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    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

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    It's a grand estate in the heart of Hyde Park. Click for a peek inside this week's breath-taking Listing of the Week!

    This Hyde Park home is stunning and grand. It consists of 4 pacers totaling 3.991 acres in the heart of Hyde Park. It features impeccable design and exceptional quality throughout. Modern updates include 2nd floor laundry, charming master bath, new electrical panel, new HVAC, new tankless water heater, and a new water filtration system. It’s 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, in 4,599 square feet and is listed at $1.75 million.

    This listing is sponsored by Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate, the official mortgage professional of Cincy Chic.  

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    Local freelancers, rejoice! Learn about a new coworking space that provides a creativity-inspiring space to work from home away from home.

    Working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, it has its perks like working in pajamas all day, but it can also be lonely, distracting and uninspiring.

    Whether you’re a freelancer or just work from home, Playground Coworks offers creatives and telecommuters in the Tri-State a space to call their “work home.”

    “Playground Coworks is a shared working space, where you can be part of a community of creatives, entrepreneurs, and small business owners,” says Owner Ollie Kroner. “You can rent a desk, schedule a group meeting, or drop by.”

    Playground Coworks is centrally located in Northside, above the Northside Tavern. The coworking space takes on a more casual, creatively inspiring, community-driven approach as opposed to other coworking spaces in the city. 

    “These days so many people are working from home or from a coffee shop,” says Kroner. “Most people like the freedom of freelancing, but find joy in working around other creative people. Playground offers a setting where we can share ideas, work through challenges, or just take a break and have a friendly conversation.”

    Playground mostly sees full-time creatives and others with creative side projects in its space, which offers an open layout, 14 individual desks, and separate meeting space. 

    The goal behind the space is to encourage collaboration among its users, rather than competitiveness for freelance resources. In fact, Kroner says that there was even an instance where a logo designer and jewelry maker got together in the coworking space to complete a project.

    There are several perks to becoming a member at Playground Coworks, including: flexible desks to share or dedicated desks for exclusive use, high-speed wired and wireless internet, use of conference room, 24/7 access with security codes, free coffee/espresso, storage for work items in the space, mailing address, and discounted web design and hosting.

    To learn more about Playground Coworks, visit

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    Lift yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually this year with a new retreat in the hills of Hebron, Kentucky.

    One of the most popular resolutions for the new decade is to be more connected to ourselves, to be more grateful, intentional, and passionate about who and what we encounter in our everyday lives. 

    The Salt of the Earth Retreats is here to help you achieve that resolution surround yourself with the inspired, the passionate, the motivated, the grateful, and the open-minded in a one-day spa-inspired health and wellness retreat.

    Nicole Kitchen, Founder and Owner of The Salt of the Earth Retreats, says she was inspired to launch this new venture following prayer, personal growth, professional growth, and the journey she’s taken along the way. 

    “My inspiration really began a long time ago,” she explains. “I’ve always been drawn to people and wanted to help them feel great about themselves in a really healthy way spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially. I started working when I was 16 because I wanted to create an impact in the big, beautiful world. I found through working at Verizon Wireless from ages 16-22 the impact I was making on individuals lives was selling them devices that could ultimately save their life.”

    While doing this work, Kitchen also found that she could carry on conversations with people who wanted her to listen. “People really needed someone to hear them,” she says. “I felt like they were really living unconsciously and craving spiritual, mental, and social connection.”

    Her journey then included sales with Mary Kay and eventually to NCK Universal Retreats. “It was the birth of an environment where anyone could emerge themselves in a day long, spa-inspired retreat with an amazing course in living your best, authentic life,” she says. 

    From 2017 through 2019 Kitchen hosted 5 retreats, but more recently discovered that she wanted to take her offerings to a much higher platform. 

    “With my experience in business and enriching the lives of individuals, I knew that I was onto something huge,” she says. “And if I can enrich individuals’ lives on a grander scale, how would I do it? I went back to the drawing board, and through prayer and meditation I came up with a name: The Salt of the Earth Retreats, and decided it was time to officially brand my retreats and put it out publicly in a professional way.”

    The retreats from The Salt of the Earth Retreats are a tailored, day-long spa-inspired experience that incorporates all things health and wellness, aiming to help participants be lifted to a higher elevation mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. 

    “During the retreat you will start to see an abundance of all that you can manifest in your own life,” says Kitchen. “All the gifts that were planted in your and the seeds of greatness that God has instilled in each and every person – that is what I am aiming to bring out in my guests.”

    Kitchen says that once she can get guests to understand what they are capable of doing, I want to help them gain the momentum to continue to move forward. 

