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Are you in the market for a new handbag? Already thinking about a spring bag? Our fashion columnist alleviates the baggage of selecting a new purse.

Shopping for a purse reminds me of dating in my single days. I’m looking for a lasting relationship and don’t want to rush into anything. I’d rather prioritize desired characteristics and wait for the right one to come along.

Here are a few ways to help make your selection:


Like it or not, this is the most important factor when selecting a bag. I love monogrammed envelope clutches but my weekends consist more of baby music class and church than going out on the town in stilettos. Try to be practical when selecting the type of bag you will use the most often. Spend more on styles that are a good match for your lifestyle.

As a working mom, I like to find bags that can double as diaper bags and briefcases. However, it’s always fun to add a little statement clutch for girls’ night out or sequins evening bag for weddings.

In order for a purse to fit your lifestyle, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Be sure to check to see if the inside has pockets for your cell phone and keys as well as plenty of room. Avoid bags that create the bottomless black hole where you can never find anything. These are deep and often lack compartments. The lining is also an important factor especially if you are tossing half of your belongings in there on the regular. Make sure the lining is easy to clean.


Remember when you wanted a purse to match every outfit? Now it’s better to buy fewer, nicer bags than have a dozen inexpensive options. Regardless of your budget, go for quality over quantity.

From Target to Tory Burch, look for durable materials, sturdy hardware and a structured shape. When setting a price point for a new purse, consider that a higher end bag with nice leather will last longer than a discount one. It’s worth spending a little more and vowing to carry it for a year or two without changing it out frequently.

Want the look for less? Take a day trip up to the Jeffersonville outlets. They have a Kate Spade store that often offers 60% off the already discounted price. They also have a Michael Kors and Coach.

If you promise not to bid against me, I’ll also suggest shopping ebay for luxury purses you love. Be a cautious buyer by checking seller ratings, ensuring authenticity and making sure they accept returns. This is a great way to get a gently used or brand new designer bag.


Yes, we all agree that having a nice black bag is as essential to your wardrobe as a LBD. Don’t be afraid to branch out with color and style. Brights can be as neutral as beiges and blacks if you worry less about coordinating. I’d suggest having a colorful and classic option to choose from for every season.

Look for variety when it comes to how you carry the bag. Having the option for a cross-body and shoulder is beneficial. Anyone else hoping backpacks come back in style?

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A local lady made her dreams of teaching and owning her own art studio a reality. See how she can help you learn a fun new skill while hosting your next girls night!

Robin Ewers, owner of Dogwood Art Studio
Robin Ewers, owner of Dogwood Art Studio

Looking for a cozy place to create, fun date night, or a unique activity for you and friends to enjoy? Check out Dogwood Art Studio. The business, owned by Robin Ewers, is a place for art education, customized for your needs and occasion – from birthday celebrations and bachelorette parties to team-building experiences and earning Girl Scout badges.

“The inspiration behind Dogwood Art Studio was that I wanted a public place where art and people of all ages and skill levels can live harmoniously,” explains Ewers. “I’ve always wanted to teach, and I’ve always wanted to own my own business, so I decided to put the two together and voila!”

Ewers loves that she’s able to inspire people of any age, but has a special place in her heart for impacting youth. “I love showing young artists that you really can do what you love and follow your dreams and be successful, too,” Ewers explains.

Currently, the Wine+Paint parties are Ewers’ most popular offering. These parties are $30 per guest and include a 16×20 canvas, the use of studio paints, brushes, easels, palettes and aprons. “These parties allow participants to create fun works of art with the guidance of an artist – no experience necessary,” Ewers says. “Unlike other studios, we cater specifically to private parties so you’re only painting with the people you know.”

Birthday party pricing varies from $15-$30 per person depending on the age range of participants and selected canvas size. Ewers says she offers a 10 percent discount for all active and retired members of the Armed Forces.

