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A Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce committee is helping entrepreneurs experience the community in innovative ways. Read on to learn more about it!

Upstart helps local entrepreneurs
Upstart helps local entrepreneurs make connections, exchange ideas, and come together.
Are you an entrepreneur living in the Northern Kentucky area? Upstart is a Northern Kentucky organization created to connect people, startups, entrepreneurs, funders, and services. Upstart started in 2012 as a Leadership Northern Kentucky class project. 
 
“The class collectively recognized an opportunity in the region to bring together the many resources and organizations that support, guide, and fund budding entrepreneurs,” says Jason Payne, President of the Leadership Northern Kentucky class of 2012.
This idea has turned into an annual street festival where over 500 entrepreneurs attend. “The Upstart event is a one day celebration that allows all these resources and organizations in the region to come together, exchange ideas, and make connections in a festive environment,” Payne explains.
 
The last Upstart event happened on October 6, where the committee launched “Innovation Alley” in Covington’s Innovation District. The alley connects Russell and Washington Streets between Sixth and Pike. Upstart hopes to transform the alley into a community event and gathering spot. The Duke Foundation, Republic Bank, and U.S. Bank provide financial support to Innovation Alley, which is led by a volunteer team of multiple organizations.
“I really enjoyed seeing people from established businesses come to the event to see for themselves what’s happening in Covington,” says Debby Shipp, Vice President of Business Growth and International Trade. 
“They knew there was a lot of innovative activity, but didn’t know the ‘whole picture’ or completely understood what startups, accelerators, and incubators were and what they mean to our local and world economy.”
 
There are many positive things about Upstart. These things include: investing in the city and each other, opening businesses, creating new friends, sharing ideas, learning about resources available to them as entrepreneurs, and having new people assist entrepreneurs with their business growth. Upstart positively affects the community by educating entrepreneurs about what is going on in their region. The Upstart committee thinks that its important for business owners to celebrate entrepreneurship and build personal relationships with each other.
 
“The thought is to help create a little synergy with people -it’s a cool place to work, it’s a cool place to live, it’s a cool place to have a beer, there’s a craft brewery right around the corner,” says Trey Grayson, President and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “We think it’s a good asset for all of Greater Cincinnati and it’s the kind that attracts the type of people and the type of businesses we’d like to have more of in our region.”
 
As an organization, Shipp sees Upstart growing. “It’s an easy going and fun way to promote all the good things happening in Covington, in Innovation Alley and how our region can participate in the growth,” she says. 
 
To learn more about Upstart, follow them on Facebook or follow the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

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Learn about a locally-launched text marketing program that provides you with a delicious incentive to keep coming back to your favorite businesses.

A new texting-based marketing program asks you a question and gives you a certificate to go back to your favorite eateries.
A new texting-based marketing program asks you a question and gives you a certificate to go back to your favorite eateries.

The use of technology has infiltrated every aspect of life, even what’s for dinner.

Cincy Mobile Marketing, a five-person text marketing team based in Milford, recently launched a program called “What’s For Dinner” that helps local food establishments to build their businesses. The program allows restaurants to send out texts which describe the special of the day and provide a coupon.

“They can choose a specific day and entrée each week that will be sent to their clients around the time of day they start thinking about dinner,” says Cincy Mobile Marketing CEO Allen Walker. “They can also develop a birthday club, and a rewards and loyalty program where the consumer can share the coupons. It is really a very in-depth program that requires no downloading of an app.”

The reward/loyalty program is easy-to-use, Walker adds. After eating at a location, the establishment asks “How was your dinner today?” and the customers receive a coupon for their next visit. Customers can sign up for the birthday club, which allows a coupon to be sent directly to their phone. “If the client hasn’t checked in for 30 days, “What’s For Dinner” will send another automated text with a new coupon letting them know they have missed them and to stop in.

Walker says they have a variety of tech-savvy products that cater to a wide range of clients and industries.

“Our mission is to help local small and medium businesses be able to compete with the national chains to help retain and grow their client base,” he explains, adding that they offer a customer loyalty technology that’s popular among auto dealers. “Each dealer can have a link by every photo, that a client can click and have downloaded directly to their phone. When the client comes in they can just pull up the vehicle they were looking at right from their text.”

The Cincy Mobile Marketing team offers a texting program that helps doctors’ and dentists’ offices, as well. It helps offices to reduce the amount of cancellations and helps prevent income loss. The service provides help to the small and medium sized businesses that don’t have the same budget, like the larger, national companies. “This allows them to compete at the higher level with less investment,” says Walker.

