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

Sara Elliott

Sara Elliott
Editor & Director of Strategic Communications - Sara is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a bachelor's degree in English literature. Sara started as an editorial intern before working her way up to assistant editor and then editor. She also serves as the Director of Strategic Communications, running Cincy Chic's social media sites. When she's not working for Cincy Chic, Sara is a mom to her toddler, Audrey. To contact Sara, send her an email at

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    Now that tax day is behind us, we chat with a local money maven who helps clients - especially women - live a financially healthier life through budgeting, financial planning and credit restoration. Read on to see how she turns money misconceptions into peace of mind.

    Emerald Sparks (Photo: Aaron Paschal; Makeup: Tori Monique’)


    Money makes the world go ‘round, but for many, money management is not a strong suit.


    While it comes easy to Emerald Sparks — a locally-based financial planner, speaker and author — she believes money management can be learned and wants to give everyone a chance to understand how money works.


    “I want to help people stop making money mistakes that they didn’t even know they were making,” she says. “I have always loved money and don’t think it’s something we should have to struggle with in our day to day lives.”


    Sparks is the founder of Emerald Sparks LTD, a personal and business finance consulting firm helping individuals solve their misconceptions about money for their peace of mind.


    “We specialize in helping women solopreneurs in the service-based industry pay themselves a salary, manage their cash flow, and maximize their profits through strategic tax and bookkeeping strategies.”


    Sparks also aims to help people make better financial decisions that allow them to live a financially healthier life through budget and financial planning and credit restoration.


    Those who want to better their financial situation can turn to Sparks for personal financial coaching, taxes, bookkeeping, payroll, financial statement creation, credit repair, budgeting, and debt repayment plans.


    Sparks says her business is unique because she isn’t like most accountants. “I make the topic of money very approachable and fun,” she says. “You will never catch me in a suit.”


    There’s a lot on the horizon for Sparks, including a book about her life. She is also planning to launch a new company, although she says, that’s all she can share for now.


    You can learn more about Sparks and her business, or join her mailing list on her website. You can also follow along on Instagram and Facebook.


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    See how this Leadership Cincinnati grad is furthering her career and legacy through a powerful program for local professionals.

    Leadership Cincinnati is all about building community and Sarah Weiss, CEO of The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center at Union Terminal, wants to build a community that ensures the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action.


    “I oversee a staff of about 15 who carry out our mission through education, programming, museum experiences, and other initiatives,” she explains. “As a small organization, I get to be involved in many facets of the organization.”


    Weiss says the path that got her to where she is today is part luck and part hard work.


    “From the time I was young, I was surrounded by people who worked hard toward a mission and it rubbed off,” says Weiss. “After graduating with a business degree from the University of Cincinnati, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the community and was seeking a path into the non-profit community.”


    Weiss originally got her start through Public Allies, where she was eventually connected with the Holocaust & Humanity Center.


    “That was almost 15 years ago and I was immediately inspired by the work and the mission,” says Weiss.


    She first joined the staff there as a program manager and when the founding director left a few years after she started, the board asked her to serve as the interim director.


    “At 25, I thought I was too young,” she says. “At the time I told them I could run the organization but didn’t need the title. They insisted and were right.”


    Following a year of guidance, mentorship, and hard work, the board selected Weiss as the director.


    Nearly 12 years have since gone by and Weiss has grown an organization that is very much dedicated to its mission.


    While Weiss enjoys all that she does, she really finds her inspiration in the people at the core of it all – Holocaust survivors.


    “Each one of them experienced unimaginable obstacles and loss, but through their resilience and fortitude, they went on to build new lives,” she says. “Their strength and perseverance to rebuild inspires me each and every day and reminds me of the power of the human spirit.”


    To bolster her experience, Weiss participated in the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Leadership CincinnatiUSA program. In fact, participating in the program has always been something Weiss hoped she would do.


    “I love learning and growing, especially when it relates to our city,” says Weiss. “Professionally, I was in the midst of leading our organization through a major change and I thought it would give me new resources and perspectives for managing the transformation.”


    Weiss appreciates the program itself, but what she loved the most were the people.


