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A Louisville-based start-up has plans to expand to Cincy. See how this company’s positive and community-based approach has led them to greatness. 


Level Up Cincinnati offers pop-up style classes and private events to connect, inspire, and education women in the community.

From empowering tools and information, to learning and growing among likeminded and positive individuals, the forthcoming Level Up Cincinnati could help you take your life to the next level.

A start-up with a positive outlook, Level Up is a company that provides pop-up style classes and private events with a goal to connect, educate, and inspire women in their communities. They strive to give back to their community by encouraging women of all ages to share their passion with others, connect in meaningful ways, and explore their own sense of curiosity. 

It was created by Natalia Bishop, Founder and Chief of Happiness, in June of 2016. Originally, it was started to bring more people to her co-working space, Story Louisville. But soon enough, it became a full-fledged company.

Hannah Estes, Director of Marketing, says, “I came on in March 2017 and we’ve been growing at an amazing rate ever since.” 

The students can choose from a wide variety of classes, including cooking classes, arts and crafts, and even classes associated with wellness and business opportunities. Students have a blast learning new things and being together. Their goal as they continue their journey into new communities is to nourish relationships, and to highlight their local makers, creatives, and businesses and to spread a sense of accomplishment and motivation amongst their students. 

The Level Up Cincinnati team.

Bishop, along with fellow colleagues such as Estes, even created a blog to capture and truly keep record of the amazing happenings within the organization. 

At Level Up, there are benefits for all involved: teachers, venues, and students alike. “Our teachers are able to hone their skills, share their talent and expose their brand to the local community, and our students get to experience and fall in love with the community as well,” Estes adds. “We have loved seeing the relationships created in our intimate classes flourish over the past few years.”

For the venues associated with Level Up, there is an opportunity to get the word out there with these events. Students get to experience the community outside of their “bubble” and truly discover neighborhoods they never knew were thriving. 

“We usually put our classes on the weeknights, so this gives venues the opportunity to get foot traffic on traditionally slow nights,” she says.

They have partnered with numerous charities in the past and have volunteered their time to host events that benefit the charities directly. They have pledged to donate up to 5% of their annual profits to local charities. 

They also host quarterly events around the Louisville area, their most recent being at Made Mark in Louisville where they donated all of their proceeds to Women and Families Charity. 

The only reason we can put on these events is because of the community and the support. That is why we love to give back. The sharing of space, talents, and gifts are supremely important to all that Level Up stands for,” Estes adds. 

In addition to the positive affirmations associated with this company, they are also an equal opportunity employer and welcome everyone to their team. They strongly encourage people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and non-binary people as well as people with disabilities to apply. They believe that equal opportunity is an integral part of Level Up and its future. 

Level Up’s headquarters are based in Louisville, Kentucky, with plans to expand to Cincinnati and Lexington, Kentucky. Although there have already been classes held in Cincinnati in the past, they still want to expand their community here in a bigger way. 

“We have a goal in September to have the Cincinnati branch of Level Up complete. We really want to do this right in order to take advantage of everything that Cincinnati has to offer to our company,” Estes explains. 

All of Level Up’s classes are pop-up events, so they are never held at the same location. This is meant to encourage women to not only connect to each other but to their cities as well by discovering new places around town. 

Estes says the easiest way to find class information is to check the class description on their website, and once you are registered, an email will be sent a week before the class is held with detailed information and a map with directions. Classes usually range from 12-25 people, with emphasis on hands-on learning and encouragement for questions. 

To learn more about Level Up, or take classes, visit their website at

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A local entrepreneur recently launched a certification model for gender equity in the workplace. See how it helps promote equal pay for equal work. 

Queen City Certified is the first local certification model for gender equity in the workplace. 

It was created by Nicole Armstrong, who is a 2018 Haile Fellow through People’s Liberty. People’s Liberty is a philanthropic lab that brings together passionate, civic-minded people to address challenges and uncover opportunities in Cincinnati. 

“Over the next year as a fellow, I’m going to be developing Queen City Certified. It is something that I’m really passionate about just because my background is very much in the social sector,” says Armstrong, who has worked in the non-profit sector for over 12 years, most recently in social innovation. 