There’s a growing need in Cincinnati for text marketing, Walker says. “There are so many businesses and restaurants in this city that could improve their bottom dollar just by using out service and bringing a customer back that extra day a week,” he says, adding that “What’s For Dinner” has received a positive response since its launch. “The customers think it is extremely cool and they become your biggest promotional tool when they share the coupon on social media.”

To learn more about Cincy Mobile Marketing or “What’s For Dinner,” call 513-900-2032 “like” them on Facebook or visit them online at http://www.whatsfordinners.biz/.

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Just in time for holiday shopping, a new OTR-based shop opens to give local artists, crafters and designers a chance to sell their items. Keep reading for more.

Featured is a new OTR-based
Featured is a new OTR-based shop that features local artists, crafters, and designers.

Between their degrees in Organizational Leadership and Public Relations, Jasmine Stone and Dominique Peebles are co-owners of “Featured,” a new storefront in Over-the Rhine.

Featured is a shop where local artists, crafters, and designers have an opportunity to sell their items. “The business operates on small businesses or individuals placing their items,” says Stone. These artists provide paintings, jewelry, wooden rustic signs, monogrammed items, etc. The store also provides customized items, like pets, children, and adult clothing. A lot of people, nowadays, go online to purchase items, but the customers that go into Featured, love to see the items in the store in person before buying them. “We have a little bit of everything,” Stone says.

Over-The-Rhine has been a great location for their shop. Over the past five years, Stone and Peebles have watched the area “develop into a great space where it attracts all different types of people,” she says. There are people who have lived in the area their whole life, or have moved to Over-The-Rhine from suburban areas to be in a downtown setting.

“With our business revolving around different types of crafts, we wanted to have a diverse set of customers that would be around,” she says. “That’s why we picked Over-The-Rhine, because of the diversity that’s there. And also we wanted to contribute to the economic aspect of helping Over-The-Rhine to continue to develop.” Featured depends on small business and individuals placing their items into the space.

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Stone and Peebles’s shop has received a great response from the community surrounding it. Featured has even started offering monthly classes, like painting, crafting, etc. They enjoy “sharing the talent that we have within our shop with those in the community,” Stone says. Also, in the future, they are looking to expand into areas outside of retail, like food. “Something we’ve been working really hard to do is have a Featured kitchen. It may be where local chefs can come in and cook a meal, or where we could have all different kinds of local food products.”

Stone has enjoyed seeing her and her partner’s dream idea come to life. She enjoys working one-on-one with artists, as well as finding new artists for the space. “I love going out there, curating and seeing, ‘What type of talent do we have in this community,’ meaning within the Tri-State area,” says Stone. “Then seeing, ‘How can we help this business do better?’”

She believes that Featured is a unique addition to the Over-The-Rhine community because of the way that they source their art. The main goal of the business isn’t to earn a million dollars. “I mean, obviously, we want to be sustainable, but the only way that Featured is successful is by making other businesses successful,” says Stone. The ultimate goal for Featured is to open additional shops around the tri-state, preferably in Kentucky and Indiana where there are large amounts of people.

To learn more about Featured, visit them at http://featuredotr.com, on Facebook or Instagram.

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From working in the marketing world, a local blogger brings knowledge of consumer communication to all aspects of her life - even her home renovations.

go haud
Emily May is the editor of Go Haus Go, shares DIY projects for the home.

From working in the marketing world to blogging in her free time, Emily May, editor of Go Haus Go, is all about sharing a brand’s story.

During the day, May works as a Senior Strategist at Seed Strategy in Crestview Hills, KY. “It’s a product innovation company,” she explains. “We help businesses come up with what their next product is going to be.”

The experience May has in the marketing industry has carried over to her personal blog, “Go Haus Go.” It’s a place, May says, where she’s “communicating with consumers in the most relevant way possible.” The consumers in the blogging world are people reading her blog, and in the marketing world, it means people who are buying the product. “I know the content that I’m writing and the product that I’m putting on shelves,” May says.

The biggest relationship between the marketing industry and blogging is brand, May says. That’s why she works with a variety of brands for her blog for things such as partnerships, sponsorships, product reviews, and even just helping people find a solution about a product. “It’s working with brand, finding out their needs and figuring out a cool way to talk about them,” she says.

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The blog primarily focuses on do-it-yourself projects for your home. The latest project posted was a renovation of her front porch. She decided to make the outside of her home fall themed by adding pumpkins, planters, a striped floor, a striped ottoman, etc. “It really focuses on using the DIY projects to decorate on a budget,” May says. Also, she talks about her family and “Cincinnati Finds.” This discusses new and secret places where people can get great deals on furniture and home decor.