    “Our retreats create a positive impact that lasts in the lives of our guests,” she says. “It’s all about creating an experience that will change the trajectory of our guests’ lives. IT’s my heart’s desire to help catapult individuals’ lives and help create the awareness of where they are now and who they desire to become at this stage in their life. Let’s face it, we all grow and change throughout our journey, I just don’t believe that there are people taking the time to help individuals on this level.”

    Not only are guests able to interact with the best of the best in the industry in regards to yoga, meditation, wellness, nutrition, physical activity, mental and spiritual growth, but they are also pampered with goodies to use throughout the retreat as well as massages, journaling, and a spa-inspired vegan menu to help nourish the body while relaxing in the hills of Hebron, Kentucky. 

    Kitchen says that The Salt of the Earth Retreats is unlike anything else in the area – making it unique in its own design and right. 

    “My retreats are created with heart, love, and the inspiration behind it is a God-given gift,” says Kitchen. “When you walk into the retreat you can feel the energy, you feel the ambience and the love lifting you up into a space created for you to peel back the layers of life and begin to emerge into your authentic self, making it your own experience and your very own retreat.”

    The Salt of the Earth Retreats will host a retreat on April 25 and again on September 26 in Hebron, Kentucky. The retreat will be held from 10am to 5 pm with wine and hors d’oeuvres from 5pm-9pm. There is also a retreat in Costa Rica from November 14-20 at The Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, a collaboration between The Salt of the Earth Retreats and The Connection Project.

    To learn more about The Salt of the Earth Retreats, check them out on Facebook and Instagram. The website is currently under construction but Kitchen can be reached at or by calling 513-886-0018.

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    It’s an eye-catching ring, created by a local designer, with an inspiring and innovative secret. Keep reading for all the details.

    CONQUERing is an eye-catching ring with an inspiring secret. 

    “When worn on one’s finger, it features an intriguing pattern of lines and curves with its meaning known only to the person wearing it,” says Tammy Nelson, Founder and CEO of Cincinnati-based CONQUERing. “However, when the ring is removed and the disc is spun, an empowering message is revealed to remind the wearer of what they wanted to focus on that day.” 

    The inspiration behind Nelson starting the business was her passion to empower others. “I believe a big part of feeling empowered is to have a positive mindset, clear goals and to live with intention,” she says. “Too often people float through life as if they were at the mercy of the tide, not realizing that the power to chart their own course is right there within them.”

    The purpose of CONQUERing is to be aware of their day ahead and what they need to do to conquer the day. “They can select that inspiring word to pop into their CONQUERing to keep their intention for the day close at hand…literally!” Nelson says. “And, each time they feel a need for a little extra focus, they can take the ring off and give it a spin to see their word come into focus as a positive reminder of what they wanted to focus on that day.”

    CONQUERing just launched at the beginning of 2020. “It’s the latest brand from Hoi Polloi Trends, LL, which has been in business since 2011,” she says. The business is currently operated out of Anderson and Mason, Ohio.

    The CONQUERing ring is offered in three sizes and 13 discs with encouraging words in them. “We will be launching additional sizes and many more discs in the next few months,” she says. “We also have specially curated collections, perfect for supporting a friend facing a challenging time or celebrating someone embarking on a new adventure,” Nelson says. 

    The business empowers the community not only by their ring, but they also provide to the community. “We are proud to donate 10 percent of our profits to organizations that share our passion for empowering others,” she says. They spread happiness through their ‘CONQUERing Community’. Their community of community of people share an interest of self-improvement, positivity and kindness, and these people also have a passion for empowering and encouraging others. “Those who follow us on social media will enjoy our frequent posts filled with inspiration, empowerment and positivity,” Nelson says. 

    CONQUERing is important for the community because it helps people to have control in the midst of their chaotic lives. “Empowering people to understand that they don’t have to be swept up in the chaos but, instead, have what it takes to live the life of their dreams is pretty powerful,” she says. “We are a business focused on lifting people up with positivity and empowerment.”

    The business is unique because it is a patent-pending product. “There are other jewelry products that aim to inspire and keep a word of intention top of mind, but there aren’t any rings like ours,” Nelson says. “The most unique features of our rings are the ability to swap the discs in and out to match a persons’ needs for the day and, of course, the way the words are hidden when worn and revealed when spun.”

    Other than empowering others, Nelson’s favorite part of her job is working on the product with her son, Jake. “Jake is a student at Miami University and was heavily involved in the product’s design. It was very challenging at times (we created nearly 50 prototypes to get to the winning design), but it was fun and rewarding to take the journey together,” she says. “Interesting Fact: Our first prototype was made from paper and our second was 3D-printed in plastic at the Cincinnati Public Library Maker Space for 20 cents.”

