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    Inspired by the artistic beauty that makes Cincinnati so colorful, two local entrepreneurs set out to highlight and tell the stories of the city’s makers and creators. Learn more about this story-telling dynamic duo, the resource they’ve created, and how they’re now expanding its reach to neighboring cities.

     

    Five-Dots is an online-based publication that focuses on Cincinnati’s booming arts community.

    While it may not be obvious to everyone, Cincinnati is truly an art destination. To help others realize the density of the arts community, local artist and writer Megan Bickel and photographer Cassandra Zetta Niehaus launched a collaborative, non-profit style, bi-monthly online arts publication called Five-Dots.

    “We started Five-Dots in July 2016 with the intent of opening up the lines of conversation between artists, makers, curators, and the public,” explains Bickel.

    Cassandra Niehaus, Co-Founder of Five-Dots.

    Bickel and Niehaus use their publication to speak with a variety of members from Cincinnati’s creative community. “We speak about their work, process, ideas, concerns about their community, and workspace as a means to discuss greater general topics such as the politics of being a creative entrepreneur, the financial and social risks of taking up non-traditional work paths, and how it affects them for the better and worse,” adds Bickel.

    This dynamic duo was inspired to launch Five-Dots after encounter other online publications such as Two Coats of Pain by Sharon Butler in New York and In-the-Make by Klea McKenna and writer Nikki Grattan in addition to several arts podcasts, and seeing that man people outside the arts community in Cincinnati had no idea just how abundant the arts are in the city.

    “We wanted to create a platform that was engaging, stimulating, and thoughtful without being intimidating,” says Bickel. “We wanted to challenge without being confrontational.”

    Five-Dots started out as a project based out of Cincinnati, however, Bickel says it will continue to grow in the next months to include Louisville, Lexington, and other areas in the region.

    Megan Bickel, Co-Founder of Five-Dots.

    Today, Five-Dots published interviews on artists, printmakers, designers, and curators, thanks to the growth since since launching just over six months ago.

    This unique take on the artistic community in Cincinnati is one of the city’s best kept secrets. “We provide a service to creaties and non-creatives alike in that we bring the lofty, 20th century ideas of what an artist is and we bring it down to earth,” says Bickel. “We want the general public to see that being in the creative industry is like no other. The people we interview are their own product generators, marketers, publishers, shippers, accountants, and in general, badasses that own every single component of their practice.”

    The goal of Five-Dots is to introduce the general community the wonder, freedom, and obligation that comes along with being an artist, maker, and curator.  “Five-Dots hopes to encourage others to dive into what makes them happiest,” adds Bickel. “Because, at the end of the day, you are the biggest contribution to your community when you do what you do best,”

    You can expect to see content from Five-Dots continuing to be published in the coming months. Bickel says the two will launch a few interviews in the coming months with several international online galleries while hoping to open up the question, “what is regional within the context of the Internet?”

    Five-Dots can be found within the blog section of Made in Cincinnati and will soon be found through a co-launching program with AEQAI, in which Five-Dots will share selected relevant content from each other’s publications.

    Bickel adds that Five-Dots is also always taking submissions from creatives in the area, and those who are interested in submitting can visit www.five-dots.com to fill out the contact form.

    To learn more about Five-Dots, visit www.five-dots.com. The two launches new interviews every first and final Friday of the month. You can also follow along on Instagram and Facebook for updates on launches and to learn more about the interviewees highlighted.

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      A knack for decorative finishing followed by a love for Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint turned into a booming business for this Ohio couple. Keep reading to hear their story and see how they’re now featuring local artisans in their four stores, warming clients’ hearts and homes.

      Debra Campbell of Fleurish Home with Chip and Joanna Gaines of the popular HGTV show Fixer Upper.

      Rustic home decor has busted back on the home design and decorating scene and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon thanks to a growing popularity to repurpose items and stay green.

      To help locals find the products they were looking for while designing and decorating, husband and wife team Debra and Doug Campbell were inspired to launch their own business, Fleurish Home.

      Fleurish Home is an official retailer of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint.

      The business was officially born in 2013 to serve an ever-growing demand for Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint, but it’s origin story dates back long before Fleurish Home became a physical home decor and gift shop.