Parties can be scheduled weeknights from 6:30pm-8:30pm or 7-9pm. Saturdays are also available with the first spot opening at 11am up until 5pm. “Our parties last anywhere from and hour and a half to two hours long,” Ewers adds. “Also, the studio can fit up to 10 people at a time, but 6-8 people will ensure your comfort in the studio.”

If you’re more interested in a one-on-one art class, Ewers offers that as well. “That way I can spend more time working with a student to really give them the attention they need and deserve,” she adds.

Students who take art classes at Dogwood Art Studio are given a specialized curriculum that’s been laid out so that it’s specific to their interests. Pencils, charcoal, watercolors, markers, oils and acrylics are all available for use in the classes. “I hope to eventually add group art classes,” she explains.

There are also seasonal events Ewers puts on throughout the year. “Open-House type painting events for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and more,” she says.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, she’s hosting Valentine’s Paint Date event on February 14, which you can learn more about on Facebook. Additionally, Ewers says she plans to introduce new painting options for parties and more art classes revolving around charcoals and watercolor mediums. People of all ages and skill levels can look forward to new crafty, fun classes soon to be released. Also, in the future, Ewers hopes to implement after-school art programs for students in the area who are interested in taking their art to a new level or even just need a space to create with guidance from an artist.

Dogwood Art Studio is located at 4426 Brazee Street, Unit 1O, Cincinnati, OH 45208. The studio is inside Brazee Street Studios and can be found on the first floor of the main building. To learn more about Dogwood Art Studio, visit, “like” them on Facebook, or watch the exclusive webcast below.

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Spend a romantic day with the one you love creating memories you will wear for a lifetime – all with the help of Gem Steady’s DIY wedding band workshops.

Gem Steady is owned and operated by husband and wife duo, Robert and Brittany Stadmiller
Gem Steady is owned and operated by husband and wife duo, Robert and Brittany Stadmiller


If there’s one thing that Gem Steady knows, it’s how to create one of a kind, custom jewelry and experiences. From engagement and wedding rings to bold statement necklaces – if you can dream it, they can bring it to life.

Gem Steady is owned and operated by husband and wife duo, Robert and Brittany Stadmiller. The concept first developed in 2012 when Robert came into Brittany’s life. Brittany had just begun playing with the idea of designing jewelry when Robert went out a bought a torch, an ounce of silver, and made his very first ring, which would later serve as Brittany’s wedding band a month and a half later.

Together, Brittany hand selects all of the gemstones for their unique beauty and attributes, while Robert builds settings for them. “Neither Robert nor I have had any formal training in the art of jewelry making,” says Brittany, “but we haven’t let that slow us down.”

Gem Steady designs
Gem Steady designs

Every piece of jewelry is handmade in their studio, which is now based in Cincinnati. “All of our gemstones are handpicked from trusted sources for their unique traits, sparkle and beauty,” says Brittany. “We melt, recycle, and form our own precious metals, bend them into rings, and sand our little fingers to the bone. Think of every piece as a tiny sculpture.”

In the short time since embarking on their “jewel journey,” the pair has managed to spread the Gem Steady vibes worldwide. According to Brittany, their jewelry is now in demand all over the United States, Hong Kong, France, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and various places in between.

Gem Steady will be expanding their endeavors as they launch their DIY wedding band workshops starting on Feb. 21. “This is a super romantic thing to do with your partner,” says Brittany. “A see a lot of people just go to a store or even come see me three days before their wedding looking to buy a ring, which I think is a very impersonal process.”

Brittany says their DIY wedding band workshop is unique because participants make memories while creating their completely-custom piece of jewelry. “It puts a story behind the ring and allows couples to design every detail of what it will look like,” Brittany continues. “This is something you’re going to wear for the rest of your life – so we want to give you the opportunity to create wedding bands that are everything you represent.”