    If you want to follow what the CONQUERing Community is doing, you can sign receive email updates at:, as well as following them on Facebook and Instagram

    Check out the video below to see how the CONQUERing works:


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    Say goodbye to dry and dull winter skin while supporting an important cause with this locally-based body polish business.

    Thirsty Skin Body Polish wants to take your dry, wintry skin from drab to fab. 

    “Thirsty Skin Body Polish is a coconut oil based sugar scrub kissed with 100 percent pure essential oils,” says owner Brigott Dawn. “The scrub helps to buff away and remove dead skin cells all while hydrating, moisturizing, and reinvigorating your skin.”

    Not only does the scrub remove dead skin cells, but it also encourages cell turnover, moisturizes your skin, and can even help to eliminate skin conditions such as keratosis pilaris and eczema. 

    Dawn says the scrub is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin everyday, as it’s personally formulated to exfoliate and moisturize skin.

    Currently, there are three scents available from Thirsty Skin, including Lemongrass, Lavender, and Eucalyptus. 

    Not only does Thirsty Skin help to make your skin better, but the business also aims to help animals in search of homes. 

    Because the business finds inspiration in Dawn’s 3-legged rescue dog Ruby, $1 from every scrub sold is donated to a hand-selected Animal Shelter of the Month.

    “We are actively working on expanding our scents as well as expanding our products to include lips,face, and feet,” says Dawn. “Stay tuned!”

    To learn more about Thirsty Skin, visit You can also follow along on Facebook.

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    It’s a band class on wheels! Read on to learn more about this fascinating new performing arts business that helps underserved youth in the community.

    Cincy Chic: What is Band In a Bus?
    Nick Rose-Stamey, Executive Director at Band In a Bus: Band In A Bus, made possible through a partnership with Elementz, aims to bus the performing arts to communities in need. 

    You read that right. We’re building a band class on wheels! Music plays a big part inside, and outside of the classroom. According to new research, on average students who participate in music and arts related programs score higher on standardized tests and develop positive social emotional skills that can point them towards a promising future. 

    Even though these results are overwhelmingly positive, a significant number of music and performing arts classes are being removed from the average student’s school day. Our hope is that by removing barriers for students to access the arts—providing the classroom, instruments, a hip, modernized performing arts curriculum, and staffing–Band In A Bus can offer a mobile, 21st century band class experience that can bridge the performing arts gap facing today’s communities. 

    Band In A Bus currently provides music programs to 7 schools throughout Cincinnati Public Schools and helps around 70 students a week channel their inner rockstar.

    Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind the program?
    Rose-Stamey: All of the kids that I’ve seen give up on the arts because of things outside of their control. I’ve spent years helping nonprofit organizations develop music programming in lower-income communities. These places are full of the best, most well-meaning people. But the day-to-day struggles these communities face develops a number of creative challenges—like schools unable to provide adequate teaching space, arts instructors being forced to fundraise for their own classes, and so many cardboard boxes, overflowing with broken instruments. 

    Speaking from experience, there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a student throw in the towel because of a broken instrument. So when I would pack for these programs, everyday I’d think about how much more effective, and life changing this could be for the students if you built them the ideal classroom. Like Ms. Frizzle and her magic school bus, why shouldn’t we have a place where students can hop on and learn about music regardless of their socio-economic standing?  And as it turns out—with a big enough bus and a few instruments, you absolutely can. 

    Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?
    Rose-Stamey: Band In A Bus receives operating support from our partners at Elementz, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. The guy behind the wheel is me. I’m a performing artist with a passion for music education. I have developed music programs that’s impacted hundreds of students all over the Cincinnati region with organizations like Elementz, Music Resource Center-Cincinnati and ABC Arts. 

    Cincy Chic: What types of events do you perform at?
    Rose-Stamey: We’re currently planning our first student ‘jam session’ with some friends at The Hilton Netherland in downtown Cincinnati. More details on this event coming soon! Band In A Bus has a lot of students who can jam, perform and rock with the best of them. Let us know how we can help you make some noise for your event! 

    Cincy Chic: What makes Band In a Bus unique?
    Rose-Stamey: Beyond making the world’s best mobile band class, this is the first mobile. Music program built by the community for the community. Music is an art form designed to bring people together, and we want every program to feel well-informed and customized to fit the needs of each community we serve. 