      Debra’s professional career has always been in the field of creating all things visual. She started her career in visual merchandising for various retail stores following the completion of her Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising from Bowling Green State University.

      During her time in the visual merchandising realm, Debra began to fine tune her skills in decorative finishing like gilding, faux finishes, glazes, murals, and Venetian plaster. Decorative finishing was no longer just a hobby for Debra, it was something she knew she wanted to turn into a business when her merchandising career became too difficult after her and Doug started a family.

      Debra’s first business launched in 2000, under the name Wallartistry. “Over the years I was asked to showcase my work in home-a-ramas, model homes, designer show houses, and more,” she explains. “I was commissioned to do hundreds of homes and commercial properties from small, one-room projects to large, 10,000-square-foot residents. I was working for local celebrities and sports figures and doing projects for restaurants and even ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition.”

      All of that hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. Debra has won several national awards for her work and after she saw just how successful she was in the home decorating field she decided to launch her own studio/school to help teach others the field of decorating finishing.

      Fleurish Home is also a gift and decor shop to help you fill your home with unique items.

      “It was here that I was introduced to Chalk Paint by one of my students in the late summer of 2010,” she says. “It was shortly after it landed in the United States and I was instantly hooked.”

      Soon thereafter Debra became a Chalk Paint retailer and traveled all over the state of Ohio, showing retail shops and paint studios the new product she’d encountered.

      Doug has always been Debra’s right-hand-man. His professional career included a journeyman electrician, and when he wasn’t doing that he was helping Debra with large decorating plastering jobs in the evenings and on weeks.

      The two realized they needed a shop with regular hours when they couldn’t keep up with the demand for Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint. Doug was making daily trips to UPS, setting up at trade-shows and events, and picking up and delivering paint to local retailers.

      “We needed a shop with regular hours, and along with paint, customers had starting asking what other items were available for purchase,” says Debra. “So, we closed our studio and started work on the retail shop.”

      When they committed to the shop, they went all in. Doug took a huge leap of faith and left his day job in order to help get the shop together.

      “We’ve always wanted to work together, so opening the shop was a dream come true for both of us,” says Debra. We are so lucky to work side-by-side everyday and make this our family business.”

      Fleurish Home sells paint supplies including chalk paints, waxes and topcoats, stencils, gilding & metallics, hardware & knobs, Annie Sloan & DIY books, embellishments, and they also carry the Annie Sloan Fabric Collection.

      These DIY items aren’t the only things you can find from Fleurish Home. They also carry botanicals and room decor including objects and accents, wall art, typography, one-of-a-kind items, lantern & candle holders, and other items to decorate your home.

      “Many of the shop’s items are from small businesses and/or handmade by themselves or other artisans around the country,” says Debra. “We wanted to help others to ‘fleurish’ in their lives and look beautiful while doing so.”

      There are several physical stores of Fleurish Home throughout southwestern Ohio. Physical locations can be found in Columbus, Springboro, Cincinnati, and Hamilton. To learn more, email support@fleurishhome.com or call 937-748-8362. To learn more, visit http://www.fleurishhome.com/ or follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

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        Wedding Season is about to kick into high gear. We chat with a local expert for the best ways to plan for the big day, while still keeping your budget and sanity in check. Read on (and watch an exclusive webcast) for all her helpful hints!

        Kathy Piech-Lukas, Owner of Your Dream Day (right).

        Kathy Piech-Lukas spent much of her past “career life” working in corporate marketing and event planning. But she found her passion while planning her own wedding when other professional planners encouraged her to venture out on a wedding planning business of her own.

        “Fourteen years ago there were no reality shows, so I assumed wedding planners were like those in the movies for wealthy people,” she explains. “I didn’t realize that wedding planners could be so helpful to an average person like me.”

        Piech-Lukas is the sole owner and planner at Your Dream Day, a wedding planning company that serves brides and grooms in Cincinnati and Dayton.

        Because everyone is different, wedding planning is also different for each client. “Wedding planning means different things to different people,” she says.

        But at Your Dream Day, no matter your preferences, you’ll find everything from event design, personalized vendor selection, timeline management, task checklists, rehearsal coordination, and day-of wedding management.

        Thanks to the wants and needs of brides and grooms across the area, no day is the same for Piech-Lukas at Your Dream Day, and that’s exactly what she loves the most about running her own wedding planning business.

