The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Authors Posts by Sara Sybert

Sara Sybert

Sara Sybert
Editor & Director of Strategic Communications - Sara is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a bachelor's degree in English literature. When she's not working she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. To contact Sara, send her an email at

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    Take a pause and refresh at a new retail space opening up in Short Vine featuring a variety of local businesses to help you live your best life.

    A group of four entrepreneurs is teaming up with Mortar to launch their very own retail space. With an official grand opening date of Valentine’s Day, Pause Cincy will offer a space that allows customers to take time for themselves. 

    “The name represents pressing pause on your life and making time for yourself,”  says Mortar co-founder William Thomas III. “There’s an increase demand in the wellness space, and a lot of people are searching for a way to make time for themselves.”

    In its opening, Pause will include these Mortar graduates:

    • Matunda Juicery, a vendor of fresh cold-pressed juices founded by Timothy Harris, named for the Swahili word for “fruit”
    • Perfect Touch Helps, services from licensed massage therapist Lolitha Perry
    • Diamyn’s Crystal Bar, by Diamyn Rembert, a vendor of crystals and stones as well as host to mediation classes and courses for spiritual wellness
    • District 78, founded by Erikka Gray, a lifestyle brand and vendor of handcrafted candles

    The space is inclusive and complimentary of the businesses that team up to occupy it. And since it offers both retail items and personal space in its meditation classes and massages, customers can treat themselves with spiritual and physical wellness. 

    “Very soon you’ll be able to make your own candle at our scent station,” says Pause’s Gray. “Our space is coming along and we can’t wait to be open.”

    The Grand Opening celebration for Pause Cincy is currently planned for Valentine’s Day from 4-9pm. The team is excited to open its doors and bring something new to the community. 

    “2020 is the year I can say that I manifested a store front with some pretty incredible entrepreneurs,” says Diamyn Rembert of Pause Cincy and Diamyn’s Crystal Bar. “I hope you will support us and the work we’ve been doing.”

    Pause Cincy is located at 2908 Vine Street in Cincinnati’s Short Vine neighborhood. To learn more about them and to stay up to date on news, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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    Cincy Chic’s annual Lady in Red event is coming up February 7 at Tri-County Macy’s. Click for a sneak peek inside the event.

    Cincy Chic is hosting its annual Lady in Red event to support the National Go Red for Women Campaign on Friday, February 7, from 6-9pm at Tri-County Macy’s. The event will feature exclusive store-wide Macy’s discounts, a fashion show featuring the season’s hottest trends, pop-up shops, music, swag bags, refreshments, a fun photo booth, and fundraising activities. 

    A front row VIP ticket to Lady in Red is $25 and includes a front row seat along the runway, a swag bag, three drink tickets, and store-wide Macy’s Discounts. A VIP ticket is $20 and includes a seat along the runway, a swag bag, 3 drink tickets, and store-wide Macy’s discounts. General Admission tickets are $10 and include a swag bag, 2 drink tickets, standing room viewing of the fashion show, and store-wide Macy’s discounts.

    Proceeds raised during the event will be donated to the Cincinnati American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign.

    We will feature an inspiring heart disease survivor in the fashion show, and also hear from local physicians about the latest developments that have come from recent research. Fundraising activities include silent auction and balloon pop, where participants will get their chance to win designer handbags, fragrance sets, jewelry, spa certificates, and more. The American Heart Association will have a “Pressure for Prizes” activity where attendees who get their blood pressure checked will be entered to win a variety of prizes at the event. The fashion show will feature the latest spring and summer trends for a range of body types, ages and activities for women, men and children.

    Sponsors for the event include:

    Presenting Sponsor: Amy Brenner MD and Associates, LLC

    Supporting Sponsors: The Christ Hospital Health Network, Lexus RiverCenter, Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate

    Vendors include: Mary Kay with Tiffany McMillon, Paparazzi with Bonita Harrison, DeGroot Handbags, Sweet Jazz Treats, KIS, LLC Independent Consultant for ColorStreet, Massage Therapy Technology, Rapid Results Cryo, The Business Barista, PHARM CBD, Hamall Oils and Wellness, My Bookworm Box + more!

    Tickets to the event can be purchased here<>. 

    Tri-County Macy’s is located at 11700 Princeton Pike in Cincinnati. To see other upcoming Cincy Chic events, visit

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    A local makeup artist launched three new programs to give back to her customers. Click here to read more.

    Chenese Bean has more than 20 years experience in the beauty industry. She’s worked as a makeup artist for film, video, television, photography, corporations, magazines, celebrities, politicians, brides, and more. 

