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    There’s no better time than now to focus on your own mental health and wellbeing. Click here to learn about a counseling and coaching business that helps to develop empowered women.

    In today’s world, especially as we navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to take care of you. That’s what Galia Collaborative is here for. They want to help empower purpose-driven women to develop their mental wellness through therapy, coaching, and content.

    “We believe that the impact of women will be elevated when they can take charge of their mental health and wellbeing,” says Galia Collaborative Founder Dr. Ashley Solomon. “We provide accessible services and thoughtful content development by women’s mental health experts.”

    Solomon says that she was inspired to launch Galia Collaborative after years of working as a psychologist, business leader, mom, and woman. 

    “I spent years in the trenches of burnout culture and recognized that stress and anxiety were eating away at my wellbeing,” she explains. “Even being in the behavioral healthcare field, no one was talking about how we can sustainably manage our mental health.”

    Soloman didn’t want to offer traditional therapy, which seemed so removed from what she had experienced in her field, and executive coaching wasn’t something that was available to her. 

    Dr. Ashley Solomon, Founder of Galia Collaborative

    “I wanted to take the years that I’d spend developing treatment approaches and programming for women and create a space that addressed the needs of busy professionals in a modern, gender-responsive, and evidence-based way,” she says. “I’ve always been focused on trying to answer how we can elevate the voices and impact of women, and I recognize that empowering women’s mental health is key.”

    Soloman says that she spent her earlier career in the field of eating disorders before she found that those same women who recovered from eating disorders were still lacking the tools they needed to be fully healthy in how they approach both life and work. “This and my own journey led me to thinking about how we can create meaningful services and tools to support women who are going to make a difference,” she adds.

    Solomon is joined in her practice by clinician Jennifer Burns, a licensed counselor with a background in professional comedy. “She specializes with women who have experienced trauma or are navigating other mental health or life challenges,” says Solomon. There’s also Erin McMenamin, a licensed social worker, who recently joined the team and is offering coaching for women making big transitions.

    At Galia Collaborative, you’ll find that the work the team does is action-oriented and designed to create real movement toward the values of clients. “We use evidence-based approaches based on psychological science in both our therapy and coaching work,” she says.

    Therapy services offered at Galia Collaborative are for adolescent and adult women both in-person and online. 

    “We offer professional coaching for women who are ready to elevate their impact in their careers or are navigating challenges in their work,” says Solomon. “We believe that doing so starts from within and moves its way outward, and our coaching is both introspective and actionable.”

    In addition to the services currently offered, Galia Collaborative is in the process of developing talks and workshops for organizations on how to elevate their impact through mental health and wellness.

    Solomon says that later this year Galia Collaborative is launching Thrive Circles, small groups of committed women who are connecting around a particular challenge or interest. 

    “We have two starting early in the year and are accepting registration for those now,” says Solomon. “The first is a mastermind for women service-based business owners, and the other is for your women, ages 23-35, looking to set themselves up for personal and professional success.”

    To learn more about Galia Collaborative, visit www.galiacollaborative.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

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      After a decade-long adventure to New York City, a local chef returned to the Queen City where she’s serving up restaurant-quality meals to enjoy at home. Keep reading to learn more about her tasty dishes and fascinating journey.

      Kymberly Wilbon, founder of The Passion Plate

      Kymberly Wilbon has always had a passion for food. From the time she was a little girl playing with her Easy-Bake Oven to now owning The Passion Plate, she has led quite the journey. 

      That journey has also included a passion for fashion. Wilbon says her love for fashion took her on a decade-long adventure to New York City, where she worked in the garment and music industries by day and played in Manhattan’s hippest clubs by night. 

      “When I wasn’t zipped into Gaultier and hanging at the Palladium, I was baking fashionista birthday cakes, fed bands at upstate recording sessions, and catered record execs’ Superbowl parties,” she says. 

      After she landed a few hostess gigs at some of New York’s most revered restaurants, she decided to enroll at The New York Restaurant School to study restaurant management and culinary arts. 

      “I returned to Cincinnati to be closer to my family, and worked in restaurant management positions at several hotels, including the Cincinnati Hyatt Regency, cooked at CoCo, was a sous chef at Otto’s, and opened McCormick and Schmick’s,” she says. 

      While all of that was giving her experience, she wasn’t completely satisfied. She knew there was more that she had to offer. 