The inspiration behind the concept lies in Brittany’s dedication to providing couples with a memorable day that they won’t forget. “I want to give couples a day that they can think about for the rest of their life – and rings that they want to look at every day,” she says.

Pricing for a pair of rings starts at $900 plus the cost of materials. “We work with sterling silver, 14k+ gold, platinum, diamonds, precious, and semi-precious gemstones,” says Brittany. “We start off with our base price, but if you want something really detailed, the prices will vary accordingly.”

What truly sets Gem Steady apart from other jewelers? Brittany says it’s the entire experience, as she makes it her mission to talk with her clients and meet with them one-on-one so she can create something unique to their personality and needs.

“At Gem Steady, we aim to provide an excellent client experience from start to finish,” says Brittany. “Whether you’re in the market for something detailed and elaborate, or simple and sleek; we can assist in making your dream a reality.”

Looking to the future, Brittany is determined to spread the word about Gem Steady. “I really want to have a bigger following behind Gem Steady and for everyone to see our high-end luxury styles,” she adds.

To learn more, visit, call (859) 609-1083, e-mail or follow them on Instagram.

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Want to inspire new ideas or simply connect with other “do-ers” in the community? Check out the new programs and workshops that are transforming organizations, students and the community.

Xavier University’s Center for Innovation
Want to inspire new ideas or simply connect with other “do-ers” in the community? Check out the new programs and workshops that are transforming organizations, students and the community.

The Xavier University’s Center for Innovation team
The Xavier University Center for Innovation team

Innovation has a new hub in Cincinnati. Xavier University’s Center for Innovation (CFI) was recently launched in hopes to be the first of its kind in the area offering students, faculty, community members, start-up companies and organizations a place to gather to creatively find solutions.

These solutions are found, according to Chief Innovation Officer Shawn Nason, through inspiration, ignition, connection and transformation. “Xavier has always been committed to educating individuals and empowering and inspiring them to help make the world a better place,” explains Nason. “The CFI will extend that mission and use practical, repeatable and proven innovation systems. We hope the CFI assists Xavier University to be the leader it already is in higher education and helps to foster a new culture of innovation excellence one day at a time.”

Nason adds that the ultimate goal of the CFI is to prepare not only students but also communities and organizations for careers and services that don’t exist yet. In 2015, the center’s first year, the focus is FutureForward2025 and will help students be better prepared for what’s ahead.

Currently, there is a group of students taking the Intro to Making class as part of the Human-Centered Making degree. There, students learn about 3D printing, making, design thinking, innovation design and how to create user-focused products and services.

“Students are discovering how to solve problems humans face and how to use design thinking to solve problems and create something new and innovative,” says Nason.

Additionally, there are start-ups using the space at the CFI to do work and connect with students as well as other organizations the center works with. Innovation trainings are being held for faculty and staff and will soon be offered to the community, individuals and organizations in the area.

The hope of the CFI is to provide every staff and faculty member at Xavier with basic innovation and problem-solving skills while partnering with organizations to help them train their employees in innovation systems thinking among other things.

All of the programs, workshops and sessions offered at CFI can be customized and taken directly to an organization or held on Xavier’s campus.

“Our services are further segmented based on employees’ unique needs,” explains Nason. “Whether someone is looking to ignite new ideas, inspire others within an organization, connect with new ideas, partners and/or consumers or transform an organization, we have the expertise to assist you.”

Some of the programs offered at the CFI include Design Thinker, Lean Start-Up, Cultural Assessment, Journey Mapping, Strategy Activation Sessions, Consumer Focus Groups and Maker & Prototyping Services.

The CFI is officially open for business, but Nason says they’re hosting an Open House and Grand Opening on February 4 from 2 to 6 p.m. Members of the community are invited to attend and tour the facility at 1601 Dana Avenue during the open house. You can RSVP by clicking here.

Nason says that a major announcement will take place on the day of the open house at 4:30 p.m. It’s an announcement that will make Xavier the first private university in the world to be a part of a revolutionary partnership.

