The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Featured

    by -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To learn more about Matthews Brackeen and Hillman, visit https://www.hill7.org

      by -

      Has failure ever left you feeling paralyzed and alone on your path? See how failure (or “gifts” as she now sees them) inspired a local entrepreneur to launch a new podcast and lifestyle resource to help others fall forward.

       

      Sarah Brown went through a really tough year in 2017. She was the owner of Blown in Kenwood, a beauty studio that was popular, but ahead of its time. Unfortunately, she and her partner just couldn’t sustain the investment and had to close their doors. 

      At the same time she was saying goodbye to her business venture, she also said goodbye to her mom. Soon after that, she realized she had developed an unhealthy dependence on alcohol. 

      While closing the business and getting sober, she came to realize that she was lucky to have experienced the obstacles she was overcoming at the time. “I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like this,” she says. 

      That’s when she decided to take a different route with her career and launch a podcast called Failing Forward in January 2018. 

      “Failing Forward aims to inspire Cincinnatians to see failure as an opportunity – a gift, even,” she says. “I want to create a community that picks one another up when we’ve fallen and celebrates what happens when we’re bold enough to embrace failure.”

      The podcast, which was rated No. 20 in Apple Podcasts’ business category upon release, shares stories from Cincinnati entrepreneurs and community leaders and experts. 

      “The podcast provides motivational stories to encourage people to unblock their fears, move into action, and become their authentic selves,” she says. “It’s about reframing failure from a negative to a positive.”

      Brown says the podcast just felt like the right thing to do in order to share stories about how other people had dusted themselves off after failure. 

      Brown credits Adrienne Donica, her producer, and the team at Gwynne Sound who edits the show. 

      “I also had many friends and mentors who encouraged me to do it like Carolyn Michelli, my husband, and Tony and Mary Miller,” she adds. 

      Episodes of Failing Forward shares a lot of stories, but they all hold one thing in common – human triumph. 

      “And in a world where we don’t hear much about triumph, my goal is to inspire and create community around hope,” says Brown. “All of the guests, no matter how much money or fame, have all overcome failure. They have figured out how to be the hero of their own story, and on top of that, are brave enough to share details about incredibly vulnerable times in their lives so they can help other people facing their own failures.”

      Many of the guests on the podcast share stories about their careers, including failed businesses, getting fired, overcoming a project that didn’t go as planned, and even deciding to strike out in a completely new field halfway through their career. 

      There are also stories that are more personal, including those who have shared the struggles of serious health problems and mental illness, addiction, grief, low self-esteem, and difficulties in their marriages and families. 

      “Anything is fair game, and I’m always asking my guests what steps they took to bounce back,” she says. 

      New episodes from Failing Forward are released every other Thursday and are available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and SoundCloud. 

      To learn more about Failing Forward, visit www.failforwardpod.com or follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

        by -

        Does the new year and new decade have you feeling like you need a refresh? Learn about a local, female-focused organization hosting an event to help you renew, refresh and restart — personally and professionally — in the new year.

         

        Girl Boss Life Co, formerly Girl Boss Events, is busy planning its GBE Retreat on January 25 at The Marmalade Lily in Loveland. 

        The theme for the day is Renew, Refresh, Restart and aims to help attendees learn how to renew their minds, refresh their goals, and restart their hearts to be the best they can be for themselves and their businesses. 

        “There are several amazing things happening during the time from 9am to 4pm,” says Girl Boss Life Co. Founder Ashley Lindsey. 

        “The GBE Retreat will allow our encouraging community of women creatives continue to support each other through business and life while renewing, refreshing, and restarting ourselves,” she says. 

        Each ticket to the event includes: mini facials by Hope Esthetics, headshots by Emma McMahan Photography, breakfast and coffee, lunch by Eatwell, Girl Boss Collaboration speed dating, shopping with women-owned businesses, and retreat swag. 

        Also included in the event are break out sessions with WonderWell Workshops and Sweet Viola Designs. WonderWell Workshops will host their breakout session on “How to Self Care” while Sweet Viola Designs will offer a session on “Mini Branding Refresher” and working with the perfect client.