      “I felt like something was missing,” she says. “I knew I loved to cook and host great dinner parties. One day it all connected and I decided: That’s it – I want to be a personal chef!”

      Wilbon then enrolled at the Culinary Business Academy and earned her United States Personal Chef Association membership and launched The Passion Plate. 

      Based in the Findlay Kitchen, The Passion Plate offers restaurant-quality, pick-up ready meals and catering. There are weekly menus to choose from or customers can submit custom orders.

      The menu offerings from The Passion Plate are unique, serving up heart and SOUL: seasonal, organic, unexpected, and local.

      “And like my love of fashion, each dish is layered, complex, and inspired by travel,” Wilbon adds. 

      Wilbon is able to cater to the wants and needs of a variety of customers from the meal planners who want their meals portioned out to clients who are just on the lookout for restaurant-quality food at home.

      As eating at home has taken on a whole new meaning during quarantine, Wilbon says she’s gone into overdrive to keep up with demand. “A lot of people have been reaching out for meals, for meals for their older parents, their grandparents or people that just had babies,” Wilbon explains. 

      Wilbon says the increase of menu orders and custom requests is exciting and she’s loving every minute of it. 

      To learn more about The Passion Plate, visit https://www.thepassionplate.com. You can also check them out on Facebook and Instagram

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        While the pandemic postponed this local nurse’s wedding, she’s finding positivity in the chaos of treating COVID-19 patients. Read on for her inspiring story of heroism and hope.

        Megan Gulbrandsen’s was supposed to walk down the aisle on May 2, 2020. But instead, she was walking room to room caring for COVID-19 patients as a nurse in the Progressive Care Unit at Jewish Hospital. 

        “I work on the Progressive Care Unit, essentially a step-down-ICU at Jewish,” she explains. “However, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, my unit has been converted into COVID central alongside the Intensive Care Unit. Between the two of us we are taking most of the COVID patients.”

        Becoming COVID central has meant many changes for Gulbrandsen, and a lot of learning. 

        “There are always many new things one must learn during change,” she says. “We had to learn more about how to operate as an ICU by going through training, taking care of ventilators, how to give out medications for those who are ventilated, learning how to swab for COVID, how to operate other various machines, drawing blood, and other responsibilities to take care of our patients.”

        Megan Gulbrandsen and fiancé Eric

        Gulbrandsen says the changes were challenging at the onset of the pandemic but the frontline heroes at the Jewish Hospital have a better handle on how to care for COVID-19 patients as they flatten the curve. 

        “The hardest part at the beginning was just staying on top of the ever-changing information from work and always reading my emails,” she says. 

        Although this time has been stressful for her, including the postponement of her wedding, Gulbrandsen says that she’s been taking everything day by day and is mindful about staying positive in the face of this adversity.

        “There are a lot of things I’m doing to stay positive during this time of gloom including finding enjoyment in my off days with my family and dogs, getting out and enjoying nature, and really just enjoying time for myself – like reading and baking,” she says. 

        Once the time has passed and we find a new normal, Gulbrandsen says that there’s a very important lesson she’s going to walk away with. “I’m going to just enjoy what we have in life, enjoy the relationships we have,” she says. “Just living each day to the fullest, never taking anything for granted.” 

        She’s now looking forward to walking down the aisle on August 1.

        Editor’s Note: This feature is part of a special “Hearts to Heroes” issue dedicated to individuals across the Tri-State working on the front lines to provide for our community. Readers nominated and our editorial board selected those included in this week’s issue. Everyone featured is also receiving a heart-filled care package of self-care products, yummy treats, and gift cards to several local shops and restaurants. Many thanks to AT&T and Leslie Young, Vice President, EVER Skincare, Stella & Dot Family of Brands for making this effort possible.

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          This Mother’s Day, moms deserve a little extra pampering. Read on as we chat with the mother-daughter team behind locally-based Kate Ryan Skincare who developed a product line to bring together the best of nature and science -- with a dash of mother knows best -- to make skincare feel like a gift that keeps giving.

          Erica Finnan is more than a nurse. She is also a mother to four young children and part of the mother-daughter business representing three generations of women called Kate Ryan Skincare. 

          While its namesake, Kate is just nine years old, potential customers often call and ask to speak to Kate Ryan. “We think it’s cute,” Finnan laughs. “What I want to say is that Kate would love to take your call but she’s busy on the soccer field with her friends living her best life – ha!”