    She wanted to take her passion for beauty and turn it into a business, launching Chenese Bean Makeup Artistry, a mobile beauty business. 

    Bean offers on-site makeup artistry as well as private, in-office appointments and classes. 

    Most recently, however, she’s expanded her perks into three new programs:

    Loyalty Program: For each appointment booked clients receive one star. Upon accumulating 4 starts within one calendar year, the 5th appointment is free or at 50% off.

    Referral Program: A referral-based program where you and a friend receive $15 off for new clients. 

    Membership Program: A glam-and-go program for those who require makeup artistry services on a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly basis. This program is excellent for business professionals, entrepreneurs, business or life coaches, and public speakers who make public appearances and need to look pretty and polished on the interim. There are various membership plans available with benefits and savings worth the investment.

    Bean says that she decided to launch these programs because of the loyalty her clients showed her. 
    “I wanted to offer fun and creative ways to give back while growing my brand at the same time,” she says.
    With her new programs Bean says she’s looking forward to 2020 and continuing to offer her clients exciting news via email and social media. 
    To learn more about Chenese Bean Makeup Artistry, visit You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

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    Learn about the one-day conference coming up in March that provides you with resources to enhance your happiness, freedom, and prosperity through the lens of personal finance.

    The American Dream looks drastically different than it did a few decades ago. That’s the idea that Diania Merriam wanted to explore when she planned to host EconoMe, a one-day conference coming up  that provides attendees with resources to enhance their happiness, freedom, and prosperity through the lens of personal finance.

    “Provocative speakers will explore the idea of a ‘new American Dream,’” Merriam explains.

    With roots in the FIRE movement (financial independence, retire early), the EconoMe Conference has its sights set on helping people join the lifestyle movement of FIRE with the goal of financial freedom. Attendees will have the opportunity to watch the first documentary about the movement called Playing with FIRE as well as meetups for networking and discussions on other topics such as real estate, investing, travel hacking, healthcare options for early retirement, and more.”

    “I was motivated to start a conference after the pursuit of FIRE changed my life,” says Merriam. “After I discovered blogs like Mr. Money Mustache and Frugalwoods, as well as books such as Your Money or Your Life and The Simple Path to Wealth, I used my new-found knowledge to get out of $30,000 in debt in 11 months.”

    After getting herself out of debt, Merriam was able to negotiate a remote working relationship with her employer as well as a two-month unpaid sabbatical to walk the Camino de Santiago (a 500-mile trek across northern Spain).

    The EconoMe Conference will take place on March 7 at the University of Cincinnati’s Great Hall at Tangeman University Center. It’ll end with a party following the event at the Woodward Theater.

    Once the conference is over, Merriam says that she hopes attendees are inspired by the ideas shared through the speakers and leave feeling that they learned something valuable.

    “I also hope the content expands their understanding of what is possible when it comes to their finances and creating more freedom in their lives,” she adds.

    To learn more about and to purchase tickets to the EconoMe Conference, visit

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    Get in a great workout, enjoy some celebratory sips and support a great cause. Learn about a local group’s monthly event and see how you can get involved in the next one!

    Sarah Buckley, the founder of Persist Fitness, teamed up with Karrikin via their Karrikin Cares program to offer Blood, Sweat, and Cheers, a once-a-month class that caters to all fitness levels. 

    This community class meets up on the last Sunday of each month at Karriskin Spirits at 10:30 am. 

    “The class is 45 minutes long, and with both strength and cardio elements,” explains Buckley. “Tickets are $15 a class and you get a workout and a Karrikin Signature Cocktail or sparkling beverage, and all proceeds are donated to St. Jude’s Cincinnati Walk/Run, the Southwest Ohio fundraising arm of the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Foundation.”

    When asked what inspired this collaboration, Buckley says that while Blood, Sweat, and Cheers has been going on for about 6 months now, both organizations were looking for a way to give back to the Cincinnati community. Buckely herself has experience in partnering with nonprofits and was approached by the St. Jude’s Cincinnati Walk/Run committee with the idea to make the classes an opportunity to raise money and awareness for the Cincinnati St. Jude’s Walk/Run seemed like the most natural fit.

    Throughout the year, Blood, Sweat, and Cheers will continue to meet on the last Sunday of every month at 10:30 am. 

    This year’s Cincinnati St. Jude Walk/Run is scheduled for September 26, and Blood, Sweat, and Cheers will be raising funds for the walk until then. 