“I am more of a blogger who finds things at the thrift store, at a garage sale, or even from Target or Home Goods,” she explains, “one of the cheaper stores.” May loves to take ready-made pieces and customize them to her style and taste.

May has been posting on “Go Haus Go” for six years now, and turned her blog into a paying business in 2014. It started out small, but then May started to get the attention of brands. “It slowly evolved into becoming one of the biggest transitions for my business,” she says. The most memorable moment that May remembers from the blog is when Better Homes and Gardens went to her home and took pictures for the magazine. There were multiple photo shoots where stylists, photographers and props were brought in. “Seeing your home and work in the magazine was fun,” she says.

With blogging, there are certain guidelines that May has before she posts a blog. She tries to post multiple, professional photos. She enjoys the process of taking photos and uploading them to the server. May’s favorite part of blogging is doing the projects and get getting sharp, clear photos. “It always keeps me busy in that way,” she says.

For those who are interested in becoming do-it-yourself bloggers themselves, May has advice for you. To become a pro, the most important thing is to just get started, she says. “A lot of times you just set up your page and you start writing, that’s easy,” she adds, stressing the importance of never giving up. “The hard part is perseverance. It’ll likely be two years before anyone really starts to notice what you’re doing.”

To learn more, visit http://gohausgo.com.

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See how a local fashionista has fun with her style - at work and play - and shows you how to do the same on her blog.

The Professional Prep
Kayla Parsley shows how to take workwear to the weekend on her blog The Professional Prep.

Looking to add excitement to your current wardrobe? Check out Kayla Parsley’s fashion blog, The Professional Prep, for women ages 20-35.

The name of the blog is a play on words. “You can take it as someone who is professionally prepping herself or someone with a preppy style who dresses professionally,” Parsley explains. In her blog, she features an outfit of the day, upcoming trends, and do-it-yourself projects. “I’m really big on not having to change from the workplace to the weekend,” she explains. “A lot of what I wear, you can wear all the time.”

Kayla Parsley shows how to take workwear to the weekend.

From being an Account Executive for the Cincinnati Reds to a fashion blogger at night, Parsley is able to successfully translate her style from the workplace to the evening. During the day, her job consists of planning corporate outings and fundraisers at the Great American Ball Park. She also assists with special themed nights, such as Lauren Hill Night, Strike Out Stroke Night, and Girl Scout Night. At night, she works on her blog.

When Parsley puts her outfits together, she loves to add a splash of color. “I wear a lot of color, all year round, it’s not even just a summer thing,” she says. In her post, “Pretty in Pink: The Female Young Professionals’ Guide to Business Casual,” Parsley discussed her outfit of the day when she went to an important appointment with a company to purchase a suite for 10 Reds games at Great American Ball Park. She believes that adding a pop of color adds personality to your outfit. “I fully believe that you can embrace business casual/business professional in the workplace and still rock something that is fabulous and on trend,” she says.

Parsley also posts about trends that pique her interest. For example, a trend that she loves, especially in the fall, is discussed in “Fall Favs: Leather and Fur.” It fuses an “outfit of the day” with the fall fur trend where she wears a Michael Kors fur vest, along with an Ann Taylor leather pencil skirt. “It’s the perfect outfit that works for the office and can be worn for a night out as well.”

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Parsley has experienced great success with her do-it-yourself projects as well. “Most of the time, it’s stuff that I think is really cute, but expensive and I wouldn’t want to pay for it,” she says. Her biggest project to date has been her Rebecca Minkoff inspired tassel bag and it’s her favorite blog post thus far. In fact, she had so many people message her asking if she would make one for them too that she opened her own Etsy shop. “I got so many people that I couldn’t even keep track of the orders,” Parsley says. To date, her shop has sold more than 100 bags.

Parsley began her blogging journey three years ago by following multiple fashion bloggers on Instagram. She gets the inspiration for her ideas from the people around her. “I might see another blogger trying a trend and I’ll try it out,” says Parsley. “Find things that I already have in my closet that I think I can put together.”
To learn more about The Professional Prep blog, visit www.theprofessionalprep.com or check out Parsley’s Instagram.

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Learn about the Loveland-based wellness center with a monthly book club inviting local women to chat about the page-turners that can help them be their best selves.

Laurie Little, Founder and Owner of Inside Out Beauty
Laurie Little, Founder and Owner of Inside Out Beauty

What does beauty mean to you? That’s a question that Laurie Little, owner of Inside Out Beauty in Loveland, wants to explore.