          Although Kate is young, the business that would be named after her first started 10 years ago around a kitchen island, when babies were being bounced in one arm and coffee in another. 

          “At the time, I had taken a break from working as an ICU/organ transplant coordinator and was filling in doing medical facial treatments at a local office,” explains Finnan. “Part of what I did was educate clients on the benefits of after care, following an in-office treatment.”

          Although she was not on the clock to care for those patients, she was looking up scientific research journals because if she was going to recommend products to them, she was going to find them something that truly worked.

          “I really wanted to know the why and how behind the products, not just regurgitate marketing claims on the bottles, which may or may not be true,” she explains. “What I found was that No. 1: Many of the formulas were incredibly overpriced – there were maybe 3-4 beneficial activities, the rest was filler and junk, and a lot of those were chemicals.” 

          These were high profit, low benefit products. She says that some of the bottles were over $100 and, although people were happy to purchase them, that was crazy to her. However, she also acknowledged that people don’t really have the time to research products and ingredients that were really long and may be written in a way that the typical consumer couldn’t understand. 

          Finnan says that all of her searching felt like a search to the end of Google, and she couldn’t find a skincare formula that fit her criteria of safe and healthy and an advanced formula with quality active ingredients.

          Finnan wanted to offer her customers a formula that combined science and nature, and something that was effective and felt good on the skin. 

          “Being a nurse, the long-term health of the skin and body was most important to me,” she explains. “there are so many ‘quick-fix’ products out there that may give you the results you are looking for in a short amount of time but also do lasting damage to the skin.”

          From there, Finnan created an exhaustive list of “Yes!” active ingredients and how they function and have purpose and a longer list of “No!” ingredients. 

          Determined to have the best of nature and science, Finnan partnered with her mother, Bev, an advocate for skin concerns of women in their 60s and beyond, to develop a line of skincare products that delivers transformative beauty benefits for women of all ages. Combining their personal objectives and research, and in collaboration with like-minded scientists, Finnan and Bev proudly launched Kate Ryan Skincare, named after Finnan‘s daughter, Kate Ryan.

          Today, the company offers honest formulas that are safe, affordable, cruelty-free, and family-owned and operated. 

          Ultimately, the mission through this business is to make skincare feel like a gift.

          “We consider self-care a gift you give yourself,” says Finnan. “When a Kate Ryan Sincare product shows up at your doorstep, that’s how we want it to feel! And seriously, isn’t having a package dropped on your doorstep just the best, especially now?! So often clients tell us, it’s too pretty to open, or I love ordering from you because it feels so good when I open the package! We also ship very fast – usually the same day unless the order comes in late in the day. We know people are excited to get their products and we try very hard to deliver quickly!”

          With Mother’s Day being less than a week away, Kate Ryan Skincare is offering a thoughtfully curated gift box to make it easy. “We understand it’s difficult to get olut to shop this year,” says Finnan. “This is our first year doing this because of COVID-19, we usually offer a gift card for Mother’s Day, but the gift box can be found on our website. We can also create custom gift boxes, wrapped and shipped.”

          COVID-19 has been something completely different for Finnan, a former nurse, and Kate Ryan Skincare. “To be honest I’ve really been wrestling with this personally, feeling like I should be out there with many friends who are still in the ICU, ERs, etc.,” she says. “As hard of a job as it was, I absolutely loved my years in the ICU. I know now with my family home and a business to manage, that I cannot help in the way that I would like.” 

          Kate Ryan Skincare did create a caregiver gift/thank you/self-care package, and she plans on doing a giveaway with some of those items.

          “Anyone visiting our website will have an opportunity to read our blog articles on a variety of skincare topics and check out frequently asked questions,” says Finnan. “Joining our mailing list keeps our clients up-to-date on new articles and promos, and provides a 15% discount on their first order.”

          To learn more about Kate Ryan Skincare, visit https://www.kateryanskincare.com. Kate Ryan Skincare is also on Facebook and Instagram.

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            A local entrepreneur wanted to offer clients a one-stop-shop when it comes to event planning. That idea turned into another idea and now she's launching a market with vintage, antique, and other home decor.

            Photography: Chelsey & Jordan Photography

            If you’ve ever planned a party, gathering, wedding, reunion or big-group-get-together, then you know that the process of bringing it all together can be exhausting and time consuming. To help combat the difficult parts of hosting an event so you can actually enjoy it, Andrea Tarter created Borrowed Time Market. 