        “Every story is original and every client is unique,” she adds.

        Those clients bring their own inspiration for each event, and give Piech-Lukas her own inspiration for their big day as well, so no two weddings are the same.

        What makes Your Dream Day stand out among other wedding planners is the attention they give each client. “We take pride in our work and develop close relationships with our clients during the planning process,” says Piech-Lukas.

        To help ensure that couples are happy and doing well, Piech-Lukas likes to stay in touch with the majority of her brides and grooms after the wedding.

        “Many of my brides think of me like an impartial big sister figure during the planning process, and parents consider me to be a translator, helping their children understand why they may want a certain thing done at a wedding,” she says.

        You can look forward to more wedding planning from Your Dream Day in 2017. Piech-Lukas says she also plans to give her blog more emphasis this year, featuring nothing but weddings including real wedding vendor stories, real local weddings, wedding planning tips, and pertinent information to planning a wedding in Southwest Ohio.

        “Planning can get so overwhelming with all the websites and bridal shows, and it’s hard to know what an honest (versus paid) referral is or who truly is the best,” she says. “We want to help brides navigate that process and make wedding planning more fun and less stressful.

        To learn more about Your Dream Day, visit www.yourdreamday.com. You can also follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Also, watch the exclusive webcast below as Cincy Chic’s publisher Amy Scalia chats with Lukas about several more helpful wedding planning tips.

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          Calling all fashionistas! A local stylist is bringing her online boutique to a brick-and-mortar near you! Keep reading to learn more about the new boutique that will showcase her styling skills, on-trend tips, and fashionable finds!

          Sydney Murdock of UnCommon Things is turning her online boutique into a brick and mortar fashion headquarters in Cincinnati.

          There’s nothing common about Sydney Murdock. She’s spent the past seven years working as a fashion stylist and has been able to build up a portfolio and small clientele right here in Cincinnati as well as New York City.

          But her work doesn’t stop at styling. Murdock also launched an online boutique called UnCommon Things. “UnCommon Things started out as an online destination for young women to shop for the pieces that they live for,” she explains. “This includes funky, sexy, and unique pieces that fashion-forward women often have a hard time finding.”

          Murdock was inspired to launch UnCommon Things through her passion for helping women look and feel good about themselves while also creating a place Cincinnati women could go to find the fashion they’re looking for.

          “There are fewer and fewer places that cater to the fashion forward ladies within the city who are looking for uniqueness and edge to add to their wardrobe,” she says. “The store has grown quickly over the past few months and will launch with a storefront in the summer.”

          Sydney Murdock, Owner of UnCommon Things

          As someone who strives to help women with their clothing, she also wanted a business that was her own and could fully showcase who she is as a stylist, buyer, and fashion enthusiast in the city.

          “Since there wasn’t a lane, I began working toward creating one,” she says. “UnCommon Things is not only a clothing store, but it will also stand as a fashion haven where women can schedule styling services, closet revamps, and more.”

          Murdock’s passion also lies in working for herself and pushing the notion of becoming a “girl boss” in her field. “Women are the future, we need to own our own businesses,” she adds.

          Currently, the boutique is a huge project that Murdock is continuing to develop. “There is a ton of planning, construction, and ordering that has to be done prior to the big reveal,” she says. “We are geared toward opening by June 2017.”

          While she’s keeping most of the details regarding the project top secret, Murdock says she plans to let Cincy Chic be the first to know more information.

          As for inventory, Murdock says she plans to carry a variety of products ranging from monochrome sets to thigh high boots and bedazzled chockers. “We will have it all,” she says.

          To learn more about UnCommon Things, check out the store website at www.uncommonthings.co. You can also follow Murdock’s blog and Instagram.

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            It’s not always easy to find time for friends, shopping and fun. That’s why a local DAAP graduate launched a concept that brings it all under one roof… Yours! Read on for all the fashionable details.

            The team behind Up2Tempo.

            As a busy mom, but a fashionista at heart, Deanna Hotchkiss knew there had to be an easier way to maximize her limited time for friends, shopping and fun. That’s what inspired her to launch Up2Tempo, a Cincinnati-based company that allows you to shop affordable and comfortable fashion pieces through a no-pressure trunk show with a personal stylist, while enjoying fun and refreshments with friends.