Elaborating more, Armstrong adds, “I got to see first-hand how many women are struggling to become self-sufficient and a lot of the reasons they are struggling is because of these systematic barriers put in place, whether in lower wage jobs or all the way up on the executive level.” 

Today, Queen City Certified works to recognize and support organizations in the Cincinnati area that are committed to promoting an environment where citizens of all genders can thrive in the business world, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. They foster a research-based approach upon the belief that diversity, transparency, and all-inclusion are the cornerstones of a good business.

The certification model is open to both non-profit and for-profit businesses, and businesses of all sizes can participate. Armstrong wants to not only certify but also celebrate what companies are doing well, she adds, “I think a lot of companies are doing awesome things, and I believe a lot of other industries need to see what they’re doing, in order to create a dialogue centered around gender equity and the positives associated with it.” 

Because they are a certification company, they rank businesses across six categories: equal pay for equal work, work-life support, recruitment and interviewing practices, leadership and decision-making, professional development, and their organizational culture. Each business or non-profit that receivespoints based on these six categories will earn a rating on the levels of certified, silver, or gold.

Businesses can benefit from Queen City Certified in a variety of ways, Armstrong says. They offer support through their community of like-minded organizations where you can learn from the experience of local leaders, or gain progress towards gender equity. Once certified, certain organizations will receive the Queen City Certified “Leader in Gender Equity” logo to use as a marketing tool. By being certified, your business could help launch a movement to make Cincinnati a leader in gender equity. And of course, bragging rights are included!  

“It is just so incredibly important today that we bring some sort of transparency to our workplaces to better understand if we are walking the walk, Armstrong adds.

To get certified, an organization needs to go through three half-day collaborative learning sessions with the company, as well as complete an organization self-assessment. This will include going around and seeing how many policies and practices the company currently has in place that already support gender equity. Each organization will receive a guidebook with all the policies and practices included. 

If an organization makes it to a silver or gold qualification, they must complete an anonymous organization-wide survey as well as on-site observational research. There are two opportunities to participate in the certification process; one in the summer and one in the fall. Their first session is launching on July 11

“My goal ultimately is to create a sort of community of organizations that can share their best practices and their learnings and to also share across sectors and across industries,” Armstrong explains. “I think that maybe something that the orchestra is doing would be very valuable in the tech company, for example.”

Organizations such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Free Source Food Bank will be among the attendees in this certification process come July. Armstrong and her colleagues believe that having a wide variety of sectors will foster a conversation and a dialogue around their practices and innovation around gender equity. 

In terms of gender equity, it is all about inclusion. My hope is that once more and more organizations get certified, job seekers will see a choice between businesses that are certified and those that aren’t,” Armstrong says. “Knowing that a company values equity and is certified by that third party, can make a business that much more attractive to other employees.”

To learn more about Queen City Certified, or to apply for certification, visit their website at

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A local business consulting firm specializes in building companies from the ground up and pulling them out of plateaus. Read on for more.

Altabos is a business consulting business that provides business processes, branding, marketing, and IT consulting.

Business consulting that leverages a balance of creativity and technology to sustain success. That’s the idea behind Altabos, a Cincinnati-based business consulting firm.

Altabos provides business processes, branding, marketing, and information technology consulting to help a range of companies — from established corporations to emerging startups — bring their stories to life, and to implement efficient solutions. The secret to success is leveraging creative and technology services, according to Tom Moore, the Director of Process and Technology Innovation at Altabos.  

“We’ve been in consulting or corporate businesses, each one of us, for well over 20 years,” Moore explains, “and what we saw in that time of working with large companies is really what drove us to build Altabos.”

Today, they work with CEOs, business owners, many entrepreneurs, and a few new startups, to highlight the best parts of a business; or in a startup’s case, the idea. According to Moore, clients of Altabos are guaranteed a best-in-class approach to building a business in order to gain a meaningful and effective experience.

“We help a variety of struggling companies get out of their plateau of sorts, or to just get back on their feet,” says Moore. 

Through their business optimization services, they work to optimize the best parts of a business through engaging on the leadership level

“We see a variety of companies that were once very successful go through a stalling period and there can be lots of reasons for that,” Moore says. “That is why our primary services that we offer are focused on the typical areas of technology, branding, and marketing.” 