    “The relationships and connections made are incredibly powerful,” she says. “I have never been among such a smart, thoughtful, committed group of individuals. While everyone came from different backgrounds, each person brought passion and talent. In addition to the classmates, the people we met through the program are all committed to make our region better. While the program itself creates unique experiences and exposes participants to experiences in the city that you would have otherwise, I learned the most from my classmates.”


    Weiss’s journey through the program was about meaningful experiences and meaningful relationships.


    “In addition to the many meaningful experiences throughout the program that made a lasting impact on me, the relationships are what fuels uncovering legacies,” she says. “I feel I have a diverse network of individuals in various fields and parts of our community that I can call on for guidance, support, or to make change. The legacy and lasting impact is in the relationships that will continue to offer rewards for years to come.”


    Weiss encourages women to participate in the program because women leaders are needed everywhere and it offers women the opportunity to participate in a program that promotes all leaders.

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    Want to advertise your business through video? Read about how you can get on-site editing and delivery in less than two days!

    Les Fultz can never resist a good story. In fact, telling stories is his specialty through his business Valere Studios.


    “Valere Studios takes highly branded content and tells the story of a product or service in a series of videos to create advanced, targeted traffic with the aid of social media for businesses of all levels.”


    Fultz has a digital marketing background that dates back to 2008, when social media was just getting its start as a promotional option.


    “Fast forward to today and video is by far the only thing that can help you stand out in a world consumed by data and content,” he says.


    Plus, a background in entrepreneurship helps Fultz to bring certain elements to production that are unlike any others.


    “The traditional ways of producing videos are becoming less and less effective,” he says.


    That’s why Valere Studios is helping brands, local businesses, and municipalities generate revenue, traffic, and new customers with video advertising.


    Valere Studios offers corporate videos as well as mobile broadcasting choices.


    “Our corporate video offerings are ideal for service-related companies, product producers or retail shops, and municipalities,” says Fultz. “This is a great option to showcase what makes you unique, share your history, and what’s new.”


    All of the videos offered by Valere Studios are formatted. This means that customers don’t have to do anything to make sure videos are suitable for websites and social media, which allows for maximum reach and value.


    According to Valere Studios, they also offer the most advanced mobile broadcasting solution on the market.


    “Whether you have an in-depth interview, product launch, panel discussion, or on-stage event, Valere Studios provides the ultimate turn-key solution for live editing or broadcasting to your preferred platform,” says Fultz.


    The videos can be streamed to social media websites and be embedded on websites.


    “Our system provides three cameras operated remotely, and a mobile production switch bringing the power of a major broadcast network directly to you,” adds Fultz.


    And to help his business stand out among other video production companies, Fultz offers LIVE video, onsite editing, and delivery in 48 hours or less.


    To learn more about Valere Studios, visit here.

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    See how a local esthetician, with nearly two decades of experience, enhances natural beauty through cosmetic tattoo artistry and specializes in brows.


    Libby Stocks has been in the cosmetic tattoo artistry business for nearly 17 years. As the founder of Libby Stocks Cosmetic Tattoo Artist, she offers eyebrows, eyeliner, lips, and scalp micropigmentation.


    “I enhance natural beauty through cosmetic tattooing,” she says.


    Stocks got into the beauty industry when she started esthetics school after graduating from Xavier University.


    “I have always had a love for pretty skin and good products,” she says. “I began working in medical skincare in a plastic surgeon’s offices in Naples, Florida, in the late 90s. I moved back to Cincinnati and continued working in a plastic surgery center where I learned to tattoo.”


    According to Stocks, cosmetic tattooing has evolved over the years. From pigments to machines and techniques, a lot of things have improved. For Stocks, she says her favorite is creating a soft and natural look.


    Brows are a specialty for Stocks. She offers eyebrows for $600 for the initial session and follow-up session 6 weeks later.


    “It’s a two-step process and I always tattoo conservatively the first session,” she says. “It is best to add more at the second appointment.”


    You can visit Stocks for cosmetic tattooing at her private studio near Lunken Airport.


    Stocks will soon graduate from nursing school in May and start a new journey as a cosmetic nurse injector.