            “Up2Tempo is a unique clothing company where you can buy hand-picked items by a personal stylist on our website,” explains Hotchkiss, “or you can have a girls night where a personal stylist brings an entire store to your house where you and your friends can shop.”

            Hotchkiss says Up2Tempo personal stylists help you put together one-of-a-kind outfits or simply provide outfits for you to find on and take home that night – looks that match your personality and your style. “It’s a safe environment with no pressure, just fun,” she says. “We suggest that you only buy it if you love and look great wearing it.”

            While the idea of someone else dressing you can feel a little daunting at first, Hotchkiss and her team are there to help you try on clothes with your girlfriends and seeing what different outfits look like on different people.”

            Deanna Hotchkiss is the founder of Up2Tempo.

            When she launched Up2Tempo, Hotchkiss wanted to create a fun environment where you can have a girls night in with your closest friends while enjoy fun, food, and fashion.

            “The Up2Tempo trunk show gives women time with their friends, feedback from their friends, and their very own personal stylist,” she adds. “Everyone has to wear clothes, so why not take something we have to do and make it fun and easy.”

            Hotchkiss graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s school of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning with a degree in fashion design and product development.

            Her career has spanned different areas of the fashion industry, including retail sales, fashion merchandising, and fashion design – she event spent time herself as a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she style everyone, including several celebrities. Her credentials don’t stop there, however, as she’s also been head wardrobe stylist for a movie and a fashion stylist for many photo shoots.

            Up2Tempo made its debut in Fall 2014, but clothing recently became available for purchasing in the online store in this spring. Hotchkiss says that not only are the products from Up2Tempo comfortable and fashionable, they’re also affordable. “All of the clothing is purchased with those three things in mind,” she says.

            What makes it unique, she says, is that they bring the merchandise to you and send a personal stylist along as well. “How many companies do that,” she says.

            Hotchkiss is always searching for ways to make Up2Tempo a household name for fashion. She’s interested in bringing on more personal stylists to help clients and the launch of the online shop is one of the most exciting things she’s looking forward to this year.

            “Right now we are just really excited about the growth of the business and the home parties,” she adds.

            To learn more, visit www.up2tempo.com or call 513-227-0474.

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              After decades in the catering industry, one local lady was inspired to get active in the fight against community hunger. See how she’s turning one man’s trash into another man’s tasty treasure.

              La Soupe aims to bridge the gap between food waste and the food insecure in Cincinnati.

              Did you know that approximately 40 percent of food goes to waste in the U.S. every year? That accounts for approximately 1.3 billion tons of food in the entire world. That’s right – TONS of food is being wasted every year.

              Meanwhile, thousands of families across the country are facing hunger issues. To help curb the gap between food waste and food insecurity, a social enterprise is there – La Soupe.

              “La Soupe is a social enterprise formed to bridge the gap between food waste and the food insecure by transforming rescued produce into soupe to share with both the food insecure and those who support our mission,” explains La Soupe Development Director Jessica Kerr.

              Suzy DeYoung, Founder of La Soupe

              The mission behind La Soupe was inspired by Suzy DeYoung, who spent 30 years in the catering industry before she could no longer handle seeing the amount of good food that was being wasted.

              “In April 2014 she took a leap of faith and opened La Soupe to fulfill her dream of using rescued food to produce gourmet meals for distribution to both retail customers and the food insecure,” adds Kerr.

              When it comes to food insecurity, it really hit home for DeYoung. Cincinnati is ranked No. 2 in the country for childhood poverty, and DeYoung wanted to help, which is why the mission behind La Soupe is so dedicated to bridging the gap between waste and those who struggle with food security.

              “On a weekly basis, perishable food otherwise headed to the landfill is rescued by a host of La Soupe volunteers from three Kroger locations and one Jungle Jim’s and brought to the Newtown location,” says Kerr. She adds that other perishable food items are dropped off by a growing number of local farmers, special event coordinators, bakers, and other producers.

              All of the perishable items that are brought into La Soupe are accepted by La Soupe staff and volunteers, who then organize and weigh those donations.

              “In 2016, these sources provided over 125,000 pounds of rescued food, saving 270-cubic-yards of landfill space,” says Kerr.