These strategies are the core aspects of Altabos. Moore says many companies use their technology platforms in an almost “half-speed” wayAltabos helps them to improve that technology to benefit the business and market. The other areas of services offered through branding and marketing, strive to improve a company’s image. 

Elaborating on their strategy, Moore adds, “Many companies come to us with branding issues, another place where they’ve reached a plateau. What these companies may not realize is that they may need a major culture shift.”

After a company reaches a cultural stall in their marketing strategy, Altabos helps with creating a new logo or design and renaming certain aspects. And although this company helps others develop marketing strategies, they do not advertise themselves in the typical way. 

“We typically do not grow through advertising. We grow solely based on our network and who we connect with,” Moore says. “We think that through this process we might gain more respect and trust from companies that work with us.”

To learn more, visit

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A local non-profit and business accelerator focuses on strengthening business leaders of the future with its next networking event. Read on for more.

Ocean Accelerator is teaming up with Kila Englebrook of the Social Enterprise Alliance to host a Social Impact Speed Networking event.

A local organization, Ocean Accelerator, is widening its sea of business connections, resources and enrichment opportunities.

Ocean Accelerator is a Cincinnati based non-profit focused on entrepreneurship and service in the community. It is an independent business accelerator that is uniquely faith-based and focused on “building into the founder,” therefore encouraging and supporting new leaders develop their own business ideas.

Their mission is driven by belief, stating that with a strong understanding of what it takes for an entrepreneur to succeed and a belief in God, humans can help the community not just surviving, but thriving in the business world professionally and spiritually. The programs offered also help those seeking success to maneuver the obstacles of business and to help them grow in the face of adversity. Through their events, trainings, accelerators, and tribe, Oceans teaches, mentors, and invests in those who have a strong faith in God and a passion for success.

Making its debut this Thursday, June 21, the Social Impact Speed Networking event is a special night for individuals to connect and network with other passionate counterparts in social impact. This event will provide bright individuals with the chance to meet other business leaders and employers with the same mindset. This event offers the perfect opportunity to expand your business, or social and enterprise contacts, whether you are a social entrepreneur, small business owner, non-profit professional, or someone just wanting to connect with other individuals doing good in the Cincinnati area. 

“The Greater Cincinnati chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance, or S.E.A., actually approached us and were interested in doing a sort of partnership or event with us,” says Courtney DeGeorge-Allen, one of the event and outreach coordinators for Oceans Accelerator.

“As an organization,” DeGeorge-Allen adds, “the S.E.A. is definitely something that is near and dear to our hearts because making the world a better place through your work is a pretty awesome thing to strive to do.”

The S.E.A. is a national organization that provides resources and connections for social enterprises. The vision for S.E.A. as a whole is for social enterprise to reach its potential as a force for more effective and sustainable social impact. They empower social enterprises and social entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and work to foster a social enterprise ecosystem in which they can thrive.

At the core of the non-profit, the Ocean community thrives among the concepts of Faith and Entrepreneurship. They have honed seven “continents” of Faith as the backbone to their mission: purpose, perseverance, bravery, discipline, creativity, truth, and community. “This is why it was very natural to partner with S.E.A. for this event,” explains DeGeorge-Allen. “They have such similar values and a fantastic purpose.”

Oceans Accelerator is unique in that they aid new high-techstartups in accelerating and eventually launching a new businessEach young entrepreneur goes through a series of programs including the Harbor Small Business Training in which members toil through nine weeks of once a week sessions followed by six monthly group coaching sessions. The program is led by an experienced business owner and entrepreneur catered to the startup. 

They host several events throughout the year, such as this one, focused on combating “founder loneliness and increasing founding skills. 

Throughout the evening, there will be time to speak with other business leaders as well as a presentation from the President and CEO of S.E.A Network, Kila Englebrook. Englebrook will be talking briefly about her company, as well as sharing some stories from other S.E.A. chapters around the country that highlight the power of networking and community. 

In addition to this groundbreaking event, there will be even more happenings like this one. “There won’t be a repeat of this event any other time this year, but we will be continuing with our monthly events every second Tuesday,” says DeGeorge-Allen. “There are two scheduled already for July and August that focus on entrepreneurship.”