    To learn more about Stocks, visit here. She’s also on Facebook and Instagram.

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    Take a peek inside this Bellevue-based eclectic home decor and goods shop that carries a variety of locally-made and up-cycled items.


    Cincy Chic: What is Coda Co.?
    Kelti Ziese, Founder of Coda Co.: Coda Co. is an eclectic home decor & goods shop. We work with local artisans to stock their product as well as product we create ourselves!

    Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind it?
    Ziese: The inspiration behind Coda Co. is really about creating community with fellow artisans. We love being the one stop shop for locally made products. We also really love finding and creating products from up-cycled materials as to be as waste free as we can. We don’t want to leave a big footprint behind so we try to re-use as many materials as possible.

    Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?
    Ziese: Myself, Kelti, & my husband, Tanner, are the owners of Coda Co. Even though Tanner works a separate full time job, he will head home from work & make live edge tables & benches as well as up-cycled bourbon barrel decor & goods. His favorite thing is making custom dining tables & desks for our clients!  I make macrame fiber art for walls & plants as well as pillows for the shop. Working the shop on the daily is my full time job. With that, I maintain our social media pages, take the product shots, & do most of the behind the scenes work involved in running a business.

    Cincy Chic: What types of items do you sell?
    Ziese: Most of what we sell is unique home decor items like macrame, tables, throws, rugs, geode candle holders, clocks, etc.  But we also have home goods, like handcrafted ceramics, carved wooden spoons, plants, wine stands, bottle openers, soaps & lotions.  As well as a few accessories like necklaces made from plants from Krohn Conservatory, clutches, earrings made from clay & stones, shibori dyed bandanas, macrame keychains, and Cincinnati made longboards.

    Cincy Chic: What do you enjoy the most about running your own business?
    Ziese: I really enjoy the artistic freedom I have with running my own business.  I am so lucky that I get to wake up & do what I love every day. Not many people can say that.  It was a huge leap of faith quitting my old full time job to pursue our little business but it has been well worth it!  

    Cincy Chic: What makes Coda Co. unique?
    Ziese: I think what makes Coda Co. unique is the fact that we love supporting local so much.  I’ve mentioned that we carry local artisans & I believe that is what makes us so special. Creating relationships with so many cool people around our city has been amazing.  I think that shared love for community shows through our products. We have the most awesome customers ever. When you shop at Coda Co. you are supporting someone in this town’s dreams.  Maybe you’ve heard this before, but it is so very true that when you shop small & buy from local artisans they SERIOUSLY do a little happy dance.

    Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon?
    Ziese: Yes! We are starting to put together different workshops for the rest of the year! We hosted a couple of calligraphy workshops at the end of last year & people loved them! So, we want to offer more workshops of all different types to bring people down to Bellevue & learn something cool!

    Cincy Chic: Where is your storefront located?
    Ziese: We are located in Bellevue, Kentucky, right in our historic river town! Our address is 400 Fairfield Ave. Bellevue, KY 41073.

    Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
    Ziese: Visit our website. We’re also on Facebook and Instagram. We are most active on our instagram page where we post photos & share upcoming pop-up events & workshops!

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      For our annual “entrepreneur” issue, we chat with a local exec who recently launched her own concept that helps growing businesses bridge the gap between where they want to go and how to get there.

      Jane Schulte is the founder of COO On Call.

      Downsizing, upsizing and rightsizing – these are a few of Jane Schulte’s favorite things.  Not only has she been a COO for the past 15 years, but she also launched a Northern Kentucky- based regional title and closing company, taking it from zero revenue to a $10 million-dollar company in a two-year period of time. She then grew the company from regional to national a year later. 

      In the past 15 years, Schulte says she’s learned a lot. Whether it’s solving problems with financials or with the “community” aspect of a business, she knows where things can be improved. That need for improvement is what inspired her to launch her business COO On Call.

      “COO On Call is an outsourcing/co-sourcing business model whereby small to mid-sized businesses can reap the benefits of having a Chief Operating Officer on an as-needed basis versus employing a full-time COO, which is oftentimes not feasible from a financial standpoint.”