              Based on the food that is made available in each week’s rescue, daily soupe production varies. However, to add production capacity and engage Cincinnati’s restaurant community, La Soupe initiated a Bucket Brigade of local chefs to accept a portion of rescued food to transform in their kitchens.

              Approximately 15 percent of the food that is rescued is resold through two retail channels, at La Soupe’s Newtown walk-up counter, open Tuesday through Saturday, and through a limited sandwich, beverage, and dessert menu.

              “The bulk of soupe production, plus other perishable foods, are donated through both a network of 27 organizations feeding the food insecure and directly through relationships with Cincinnati Public Schools,” says Kerr.

              Through these networks in the community, La Soupe is able to bring together the entire chef community in order to help feed the hungry. With more than 15 Bucket Brigade chefs from restaurants including Salazar, Maribelle’s, E+O Kitchen, We Olive, Orchids, and more, La Soupe is the only organization using such a concept in the entire country. “These chefs have helped us donate over 95,000 servings of food,” she says.

              Currently, La Soupe operates out of a 900-square-foot building that they are quickly outgrowing. “We plan to build an expansion onto our current location, which we estimate will double our rescue and share capacity,” says Kerr.

              Plans for the expansion include a storage and kitchen prep area as well as an additional walk-in freezer/refrigerator, which will hopefully become the donation area. The La Soupe team also hopes to reconsilidate soupe production, moving it from its current storage location at Miami Valley Christian Academy. “To this point, we have a grant for the walk-in freezer and we are fundraising to raise the rest of the $200,000,” adds Kerr.

              To learn more about La Soupe, check out their daily updates on Facebook. You can also sign up as a volunteer to learn more about donating to La Soupe’s expansion project at http://lasoupecincinnati.com/home.

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                A local woman is turning her traumatic experience into a new consulting business that offers a safe place for other survivors who need a place to start the healing process. Read on for all the inspiring details.

                Terri Bolds, Founder of Bold Visions Consulting

                We all have visions of what we want our future to look like. Who we hope to be, what we hope to be doing, and goals we hope to accomplish.

                For Terri Bolds, her vision brought to reality is Bold Visions Consulting. “Bold Visions Consulting is you, it’s me, it’s everyone,” she says. “It’s a catalyst for learning, encouraging, and empowering. It is a place for everyone to have the opportunity to grow in knowledge and love.”

                Bolds has had her fair share of trauma, challenges with self-esteem, low self-worth, and no sense of purpose. But she was able to turn that around with Bold Visions Consulting, and what she says is her responsibility to the university.

                “If it were not for the village that surrounded me, I don’t know where I would be,” she says. “I believe that my experiences paved the way for what I believe to be my life’s purpose.”

                Bold Visions Consulting aims to teach and bring self-love to the surface of those who struggle to believe it exists.

                While Bolds is the founder of Bold Visions Consulting, she also credits her experiences and her mother, friends, teachers, and family as strong influences behind her business.

                “The one main motivating force behind Bold Visions Consulting is my uncle,” she says. “He himself has authored several books and is a guru in economic empowerment and business ownership. He has been a powerful male force in my life. For years he has been telling me that I need to use my degrees for more than what I was subjecting myself to.”

                In retrospect, she says, he believed in her and her abilities long before she believed in herself. He’s walked her through every step of the process of starting the business from naming it to creating a mission.

                “And thus Bold Visions Consulting was born,” says Bolds, although the business didn’t officially launch until November 2015. Unfortunately, Bolds’ uncle was diagnosed with ALS in 2013 and has served as a scary, but urgent situation for her.

                Bolds and her support team at Bold Visions Consulting.

                “Life waits for no one,” she says. “And being that he is a father figure and has invested so much in me, I owe it to him that he witness my success.”

                Behind the scenes, Bolds says that her mother volunteers with Bold Visions frequently, her aunt does a lot of the marketing work, and there are many friends who run her website and volunteer.

                “Donors have been huge in our success,” she says. “Donors help sponsor attendees to our workshops. People have been so generous and I am so grateful. And, most importantly, the people that have believed in my ability and trusted me with their projects and children.”

                Bolds began pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior from Capella University. Today, she also holds a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Wright State University. Bolds says that the path that took her to becoming a licensed therapist started with a village.