        Keynote speakers for the day include Erin Loftus of Sweet Viola Designs and Laura Fisher of The Marmalade Lily. 

        Tickets for the event are $125 and can be purchased here

        To learn more about Girl Boss Life Co, visit http://www.girlbossevents.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram

          by -

          For our annual Women of the Year issue, we feature six fascinating local women paving new paths for business, community and generations of women to come. Read on as we learn more about Donna Salyers and her 30 years of entrepreneurship and is about to start an exciting new chapter.

          At the recent 30 & Three Celebration honoring the 30th anniversary of Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs and the third anniversary of Hotel Covington, Covington Mayor Joseph Meyer delivered a proclamation in honor of both Donna Salyers and her husband Jim, and announced “Fabulous West 11th Street” in recognition of the local pride and international success of Fabulous Furs.

           

          Entrepreneurship is nothing new for the Salyers. The dynamic husband-and-wife team of Jim and Donna Salyers are the brains behind several Northern Kentucky based, and nationally known, businesses. 

          The story of their entrepreneurial journeys goes back to the mid-80s when Jim purchased the Woolworth Building as an investment. Following some years, Woolworth announced they were leaving and that’s when Jim decided it was the perfect opportunity to step out on his own and start a business – The Madison Event Center. 

          At the same time Jim was starting his business, his fashionista wife Donna was launching her business Fabulous-Furs in the basement of their Cincinnati home. However, business grew much quicker than expected for Donna and she needed more space.

          Donna Salyers

          The couple wanted to do their part in growing their Northern Kentucky neighborhood, so they began buying boarded-up buildings that not only solved their space issue, which also improved the neighborhood. 

          “In the beginning we lived in a loft apartment above The Madison and experience firsthand the urban blight and neglect,” explains Donna. “Jim set out to change the neighborhood and, amazingly, it worked. It was painfully slow – nearly two decades – but make no mistake; it’s been a joint effort with my husband, our daughter, our son, and their spouses, as well as fellow entrepreneurs who risked investing in a troubled area.”

          Not only is the couple the founders of The Madison Event Center and Fabulous-Furs, but Donna also launched Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Bridal, as well as a couple of restaurants, a wedding mall, and more. 

          “Our son-in-law Guy van Rooyen spearheaded Hotel Covington that opened in late 2016,” she explains. “The Hotel has been a fabulous game-changed, bringing restaurants, shops, and specialty bars – places creating vibrancy and bringing people and credibility to Covington’s business core.”

          Salyers also credits her son, Scott, on his renovations to many of the community’s building to help make it “cool” again. 

          As the family has worked to change the face of Northern Kentucky, Salyers says that they live by the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated.

          That passion for treating others the way they’d want to be treated translates into a desire to create a community they themselves would want to live in. While at times that sounds like a walk in the park, it isn’t always the case. 

          “We’ve always believed in the power of small businesses leading the way,” she says. “Local government can only do so much. Covington, for example, teetered on bankruptcy with limited revenue-generating entities and neighborhoods. Big business is essential as well, but individuals and small businesses can be far more nimble and resilient in changing economic conditions and world events.”

          When it comes to running Fabulous-Furs, Salyers says that she finds inspiration in the people she works with every day, who inspire her to do everything possible to offer great products and lead fashion trends, which allows her to provide jobs that feed families, pay taxes, and expand the family’s reputation as the world’s leader in luxury faux fur.

          At the recent 30 & Three Celebration honoring the 30th anniversary of Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs and the third anniversary of Hotel Covington

          This same business she hopes to build a reputation with is what started more than 30 years ago as a sewing kit company. 

          “Fake fur was far different,” she explains. “Technology today produces faux fur so realistic, a furrier may be fooled. But I started with the best quality available, and it became my challenge to create a luxury market for something with a terrible reputation. I was naive enough to think Ic ould turn faux fur into a luxurious product even more desirable than the finest animal fur. We were embraced by the entertainment industry early on and, though it’s been a gradual process, today we’re sold by high-end boutiques, department stores, and casinos in 46 countries.