      Running a business is hard work, and Schulte knows that. “There is often a skill gap between the business owner and their highest-level employee,” she says. “I am able to work independently or with current employees to accomplish a wide variety of COO-level initiatives when a business owner finds themselves in a situation where they cannot solve a problem with current resources, or they are in growth or expansion mode and all resources are tied up with other responsibilities.”

      Schulte says she was inspired to launch COO On Call after finding a need in the business community for owners to take advantage of higher-level services that they previously did not have access to.

      “Oftentimes they have a vision or a concept, but have difficulty bringing that to reality,” she says. “My specialty is taking that vision, dream, or concept, and creating a specific action plan and implementing it in an efficient, timely, and cost-effective manner.”

      Schulte is the one-woman show behind COO, and says that she’s often referred to as a Chief Problem Solver.

      “I have always been called upon when crisis ensues, a process needs to be created, or a raw ideas is at play with the daunting task of making that idea come to life with tangible benefits,” says Schulte.

      Jane Schulte has experience as a business owner, COO, and author of multiple books.

      The services offered through COO On Call are essentially whatever a business owner may need. “No job is too small or too big,” says Schulte. “The idea of being on-call is that a business owner can call me for just about anything.”

      When she says a business owner can call her, she means that they can call her for anything. That ranges from vetting a new ideas, talking through an issue or problem, to joining them temporarily to take their business to the next level.

      Schulte says that her business is unlike any other, and is something that no one else is doing.

      “There are companies that offer Chief Financial Officer services, Chief Marketing Officer services, and Chief Information Officer services, but no one else is offering Chief Operating Officer services in the Greater Cincinnati area,” she says. “With the ever-changing and highly competitive landscape of small- to mid-size businesses today, it was important to bring a new concept to the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.”

      To learn more about COO On Call, click here.

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      Tired of the same old, same old at the salon? Learn about a concept that puts you AND your salon professional at the top of their priority list.

      The history of Phenix Salon Suites dates back to 2007 in Colorado Springs. Since then, the business has popped up across the country and was even featured on Undercover Boss. Today, there’s a location in Cincinnati that offers its salon services to customers.

      “Phenix Salon Suites has been the industry standard of salon suite concepts in the United States,” says Cincinnati Owner Sheri Hardesty. “We have more than 80 years of professional salon expertise, a family culture, and strong work ethics, which are the foundation of Phenix Salon Suites.

      Since its initial launch in 2007, Phenix Salon Suites has gone from a single suite to multiple locations throughout the United States as well as the United Kingdom.

      The company’s founder Gina River has a background in the salon industry.

      “Her parents owned a small salon where she and her sister spent a great deal of time,” explains Hardesty. “After high school, Gina went on to become a licensed hairdresser.”

      It was during maternity leave that Gina decided to open a salon of her own. However, she wanted to present a new concept to the hair industry – a space that allowed salon professionals to own and operate their own salon without the daunting financial commitment and facility management hassles that are typically associated with owning a salon.

      At Phenix Salon Suites, there are two customers – the salon professionals and their clients.

      Hardesty says that salon professionals are given access to an upscale facility that has no hidden costs while offering high quality and well-designed suites.

      “This includes floor-to-ceiling walls and individual temperature controls to allow the salon professional to create the best environment for them and their clients,” says Hardesty. “For their clients, they are provided a wide array of salon professionals under one roof – hair stylists, barbers, nail technicians, massage therapists, microblading, lash extensions, and facials are all available.”

      Hardesty says that what sets Phenix Salon Suites apart from other salon suite companies is its dedication to salon professionals first.

      “We put our salon professionals first in everything we do – including making it easy for them to get started owning their own business by offering month-to-month contracts, maternity leave, and medical leave, which are all rare in the salon suite industry,” explains Hardesty. “We even hold an annual Phenix Family Reunion to give our salon professionals access to excellent raining, exposure to new ideas and industry trends, and time to reconnect and recharge through fun events for three days in Vegas.”

      To check out Phenix Salon Suites for yourself, visit them at 3974 Red Bank Road, Suite C, in Cincinnati. You can also check our their website.