    “This family-friendly event raises funds to support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, where families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food, because all a family should worry about is helping their child live,” says Buckley. “While St. Jude might not be in our backyard, its research, discoveries, and families are. St. Jude freely shares the unwavering discoveries it makes, so every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.”

    Buckley says she’s open to collaborating with other nonprofits in the community to replicate events similar to Blood, Sweat, and Cheers. “If you are looking for a turn-key fundraiser for your favorite local nonprofit, let’s talk,” she says. 

    To register for an upcoming Blood, Sweat, and Cheers, click here. All ticket sales go directly to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. 

    To learn more about Persist Fitness, check them out on Facebook and Instagram. You can follow the Cincinnati St. Jude’s Walk/Run on Facebook and Instagram and register for the September Walk/Run event here. Follow Karrikin Spirits on Facebook at Karrikin and Instagram.

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    A new business with a new Cincinnati store is making its mark in apparel and accessories with a goal to empower, strengthen, and celebrate women.

    Cincy Chic: What is Mainstream Boutique? 
    Lori Avallone, Owner of Mainstream Boutique Cincinnati: We are a locally owned franchise of the Minnesota-based company, Mainstream Boutique, a women’s clothing boutique with the mission to Empower, Strengthen, and Celebrate the Women in our Communities Through Fashion.  

    Our goal is to make a  personal connection with our shoppers, something that’s hard to obtain in a large chain retail environment, along with a personal styling experience that leaves women feeling beautiful inside and out.  We want to know your name, your favorite colors, your fit and your preferences to create a unique experience and help women look their best!

    Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind it?
    Avallone: The Mainstream brand was inspired by our founder, Marie DeNicola, who began her career as a buyer in the fashion industry.  When her family relocated to Minnesota, she was searching for a way to use her buying experience, as well as her love of fashion and women.  She began selling women’s fashion out of her home as a direct sales company. People took notice of her success and she was even featured as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show.  Women start contacting her to ask how they could do what she was doing, and that led to not only the first brick and mortar store, but to the franchise that now exists.

    I personally fell in love with the brand when my husband and I also relocated to Minnesota.  Our local Savage, MN store opened, and I watched it and the owner grow and evolve, encompassing everything that the brand stands for.  I loved shopping there, and even more importantly, I loved the clothes!!! After a few years in Minneapolis, we returned to Ohio, and from the moment we settled back in, I started thinking about what it would be like to have my own Mainstream Boutique.  It took a few more years for me to take the first step into entrepreneurship, but I’d never lost sight of the dream – and now, here we are!

    Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?
    Avallone: Our Cincinnati location is locally owned by my husband Greg and I, and although you’ll primarily see me and my stylists in the store on a daily basis, don’t be surprised if you see Greg there helping out once in a while as well.  This is truly our own small business, and it’s a passion and dream that I’ve had for years. Dreams really do come true!

    We’re on the home stretch of construction, and barring any major delays, we hope to be open in the early weeks of February. We’re already unpacking and checking in product, and can’t wait to share it with our Cincinnati shoppers. You can find a preview of some of our items if you follow our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, where we’ll also have updates and live videos on new products arriving weekly.  We won’t have traditional online sales, but we will showcase items and are always willing to pull and ship them for a flat rate for those who can’t make it to the store to see us.

    Cincy Chic: Where is the Cincinnati location?
    Avallone: We are located at 11358 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45249 in the Shops at Harpers Point in Symmes Township.  We’ll be open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. We’re also happy to schedule private shopping parties after hours and on Sundays, and hope to offer some fun events coordinated with other local small businesses.

    Cincy Chic: What types of apparel and accessories do you carry?
    Avallone: We carry Novelty Tops including Sweaters and Jackets, Dresses, Pants, Leggings, and what we’re most excited about, our private label Mac and Me Basics and Jeans.  Our private label is designed by our founder Marie and her daughter Mac, and once you try them on you’ll fall in love! We carry a variety of labels, some you may recognize and some that you may discover and fall in love with for the first time.  We also carry accessories including jewelry, bags, hats and shoes, and will keep adding additional items as we continue to grow. Our clothing items are mid-priced from $40 to $100 with occasional items below and some specialty items above.

    Cincy Chic: What makes Mainstream Boutique unique?
    Avallone: Aside from our private label items that you can’t buy from any other retailer are the great customer service and relationships that we hope to foster with each shopper that comes to see us.  We want to be able to give you a personal phone call if an item that you love comes in. We want to know if you enjoyed the vacation that you were buying the cute new pair of sandals for. We want to know what you want to see in our store.  

    Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
    Avallone: To learn more about Mainstream Boutique, visit You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram


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      A local tech-driven startup accelerator focuses on underrepresented and minority businesses and business owners. Read on for all the tech-tastic details!

      Hillman is the first accelerator program in the Midwest that offers support to underrepresented, minority tech-driven startups. 

      Founded by Candice Matthew Brackeen, Hillman is dedicated to operating an inclusive entrepreneurship education program, which includes mentorship, specialized curriculum, partnerships, and capital investments. 

      Matthews Brackeen is passionate about helping the community and bringing together varying backgrounds to accelerate innovation in the Queen City.

      “We have a rich legacy of entrepreneurship as a community,” explains Matthew Brackeen. “I see that in a variety of ways. There’s just a really cool pipeline building here for Black entrepreneurship.”

      Hillman was initially the Hillman Accelerator, which was launched in 2016 by Matthews Brackeen along with former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones and Qey Capital’s Ebow Vroom. Then, it mainly focused on providing underrepresented founders with seed funding, partnership opportunities, and mentorship, which continues on today. 

      Hillman’s accelerator program is 12 weeks long and focuses on tech-driven companies. This means that the program is open to companies that leverage technology to build their produce or service such as software, apps, and medical devices, as well as companies that leverage technology to manufacture or distribute their products or services including e-commerce companies, consumer product companies, and home services apps.

      The program is especially on the look out for tech-driven startups with women founders, co-founders, Chief Technology Officers, or women in C-suite roles who have equity and tech-driven startups with founders of color, co-founders of color, Chief Technology Officers of color, or people of color in C-suite roles who have equity. Additionally, Hillman is also looking for underrepresented founders who have successfully raised from friends and family, angel, crowdfunding, or seed rounds.

      Matthews Brackeen enjoys being able to help underrepresented and minority startups get their feet on the ground through the accelerator program. And with more than 15 years of entrepreneurial experience, she has what it takes to help those companies get there. In fact, Matthews Brackeen is the co-founder of Hello Parent, a national safety technology partner of the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is also the founder of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Black Founders Network, which aims to address the need for increased diversity and inclusion efforts in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

      To learn more about Matthews Brackeen and Hillman, visit

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      Local freelancers, rejoice! Learn about a new coworking space that provides a creativity-inspiring space to work from home away from home.

      Working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, it has its perks like working in pajamas all day, but it can also be lonely, distracting and uninspiring.

      Whether you’re a freelancer or just work from home, Playground Coworks offers creatives and telecommuters in the Tri-State a space to call their “work home.”

      “Playground Coworks is a shared working space, where you can be part of a community of creatives, entrepreneurs, and small business owners,” says Owner Ollie Kroner. “You can rent a desk, schedule a group meeting, or drop by.”

      Playground Coworks is centrally located in Northside, above the Northside Tavern. The coworking space takes on a more casual, creatively inspiring, community-driven approach as opposed to other coworking spaces in the city. 

      “These days so many people are working from home or from a coffee shop,” says Kroner. “Most people like the freedom of freelancing, but find joy in working around other creative people. Playground offers a setting where we can share ideas, work through challenges, or just take a break and have a friendly conversation.”

      Playground mostly sees full-time creatives and others with creative side projects in its space, which offers an open layout, 14 individual desks, and separate meeting space. 

      The goal behind the space is to encourage collaboration among its users, rather than competitiveness for freelance resources. In fact, Kroner says that there was even an instance where a logo designer and jewelry maker got together in the coworking space to complete a project.

      There are several perks to becoming a member at Playground Coworks, including: flexible desks to share or dedicated desks for exclusive use, high-speed wired and wireless internet, use of conference room, 24/7 access with security codes, free coffee/espresso, storage for work items in the space, mailing address, and discounted web design and hosting.

      To learn more about Playground Coworks, visit

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      Lift yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually this year with a new retreat in the hills of Hebron, Kentucky.

      One of the most popular resolutions for the new decade is to be more connected to ourselves, to be more grateful, intentional, and passionate about who and what we encounter in our everyday lives. 

      The Salt of the Earth Retreats is here to help you achieve that resolution surround yourself with the inspired, the passionate, the motivated, the grateful, and the open-minded in a one-day spa-inspired health and wellness retreat.

      Nicole Kitchen, Founder and Owner of The Salt of the Earth Retreats, says she was inspired to launch this new venture following prayer, personal growth, professional growth, and the journey she’s taken along the way. 