To learn more about Xavier’s Center for Innovation, visit or contact Nason at

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Learn about the new rewards and referral program at Alba Organic Beauty Studio and how it can earn you $1,000 toward services!

Alba Organic Beauty Studio’s New Rewards Program
Learn about the new rewards and referral program at Alba Organic Beauty Studio and how it can earn you $1,000 toward services!

Sisters Andrea Lauren (right) and Ashley Lauren (left) co-own Alba Organic Beauty Studio and Cincy Organic Stylebar (CSB) who started the business
Sisters Andrea Lauren (right) and Ashley Lauren (left) co-own Alba Organic Beauty Studio and Cincy Organic Stylebar in Hyde Park

From the eco-friendly products to the smiling staff, visiting Alba Organic Beauty Studio is always a rewarding experience. Now, thanks to their recently-launched referral program, it’s rewarding in a whole new way.

Now through March, recommending customers will get you a chance to win $1,000 in Alba Bucks to use on any of the full-service salon and spa’s services, according to Andrea Lauren, co-owner of Alba Organic Beauty Studio and Cincy Organic Stylebar (CSB) who started the business with her sister Ashley.

Basically, clients earn 500 loyalty points every time they refer someone to the salon and spa. “This equals $5 and can be used like cash towards services,” says Andrea. “Also, whoever refers the most customers will be the winner of the $1,000 Alba Bucks to our studio, which is redeemable in services and must be used in 2015”

Alba offers a number of services including organic color, cuts, facials, body waxing and massage. There’s also Cincy Organic Stylebar, a blowout and makeup bar. “CSB also offers nails and organic airbursh tanning,” says Andrea. “Everything in our studio is natural, organic or non-toxic. We also offer in-studio and on-location bridal services. Our in-studio brides can enjoy a beautifully decorated bridal suite to get ready in on their big day.”

Both Andrea and her sister Ashely are celebrity makeup artists and have worked in the film, print and television industry for 13 years. They decided in 2012 that they wanted to expand their services with a brick-and-mortar location while offering a safer, healthier salon option in the Queen City.

Andrea says that organic coloring services start at $45 while cuts are between $35 and $40. Blowouts are $35, manicures are $25-$40, pedicures are $40 – $60, facials are $60 – $80, a massage is between $70 and $90 and makeup applications are $35 to $55.

The salon and spa recently obtained a liquor license, so they will soon offer specialty cocktails as well as traditional favorites in the newly renovated spacious lounge. “Now you can come in to get any service that you would like and be able to order drinks as well. This is perfect for bachelorette parties or a girl’s night out,” she adds. “A soft opening will be held on February 5 and our Grand Opening is to be announced – so stay tuned.”

All guests who receive services at Alba can enjoy Happy Hour prices all day. “So, if a traditional bar doesn’t sound too appealing and a more relaxed and chilled environment is what you’re looking for, we welcome you to stop by and check us out,” says Andrea.

To learn more, visit or

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See how a family tradition of yoga led this woman to launch her own business to help women - especially moms - use yoga to increase health and decrease stress.

Yoga With Pooja
See how a family tradition of yoga led this woman to launch her own business to help women – especially moms – use yoga to increase health and decrease stress.


Pooja Malhotra grew up in India. There, her parents devoted their lives to yoga and holistic living. Malhotra was surrounded by the teachings of yoga and practiced it throughout her life.

“I realized that the childhood gift of yoga that I received from my parents helped me build coping skills for overcoming life’s challenges in the most effective way,” she says.

Today’s world is full of stressful situations and lifestyles. Because of the seemingly never-ending chaos, Pooja decided to open her own studio where she could share yoga traditions with people to help them navigate through everyday stresses in positive ways.