In addition, S.E.A. Cincinnati holds quarterly events that are similar in nature and hosted in partnership with other social enterprises throughout the city.

Each event has a networking purpose,” she says, “but some may be focused on providing education and resources for social enterprises as well.” 

The event will be held this Thursday, June 21, from 5:30- 8:30 PM with Ocean Accelerator, located at 1100 Sycamore Street, 4th Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45202. It is free for S.E.A. members and $10 for non-members. Light refreshments will be provided.

To learn more about Oceans Accelerator, visit

To learn more about Englebrook and the Greater Cincinnati Regional Chapter of S.E.A., visit,

To learn more about the event, or purchase a ticket, click here.

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A local non-profit uses a powerful message to teach young and at-risk youths how to rise up personally and professionally with its camp for Emerging Virtuous Entrepreneurs.

Table for 1 Inc. and Never the Less Inc. are hosting a special Entrepreneurship and Character development camp for young girls ages 12 to 17.

This summer, in collaboration with Table for 1 Inc., Never the Less Inc. non-profit is hosting a special Entrepreneurship and Character development camp for young girls ages 12 to 17. The camp is titled Camp E.V.E., standing for Emerging Virtuous Entrepreneurs. 

“We started the program three years ago, with the goal in mind to arm young girls with knowledge on how to be immersed in whatever situation they are put in and to teach them how to be virtuous in overcoming it,” says Doris Thomas, founder of Never the Less Inc. and main coordinator of the camp.  

Never the Less, Inc., a local faith-based non-profit, strives to support their mission to provide teachings and services that promote confidence, character, self-sufficiency, and sustainability for at-risk teen girls in the Cincinnati area. Through their after school and summer programs, the organization provides young girls with the mindset needed to rise above circumstances and grow into resilient, strong, and thoughtful leaders in their community. 

Thomas, along with other contributors at the center, created the E.V.E program in order to teach these girls valuable life skills as well as help them learn the fun that comes with becoming an entrepreneur. 

Elaborating on the importance of the program, Thomas interjects, “Young girls, especially those living in the African American community, are not normally pushed to excel in expanding their mind. When we tell parents that we want to bring up girls to be successful business women, they don’t believe us.”

The camp lasts for four weeks, each week incorporating a new theme, such as “Dream” or “Faith”. They tie in the core values of the organization into each lesson. 

Michelle Thompson, author of the book titled Table for 1, Please, and creator of Table for 1 Inc., created a curriculum for the camp. 

According to Thomas, “This is our first year that we have incorporated Table for 1 Inc. Last year we went solo.” 

Thompson’s novel, Table for 1, Please, includes a touching story of a young girl who struggles to live up to her name. It is designed to include faith-based applications in order to inspire all young girls to lead lives of joy, purpose, and victory! The non-profit, which was built around the message in Thompson’s book, is geared toward growing successful and balanced relationships among everyday people. Table for 1 Inc., the non-profit that stemmed from Thompson’s novel, has grown to spread the message of all citizens becoming “1”, whole, and complete through their ideas of speaking, teaching, and outreach resources. 

Thomas and her colleagues now want to incorporate any other non-profits in the future of the program in order to offer more depth to the curriculum.

The E.V.E. program is designed to develop leaders, stressing that within each of these girls, God gives them the ability to bring their hopes and imaginations to life to develop business plans, company names, and logos. 

At the conclusion of the four weeks, the camp challenges each young lady to present a fresh and new business idea to the public in order to gain support and experience. 

As the girls complete the program, four of the nine participants are chosen for apprenticeship programs with local businesses around Cincinnati. They are provided a stipe-in that is donated by the organization in order for them to start making money in their selected fields. 

“The girls that we choose to go out are job-ready and are already leaders in their community. They are chosen based on their attendance and participation in the lessons, the amount of creativity and poise in their final presentations, and how much they have proven to us that they have emerged into the type of woman that we are trying to develop,” Thomas says. 