            “Borrowed Time Market is a multi-functional space that houses our rental decor for Borrowed Time Events and offers and event space for small parties and gatherings,” explains Tarter. “The front of our shop is our small brick-and-mortar, which sells vintage, retro, and modern decor.”

            Andrea Tarter, founder of Borrowed Time Market

            As the Owner, Coordinator, and Stylist of Borrowed Time Market and Borrowed Time Events, Tarter takes on the task of providing clients with the decor they need to successfully host their gathering. 

            When it came to creating Borrowed Time Market, Tarter says that it was her own desire to find an event rental company that she could work with instead of purchasing decor that would end up in storage.

            “So, in 2018, I launched Borrowed Time Events, an event planning and decor rental company,” she says. “Over two years we gathered hundreds of items and eventually ran out of warehouse space.”

            All of the inventory from Borrowed Time Events and Borrowed Time Market are housed in a shop on Main Street in Old Milford. 

            “Since middle school, I have always wanted to have an antique store,” says Tarter. “When planning our move to a bigger space, I hoped to find a location that would function as all three: shop, rental warehouse, and event space. In mid-July I spotted a ‘for rent’ sign in Milford and called that evening. I was the first to call and signed the papers two weeks later.”

            For Tarter, having her own shop has given her what she and her company needed – a rental space, a small brick-and-mortar, and a rental warehouse. 

            Inventory and products are housed at the store that is more than 100 years old. The doors opened on October 26, 2019. Typically, the store is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 pm, unless there is an event going on.

            With COVID-19, however, the store hasn’t been open to customers. But that doesn’t mean Tarter hasn’t been planning for summer. In fact, she ordered new summer inventory in hopes of opening in mid-May. 

            Since she can’t bring customers into her store, Tarter recently hosted an Instagram sale, giving others the opportunity to shop and find things that spark joy in them. “We held our first-ever Instagram sale on Sunday, April 5,” explains Tarter. “It was a lot of work, but definitely worth it. We sold roughly 90 percent of the items posted and gained many new customers. The sale influenced our decision to launch an online shop. We thoroughly appreciated the support!”

            If the grand re-opening of Borrowed Time Market is delayed due to COVID-19, Tarter says she will host another Instagram sale. 

            And with Mother’s Day around the corner, Borrowed Time Market is offering special Mother’s Day gift sets that can be picked up at the shop or shipped to your home. “It includes a Mother’s Day candle, tea towel, ‘Mama Bear’ coffee mug, organic bath bomb, and a card,” she says. “All proceeds help support local and small, women-owned businesses.”

            Tarter will be launching a blog in the next couple of weeks and finishing the opening of her online store. As for 2020, the event planning goal is to focus on fundraising for non-profits. “We love working with our community and we believe in using our skillsets to help those in need,” she says. “We have already partnered with multiple non-profits in Cincinnati and are excited for the upcoming events.”

            You can learn more about Borrowed Time Events and Borrowed Time Market at https://www.borrowedtimeevents.com. Follow along with Borrowed Time Events on Facebook and Instagram, and check out Borrowed Time Market on Facebook and Instagram. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

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              Two local sisters have a clear vision for the future: eliminate single-use plastics one refillable order at a time. That’s what their business, Plaine Products, aims to do and the world is now taking notice. Read on for their inspiring story.

              Lindsey McCoy and Alison Webster, sisters and co-founders of Terrace Park-based Plaine Products, are on a mission to make style sustainable once and for all. 

              These all-natural beauty and personal care products are sent in a container you can either recycle or send back to be refilled. All of their products are vegan, non-GMO, cruelty-free, biodegradable, color-safe and free of parabens, sulfates and toxins. All of this, according to McCoy, means that products from Plaine Products are good for your body and good for the planet. “Plaine Products is one family’s answer to the earth’s single-use plastic crisis,” she adds. 

              When you shop Plaine Products, you’ll find that they offer products on a per-item or subscription basis. But what makes them different is that they come in aluminum bottles that you can send back to be refilled, with shipping costs and sustainable shipping supplies included. 

              Plaine Products has seen such great success since their launch, and they’ve made a lasting impression. In fact, Forbes covered Plaine Products as a “favorite find.” 