Pooja Malhotra, owner of Yoga with Pooja

She opened Yoga With Pooja in January 2012 as a traditional yoga studio that helps people lead a conscious lifestyle, which can positively change one’s being and approach to life. “Our yoga studio offers the traditions of yoga for today’s lifestyles,” explains Malhotra. “Our classes implement a holistic approach toward physical, mental and spiritual integration for all age groups, fitness levels and ability.”

According to Malhotra, you’ll not only see life in a different way after practicing at her studio, but you’ll notice that it’s a warm and inviting place that fosters an invigorating, centering and calming attitude.

Malhotra is quick to thank others for the studio’s immediate success. She credits the yoga teachers for their great leadership, her clients for their continued support, her husband and two boys for being her backbone through this entrepreneurial journey, as well as her friends and family who believed in and supported her along the way.

When you attend a class at Yoga With Pooja, you can choose from offerings for those who are new to yoga, therapeutic classes for people recovering from a medical ailment or other health condition, traditional alignment-based yoga classes for personal yoga growth and yoga and meditation classes for stress management. In addition, you can enroll you children in kids yoga for those ages three and up, pre-teens and teens yoga classes, classes for special needs children, family yoga and mommy-and-me classes for toddlers.

According to Malhotra, those who take classes at Yoga With Pooja say it’s a peaceful environment that offers a personalized experience. Also, there’s no need to bring along any equipment, as it’s all provided for you in the studio.

There are multiple package options available at Yoga With Pooja. Drop-in rates range from $9 to $13 per class. In addition, Malhotra says, Yoga With Pooja is offering a New Year January special, which includes 30 days of unlimited yoga for $30.

Malhotra has a lot to look forward to in the coming months at Yoga With Pooja. She says that they’ll be offering yoga-themed birthday parties for kids, ladies night out events, summer camps for kids and a continuing education program for yoga teachers who are interested in becoming a yoga teacher.

Yoga With Pooja is located at 666 Reading Road in Mason and at the Kids First Sports Center at 7900 East Kemper Road in Cincinnati. To learn more visit or “like” them on Facebook.

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Read on to learn more about a local non-profit organization that’s providing studio space and teaching opportunities to visual artists with disabilities.

Chic Spotlight: Visionaries + Voices’ Art Classes
Read on to learn more about a local non-profit organization that’s providing studio space and teaching opportunities to visual artists with disabilities.

Virginia and Emily making prints at Visionaries + Voices
Virginia and Emily making prints at Visionaries + Voices

Cincy Chic: What is Visionaries + Voices?

Jamie Muenzer, Education Director at Visionaries + Voices: Established in 2003, Visionaries + Voices is a non-profit organization that provides studio space, exhibition opportunities, supplies and support to more than 125 visual artists with disabilities. V+V artists actively contribute to the greater arts community through creative, educational, and strategic partnerships with local and regional artists, schools, and business leaders. Collectively, we are growing a more inclusive arts community in Greater Cincinnati.

Cincy Chic: What types of art do you do at Visionaries + Voices?

Muenzer: Artists in the studios use a variety of different mediums, techniques and explore many different subject matters. Including: painting on paper, wood, and canvas, drawing, ceramics, print making, photography, sculpture, assemblage, papier mache, mixed media, mosaics and collage.

Cincy Chic: Tell us more about the art classes offered by Visionaries + Voices!

Muenzer: As part of our commitment to making contemporary art a part of daily life, Visionaries + Voices has partnered with 21c Museum Hotel to present free monthly art classes in the gallery spaces at 21c. On the 3rd Sunday of every month from 5:00 to 6:30pm, explore the work of a different V+V Teaching Artist as they lead you through a hands-on activity.

Each presenting artist has graduated from Visionaries + Voices Teaching Artist Program (TAP). TAP is a 30-week in-house visual arts training program that gives artists with disabilities the opportunity to learn how to speak and teach about their artwork. The primary goal of TAP is to expose students to new ways of thinking, making and doing through art. But it also has a secondary goal – to ask students to consider the idea of “disability” and who they view as leaders and teachers. For more information about V+V Teaching Artist program please contact me at


Cincy Chic: When can readers check out upcoming classes?