      “My inspiration really began a long time ago,” she explains. “I’ve always been drawn to people and wanted to help them feel great about themselves in a really healthy way spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially. I started working when I was 16 because I wanted to create an impact in the big, beautiful world. I found through working at Verizon Wireless from ages 16-22 the impact I was making on individuals lives was selling them devices that could ultimately save their life.”

      While doing this work, Kitchen also found that she could carry on conversations with people who wanted her to listen. “People really needed someone to hear them,” she says. “I felt like they were really living unconsciously and craving spiritual, mental, and social connection.”

      Her journey then included sales with Mary Kay and eventually to NCK Universal Retreats. “It was the birth of an environment where anyone could emerge themselves in a day long, spa-inspired retreat with an amazing course in living your best, authentic life,” she says. 

      From 2017 through 2019 Kitchen hosted 5 retreats, but more recently discovered that she wanted to take her offerings to a much higher platform. 

      “With my experience in business and enriching the lives of individuals, I knew that I was onto something huge,” she says. “And if I can enrich individuals’ lives on a grander scale, how would I do it? I went back to the drawing board, and through prayer and meditation I came up with a name: The Salt of the Earth Retreats, and decided it was time to officially brand my retreats and put it out publicly in a professional way.”

      The retreats from The Salt of the Earth Retreats are a tailored, day-long spa-inspired experience that incorporates all things health and wellness, aiming to help participants be lifted to a higher elevation mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. 

      “During the retreat you will start to see an abundance of all that you can manifest in your own life,” says Kitchen. “All the gifts that were planted in your and the seeds of greatness that God has instilled in each and every person – that is what I am aiming to bring out in my guests.”

      Kitchen says that once she can get guests to understand what they are capable of doing, I want to help them gain the momentum to continue to move forward. 

      “Our retreats create a positive impact that lasts in the lives of our guests,” she says. “It’s all about creating an experience that will change the trajectory of our guests’ lives. IT’s my heart’s desire to help catapult individuals’ lives and help create the awareness of where they are now and who they desire to become at this stage in their life. Let’s face it, we all grow and change throughout our journey, I just don’t believe that there are people taking the time to help individuals on this level.”

      Not only are guests able to interact with the best of the best in the industry in regards to yoga, meditation, wellness, nutrition, physical activity, mental and spiritual growth, but they are also pampered with goodies to use throughout the retreat as well as massages, journaling, and a spa-inspired vegan menu to help nourish the body while relaxing in the hills of Hebron, Kentucky. 

      Kitchen says that The Salt of the Earth Retreats is unlike anything else in the area – making it unique in its own design and right. 

      “My retreats are created with heart, love, and the inspiration behind it is a God-given gift,” says Kitchen. “When you walk into the retreat you can feel the energy, you feel the ambience and the love lifting you up into a space created for you to peel back the layers of life and begin to emerge into your authentic self, making it your own experience and your very own retreat.”

      The Salt of the Earth Retreats will host a retreat on April 25 and again on September 26 in Hebron, Kentucky. The retreat will be held from 10am to 5 pm with wine and hors d’oeuvres from 5pm-9pm. There is also a retreat in Costa Rica from November 14-20 at The Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, a collaboration between The Salt of the Earth Retreats and The Connection Project.

      To learn more about The Salt of the Earth Retreats, check them out on Facebook and Instagram. The website is currently under construction but Kitchen can be reached at or by calling 513-886-0018.

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      Say goodbye to dry and dull winter skin while supporting an important cause with this locally-based body polish business.

      Thirsty Skin Body Polish wants to take your dry, wintry skin from drab to fab. 

      “Thirsty Skin Body Polish is a coconut oil based sugar scrub kissed with 100 percent pure essential oils,” says owner Brigott Dawn. “The scrub helps to buff away and remove dead skin cells all while hydrating, moisturizing, and reinvigorating your skin.”

      Not only does the scrub remove dead skin cells, but it also encourages cell turnover, moisturizes your skin, and can even help to eliminate skin conditions such as keratosis pilaris and eczema. 

      Dawn says the scrub is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin everyday, as it’s personally formulated to exfoliate and moisturize skin.

      Currently, there are three scents available from Thirsty Skin, including Lemongrass, Lavender, and Eucalyptus. 

      Not only does Thirsty Skin help to make your skin better, but the business also aims to help animals in search of homes. 

      Because the business finds inspiration in Dawn’s 3-legged rescue dog Ruby, $1 from every scrub sold is donated to a hand-selected Animal Shelter of the Month.

      “We are actively working on expanding our scents as well as expanding our products to include lips,face, and feet,” says Dawn. “Stay tuned!”

      To learn more about Thirsty Skin, visit You can also follow along on Facebook.