                “I was raised by a village,” she says. “My mother was the best mother she could be. It took me years to realize that but the best gift she gave me other than life was the freedom to do so many things and to interact with so many people to help fill voids that she may not have been able to fill.”

                Bolds credits those people and experiences for shaping her into the person she’s become. She recalls feeling lost as a young person, always searching for something more. “Love, mentorship, benevolence, time, and push saved me,” she says.

                Through Bold Visions Consulting, Bolds offers one-on-one as well as workshop and group style services. “So far we have had two successful workshops for young ladies and my hope is to find my own comfy space where I can be more available to those young ladies,” she says. “We have also been hired to teach other workshops around Cincinnati and Dayton, and we’d like to target other demographics as well.”

                Bolds has published a book using her professional experience, “Bold Love: A Letter to My Young Sisters,” a self-esteem book for black teen girls and women. She also creates custom, positive image shirts, custom coffee mugs, and Bold Life Quotes.

                Throughout the year, Bolds says she will spend time fundraising and extending herself to many demographics inside and outside the city.

                You can find Bold Visions Consulting in two area Kroger Locations for Black History Month. Bolds says it is a huge platform with which she will spread the word about Bold Visions Consulting. She will be at Oakley Kroger February 11 and at the North College Hill Kroger on February 24. You can find the team at the stores with shirts, books, mugs, and information about the services offered by Bold Visions Consulting.

                To learn more about Bold Visions Consulting, visit www.boldvisionsconsulting.com. The website is updated with new events as they come up, and you can learn about future events and news on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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                  After many frustrating doctor appointments that offered lackluster solutions, a local lady was inspired to create healthy, sustainable and effective products. Keep reading to see how they changed her health, and her family’s health, for the better -- so much so, you might see them soon on Shark Tank!

                  Infertility was just the beginning in a long line of struggles for Erin Christen. Before looking into IVF, she found that a recent blood test revealed her thyroid levels were on the lower end of the “normal” range.

                  “Accordingly, I proceeded to an endocrinologist, and there I was diagnosed with hypothyroid,” she explains. “As soon as I started medication, we immediately became pregnant.”

                  However, after she gave birth to her second child, she felt like something was still off. “I was struggling to lose weight, I was extremely fatigued all day, and I was in a horrible brain fog,” she says. “I decided to switch doctors, seeking a more proactive, more Eastern Medicine philosophy.”

                  Follow a year and dozens of blood draws, vitamins, and supplements, Christen was diagnosed with additional endocrine diseases including Hasimoto’s, MTHFR Gene Mutation, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

                  Her experiences with these diseases, as well as her encounters with others who also suffer from them, inspired her to launch a company alongside her husband that focuses on showing people the healthier options of everyday and seasonal products called Earthganic Elements.

                  “Many products produced today contain added toxic ingredients, affecting thousands of people everyday,” says Christen. “Whether it’s the aluminum in deodorants, deet in bug repellents, or chloroform in your dryer sheets, applying these ingredients over and over is disrupting our endocrine systems, organ functions, and can even lead to cancer.”

                  In addition to treating her own health conditions, Christen says that she was inspired to launch Earthganic Elements because of the family she needs to care for. “To keep my husband healthy, so he doesn’t have too many doctor appointments. So my children will have the best possible opportunity and quality of life. To keep their slate as clean as possible for as long as I can,” she says when asked where she gets her inspiration.

                  Christen officially launched Earthganic Elements in July 2016 after a couple of months of local and personal testing. However, she says, she and her mother have been making personal lip balm, sunscreen, and dryer balls for years.

                  Earthganic Elements creates a variety of products. There are two formulas of deodorants, one with no baking soda and one with active charocal, chest rub, a plant-based healing stick for bug bites, bees tings, rashes, cuts, and dry skin, bug repellents, sunscreens, lip balms, 100% wool dryer balls, and tooth & whitening powder. Christen says she plans to soon launch shower bombs, eczema lotion, and a muscle rub.

                  Earthganic Elements is growing rapidly, according to Christen, and is becoming more available in multiple retail locations throughout Cincinnati. Customers can also order and ship through the Earthganics website<www.earthganicelements.com>.