              “After some copious searching to replace our beloved tried-and-true products in the bathroom, I’m here to tell you that Plaine knocks it out of the park when it comes to sustainability, elimination of plastic waste, and products that are incredible,” Brand Contributor Jenn Vande Zande wrote.

              “The first of its kind and founded in 2017, Plaine Products has started a trend in personal care products that is quickly catching on, offering an alternative to single-use containers,” says McCoy. “Plaine Products is proud to be reducing waste and helping stop the spread of single-use plastics.”

              Lindsey McCoy and Ali Webster, Founders of Plaine Products

              As of October 2019, Plaine Products reached its milestone of 100,000 plastic bottles that have been diverted from landfills, with the goal of hitting 250,000 by the end of 2020. 

              And the higher goal means that the business also needed to expand its product line to help continue the decrease in use of single-use plastics, and Plaine Products has done just that.

              Recently they added a facial line that includes face wash, face toner, and face moisturizer. Additionally, there is a new beauty oil that moisturizes skin and works well to diminish the appearance of scars, wrinkles, and fine lines due to its rich antioxidant ingredients and essential fatty acids. “It can also be applied to hair to tame flyaways, frizz, split ends, and bring shape back to curls,” McCoy adds.

              As the summer gets closer, McCoy says they are hoping to launch sunscreen and hand sanitizer in June. 

              Those interested in ordering from Plaine Products can visit their website. When placing an order, you choose your preferred products with a reusable pump. “When the bottles are low you order a refill bottle without the pump,” explains McCoy. “When the refills come, switch the pumps over and send back the empty bottles in the refill box, for which Plaine Products covers the cost. Then we clean the bottles, refill them, and reuse them.”

              McCoy says their team put a discount code into the system for Cincy Chic readers who would like to try out any products for themselves. Use the code CincyChic for 20% off.

              To learn more about Plaine Products, visit https://www.plaineproducts.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram

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                Everything But the House, once one of Ohio's most valuable startups, is now restructured and ready for even more success. Read on as we chat with the founders of this locally-based service that helps connect people who want and have the most uncommon goods in the world.

                Connecting those who have and want uncommon things. That’s the idea behind Everything But The House (EBTH).

                Jacquie Denny and Brian Graves founded this Blue Ash-based business in 2007 to bring uncommon things to their customers by leveraging their knowledgeable staff to help people realize the value of their possessions, through a simple-to-use, transparent, and one-of-a-kind online marketplace.

                For buyers, you’ll find everything from furniture and home goods to designer handbags and baseball cards. And everything starts at $1. For sellers, EBTH’s white-glove service takes care of everything—you never lift a finger. Their experts sort, catalog, photograph, and authenticate every item sold.

                “Emptying an estate, selling a collection, or changing lifestyles, it is a much needed service,” says Denny. “For buyers, the desire to buy unique items that create their individual style and define their decorating taste, it is an uncommon marketplace.”

                Denny says the inspiration for EBTH came from a passion for helping others understand just how valuable the things they owned were. 

                “As with most entrepreneurial journeys, the inspiration was a personal experience with a gap in the market for selling second-hand goods, specifically estate items, and a passion for service,” says Denny. “This led to the creation of what EBTH is today, a best in class service, that disrupted an industry.”

                Denny and Graves are the two biggest drivers behind EBTH, but they are supported by a team of over 200 staff members that come from a variety of backgrounds and include business professionals, technologists, fine art, antique, and jewelry experts, photographers, logistics professionals, marketers, client relations representatives, and, not to mention, the numerous integrated professional partnerships without which Denny says they couldn’t exist. 

                EBTH’s first online sale went live in early 2008, after Graves and Denny decided to join forces and merge her service-centric, client-focused estate sale business with Graves’ technology- and marketplace-driven approach to offering pre-owned objects for sale. 

                Since then, the two have experienced a great deal of success and struggle. Once labeled Ohio’s most valuable startup, EBTH grew rapidly until a major restructuring and management change in 2018. Then in 2019, the business was put up for bid under a court protection similar to a bankruptcy. The founders worked with an investment syndicate to help buy it back for a reported $3.5 million.

                Regardless of the ups and downs of their entrepreneurial journey, Denny says one thing has stayed the same since the beginning: EBTH uniquely works with both buyers and sellers to help them gain value from their belongings or find new-to-them belongings. 