The camp consists of reoccurring classes covering Entrepreneurship and Character and are held every Monday through Thursday starting on Monday, June 4 and ending onThursday, June 28. All events are from 12 PM to 4 PM and are hosted by Never the Less Inc. non-profit and Table for 1, Please located at 727 Ezzard Charles Dr. in Cincinnati, OH 45203. The program costs $40. 

Never the Less Inc. possesses a main mantra: “Their voice is their power.” This encompasses all that Thomas wants the girls to take with them after their time with the center. 

We want the girls to know that they come first and they can always emerge out of a bad situation if they keep their core values. They must know how valuable they are in order to give back to their community,” she concludes. 

To learn more about Table for 1 Inc., visit To learn more about Never the Less Inc. and their other programs, visit,

To learn more about the Camp, or reserve a spot, visit their Facebook page.

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Read on for more about an upcoming young professional event that'll help you get some garden-fresh air as you make some fresh new business connections, too!

The Civic Garden Center wants your network to be as lush as their gorgeous gardens. That’s why they’re hosting a Young Professional Walk and Talk June 6, from 6-8pm at the Parkers Woods and Buttercup Valley Nature Preserve.

The Civic Garden Center (CGC) is a non-profit organization with a mission to build community through gardening, education, and environmental stewardship. They were founded in 1942, and is the only organization of its kind in the regional area. Using horticulture, which is the art of garden cultivation and management, they host classes, house a horticultural library, and several gardens for visitors to enjoy at no cost.

They’ve even cultivated an outdoor compost classroom titled the Green Learning Station, furthering their mission to support the development and success of over 50 community and children’s gardens throughout the city. All buildings and grounds are available for rental events and meetings of any kind.

Jen Bakes, the volunteer coordinator at the center, created the Young Professional Organization, specifically for CGC. “The group was started in September and I started in mid-August so it was one of the first projects I worked on,” says Bakes. “It is made up of people from ages 21 to 45 generally and because there are multiple organizations in the area that have groups like this, I decided to start one as well.”

Elaborating more on the event, she says, “We have meetings every month, usually encompassing a social, educational, or volunteer activity in order to engage young professionals in the culture of our center and to educate them on what we aim to do, which is support the botanical nature of the city.” The organization strives to bring together those who have an interest in the environment in order to educate them on possibly pursuing a career geared towards the field.

Bakes says these meetings are usually held at the center but have also been held at places like Taft Ale House and a couple other different gardens around the city. Members can also enjoy various lectures around the city as well.

At this month’s event on June 6, horticulturist Greg Torres will be taking attendees on a tour around Buttercup Valley Nature Preserve in Northside giving them a chance to connect with each other and learn more about CGC.

“Most of the people we reach out to don’t have a background in the field so that is one of the reasons why we highlight it so much,” Bakes explains. “We want to make people more aware of how great it is.”

The Walk and Talk will be held on Wednesday June 6 from 6-8pm at Parkers Woods and Buttercup Valley Nature Preserve, located at Butter Cup Valley, Cincinnati, OH 45223.

To learn more about the Civic Garden Center, visit
and sign up on Facebook if you would like to join the party,

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Learn more about a local organization that’s dedicated to “engaged” philanthropy and its global network of partners who are helping nonprofits succeed.

Social Venture Partners gives local nonprofits the opportunity to grow through investors who are actively engaged in helping them succeed.

There aren’t many things more gratifying than giving back to the community. And that’s where Social Venture Partners comes in.

“Social Venture Partners is Cincinnati’s home for engaged philanthropists,” says Lauren LaCerda Merten, Executive Director of SVP Cincinnati. “We are part of an international network of 3,500 partners who collectively invest time, talent, and grant money in innovative ways to strengthen local nonprofits.”

The purpose of Social Venture Partners is to help enable its investors to make the Cincinnati region a strong and more vibrant community, according to LaCerda Merten.

Launched in 2007, Social Venture Partners has raised more than $1.6 million through grants to investees, Fast Pitch grants, and in-kind contributions and consulting to investees. And because it’s dedicated to helping the city’s nonprofits, those numbers will continue to grow.

Social Venture Partners was originally launched in Seattle, by Co-Founder Paul Brainerd, who wanted to start something that would allow people to not just write checks but work side-by-side with nonprofits. Since its first model in the Pacific Northwest, Social Venture Partners has expanded to more than 40 cities throughout the world.