“Beauty to me is loving yourself, valuing yourself, knowing how to nurture and take care of yourself,” she says. “I think beauty is really loving yourself from the inside out.”

Inside Out Beauty, which opened for business in April 2016, is a wellness center that empowers women to connect and live healthy lifestyles. With the motto of “looking good on the outside starts with feeling good on they inside,” they provide services that include traditional therapy, nutritional or life coaching and spa services such as: facials, relaxation massage, hair removal and makeup services. They also offer classes, workshops, support groups, and the book club to help women learn new things and restore balance to the mind, body and spirit.

Inside Out Beauty also hosts a monthly Book Club is for local women, and it meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month. “I think book clubs are a really fantastic way for women to connect with each other and be able to meet our intellectual, emotional, and social needs,” says Little.

The club studies and discusses books involving women’s empowerment issues and books with strong female characters from a wide variety of female authors. After group introductions, everyone has the opportunity to provide insights and have deep conversations.

“You can attend the book club knowing you didn’t read [the book], but want to come for the companionship and the discussion,” says Little, adding that the facilitator chosen for the month comes with prepared, open-ended questions for the group to discuss.

“I think women would be able to say that they feel it’s a safe place to be able to express their opinions, thoughts and feelings in a safe, nonjudgmental, and accepting environment,” she says. Little wants the group to feel a sense of belonging, feel heard, and look forward to the chance to share ideas. She appreciates being around females who have diverse perspectives and the courage to speak their minds. “I love spending time with thoughtful, smart, and funny women,” she adds. “It’s energizing, it’s nurturing. It feeds my soul.”

The next meeting of the Inside Out Beauty Book club is September 28 from 7-8 p.m. at Inside Out Beauty, located at 9553 Fields Ertel Rd, Loveland, OH 45140. The book of the month is: A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

If you want to get involved in the Inside Out Beauty book club, check out their Meetup page for upcoming meetings or check out www.myinsideoutbeauty.com.

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From the corporate world to the pet-grooming business, learn about a dynamic duo that’s bringing a family atmosphere to the mobile pet grooming industry in Cincinnati.

Happy Tails to You
Happy Tail to You Mobile Pet Spaw offers a friendly and approachable atmosphere to groom your pet.

In 2003, Karen Smith was working as a manager and instructor at a pet-grooming salon. While working there, she noticed mothers with young children and older people struggling to bring their dogs into the salon for grooming. “Dogs would get nervous, there’s noise and phones and all that,” she recalls, “so I thought there has to be a better way.”

This inspired her to research and find out more about the mobile pet grooming industry. Before opening Happy Tails To You Mobile Pet Spaw in 2005, Karen and her daughter, Sarah, had many brainstorming sessions. They needed to determine what kind of company they wanted to be: upscale and classy or friendly and approachable. They settled on being friendly and approachable. “We want people to feel happy when they see us, and the dogs to be happy,” Karen says.

In addition to being welcoming and accessible, she brings her skills from the corporate world; marketing, customer relation skills and customer service to the business. “I was able to take my experience and skills, and try to translate them into something else, and just kept trying to grow myself,” Karen says. “And this is kind of a culmination.”

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On a typical day, Smith arises at 5:30 a.m. to prepare lunches for her family and complete bookkeeping duties before she leaves for the day. After that, Karen and Sarah fill their vans with water and they head out for their first appointments. Their business brings the privacy and convenience of a full-service pet-grooming salon to their client’s home or office. Some of their services include hydro massage bath, nail trimming, warm air fluff drying and thorough brush out and de-shedding. All this is done with love and care, using top of the line products.

Karen doesn’t answer her phone much during the day because she wants to give all her attention to her clients. “When I am working on someone’s pet, that’s what I’m doing,” says Karen. “I’m focusing on their pet.”
While working with the pets, there is the challenge of scheduling. The temperament of the pet sometimes causes appointments to last longer than normal. Karen has learned that dogs can be like two-year-olds, so flexibility is key.

“Some of the dogs come running to you, some run to mom, so that can be a challenge. You don’t know what the dog before you is going to do; if they are going to have any special needs, since the last appointment,” she says.

Even though there are challenges, Karen loves her job. Everyday, she feels a real connection with her clients. There are clients who have been with her since her business started 11 years ago.

“It’s good to be good friends and family with your clients; the people and the pets,” Karen says.

To learn more, visit http://www.happytailstoyougrooming.com, or call Karen at (513) 300-1080 and Sarah at (513) 205-9269.

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