          Products from Fabulous-Furs have appeared in movies, on Broadway and TV, national publications and were even named as one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things.” 

          “Each year we get better still and customers tell us they really are trading up to something humane but just as luxurious as animal fur,” adds Salyers. 

          With a new decade approaching, Fabulous-Furs isn’t the only brand run by the Salyers that will continue to expand. Salyers says that Hotel Covington recently announced an expansion that will include moving into the historic former YMCA building to make way for a bourbon distillery experience, 10,000 feet of office space and an expansion of Hotel Covington.

          “It will be more than returning vibrancy to another long-vacant block,” she says. “A bourbon experience, VIP suits, and all sorts of unique features will make it one-of-a-kind. Jim and I are merely cheerleaders; our son-in-law is leading the way.”

          You can learn more about Fabulous-Furs, The Madison Event Center, Hotel Covington, and Fabulous-Bridal by visiting their websites.  

           

          Learn about the other 2019 Cincy Chic Women of the Year: 

          Rachel Felous, Simply Zero
          Learn about the woman behind a new zero-waste lifestyle shop in OTR who’s making the earth’s future a little brighter on fun find at a time.

          Ray Ball, Neighborhood Rose
          See how a woman from Bond Hill recently achieved her dream of designing a shoe for Nike, and how her neighborhood inspired it all.

          Emily Hoskins, Green Bee
          She’s a former makeup artist turned natural beauty product guru and advocate for the world’s pollinators. Keep reading for all the buzz.

          Kendra Ramirez Digital Agency
          This local tech guru helps businesses thrive through her marketing agency, and inspires personal development through her conferences and a new e-book launching soon.

          Mary Delaney of Education Matters
          She leads a local organization that removes barriers to learning for adults seeking to re-engage in education. Read on to learn her secrets to success.

            by -

            Inspired by a journey with sobriety and an inspiring story of community support, two local families teamed up to launch a new kind of social exchange. Learn more about their new historic-building-turned-social-hotspot that specializes in good food, drinks, and a welcoming smile for everyone.

            History is everywhere. It’s in the little old house on Main Street and it’s in the old bank that was once thriving with customers going in and out. Back in 2011, the Freys and the Jobes families wanted to have a little piece of their own history when they purchased the old First National Bank building in downtown Harrison.

            “At the time, we didn’t know what it would become,” says Gerilyn Jobe. “We knew the building had a rich history and that one day it would need to be restored. Speed things up to early 2016 when we, alongside the Freys, had a dream that inspired us to launch something amazing.”

            They wanted to create something that was lacking in downtown Harrison: an upscale establishment that could be used to help foster community in the small town. 

            “Without any previous experience in the bar/restaurant industry, we began to research the ins and outs of the process,” she says. “In December 2016, we were blessed by the community with a gift of money that paid for the first set of blueprints.”

            That set of blueprints was what would become Heist + Co, a social exchange that was not birthed to become “just another bar” but, rather, something much more than that. 

            “Just like any other good thing, it took time for Heist + Co to become a reality,” says Jobe. “Many days, months, and years went by to plan, develop, learn, grow, and stretch in areas with which we were not familiar.”

            Since the financial gift helped to bolster the project into reality in 2016, the business has since blossomed into something the business partners say they never could have imagined. 

            “We have worked tirelessly to keep a spirit of excellence in everything that encompasses Heist + Co,” says Jobe. “From the building’s design elements to the food that has been thoughtfully curated on each plate we serve, Heist + Co was created to give our guests an experience they could not get anywhere else.”

            Jobe says that the inspiration for Heist + Co came along when the team was looking to develop something that welcome community members and offered small plates and unique cocktails. It was also at the time when Jobe herself decided to quit drinking. 

            “This became the catalyst which altered the vision of Heist + Co,” she says. “When frequenting other establishments, I felt that there was a definite lack of quality offerings for the non-drinker.”

            It was then that she began to do a lot of research in an effort to find options for those who wanted to go out with friends yet still feel included. It was here that she found the growing trend of non-alcoholic bars. 