Muenzer: February 15: Explore the meditative drawing method of Zentangles that artist, Neil Dignan, has adopted into almost all of his work. Neil’s intricate drawings sprawl out over everyday objects, from cups to chairs to plates and skateboards. Using repetitive lines and shapes, create a stained glass piece using glass, paint markers + sharpies.

March 15: Artist Kevin White incorporates pop cans, cardboard, fabric and other materials into multi-dimensional found object sculptures and paintings. From bins of recycled materials, participants will collage and draw using unconventional materials to create 3D works on canvas or sculpture.

Cincy Chic: How much does it cost to attend an art class?

Muenzer: Free! Art classes are open to the public and all ages. For adult class participants, 21c Metropole provides drink specials – $5 Local Draft Beer or an $8 Specialty Cocktail.

Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for Visionaries + Voices?

Muenzer: [CON]TEXT exhibition opens on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at V+V 3841 Spring Grove Avenue in Cincinnati and runs through April 15. [CON]TEXT will spin tales of fact and fiction leading the viewer to question what is language and what has evolved to a beautiful mark.

To accompany this exhibition, Visionaries + Voices and WordPlay Northside have worked collaboratively to create 2 distinctive programs to run concurrent to (Con)Text during our Collective Vision Open Studio Thursdays, held the last Thursday of every month at our Northside location:

· On Thursday, February 26 from 6:00 to 8:00p.m., Visionaries + Voices will host “Louder than Bombs,” A National Poetry Slam for teenaged writers. Come to our Northside location to hear some very talented young poets participate in the competition.

· On Thursday, March 26 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Visionaries + Voices hosts “Ekphrastic Poetry and Children’s Responses to Art.” Elementary-aged school children will be visiting the exhibition and then returning to WordPlay to write ekphrastic poetry: poetry in response to art. They will return to the gallery to perform the work that they’ve created in response to the [CON]TEXT exhibition. Exhibition runs thru April 17, 2015. All Exhibitions and Programs are free and open to the public.

Double Vision 6 opens April 10, 2015 at Memorial Hall. Returning to Memorial Hall in its 6th year, our annual art auction fundraiser Double Vision represents the culmination of Collective Vision: Pairs Well With. We’ll be raising awareness and money to support activities and programs at V+V.

Open Studios: The V+V Northside studio opens its doors to the community the last Thursday of every month from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., inviting everyone to come in and make art.

If you’d like more information on our exhibition program, please contact Krista at

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more?

Muenzer: Find us at or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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011915FEATUREAnita Altman of the UJA-Federation of New York in Manhattan wanted to create a national ReelAbilities Film Festival to help raise awareness of the common humanity and value of each person, regardless of his or her disability. That’s when she founded the ReelAbilities Film Festival.

The idea for a film festival was developed when Altman saw a film called “Praying with Lior” about a young man who has Down syndrome and how he prepared for a bar mitzvah. From there, she wanted the film festival to highlight moves that impact change while helping to expand and transform programming for people with disabilities.

The ReelAbilities Film Festival was founded in 2007 in New York City. Since then, the film festival has spread to 12 U.S. cities, including Cincinnati. In fact, Cincinnati’s ReelAbilities Film Festival launched in 2013 as the first city outside of New York to host the event. Today, it hosts the second largest festival nationwide, behind only New York.

In 2014, the festival’s national headquarters moved to the Queen City. It’s managed by the nonprofit Living Arrangements for Developmentally Disabled (LADD), Inc. For those who have never attended the film festival, all of the films screened during the event share the stories, lives and art of people who have disabilities.

insightly new_year_chic_publication

According to Festival Co-Chair and Accommodation Committee Chair Kara Ayers, PhD., the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival expects thousands of people to participate in the eight-day event that runs from February 27 to March 7. Presented by Macy’s, the region’s largest film festival includes a Premier Weekend Corporate Awards Luncheon, Red Carpet Gala and Gala Afterparty as well as more than 30 film screenings, speaking and other events for VIPs. “Each of our film screening events is hosted by and will benefit a local nonprofit organization whose work enriches the lives of people with disabilities,” says Ayers.