“Our partners invest their time, money, and skills in nonprofits in their immediate communities,” says LaCerda Merten. “On the other hand, our partners are part of a global network. They share common ideals, similar struggles, and can tap into a wealth of knowledge through network-wide conference, online resources, and virtual cross-city forums made possible by Social Venture Partners International.”

Social Venture Partners Cincinnati has expanded to 60 partners and LaCerda Merten says they’re always looking to add more. The current portfolio of partners range in age from 18 to 60+ years. They include people who have climbed the corporate ladder, lifelong volunteers, those who are starting their adult lives, and college students. LaCerda Merten adds that half of the partners in Cincinnati are women.

“All are bound by the common thread of looking for a way to combine the power of business with their passion for philanthropy,” says LaCerda Merten.

There are two main programs at Social Venture Partners – the Investee Program and Fast Pitch.

Lauren LaCerda Merten, Executive Director of Social Venture Partners Cincinnati

The Investee Program features one selected nonprofit chosen through an extensive application process. Known as the Investee, the nonprofit gets grants that are typically $60,000 over three years.

“Each grant is leveraged by the strategic contribution of our Partners’ time and expertise over the three year period, so that the average benefit to the nonprofit is three to five times greater than the cash grants alone” says LaCerda Merten. “Social Venture Partner grants are just the beginning of our investment. Partners invest their expertise, experience, and networks to help nonprofits succeed.”

The other program is the Fast Pitch program. “Fast Pitch is a technique borrowed from the venture capital and startup communities,” LaCerda Merten. “It is a way to showcase and accelerate nonprofits making a difference in our city.”

Through this program, nonprofits get six weeks of training in telling effective, inspiring stores and then competing against each other in a 3-minute pitch for up to $40,000 in prizes.

“In its fifth year, Fast Pitch 2018 was bigger and better than ever,” says LaCerda Merten. “It was attended by more than 600 people at the Duke Energy Convention Center and we continue to hear the impact beyond the cash rewards.”

Other ways Social Venture Partners helps local nonprofits is to launch with Inspiring Service.

“This is a website to facilitate volunteerism in our community,” says LaCerda Merten. “And we are working on Mayor Cranley’s Volunteerism Task Force to support the Give One for Cincy Challenge. Give One for Cincy is an initiative of Mayor John Cranley to motivate all Cincinnatians to spend a minimum of one hour per month volunteering their time for others.”

Social Venture Partners Cincinnati is committed to developing a community of informed, powerful donors. “The engaged philanthropy model provides partners with a unique opportunity to learn about the challenges facing our community and local nonprofits,” LaCerda Merten. “From annual Social Venture Partners International conferences to local panel discussions with nationally recognized experts, our education programs allow partners to build skills and knowledge for truly effective philanthropy. We offer partners a safe forum to explore more deeply their giving philosophies and interests.”

Social Venture Partners is always looking toward innovation. “We are always looking for ways to expand our partnership and our impact in the Greater Cincinnati community,” says LaCerda Merten. “We are actively evaluating best practices across the Social Venture Partners global network to identify new approaches to some of Cincinnati’s most challenging community problems. We are also working to innovate our Fast Pitch program as we head into the sixth year.”

To learn more about Social Venture Partners Cincinnati, click here. You can also follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

LaCerda Merten says that information about the upcoming 2019 grant cycle will be posted on the website as well as on social media. Those who are interested in joining as a partner can contact LaCerda Merten at or by calling 513-458-6715.

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Learn about a new resource that provides a place for those in need to find professional clothing ranging from business formal to business casual.

The UC Clermont Career Closet helps students find professional clothes for interviews, internships, events, and more.

Every student should be set up for success, no matter if it’s in the classroom, workplace, or looking in the mirror. 

That’s the idea behind Clermont Career Closet, a new resource through the University of Cincinnati Clermont College, that helps students find professional clothes to wear for interviews, internships, work/college events, and more. The UC Clermont Career Closet ensures that all students are able to start a wardrobe of professional clothing to help launch them into the careers of their dreams.