            “I found various companies that offered non-alcoholic spirits, wine, and beer,” she says. “It was at that point that the vision of Heist + Co became very clear – it would become a gathering place that welcomed both drinkers and non-drinkers alike, making anyone and everyone is welcome to enjoy the space and feel a sense of belonging.”

            Although the group felt the decision was a risky one, they say it’s paid off. “Heist + Co is experiencing an influx of non-drinkers and we could not be more excited,” she shares.

            When they opened the doors to Heist + Co in 2019, the Jobes and the Freys wanted their social exchange to be a relaxed gathering place that offered an atmosphere that fosters connection, conversation, and community while also being a space that encourages laughter and kindness and welcoming all guests as they are – no more, no less. 

            Through their business Jobe says she wants to be able to introduce the Harrison and surrounding communities to something they’ve never seen before, both in the way of cocktails and small plates. 

            “We want to be the spot that people feel loved and accepted for who they are,” she says. “We want to make sure that everyone who comes in feels valued and special.”

            Frey and Jobe are the owners of The Coffee Peddler, another business in Harrison that plans to open a second location in the fall of 2020. Jobe’s husband, Mitchell, and his business partner Brian Hennessey are also opening a retail business called West Oak & Iron that will be located at 419 Harrison Avenue in the District. 

            To learn more about Heist + Co, including the bank robbing history of the building which inspired the name, visit www.heistandcompany.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

              by -

              Ready to feel more gratitude and bring more goodness your way in the new decade? We chat with a local lady who launched a free resource to help you feel like — and be — a better you.

              Life is stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s what Crazy Grateful is here for. Monica Scalf, founder of The Work Well Group, wanted to offer free resources and learning opportunities designed to help people live a life with less stress and more joy. 

              “At CrazyGrateful.com you can subscribe to receive my weekly email called 3 Good Things, where I share a short, encouraging note plus three things that make life brighter and more joyful,” explains Scalf. “These include fun products, podcasts, shows, recipes, books, and more.”

              Crazy Grateful isn’t just a weekly email series, it’s also the home of a project called Journey to the Brightside, which will begin in January 2020. 

              Here, Scalf will lead the community in tackling one topic a month that can move the needle on living a life that lights you up. 

              “On the first of each month, subscribers will receive an email with links to an essay from myself, along with downloadable tools and strategies that address the topic of the month,” says Scalf. “Support for the topic will continue throughout the month in the weekly newsletter and on the Crazy Grateful Facebook and Instagram pages.”

              With the arrival of the New Year comes the first three months of Crazy Grateful, including:

              The lineup for the first three months is as follows: 

              • January: Less Stress/More Peace
              • February: Less Negativity/More Joy
              • March: Less Self-Doubt, More Confidence

              Scalf says that she was inspired to launch something like Crazy Grateful because she herself identifies as a recovering stress-a-holic and worry wart. 

              Monica Scalf, Founder of Crazy Grateful

              “After 10 years of trying various methods to alleviate an overactive stress and worry response, I realized that only through the right mix of daily practices and mindset shifts was I able to minimize the effect of stress in my life,” she says. “I want to encourage others who are also prone to stress and worry to take action to keep those negative emotions in check. By sharing my personal journey with targeted information from the reading, research, and tools I have tried, I hope to be a useful resource in a world with skyrocketing stress levels.

              Scalf says that what makes Crazy Grateful so important for the community is that it focuses on the topic of minimizing stress and increasing joy from a day-to-day perspective. 

              “Many times there are small adjustments that can be made that can add up to a big bump in positivity and joy in your day,” she says. “People discount these small changes. Crazy Grateful reminds people of the power they have to refocus and reclaim a life that maximizes joy even in the face of stress and busyness, even when they only have small pockets of time to commit to making positive changes.”

              To sign up to join the community of Crazy Grateful, you can visit crazygrateful.com. Once signed up you will start receiving 3 Good Things each Saturday morning via email, as well as the Journey to the Brightside beginning January 1.

                by -

                See how one local woman’s sense of wanderlust turned into a unique travel agency that helps everyone - on any budget - travel the world like a local.

                Something ventured is something gained. That’s the motto, and inspiration, that Sarah Baker applies to her full-service travel agency Something Adventured Travel. 