                  Christen says she started off the New Year with a trip to Las Vegas where she auditioned for Shark Tank Season 9. “As much as that is a dream, one that I am hoping will come true, I continue to present the product line face-to-face in local retail stores and national chains,” she explains.

                  Soon, Christen will travel to Alaska for more retail opportunity meetings and to learn more about plant oil extraction, which will soon bring forth the creation of an “Alaskan” line of products.

                  “And we are not far from offering a monthly subscription,” says Christen. “The concept of the subscription service is to remove the burden of remembering to order or purchase products before you run out.”

                  The monthly membership subscriptions will offer savings to the customer.

                  To learn more about Earthganic Elements, visit www.earthganicelements.com or by liking them on Instagram and Facebook. Christen says you can subscribe to receive newsletters and be on the “First to Know” list. “We’ll be launching a blog very soon to keep everyone informed on news about toxins and product updates!

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                    See how a transplant to Cincinnati fell in love with the city with a little help from her friends and neighbors. So much so, she just opened a shop called “Your Friends & Neighbors,” featuring local artists and designers. Keep reading for more.

                    Maya Drozdz isn’t originally from Cincinnati, but now she not only lives here but launched a business to celebrate and support the Queen City’s gems.

                    A native New Yorker and graphic designer by trade, Drozdz spent years behind the lectern as a college professor and working her way up the corporate America ladder. But life drew her to Cincinnati, where she recently launched a small business that sells creative home goods and celebrates local artists.

                    “My previous business, VisuaLingual, took the hippie-dippie, DIY activist phenomenon of seed bombs and turned it into its own product category, landing on the shelves of national stores like Anthropologie, Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware, and also in major publications including Vogue, House Beautiful, Harper’s Bazaar, and Martha Stewart Living,” she explains.

                    Now, she’s the owner of Your Friends & Neighbors, a shop that is focused on contemporary, handmade home goods and gifts. Located inside the Leftcoast Modern Annex in East Walnut Hills, Your Friends & Neighbors features the work of Drozdz’s friends as well as local artists and designers, including classmates from art school, people she’s met through the maker scene, and friends she’s made while living in Cincinnati for the last decade.

                    “I’ve finally created a single place to showcase the work of all the talented people I’ve had the honor of meeting over the course of my adult life, and then I round out that core inventory with handmade objects by designers and artisans from across the U.S.,” she says.

                    At Your Friends & Neighbors, Drozdz has the opportunity to accessorize Leftcoast Modern’s furniture and use it to display her inventory, allowing for a mix of complementary aesthetics. Thanks to her ability to display her inventory with the store’s furniture, she can really show off all that Your Friends & Neighbors has to offer.

                    “We sell everything from letterpress notecards to laser-cut wood clocks,” she says. “From dish towels to small-batch soap, from hand-thrown ceramics to hand-painted pillows, with an emphasis on surprising materials like cast concrete, gold-leaf papier-mache, and 3-D printed nylon. If it’s smaller than furniture, you can probably find it at Your Friends & Neighbors.”

                    Products from Your Friends & Neighbors fit every budget – literally. You can pick up a mini Paper with a Past note card for $1 or spend a few thousand dollars for an original painting by Cedric Michael Cox.

                    Drozdz says that what makes Your Friends & Neighbors unique is that is brings you goods you can’t find anywhere else, while also featuring an eclectic mix of products.

                    “I spend a lot of my time finding makers and objects in all sorts of surprising places,” she says. “The mix with Leftcoast Modern’s vintage offerings give the space a really eclectic vibe. There is also Ledge Gallery on the back windowsill where I exhibit tiny work by contemporary artists, with opening receptions coinciding with Walk on Woodburn, the major neighborhood event in East Walnut Hills.”

                    While she will continue to spend time filling her shop this year, Drozdz says she’s also looking forward to getting back into designing and producing original products just for the shop, as well as finding ways to make connections between the goods she carries and the goods she’s designed, which includes an upcoming debut of Your Friends & Neighbors exclusive pillows.

                    Your Friends & Neighbors is located at 2803 Woodburn Avenue in East Walnut Hills. Drozdz says the best place to stay updated is by following their Instagram account, where new products are posted daily. You can also learn more at yourfriendsandneighbors.com or on Facebook.