                Denny says the secret to EBTH’s success is to make the entire process simple for clients. “We work with sellers of all types who have one item to truckloads of unique possessions to determine how best to offer them for sale, giving them a variety of options from personalized pick-ups to mail-in alternatives,” explains Denny. “At the same time, we make it simple and transparent for buyers to access, learn about, and bid to win items with options to pick up items locally or have them delivered right to their home or business.”

                Denny says this serves a wide range of clientele. “The truth is, in order to service those clients, it takes a huge amount of effort and investment in terms of human capital, technology, and resources, which speaks to why no one has worked to scale our type of business the way that we have,” says Denny. “We’re constantly working to improve and reinvest for the benefit of the marketplace first, and the business second once the clients and indirect beneficiaries of our marketplace have been well taken care of.”

                Denny says that expanded partnerships and a continued investment in the company’s infrastructure means that, although their operations are now centered in the Ohio region, they’re able to serve customers nationwide while also adding to the unique collections they are able to grow. 

                “We also continue to look for ways to support charitable organizations and our communities and look forward to rolling out a more defined strategy to address this over the coming months,” says Denny. “Finally, as we continue to increase the volume and diversity of product availability on the Everything But The House site, we’re aggressively developing methods to personalize our platform based on our consumer’s preferences to provide the most ideal experience for them.”

                To learn more about EBTH, whether you’re a buyer, a seller, or someone who likes to browse unique items, visit EBTH.com

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                  Looking for experts to help you with balance and well-being from the comfort of your home? A former P&G'er recently set out on her own to launch a wellness community for women to achieve true whole-self wellness. Click here for all the details.

                  Stevi Gable Carr spent 10 years at P&G working in brand strategy, design, and insights, where she was able to pour her passion for cognitive and behavioral sciences into her work by .learning about the power of building brands through habit formation. 

                  “Most recently I spent my last two years at P&G leading Brand, Marketing & Creative Services in clinical health care where I established an understanding of the gap in knowledge between being ‘sick’ and ‘healthy,’” explains Carr. “Women most often back-burner their wellness until there is an urgent need, and I realized I wanted to change that.”

                  That desire, partnered with inspiration from McKinsey’s “Women in the Workplace” study, she launched WISe Wellness Guild, a community dedicated to the advancement of women through whole-self wellness, helping them to achieve peak performance and avoiding burnout. 

                  “Our mission is to match health and wellness subject-matter-experts with those seeking health and wellness services,” she explains. 

                  Stevi Gable Carr, Founder of WISe Wellness Guild

                  Carr says the study inspired her to see that women and men enter the workforce at relatively equal rate, however, when it comes to promotions at the management level, there is a sharp decline. “This is characterized as the ‘broken-rung’ phenomena,” she explains. “After my own experience with burnout and more than 500 interviews later, I realized that high-achieving, high-performing women have their growth stunted in (or leave the workforce) due to the lack of ability to manage all aspects. Many people call this ‘work-life balance’ but WISe believes that it is characterized by a lack of maintaining ‘your center’ across the eight pillars of whole-self wellness.”

                  Carr established WISe Wellness Guild in August 2019 and offers curated programming, content generation, networking, and individualized coaching across our digital and in-person platforms.

                  Members of WISe Wellness Guild receive a 100-point wellness assessment and special insider access to exclusive events such as Secret Suppers, Member-to-Member Mentoring Affinity Groups like book clubs, beauty hours, and new mothers.

                  “The subject of our content and programming is centered around the 8 pillars of whole-self wellness: occupational, financial, physical, nutritional, mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental,” explains Carr.

                  At WISe Wellness Guild, the goal is to provide clients with a data-centric, fact-based approach to wellness. 

                  “In order to develop healthy habits we must start small and focused, working our way towards a more centered state of being,” says Carr. “Further, we make a conscious effort to support other women and minority-owned businesses to support the equity of all.”

                  While in-person connection may be at the heart of what WISe Wellness Guild does, Carr knows that it isn’t necessary in order for members to form new bonds. “Since COVID-19 has shifted the way all of us interact, we have moved all programming online, built a more robust online platform for both health care providers as well as women working and living at home,” says Carr. “This community has an incredible bond, sense of purpose and resiliency. Together we will conquer this!”

                  To learn more about WISe Wellness Guild, visit www.wisewellnessguild.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram

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                    When a car accident almost took everything away for one local woman, she worked to take it all back and then some (including time on a reality TV show). Read on to see how she’s using her inspiring story to help others who need it most.