                “Something Adventured Travel is a full-service travel agency that makes the client a priority,” she says. “It takes a client’s dream vacation and turns it into a reality. I offer personalized planning an on-call support should any issues arise during your travels.”

                Baker says that the inspiration behind her business, something ventured is something gained, is applicable especially to travel. 

                “When you get out and see the world, venture outside your bubble, you learn so much,” she says. “You learn about the world you live in, gaining a new understanding of the cultures, people, and yourself. Therefore, Something Adventured is gaining something priceless.”

                Baker’s love for travel has always been a part of her, but it really took off when she and her husband decided to sell everything and live somewhere else in the world.

                “Starting with an exploratory trip to Costa Rica for our 10 year anniversary, we decided that was a great place to start,” she explains. “We wanted to experience a new culture and have an adventure with our young children.”

                The Bakers sold their home, stored everything they wanted to keep in a storage unit, and moved to Costa Rica. 

                “We were fortunate to rent a house located in a coffee field on the side of the Poas Volcano,” she says. “The view was breathtaking. We ended up staying there for about seven months, leaving a little earlier than expected due to a family need.”

                Sarah Baker, founder of Something Adventured Travel

                While their journey in Costa Rica ended early, her desire to continue traveling never slowed down. The family then went to Europe for just over 5 months to stay in southern Spain, France, and England, where they explored and immersed themselves in the culture the best they could.

                “We were able to go anywhere with an internet connection, still working remotely, being digital nomads,” says Baker.

                Eventually they returned home, but the itch was still there. Baker realized that she loved planning trips and enjoyed being able to help others who said they felt overwhelmed in planning their own trips.

                Baker opened Something Adventured Travel in January 2018 and has since been able to help people take trips they were not able to or did not want to plan alone. “I have met some amazing people and formed priceless relationships,” she says. “And my personal bucket list has at least doubled.”

                Baker can help her clients plan trips to anywhere in the world. 

                “From the Caribbean sea to the rivers of Europe, hiking to Machu Picchu, on safari in Kenya, seeing the glaciers of Alaska, or even the glaciers of Antarctica, I can help you explore wherever your heart desires,” she says. “Whether you are looking for a first-class honeymoon to an exotic locations, a family adventure to Universal Studios, or a fun group vacation with your own private, local guide, I can customize your vacation to make it all your own.”

                Sarah Baker specializes in offering tips and opportunities to travel like a local

                With travel comes a price tag, an area in which Baker is well-versed. With her former career in finance, she realizes how important it is to stick to a budget and make small payments leading up to the trip instead of big lump sums. That’s why she works with vendors who allow clients to do a down payment and then pay the remainder of their planned trip closer to the travel date. “Even better, this is at no extra cost to my clients for the flexibility in payments,” says Baker. “The down payment and final payment date vary based on the travel arrangements.”

                Baker prides herself on being able to offer clients perspective on what may be good places to visit, with or without children. “I offer clients VIP service in their travel planning as well,” she says. “As a small business owner, I truly value your experience. Not only do I help you plan your dream vacation, but I can also offer ideas for packing, places of interest in your destination, and amazing value for your desired travel style and destination, many times matching or beating the cost of booking on your own – all the while offering your personalized service that cannot be had with an online booking site.”

                You can find travel inspiration and see what’s going on in the world on Facebook. You can also sign up for the Something Adventured newsletter or start planning your next vacation at www.satravelagency.com

                  by -

                  After a life-changing trip to Indonesia, one local woman wants to make a difference in the world selling Fair Trade jewelry, accessories, and apparel. Click here to read the inspiring story and how you can help one beautiful buy at a time.


                  Mandy Nagel is on a mission. She wants to expand the global marketplace of hardworking people in developing countries. 

                  “By designing and selling Fair Trade accessories, apparel, and jewelry, we offer products handmade from natural and sustainable resources,” says Nagel. “Each purchase represents a building block for constructing a business that provides income to people who need it most.”

                  When people choose to shop Fair Trade, the styles those customers purchase help to transform real lives in real ways while also reusing upcycles and eco-friendly materials.