With all the other hurdles that students have to overcome, Monika Royal-Fischer, founder of the Clermont Closet, doesn’t want “what to wear” to be a hurdle. Royal-Fischer came up with the idea to create a career closet after noticing that students didn’t have the proper clothes to wear to a career fair, and therefore, didn’t feel like they could attend.

“I wanted to make sure that no student ever felt held back from opportunity by a lack of professional attire,” says Royal-Fischer. “So I took the idea of the Career Closet to the Dean Jeff Bauer, UC Clermont Dean, who wholeheartedly supported it. We also received a Community Impact grant from Walmart which allowed us to purchase all of the racks, fittings, and things you never think about needing, so that we could build-out our physical space.”

Fast-forward to today, and Royal-Fischer says the UC Clermont Career closet gets strong support from the faculty and staff at UC, as well as business partners and the community. “We’re so lucky that people believe in what we’re doing,” she adds.

The Clermont Career Closet’s primary service is professional career outfitting. They work with students by appointment to help select two or three complete outfits which they can then keep at no charge.

“This summer we hope to put our entire inventory online, to make it easier for students to see what we have available and to expedite the outfitting process,” says Royal-Fischer.

The UC Clermont Career Closet is unique in that it’s completely oriented around the goal of making sure all students have the professional clothing they need to fit into the workplace. And thanks to the generosity of donors, they have a wide range of sizes and styles available, so that they can fit most anyone.

They are also unique in that they are open to partnering with the community to share this resource. For example, they recently collaborated with the Clermont County Public Library to outfit teens for a job fair.

Royal-Fischer’s hope is to grow the UC Clermont Career Closet into a resource that can be shared more broadly with the entire Clermont County community – so that all job seekers have the clothes they need to succeed.

Clermont Career Closet is located at 1981 James E. Sauls Sr. Drive in Batavia, Ohio. They are currently accepting donations of new or clean gently used clothing on hangers – at the UC East campus. They also welcome monetary donations. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 3 pm (summer hours). For information, email Monika Royal-Fischer at or call 513-732-5277.

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A new co-working space offers on-site childcare, giving work-from-home parents a place to get work done without the worry of finding childcare. Read on for more.


Gather Cincy is a co-working space that offers parents the chance to work while offering on-site childcare.

When you’re a working parent, the option to work from home is often a blessing. In reality though, it’s not easy to concentrate for longer than a few minutes with little ones running around, find enough quiet time to make a call, or schedule a sitter for a last minute meeting.

One local co-working space aims to change that: Gather Cincy in East Walnut Hills.

“Gather Cincy is a co-working space that provides the additional benefit of on-site childcare,” explains Gather Cincy Co-Owner Meg Cooper. “Gather Cincy’s aim is to bridge the gap between balancing a career and raising a family by providing a comfortable workspace where parents can be productive while their children are playing and learning.”

At Gather Cincy you’ll find that there are three floors of co-working space, including a conference room and private offices. The Victorian-era home turned office space is conveniently located near downtown Cincinnati as well as Northern Kentucky, Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout, and other communities near Interstate 71.

Cooper, who founded Gather Cincy with her mother Peggy Bustamante, has always been passionate about building community. “In today’s fast-paced world with demands that never seem to stop growing, community is an afterthought for many hard-working individuals,” says Cooper. “My mom and I saw that many parents were being forced to choose between pursuing a career or raising a family. Additionally, the growing popularity of working from home has left many feeling lonely and actually less productive than in an office environment.”

Cooper and her mother understand that it can be difficult to find a community to become a part of when you’re trying to bridge the gap between raising a child and working, and that’s why they hope Gather Cincy allows working parents who use the space will be able to find that community of others who are in the same stage of life and can benefit from each other’s gifts, talents, and businesses.

Meg and Peggy, the mother-daughter team behind Gather Cincy.

Aside from being the first co-working space of its kind in the city, Gather Cincy also helps parents work with a peace of mind knowing that their children are being taken care of while they work.

“This is the only co-working space in Cincinnati that provides this service,” says Cooper. “While many co-working spaces are geared toward startups and small businesses, Gather is geared toward work-from-home parents, although some members do not have children and just appreciate the delightful space to work and enjoy the others in the community.”