    Cincy Chic: What do you love the most about Band In a Bus?
    Rose-Stamey: I love that in only 6 months of starting this business, we’re in 7 schools and covering everything from rock band repertoire, to podcasting and so much more! Who knows what next semester will bring! 

    Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon?
    Rose-Stamey: Band In A Bus just formally launched a fundraising campaign for our first mobile classroom. If you want to support the band, please share this donation link

    Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
    Rose-Stamey: You can follow along as this band class gets rolling at or on the following social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram. If you or your readers want to learn more, feel free to reach out anytime to Nick,

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    Martin Lawrence and Will Smith reunite for entertaining nostalgia in this new flick but is it worth the watch in theaters? Read on to see.


    “Over here, partner – I think I see the dude who convinced me to do Gemini Man! Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) proceed with caution in a scene from co-directors Adil & Bilall’s addition to the Bad Boys franchise, BAD BOYS FOR LIFE. Credit: Ben Rothstein ™ 2019 CTMG, Inc. All rights reserved. 


    KEY CAST MEMBERS: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano, Paola Nuñez, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Nicky Jam, Jacob Scipio and Kate del CastilloDIRECTOR(S): Adil & Bilall

    THE BACK STORY: Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) has never needed the money. He has that thanks to his inheritance. He’s also apparently never needed love; sure he’s had “love” but nothing like what his partner Marcus Burnet (Martin Lawrence) and their always embattled leader, Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano), have in their lives. Sure, he had a thing with Rita (Paola Nuñez) in the past, but that’s in the past. 

    So, when his partner to make good on his threat to retire upon becoming a grandfather, Mike makes a bet with Marcus and wins – only he doesn’t get the chance to collect on that bet due to a ghost from his past: Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo), a.k.a. the Witch. It seems Isabel has an old score to settle with Mike from a very long time ago and has no problem using her willing son Armando (Jacob Scipio) to collect the debt. 

    Now, as the body count starts piling up, Mike is going to need Marcus, Rita, Captain Howard and all the help he can get if he’s going to survive.

    THE REVIEW: One key component of HBO’s acclaimed Watchmen television series revolved around the idea of one of the main characters being able to experience another a person’s memories via the ingestion of a pill dubbed “Nostalgia.” And while they had an adverse affect on Regina King’s character at first, they ultimately led to revelations that eventually proven to be essential to her and the overall ending of the first (and only?) season of the series.Watching Bad Boys for Life, one might have a similar take – for while the beginning of the film may start off a tad slower and/or more mundane than one might expect, once it gets going, all the fond memories fans of the first two films had will come quickly back to life.

    Whereas the first two films relied inordinately upon the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence to carry them in Michael Bay’s explosion-filled paradise, Bad Boys for Life adds small bits of nuance to the mix to dive deeper into Smith’s and Lawrence’s characters personal lives. Smith’s rockstar cowboy realizes he’s fading into the twilight if he doesn’t change his ways in a way that doesn’t feel terribly contrived, all while Lawrence, Pantoliano and the film’s supporting players add strong punches of humor into the mix. (It’s kind of what last year’s already forgotten Shaft movie was hoping for but didn’t quite get right.) The ideas of growing old and growing up are at dual play in the film, Lawrence and Smith luckily handle both with enough flair and finesse to not make the film too dry or too frivolous for its own good.

    Of course, the nostalgia of watching 90s comedy icons Smith and Lawrence is likely going to be more than enough for most audiences as the duo hasn’t any of their timing. Likewise, the action sequences under the eye of co-directors Adil & Bilall have all the usual buddy cop/action comedy panache you’d expect yet feel more fresh than familiarly overblown (for the most part). Throw in some strong female representation from Hudgens, Nuñez and del Castillo and the film has the entertainment value to make casual and die-hard fans happy.

    If nothing else, Inner Circle will be just as pleased to take home all those residual checks for his best known song once again.



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      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 or follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

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      It's a secluded home in the heart of Hyde Park with breathtaking indoor and outdoor living spaces. Read on for a sneak peek into this week's Listing of the Week!

      You don’t want to miss this classic Hyde Park home in a private setting with 1.1 acres. The home is in excellent condition. It offers impeccable detail and design, a newer kitchen and bathrooms with an exceptional master bedroom suite. There is a second-floor recreation room, a screened in porch, pool with slate patios, a two-sided fireplace, a hot tub/fountain, a built-in outdoor grill area, and a pool house with mini kitchen, laundry, bathroom, and entertainment room. The property has 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms in 6,780 square feet and is listed at $2.89 million.

      This listing is sponsored by Ron Erdmann at Guaranteed Rate, the official mortgage professional of Cincy Chic.