                  “The artisans who craft these styles are inspiring women who have found steady and rewarding work through this sustainable venture,” adds Nagel. “Fair Trade items take on a whole new value of living a life with greater meaning. By practicing conscious consumerism, the question of what you want to own is actually a reflection of how you want to live your life – your purpose becomes giving others a purpose.”

                  Nagel, who was inspired to launch I Thought of You after a trip to Indonesia, says that she felt her brand was “meant to be” because of its start based on circumstance and coincidence. 

                  While in Indonesia, Nagel met a woman selling handmade jewelry at a local market. The woman, named Yulia, was selling pieces that had a unique beauty and undeniable craftsmanship about them. “I bought roughly 20 pieces and returned home with the, excited to show off my new ‘collection’ and to share Yulia’s story,” she says.

                  When people began commenting on her pieces purchased in Indonesia, Nagel knew that she needed to build a fashion brand that was there to support artisans and makers like Yulia. 

                  From there, the rest was history. “Our story began from the experience of this trip,” says Nagel. “We wanted to creative positive change so we set out to make it happen. We’re a small but powerful team of five and we just celebrated our 5th birthday this November.”

                  Nagel says she enjoys being able to help artisans from around the world and making a positive impact on the lives of the women with whom she works. 

                   

                  “The choices you make when you shop reflect your intentionality in creating a lifestyle that leads to substantial impacts,” says Nagel. “What you own can also stand for something truly significant. These impacts are what drive us to always be a company for good.”

                  There are a range of modern styles available at I Thought of You that range from accessories, apparel, jewelry, and sunglasses. “Because each and every product is handmade, they will always be one-of-a-kind,” says Nagel. “When you buy our products, you are truly buying something that is uniquely yours.”

                  Products in-store include:

                  While I Thought of You is online-based at ithoughtofyou.com, you can also find them popping up at local events in Cincy, around Ohio, and beyond.

                  Nagel is excited about the future of I Thought of You because of the work she gets to do with artisans from all over the world. 

                  “This January, we will be releasing a whimsical collection of accessories and apparel handcrafted in India, Indonesia, and Peru,” says Nagel. “These new products will feature one-of-a-kind fabrics, semi-precious stones, and real shells. From hues of pink to bright pops of red, these styles will be perfect for thoughtful Valentine’s Day gifting.”

                  Then, in March, I Thought of You will celebrate the arrival of spring with statement tassel necklaces, glitzy glam backpacks, new designs of some of the store’s best-selling upcycled fabric headwraps, and more. 

                  “Keep your eyes peeled later in March when we introduce Zoo Babies, a collection that has been more than a year and a half in the making,” she says. “This collection will feature the daintiest, miniature animal earrings made from ceramic and polymer clay. You can’t help but go wild for these adorable styles.”

                  To learn more about I Thought of You, visit https://ithoughtofyou.com. You can also follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. There’s also an Insiders Facebook Group for others to join as well. 

                    by -

                    Want to up your cooking skills or introduce your little ones to your love of cooking? Check out these inspiring classes that encourage even the littlest of chefs to be hands-on in the kitchen.

                    Whether you have a little one who’s interested in cooking and being in the kitchen, or you want to learn how to up your cooking skills, Cook Inspired is here to help. 

                    “Cook Inspired offers cooking classes for kids ages 8 and up, teens, and aspiring cooks of all ages,” says Cook Inspired Founder Kim Tepe. 

                    Classes from Cook Inspired focus on practical, basic concepts and techniques, rather than just following recipes. 

                    “This allows students to easily go home and use what they’ve learned,” says Tepe. “We cook with whole food ingredients, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and very minimal sugar to create meals that are beautiful, healthy, and delicious.”

                    Tepe finds joy in cooking and sharing wholesome meals, and find that it’s become a lost art in the new normal of busy schedules and lifestyles that seem to surround fast food and other convenience foods that can lead to health issues. 

                    “Learning to cook efficiently and creatively can transform cooking from a chore to an enjoyable and relaxing activity, making it easier to create and enjoy healthy meals,” says Tepe. “And for kids and adults alike, it’s a good, clean fun – mixed with a little science, a little math, a little art, lots of teamwork, and no screen time.”