                    Brooke Van Paris’ trialed testimony is now a guiding light for people in the fitness industry and beyond. 

                    Paris, a Cincinnati native, began this storied journey on October 29, 2009. “I was attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I had just finished a midterm and was heading home from class. I passed through an intersection and in a split second, my life changed for the rest of my life. I was hit head on. My SUV did two 360s, all four tires blew, my windshield shattered, my engine broke off its hinges and came into the car on my lap, but that wasn’t all,” Paris says. “Once I got out of my car and got help, my adrenaline calmed down just enough for me to notice that the airbag had completely shattered both of my hands.”

                    After this accident, she started a long two-year journey of healing. “Over the course of two years, I had surgery to re-break my hands four times. I couldn’t feed myself, bathe myself, do any of life’s simplest tasks alone. I went from a fully independent athletic all-star in high school to a 19-year-old fully dependent college kid. Want to know what it was like? Tie your hands behind your back and proceed to live your life. Tough, right?,” Paris says. “Because I am stubborn-and I needed something constant to focus on, I decided to stay in school as a full-time student. I used Mac Speech and Dictate software to talk to my computer and have it type my papers for me and lots of assistance from my father, as well as my professors. After two years in fingertip to elbow casts, I was finally done…or so I thought. My muscles had atrophied completely away and the person I saw in the mirror looked nothing like the Brooke I knew.”

                    She was struggling with doing anything by healthy because she couldn’t do regular life tasks without help. Paris was at an all-time low, when it came to her health, being about 175 lbs. and over 50 percent body fat. Paris took about a year to try her best to lose weight. 

                    “They never taught me in school how to workout as an adult, so it was all very intimidating to me. I would go to the gym and I was embarrassed and self-conscious. I wasn’t confident with what I was doing, so to save myself the anguish- I would only do cardio. No one will know if I just do the treadmill every day, right?,” she says. 

                    Even though Paris was doing cardio, she was not happy with her results. “If I lost weight, I would gain it back twice as bad. I was discouraged and unhappy. My confidence was gone. I tried diet pills, fad diets, everything. Nothing worked,” she says. 

                    Her fitness journey changed when she had a coworker at work invite her to do an obstacle course race with her. “It was a local three-mile race called Morgan’s Mud Gauntlet in Brookeville, Indiana and it was amazing. I loved it. I huffed and puffed my way through the entire thing, but it was so rewarding,” Paris says. “I probably failed about 75 percent of the obstacles, but that didn’t matter because people of all shapes and sizes, all at different levels of their own fitness journey-were helping me-and once we reached the finish line, we all had the same medals. How cool. I was hooked.”

                    After that race, she started to sign up for races and ended up completing 48 obstacle course races, lost a total of 30 lbs. and got to represent the United States at the World Championships. She was even on two TV reality shows, Broken Skull Challenge on CMT and American Grit on FOX. American Grit was “A military-inspired competition reality show. They chose 16 professional athletes and put us through military-inspired training drills to test the human will of never giving up,” Paris explains. 

                    She first heard about the opportunity through a casting company on Facebook. “After the first Obstacle Course Racing World Championship, I saw a quote on Facebook that said, ‘Your testimony could be the key that unlocks someone else’s prison.’ And with that-I decided to share the story of my accident in hopes that I could help someone else stuck in the same dark space I was previously in,” Paris says. “About two days after that, I was reached out to in my Facebook DM’s and the message started with, ‘We are looking for America’s fittest men and women.’”

                    Paris was completely shocked to see receive this message because of everything she had gone through for two years, so she ignored the message and deleted it, thinking it was a scam. However, one day she decided to take their phone call, “and the rest is history,” she says.

                    Her run on the show was for only two episodes, but she was proud of her performance because she gave everything she had. “The challenge that forced me to leave was called ‘Ice Cubed.’ It was an event where three women (including myself) had to submerge in an ice bath, get out and do 10 burpees and continue incessantly repeating until one of the three of us gave up. Well-now that you know my background story… never giving up is kind of my mantra and I have absolutely no quit in me, so this showdown was about to get interesting,” Paris says. “After nine rounds-nine submersions and 90 burpees-I collapsed to the ground and my body went into Stage Three Hypothermia. Basically, my body said STOP and shut down all systems that were not vital to survival. I was conscious the whole time, but couldn’t move or speak or anything. I could hear people talking to me and touching me, but I couldn’t respond. That lasted for about an hour and I finally came to the hospital.” 

