every day, I lived in my own universe and playground.”

Since then, she fostered her childhood-like wonder and applied it to her career. “I have learned that fashion is not just a ‘frilly’ career; it has real opportunity within a large industry,” Clark says, now the owner of Idlewild Woman, an OTR-based boutique, continuing to grow her own clothing line, Grind and Glaze, and serving as a proud member of Sew Valley.

Tessa Clark

While each day holds a different adventure, especially since Project Runway, Clark says it’s important for her to stay loyal to her roots. “Throughout the whole process of being on the show, I found myself making my strongest work when I remained true to myself as a designer. I pulled roots of inspiration out of everything and anything, and I am finding myself doing that now in my day-to-day life. The show really reinforced what my own personal morals and values are as a designer for me.” 

One value in particular that is extremely important to Clark is the power of sustainability and eco-friendliness within garments. One of my passions is to educate consumers –that’s everyone– about this topic,” she says. “The textile industry is the second largest pollutant in the world, after oil. That is largely due to the fast fashion industry. Most consumers are not educated on the destruction that the fast fashion industry has on earth.”

Project Runway is known for bringing talented designers from all different backgrounds together to compete on one platform“Competing on the show was a blast because getting to know the other 16 designers was so amazing,” she says. “They were all from different walks of life and each held such a diverse background. Designing alongside them while we filmed in Brooklyn was a dream come true.”

The cameras may have stopped rolling, but that hasn’t stopped Clark from diving deeper into the world of fashion. “In the future, I see myself eventually wholesaling my garments in places other than IdleWild Woman,” she explains. “I would love to take my garments to market and eventually have a showroom in NYC, maybe even spot my garments at fashion week. I want to represent Cincinnati well and bring national light to our fashion-forward cityAs far as sustainability in fashion, I strive to make it a standard, not just a trend.” 

You can watch Tessa compete during the television premiere of Project Runway Season 17 on March 14th at 8pm EST on Bravo.

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A one-of-a-kind art event returns to Cincinnati. Read on as we get an exclusive look into what’s new this year. 

The Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show is returning to Cincinnati March 3.

For fun and funky art — ranging from wearable art, yard installations and home décor — the Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show is coming back to Cincinnati for its second annual appearance.

The event takes place March 3, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Oasis Golf Club & Conference Center. Admission is $3 to public, and free for 12 yrs and under.

Since last year was our first year in the Cincinnati market, we only expect the show to grow and become bigger every year. We promote our events through tons of media outlets and are always finding new ways to get the word out there about our shows,” says Amanda Look, the show’s event coordinator.

This is not just your average craft show, Look says, as all of the artwork featured will be handcrafted by more than 80 local artisans in the Cincinnati areaAccording to Look, the range of items featured at the event will include: apparel, rustic home décor, jewelry, woodwork, and more.

Personally, the best thing about being a part of the Avant-Garde show line is being able to connect with and see all of the incredible local talent,” Look says. “Each and every vendor brings something so unique and special to their craft and they truly love what they do and it shows in their pieces.”

For the past seven years, the Avant-Garde Art & Craft shows have been cultivating handmade artisans and crafters around the Mid-WestNot only do the artists and buyers benefit, but a local charity does as well. While part of their mission is focused on the arts and crafts, another aspect is their charity work and reinvesting back into the community, supporting more than 20 different charities. 

This year’s spring show will benefit the Dragonfly Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting young cancer and bone marrow transplant patients and families to find their joy again. Based in Cincinnati, the Dragonfly Foundation offers assistance in many different ways, from Adopt-A-Family and gifting programs to fun, Dragonfly hosted events for patients and their families.

It is so important to shop our local artisans and crafters because when you shop local you’re supporting your community, a family, a person,” Look says. “Not only are you keeping more money within your community but each item you get has its own character and passion behind it, and that is not something you can find in a department store.”

For more information on this year’s event and for special sneak peeks, check out their social media or visit their website at https://www.avantgardeshows.com/.

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