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      A new local market is showcasing community creatives. Read on for all the decorative details.

      Local makers make the world a prettier place and The Arts Alliance is helping them make an even bigger impact through The Deerfield Handmade Markets.

      According to Meredith Raffel, Founder and Executive Director at The Arts Alliance, The Deerfield Handmade Markets are designed to showcase local and regional fine arts, creatives, and makers by celebrating those who are creating unique items, and those who work in a more traditional medium, too.

      “The idea is to create a more organic and earthy event that welcomes all kinds of creativity,” she explains. “We will welcome artists in the categories of painting, drawing, sculpture, and those who are working to create soaps, floras, repurposing items, reuse materials, furniture makers, candles, cottage food, pop-up shop vendors, and more.”

      Raffel says the inspiration behind The Arts Alliance is change.

      “The Arts Alliance has always welcomed new ideas and tries to be a fluid organization,” she explains. “Change can be intimidating, but we are game to mix things up.”

      The festival events offered through The Arts Alliance have always been traditional – but there was a desire to switch it up a bit.

      “It just felt like it was time to welcome a broader set of creatives into the fold,” says Raffel. “Art and the creation of the arts shouldn’t be a stuffy experience and we aren’t a stuffy organization. We are open to new ideas and want to try new things. We have failed plenty of times, but we’ve succeeded even more. We are excited to introduce to the community new artists, new event elements, and enjoyment.”

      The welcomed change from The Arts Alliance resulted in The Deerfield Handmade Markets, which was launched in partnership with Deerfield Township.

      “We are bringing an urban idea to this rural community,” says Raffel. “We have seen these events downtown and in the breweries. We want to bring ‘cool’ to the ‘burbs.”

      Raffel says the Deerfield Handmade Markets are unlike anything else out there in Warren County. “The community will enjoy a lot of games, art making opportunities for their families, and social media opportunities, too.”

      The Deerfield Handmade Markets will give those doing good work in the community the chance to have a space at these events.

      “Through our Take Part Initiative, we welcome nonprofits to engage with the community and let people know what good work they are doing.”

      Those interested in the Take Part Initiative can tell The Arts Alliance about the good work they are doing in the community and they will be given a space. Raffel says approximately 10 spaces will be given to local non-profits.

      This year, markets will be held June 8 at Cottell Park from 11am to 5 pm, September 15 at Cottell Park from 11am to 5pm, and December 8 at Sonder Brewing from 11am to 5pm.

      There will be around 100 vendors at each of the three events, according to Raffel. The cost for vendors is $50 per event. Artists can apply for the juried events and find more information here.

      Raffel says the team comprised of The Arts Alliance and Deerfield Township is excited to bring the Deerfield Handmade Markets to the area this year, following 14 years of presenting festivals to the community.

      To learn more about The Arts Alliance, visit here. You can also follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. To contact The Arts Alliance directly, send them an email or call 513-309-8585.

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      This locally-based transportation company gives you a safer, more dependable, cost-effective option when going to and from the airport.

      Taxi Maxx offers transportation to and from CVG and Dayton airports.

      Max Osadchy wants to give his clients what they want when they want it. And that’s affordable and convenient transportation to and from the airport before and after their travels.

      That’s why he launched Taxi Maxx, a locally owned and operated airport transportation company based out of Mason, back in 2011.

      “The goal behind Taxi Maxx is  to provide both the community and businesses with gold standard professional service from a company that they can trust,” says Osadchy.

      Taxi Maxx offers affordable pricing to individuals, as well as term billing for corporate clients.

      Prices through Taxi Mass vary and are based on mileage, however, Osadchy says there is a flat rate from Mason to CVG of $70 and a flat rate of $90 to the Dayton airport.

      Osadchy prides himself on giving his customers high quality service. “We want our customers to feel comfortable and taken care of when choosing us,” he says. “The bulk of our business is corporate and families. We understand traveling can be a hassle, we want to be a positive experience in their journey. We are always available through reservation for those late night flights and conveniently meet our arriving customers inside CVG to help with luggage and eliminate the ‘search’ for their taxi/car.”