                    All of the fun found in the classes at Cook Inspired are due to the hands-on activities that end with a meal. “My goal is to inspire new cooks of all ages – and with that, make the world a little bit healthier and a happier place,” she says. 

                    The Kids Cooking Series for Cook Inspired is for kids ages 8 to 10 and is a set of four 1.5 hour classes. There kids will learn safety rules, knife rules, and how to work in the kitchen. They’ll learn how to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals over the four weeks of the class. 

                    The Beginner Cooking Series is for older kids ages 11 and up, consisting of five 2-hour classes and covers a wider range of basic cooking concepts and techniques. The class begins with safety, knife skills, and prep/organization. Each week also has a meal theme, such as Mexican Fiesta, while learning to work with proteins, fruits and veggies, pasta, and grains using techniques such as sauteing, roasting, steaming, and boiling. 

                    There are also two new classes offered by Cook Inspired – High School/College Holiday Bootcamp and Adult Beginner Cooking School. 

                    “High School/College Holiday Bootcamp is a set of three 2.5-hour classes over holiday break when older kids might have some free time to learn to cook so they can eat healthier and save money,” explains Tepe. “Adult Beginner Cooking School focuses on even more techniques for adults who want to start cooking more confidently, efficiently, and creatively.”

                    Students who take classes with Cook Inspired are given copies of each recipe they make and includes ideas for using the recipe as a template to create new dishes of their own.

                    Upon completion of Tepe’s Cook Inspired classes, she hopes her students, no matter their age, leave with the ability to use practical skills, simple ingredients, custom tea towels, and basic equipment to eat better and healthier every day.  

                    Cook Inspired classes are held at Tepe’s Terrace Park home. In the future, she says she’d like to take the adult cooking school, or a version of it, on the road to better reach young adults who have limited free time but would like to learn to cook so they can eat healthier and save money.

                    “They can ultimately build on these skills to be creative and have fun in the kitchen,” she says.

                    Tepe is taking a break from offering classes during the month of December, but she is working on the curriculum and recipes for intermediate level classes for kids or adults who want to continue beyond the beginner level of cooking.

                    To learn more about Cook Inspired, visit them on Facebook. There you can find full class descriptions and menus and see photos of the aspiring chefs in past and current classes. You can also contact Tepe through her page or at cookinspired513@gmail.com to schedule a class. 

                      by -

                      Local high school students are producing their 14th annual fashion show and fundraiser. Learn about this Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed event featuring local boutiques that benefits the Dragonfly Foundation.

                      Students at Sycamore High School are doing their part to contribute in the fight against cancer with their annual Fashion for the Cure charity fashion show. 

                      “All proceeds from the tickets, basket raffle, silent auction, and all prior fundraising go directly to the Dragonfly Foundation – a local nonprofit that provides comfort and joy to kids and their families going through cancer and bone marrow transplants,” explains Student Chairman Eva Armbruster. 

                      Fashion for the Cure 2020 will be held on March 6 at Sycamore High School, and while the date may seem like a ways away, the students behind it all are already busy preparing.

                      The show will feature student designers and models wearing clothing from TJ Maxx, Folchis, Bridal and Formal, as well as Dragonflies wearing shirts they have designed themselves. 

                      The next show, in 2020, will be the 14th annual event and the 6th show to benefit The Dragonfly Foundation, and alongside Armbruster are co-chairs Grace Mirande and Zaynab Syed, who work in a committee of 15 Sycamore High School girls with teachers Deborah Klemt and Sarah Chapman. 

                      “We also receive a lot of support from our student models, designers, and the rest of the Sycamore student body, administration, and community,” adds Armbruster. 

                      Fashion for the Cure 2020 will feature a Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme and will include upcycled student designs in the fashion show. 

                      Tickets for the event will be available in December at www.dragonfly.org. Armbruster says that last year the group was able to raise over $48,000 for The Dragonfly Foundation. 

                      To learn more about the event, click here. You can also follow along on Instagram and Twitter.