At this year’s Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, Oscar and Golden Globe Award Winning Actress Marlee Matlin will be the keynote speaker at the Corporate Awards Luncheon. Also in attendance will be respected actors Danny Woodburn, Daryl Chill Mitchell and Kurt Yaeger in addition to Richard Bernstein, the country’s first state Supreme Court Justice who is blind. Project Runway’s Justin LeBlanc and internationally acclaimed photographer Rick Guidotti of Positive Exposure will also be at the film festival as well as many who are featured in or part of the films will attend the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival.

Now that the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival is entering its third year, the event has grown more than four times in size, according to Ayers. “We have accomplished this because of how our entire region has supported our cause,” Ayers adds. “We have succeeded at bringing together government, academia, the business and arts community as well as social service to celebrate our region’s diversity and our shared humanity.”

The mission and message is resonating within the business community, too, says Ayers. “The region’s top employers are recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in recruiting and retaining strong workforces,” she adds.

In addition to these accomplishments, the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival is bringing nationally- and internationally-recognized Hollywood stars who want to come to Cincinnati and participate in the festivities. The national festival has grown so much this year that there were more than 500 films submitted from across the world to be juried for awards.

The Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival will be held in several locations throughout the Cincinnati area. “Our Premier Weekend Corporate Awards Luncheon and Red Carpet Gala will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown,” says Ayers. “We will be holding film screenings at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Kenwood and Esquire Theatres, Cincinnati Museum Center, Great American Ball Park, Taylor High School and the Contemporary Arts Center.”

VIP guests are also invited to participate in a variety of speaking and other engagements that will take place throughout the city.

To see a list of nonprofit agencies benefiting from the film festival, click here. To learn more about the ReelAbilties Film Festival, visit the website at Here you can learn more about the events, watch Film Festival trailers, register to volunteer and purchase tickets. You can also follow along on Facebook Twitter and join in the conversation using the hashtag #DifferentLikeYou.

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010515CAREER2You don’t get a second chance for a first impression. That’s why Anne Schmidt is so passionate about her work.

As the founder and owner of Blu Design Shop, she helps start-ups and small businesses – locally and nationally – with their branding and graphic design needs. “We offer fully customized brand identities that accommodate a start-ups budget,” explains Schmidt, “and allows them to get up and running quickly.”

Schmidt’s love and enthusiasm for design is initially why she launched her business. “I started my career at a marketing firm in Washington D.C., where part of my responsibilities involved creative design for marketing and grassroots advocacy projects,” she explains, “From there, I dabbled in recruiting and HR, but I really wanted to get back into designing.”

A few years prior to her company launching, Schmidt created her very own wedding invitations, pregnancy announcements for her children and birthday cards. Requests for custom stationery from friends and family soon followed, and then referrals from that business.

Anne Schmidt, founder and owner of Blu Design Shop

In 2009, a California based photographer discovered Schmidt’s website that she created for her line of custom stationery. “The photographer loved my work so much that she asked if I would be willing to create a logo and website for her, and the rest is history,” Schmidt says, “I fell in love and became obsessed with creating logos and web designs, and I began learning as much as I could about the design industry.”

Schmidt’s initial work transitioned from designing custom stationery for consumers, to creating custom stationery systems for businesses. Since the company’s official launch in 2009, 30 vastly different clients have been added to Blue Design Shop’s portfolio.