      Osadchy says that Taxi Mass continues to offer its clients a more dependable, seamless and safer choice in their airport travel.  

      To learn more about Taxi Maxx, click here. You can also “like” them on Facebook or call 513-280-2412.

      Taxi Maxx is also currently on the search for new employees. You can inquire by emailing or by calling 513-280-2412.

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        A local fashionista decided to carpe diem and open a new storefront in the city’s Central Business District. Read on to learn more about her inspiration and where you can find her vintage pieces.


        Marcie Hon in her new boutique, Down to Mars Vintage (Image: Twin Spire Photography)

        Marcie Hon has always been complimented on her unique style. Working at a high end costume shop as a costume designer has given her an eye for curating one of a kind looks. Hon is constantly surrounded by ornate gowns, costumes, and a selection of vintage pieces, which inspired her to launch her “Down to Mars Vintage” Etsy Shop, selling high-end vintage clothing.

        Hon has always had a quirky, vintage style, and in the fall of 2016, she launched her Etsy shop. She loves searching for gems and hand chooses each of the garments that are sold, setting her apart from other vintage shopping options. Not only are her pieces high style, but high quality is guaranteed. Her experience in the costume store has made her familiar with vintage cuts and sizes, which greatly differ from those of today. She has an eye for visualizing what a piece on the hanger will look like and knows how to personally style her clients.

        Down to Mars Vintage is located in the Central Business District of downtown Cincinnati (Image: Twin Spire Photography)

        Hon recalls the moment that her love of vintage fashion was solidified. When her grandparents passed, she wanted to keep their clothes. She specifically remembers her grandfather’s “members only” jacket; some may have thought it was ugly but she felt it was special and soulful. That is where her passion for vintage clothing comes from: the memories that are brought to life through the pieces.

        Hon was recently able to take her dream of a fashion brand one step further – the opening of her storefront on Main Street.

        “I was participating as a retailer in Downtown Cincinnati, Inc.’s temporary ‘Downtown Cincy Winter Pop Shop’ program from November 2018 to January 2019 when an older office space randomly opened up only a few blocks from where the Pop Shop was located,” says Hon. “I was intrigued by this new space because of the beautiful, tall storefront windows and an amazing mid-century-inspired light fixture. It seemed like too good of a location, timing, and space alignment to pass up, so I went for it.”

        Hon says she couldn’t have come across a better time to open her own store, as the pop-up shop’s time was coming to an end and she was wondering what she would be doing next. “This opportunity seemed to present itself at the right moment,” she adds.

        Hon then spent the entire month of February and most of March renovating the space into a modern boutique environment.

        With an always-growing downtown sector, Hon says that she’s excited to be located in Cincinnati’s Central Business District.

        Down to Mars Vintage celebrated its Grand Opening on March 22, 2019

        “It is important to me to continue to build upcon Cincinnati’s growing and booming creative small business atmosphere, especially in the downtown area,” she says. “There are not many places to shop in this area of downtown, and I am happy to provide a unique space where customers can shop vintage and gifts.”

        In the boutique, you’ll find women’s vintage fashions and accessories from the 1940s through the 1990s including formal and casual pieces.

        “Down to Mars also carries modern accessories and gifts ranging from jewelry, perfume, bar accessories, candles, and much more,” says Hon. “I am passionate about supporting other women-owned businesses from across the United States by carrying their products in my store.”

        Hon says to keep an eye out on her web-store, which will soon launch and feature vintage goods including fashion, accessories, and housewares.

        “Local customers will have the option to pick up the goods in-store or shipped to your home,” explains Hon.

        The web-store will also allow you to browse lookbooks from Down to Mars vintage styled photoshoots and learn more about services such as alterations and repairs on vintage pieces.

        Down To Mars Vintage is located at 621 Main Street in Cincinnati, between 6th and 7th streets. It’s also along the cincinnati Bell Connector line near the Richter & Phillips Station. The store is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm and Friday and Saturday from 11am to 8 pm.

        You can check out the Down To Mars Etsy shop, follow along on Instagram, or give them a “like” on Facebook.