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                      Ready to make 2017 the year you take charge and sharpen your leadership skills? Learn about key programs aimed to help women become better leaders, business owners, and employees. Read on for more.

                      The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber does more than represent businesses and employees in the Tri-State, it’s also working to help build leaders, whether through its membership organization or its youth and professional development programs, the Chamber has become one of the largest chambers in the country.

                      First established in 1839, the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce was also the site of the first meeting of the United States Chamber of Commerce, 73 years after the Cincinnati Chamber was established.

                      Heading into its 178th year, the Cincinnati Chamber is building a stronger region by developing the area’s most talented leaders. According to Lindsay Bujnoch, Senior Marketing Manager for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, a strong business community needs committed, caring, and effective leaders.

                      “The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber recognizes that retaining talent at all levels is imperative, and for more than three decades, has delivered quality leadership development opportunities through a range of dynamic programs,” she explains. “No matter where you are on your professional journey, you will discover a Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Leadership Program right for you.”

                      To develop the area’s young talent, the Chamber hosts the Cincy Next and C-Change programs.

                      “The Cincy Next program provides a forum for early career professionals seeking meaningful growth opportunities needed to advance both personally and professionally,” says Bujnoch. Participants in the Cincy Next program learn to polish their professional skills while building a network of peer relationships.

                      There’s also the C-Change program, where emerging leaders can build their professional profiles while gaining community insight. “Participants collaborate and develop leadership skills while engaging established leaders and regional resources in a year-long community project,” says Bujnoch.

                      Other programs offered by the Chamber include Leadership Cincinnati and Leadership Action.

                      “Leadership Cincinnati is the region’s flagship program designed for the established, senior leader who is passionate about making a difference in the community,” explains Bujnoch. “Leadership Cincinnati is an immersive civic learning experience that focuses each month on topics ranging from regionalism, economic development, arts and culture, to inclusion, health, justice and sustainability. This is an experience-based program and is designed to help participants understand the assets and challenges of the region, elevate their leadership, and further engage in the community.”

                      The Leadership Action program aims to leverage the expertise and passion of the community’s business leaders to advance change and elevate the community’s profile. “Over the course of the program, participants, identified at the ‘go-to’ leaders in their companies and organizations, select an actionable project and assemble the support and resources needed to accomplish their objective,” says Bujnoch.

                      Those who participate in Leadership Action take part in a project management process to create community change and develop their leadership and team skills throughout the program.

                      Most importantly, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber hosts programs that aim to empower professional women: WE Lead and WE Succeed.

                      “WE Lead is a 10-month leadership program for accomplished women in mid- to upper-level management positions, business owners, and top leaders looking to develop and grow the skills necessary to achieve groundbreaking results for themselves, their organizations, and their communities,” explains Bujnoch. “Through a combination of professional development and coaching, WE Lead provides women with the leadership tools and strategies necessary to achieve exceptional professional growth and success.”

                      The timeframe for this program is from September to June, and the application window is from January to June. The application fee is $50 and the program cost is $3,500.

                      WE Lead participant Lynnette Heard from the University of Cincinnati says the program helped her to refuel, transform, and deepened her life and leadership style, which has always been driven by the philosophies of servant leadership.

                      “As a relatively new member of this region, I found that WE Lead reignited my professional and personal passions while allowing me to forge new relationships and build strong networks with extraordinarily talented women,” says Heard.

                      WE Succeed is another program from the Chamber that helps to empower local women. “We Succeed is an intensive, three-month executive coaching experience designed to help high-potential women business professionals develop exceptional leadership skills to advance their company and career,” says Bujnoch. “The time frame provides a ‘just in time’ coaching experience for executives taking on new challenges in their organization, and allows busy senior leaders a chance to reflect, refocus and re-energize their professional passion. Participants leave this program feeling empowered and ready to take their career and company to the next level.”

                      Aimed at mid- to upper-level female managers, business owners, and professionals, We Succeed runs from April to June and again from September to December. The program application timeframe is from January to February and July to August with a $25 application fee and $1,800 program fee.

                      Bujnoch says the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is looking forward to the professionals and businesses it will help in 2017, as well as all that will be accomplished in the programs going on throughout the year.

                      To learn more about the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, visit www.cincinnatichamber.com. You can also follow along on Facebook.