                    She recovered fully from that and she now works at Lifetime Fitness in Mason, Ohio. She is an Assistant Personal Training Manager and a Master Trainer. “I live the fitness life all day every day and I could not love it more. I love being able to connect and help people daily and I have never had a more rewarding career to do that with,” she says. “Outside of my job, I do a lot with Fox 19. I showcase workout tips once a month there! It is so much fun and really informative! I also have my own YouTube channel that I post a lot of At Home Workouts on. I live the fitness life myself! Daily workouts, meal prep, etc. I love to live a healthy life.”

                    Paris’ success with fitness is defined by the number of people she can help. “I truly believe my purpose in life and the reason for my accident, is being able to help people with my journey and my talents. I find it incredibly rewarding to help be the person to light the fire of hope for someone who has been struggling,” Paris says. “To give out my and tell someone, I can help you, and then watch their journey to success. There is nothing more rewarding than to see the happiness on someone’s face when they win their life back.”

                    Being healthy to Paris isn’t just about being healthy physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. “Basically, making sure you don’t get too stressed, that you work out daily, but also take days for recovery, make sure you get enough water, enough sleep and enough of the right nutrition to fuel your body-including your vitamins and minerals!”

                    If you want to keep up with what’s going on with Brooke Van Paris, follow her on FacebookYouTube and Instagram.

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                      Faced with a terminal diagnosis, Nancy Dawson went on a search for a new owner of her beloved business. See how the perfect fit was found in a dear friend and how she plans to carry on a lasting legacy. Click here to read more.

                       

                      Nancy Dawson has always loved making people feel like the most beautiful versions of themselves. That’s why she launched BRIDEface in 2005 and developed it into an award-winning, professional, and personal team of wedding makeup and hair stylists.

                      When she created the concept, Dawson wanted to provide brides with an all-inclusive makeup experience that made it easy to look and feel beautiful on their big day. Services for that special day include consultation, makeup trials, hair services, and on-site offerings. Additionally, BRIDEface also offers a makeup line, called FACEing, and makeup coaching. 

                      Unfortunately, Dawson has been battling an aggressive form of breast cancer for the past year, seeking treatment from experts nationwide. Sadly, Dawson was recently told that the diagnosis was terminal, so she began the search for a new owner of BRIDEface. 

                      As she discussed this search with a dear friend, Julie Niesen, it suddenly became crystal clear to them both that she was the perfect fit.

                      As a blogger and marketing specialist, many may not have have thought Niesen would want to carry this torch, but she’s no stranger to the makeup industry. 

                      “I’ve always been a makeup enthusiast, from the first time I played with my mom’s Estee Lauder and my ballet makeup as a kid, to theatre makeup in later years,” says Julie. “In college, I spent time as a makeup artist, which is how I met Nancy. We met when we both worked at Saks Fifth Avenue, and later worked together on shoots with a local modeling agency. I stopped working in the industry, but I never lost my love for makeup.”

                      Now that she’s the owner of BRIDEface, Niesen says she’s excited to carry on Nancy’s legacy. “She has spent her entire career making Cincinnatians look and feel their best – including me, for Cincy Chic,” says Niesen. “She has been a friend to me, and to many others, and has always had the biggest heart and cared so much about her work, and people. I hope I can continue, and even build upon, her work with BRIDEface, FACEing, and the other projects I have in store.”

                      As Niesen continues to build on to what is BRIDEface, Niesen is also being challenged in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

                      “My artists and our clients are my first priority,” explains Niesen. “As of right now, salons are closed by the State. We are not a salon, but we are holding ourselves to the same standard. I am working with clients to reschedule their appointments for a later date. Everyone has been truly wonderful. This is unprecedented for all of us, and we can only get through it by working together.”

                      Niesen says that those who are interested in booking future appointments with BRIDEface can do so at brideface.com. “We’ll also be hosting Facebook Live demos for some of our products,” she adds. “Topics that will be included will be teaching Nancy’s signature tite-lining and showing off a few of BRIDEface’s amazing FACEing lipglosses, all of which are for sale. Inventory is available for purchase through the website so customers can get a taste of BRIDEface without leaving quarantine.”

                      To learn more about BRIDEface, visit www.brideface.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.