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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.

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                    A local woman recently launched a business that delivers healthy, ready-made meals to your doorstep. A service that's needed now more than ever. Read on for all the tasty details!

                    Any regular day, a service delivering healthy meals to your doorstep is a good idea. Today, with the recent closure of all dine-in restaurants, it’s even better. That’s the service Heirloom Chef offers with healthy meal delivery to customers in the Cincinnati area. 

                    “We focus on both individual meals as well as family style meals,” says Owner/Chef Jackie Djordjevic. “We prepare and deliver to your door and the customer just has to reheat. We work out of the Findlay Kitchen in downtown Cincinnati.”

                    Djordjevic says that she was inspired to launch a meal delivery service because she wanted to make healthy meals for busy families.

                    “I struggled as a young adult with autoimmune disease and found myself on a journey to changing my lifestyle so that I could have a better quality of life,” she says. “Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring.”

                    Heirloom Chef Owner Jackie Djordjevic

                    And to make healthy food fun and more exciting, Djordjevic says that she’s always on the lookout for new and interesting foods while also bringing back classics that everyone knows and loves. 

                    Those classics are just as tasty as ever, but “cleaned up” a little. “I try to use inspiration from my family and the types of food I saw my grandma and grandpa make, as well as my mom made when I was a kid,” she says. “There is a lot of food history in my family and I like to think I pay a little homage to the wonderful cooks who came before me.”

                    Djordjevic says that her experience in the food industry goes back more than 13 years when she got her culinary degree from the Midwest Culinary Institute. However, Djordjevic isn’t the only one working behind the scenes at Heirloom Chef. She says she also has a small team of other inspiring women who help to make the business what it is today. 

                    Meal prep and delivery services are available to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Each week you’ll find a new menu to order from and delivery is made straight to your door the following week. 

                    Djordjevic says that there are so many things on her menu, that it’s hard to find something you won’t like. “Since the menu is constantly changing you can truly never get food boredom,” she says. “Some of our fan favorites include Shepherd’s pie, braised pulled pork with roasted plantain salad, and prosciutto wrapped cod with a lemon caper sauce. We also offer vegan/vegetarian meals.”

                    Djordjevic says that the meals she makes are free of dairy, wheat, processed sugars, and additives. Heirloom Chef will also work with families who have special dietary requests. Additionally, Heirloom Chef is the only Whole30 approved partner in Cincinnati, so the business follows the Whole30 guidelines for preparing the food.

                    Currently, Djordjevic is scaling the business with continual growth each week. “We are focused and dedicated to reaching as many local families as we can with our meals,” she says. “We believe we can help busy people find more balance in their lives and we love that we play a small role in helping them do so through this business.”

                    To learn more about Heirloom Chef, visit www.heirloomchefcincy.com. There you can subscribe to emails for weekly menus. You can also follow along with the Heirloom Chef on Facebook and Instagram.

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                      As wedding bells get ready to ring, we chat with a locally-based wedding and event coordinator to hear more about what inspired her to get into the bridal biz and to learn what’s new this wedding season.

                      Photo: SixteenFourteen Photography

                      Are you a bride planning your dream day? Dana Renae Designs is a wedding and event planning and design company that offers a variety of services all under one roof. 

                      “This allows clients to custom create a package that meets their unique vision, budget, and needs,” explains Dana Renae Designs Founder Dana Propes. “From planning, creating the florals, design with our custom decor line to coordinate the day; we have you covered. Our seamless process allows our clients to save time, stress, and money while planning the wedding or event of their dreams.”

                      The vision for Dana Renae Designs was inspired when Propes was working as a designer in a local flower shop. There, she noticed that she found significant enjoyment in working with couples. 

                      “I didn’t mind their indecisiveness and all their questions,” she says. “I loved directing and educating them, I loved hearing their dreams and coming up with solutions. I noticed them buying a ton of items they would only use once, spending money on details that didn’t matter, and getting stressed out from just not knowing what to do next. So I took all my experiences as a florist, caterer, coordinator, and designer to create an easier, supportive way of creating the biggest occasions of our lives.”

                      From there, as a single mother of four at the time, Propes quit her three part-time jobs in the events industry and ventured out on her own and started Dana Renae Designs. 

                      Currently, clients who turn to Dana Renae Designs can choose from floral design, decor package utilizing an extensive private line of decor, full planning for a VIP experience, partial planning to offer ongoing support, coordination/event management, and virtual planning.

                      Propes says that the services offered by her company as well as her extensive experience help her stand out from other wedding planning services in the region. She also offers all-inclusive packages that include flowers and decor, helping to create an affordable, easy way of planning your wedding day.

                      To help brides through the wedding season, Dana Renae Designs is hosting wedding open hours events in the months to come. “I love working with some of the most unique venues in the Tri-State area, that is why you will find me at BB Riverboats and The Prickel Barn in the coming weeks,” she says. 

                      She will be at BB Riverboats Open House on March 15. There she will be decorating and designing the ballrooms on their boats and showcasing some designs in their brand new Riversedge room. “This is one of the most unique ways to celebrate your big day,” she says. “We have designed over 100 events at this one-of-a-kind venue and look forward to many more. You will meet a handful of fabulous vendors, try delicious food from Chef Jesus, and will be inspired by the gorgeous views.”

                      Then, on May 9, you can find Propes at the Prickel Barn. “This huge, elegant, family-owned barn will make you feel as if Chip and Joanna have designed it themselves,” she explains. “The Prickel family will make you feel like you are home, the spacious design and elegant chandeliers will create the most beautiful backdrop for your perfect day. You will meet many amazing wedding pros handpicked by the Prickel family at their open house and I will be featuring some of our new decor line, which is perfect for your elegant barn wedding.”

                      As far as weddings for 2020, Propes says she’s excited to see what’s to come for brides as they plan for their weddings. She says that one of the most exciting trends in the wedding industry this year is creating experiences for guests. “Recent weddings we have been a part of have had caricature artists, Kona Ice trucks, circus performers, and late night Skyline bars,” she says. 

                      Other wedding trends for this year includes flowers. “For this coming season, I see more flowers than ever, from cascading bouquets to dramatic installations,” she says. “Our clients enjoy our program called the ‘Petals of Hope’ where we take your leftover flowers to local nursing homes so your investment is loved by others. We truly believe that everything you put into your wedding day is done with intention and purpose.”

                      Coordination is another big trend for the year and Propes says she’s seen a big surge in it. “Even when couples want to plan their own wedding, they don’t want them or their family to have to work it,” explains Propes. Back in the day it was expected that Aunt Betty was going to jump in and help but couples nowadays want everyone to enjoy the day and leave the work to us planners.”

                      To learn more about Dana Renae Designs, visit https://www.danarenaedesigns.com. You can also follow along on Instagram and Facebook. You can also contact Propes via email

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