Cooper also says that the Gather Cincy community itself is unique in that its members are encouraged to build networks and develop relationships with others who visit the space. “Members are also encouraged to share their skills and talents by teaching seminars and hosting workshops for members and the outside community,” adds Cooper.

The grand opening of Gather Cincy is June 1 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. There you can check out the space and also get to know Sapna Gupta, who will be offering legal office hours at Gather Cincy through her law firm SAPG Legal.

When asked what Gupta liked about the space at Gather Cincy, she says she enjoys its location within the city’s flourishing business community. “In the heart of East Walnut Hills, where several small businesses are emerging and growing, Gather Cincy is perfectly situated to serve the needs of the community,” says Gupta. “I love the Gather Cincy business model, location, and the space.”

Gupta says she also enjoys the idea behind Gather Cincy and its passion for creating a co-working space that fits the needs of business owners and parents alike.

“It’s the first space of its kind that I have seen that is tailored toward entrepreneurial parents – offering the opportunity for private office space, co-working, and childcare within the same building,” says Gupta. “The environment that Meg has created is conducive to several different types of businesses in all phases of the business life, and affords parents a work-life balance without having to sacrifice one for the other.”

Sapna Gupta will offer free business legal hours once a week at Gather Cincy.

Because Gupta is a Business Law attorney, she can meet with the entrepreneurs who visit Gather Cincy and speak with them on a number of different legal and business matters.

“I realized that legal consult is not a very approachable subject for business owners, especially at an affordable rate,” she explains. “About 5 years ago, I pioneered my firm’s community outreach program, offering legal consult to business owners in New York City through a government program called NYC Business Solutions, and have decided to offer that same type of service here at Gather Cincy.”

Those who are interested in meeting with Gupta can chat with her for her office hours from 11 am to 12 pm every Wednesday for free legal consult. These conversations can include basic startup advice on incorporation, corporate structure, forming partnerships, and legal tips. Gupta says she will also offer advice on contracts like employment agreements, vendor agreements, commercial leases, mergers and acquisitions, corporate transactions, licensing, immigration, creditor-debtor transactions, and bankruptcy.

To learn more about Gather Cincy, visit You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram, or, to schedule a tour of the space, send an email to

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Read on as we chat with the local lady behind a new event coming up geared toward helping women level up their career and personal brand.


After growing tired of the same corporate workshops and lunch and learns, Morgan Owens decided to create a brand where women felt not only valued but also given the opportunity to better themselves and their careers.

The Professional Pretty Conference, held May 19 at the University Of Cincinnati

​African American Cultural Resource Center, was founded with the mission that women can be “powerful and pretty,” says Owens.

Geared toward any woman with the desire to become more marketable in their corporate and/or entrepreneurial careers, the conference will touch on topics such as career building, public relations, trademarks, email marketing, personal/business branding, how to navigate the corporate sector and more.

With 12 workshops, 100 attendees and 15 speakers, Professional Pretty aims to show women in the workplace how to be their authentic selves and still get the job done, according to Owens. 

“I hope to accomplish an experience where attendees will not only walk away empowered but with actual information to make them great,” explains Owens. “Many empowerment conferences get you excited but as soon as Monday rolls around, many women lose that spirit. My hope is to have that spirit radiate and remain within after being surrounded by like-minded women who are there intentionally to help other women succeed.”

Morgan Owens is organizing the Professional Pretty Conference at the University of Cincinnati.

Attendees can expect to hear from keynote speaker Dawn Williams Thompson, Brand Strategist/President, and well as Owens herself, a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” specializing in Marketing and Branding. The Morgan A. Owens brand series has been broadcasted and supported by Fox 19 News, WLWT Channel 5, The Cincinnati Herald, and Radio One.

Attendees will also be able to enter “Slay Alleyway” throughout the day to learn about beauty, skincare, and styling from some of Cincinnati’s top experts.

Now more than ever, Owens says, this is the best time to hold an event like this. “Minority women are the number one demographic as entrepreneurs right now. However, I feel a lot of women in business are operating without the proper education foundation they need to not only sustain in longevity but take their business to a nationwide level,” says Owens, adding that her Professional Pretty event is for any woman wanting level up her career or business while also looking the part. 

For more conference information, go to or