Some services offered include logo design, WordPress web and blog designs, business cards, flyers, car/truck decals, social media images and much more. Schmidt says Blu Design Shop has earned a respectable reputation because of its award-winning customer service in addition to its wide range of start-up services. In addition, Schmidt says, Blu Design Shop’s prices are geared to help startups and grow with their businesses.

Since she, herself was once a start-up, Schmidt understands where clients are coming from, and believes that a company’s branding and web needs shouldn’t be one of the obstacles holding them back from bringing a great service or product to consumers.

Schmidt says her passion for her clients’ ideas and and her team’s designs that bring client visions to life is what makes Blu Design Shop unique. “We are flexible with our service offerings, as we understand each client is different,” she adds, “We approach our clients’ businesses from more of a customer service standpoint versus a technical one, which allows for mutually beneficial partnerships.”

Starting this month, Blu Design Shop is offering a new service that focuses on social media support for clients, helping them grow their online presence, while giving them more time to focus on other aspects of their business. “Most of our clients are start-ups, which means they are insanely busy with every detail of their business, and it’s difficult for them to make time for social media; let alone afford it,” explains Schmidt.

Schmidt and her team also plan to give back to the Cincinnati area and its economy. One way in which they currently do that is through their content contribution to Bad Girl Ventures, a local company that helps entrepreneurial women achieve success.

To learn more, visit or “like” them on Facebook.

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The Brideface team in front of their new Over The Rhine storefront


Ask and you shall receive. At least that’s the way it works at Brideface.


Based in Over The Rhine, this multiple-award-winning posse of makeup artists specializes in bridal and makeup coaching throughout the Tri-State. Their coaching classes can be customized for tweens, mother-daughter, or a girls night out.


In addition, owner Nancy Dawson launched a “FACEing” cosmetics line in 2013. The line currently includes lipsticks, lip glosses, cheek color, brushes, brow mascara, brow kits and eye shadows. Dawson has plans to soon launch more offerings.

Brideface “Blockbuster Box”


“I hear it over and over in my FACEing classes,” Dawson recently posted. “So many women hate foundation. They wish they could buy a lightweight product that is good for their skin, evens the tone, and makes it just look healthy, not covered up and flat. Well we have a new product coming that will blow you away!”


Client feedback is what fuels new ideas for her business, Dawson says. In fact, prior to the holidays, she began receiving requests for “beauty bundles,” or just a few of her favorite things all wrapped up with pretty packaging to give as a gift. She obliged, and says it’s been a big hit.


“A long-time client contacted me just a few days before Christmas and asked me to pull together six $200 beauty boxes for the women in her family,” Dawson explains. “I customized them each and added a note on how to use the products, gift wrapped them, and shipped them out!”


After posting an example on Facebook, orders began to flow. “I can do them in any price point,” she adds. “A husband called me because his wife had just taken a FACEing class with me, so I pulled together the things I had recommended for her in the lesson.”


According to Dawson, a “Brideface Blockbuster Box” typically includes an assortment of brushes, lip collection, cheeky cream blushes, and brow collection. “We also have brush rolls and canisters and lot of people have been loving those to keep their tools organized,” she explains.


Price points vary depending on the products included, but a $200 gift package includes seven makeup brushes, two lip colors, cheek color, liner, twissors, brow mascara and brow sketchstick.


Not only is the Blockbuster Box concept a big hit for Brideface, but their new location is too. “We did so well in our new location over Christmas,” Dawson says, “we just love it!”


Located at 2009 Elm Street, Dawson says foot traffic has been steadily increasing with the rapid development in OTR, and foresees a major boost once the streetcar is up and running. “Because we are so off the beaten path from Vine and Main, we haven’t yet been able to piggyback off [OTR’s] shopping events. But when we did Fuchsia Friday, on black friday, we were listed in the OTR Chamber of Commerce marketing materials so we saw a huge surge from that,” she explains. “We rely heavily on Rheingeist traffic now, since we are the only businesses at that end of the street. That all [will] change rapidly though as the streetcar gets closer to opening!”


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