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    Need a little rest and relaxation but can’t quite find the time? We chat with the co-founder of a locally-based mini retreat experience that’s helping you to sit back and enjoy some much-needed self care.

     

    Meraki hosts monthly mini-retreats to help give women a dose of self-love.

    As women, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, making sure that the kids are cared for, everything at work has been handled, and ensuring that all the other tasks on a daily to-do list are completed. So every once in a while, it’s nice to relax, recharge, and reconnect, which is exactly what Meraki, a Cincinnati-based company, is focused on doing.

    “Meraki is the Greek verb that means to do something with soul, creativity, and love,” explains Co-Founder Katie Ryan. “Our events explore various themes and topics. We provide thought-provoking activities, simple but beautiful craft projects, and practical ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.”

    The team behind Meraki does this by hosting monthly mini-retreats as well as private parties for various groups and clubs, promoting the connection of women through support, encouragement, resources, and fun.

    Ryan founded Meraki with her two friends and co-workers, all of whom also happen to be moms and found that there wasn’t enough time in the day to do what they needed to do while also doing things that were both fun and healthy for them.

    “So many women struggle with finding time and resources to take care of their physical, emotional, and social needs,” says Ryan. “Meraki allows women to carve out a time and space to focus on the truly important things in life.”

    Ryan says that she, along with co-founded Allison Helsel and Kim Kurzhals, firmly believe that the way to impact women on a positive level is to bring more soul, creativity, and love into the lives of women.

    The three realized that all of their individual talents, when put together, were what would help Meraki to thrive and succeed. Heisel has been an art teacher for over 20 years and believes that all women can connect their own needs as well as their bigger life purpose by allowing themselves a space and time to create, so she combines this with her passion for art when it comes to helping the women who turn to Meraki.

    Kurzhals is an event planner and administrative assistant. She enjoys working with people who share her high energy and positive approach to life. She’s also the chef and baker of Meraki and it’s her tasty creations that remind the women at Meraki to stop and savor the moment. “Kim can make any space beautiful and loves creating an event for women where they feel relaxed and treated to something truly special,” says Ryan.

    Ryan says she’s a life coach, school counselor, author, and motivational speaker as well as a foster mother and adoption advocate. “I truly believe in the power of positivity and vision,” she says. “Through sharing my story, I believe that I can help people live their best life.”

    At each of the mini-retreats, guests will find there is a specific theme, including topics like “Finding Peace Among the Chaos,” “Gratitude,” “Vision,” and “Finding Your Purpose.”

    Ryan says that the first part of these events is a happy hour format, allowing guests to enjoy signature Meraki food and refreshments created by Kurzhals.

    “Women are welcomed and encouraged to bring their favorite beverage so they may enjoy a nice cocktail and relax,” says Ryan. “The event then shifts to a speech on the monthly theme along with meaningful and through provoking activities.”

    Ryan says that the environment is open and welcoming, with women who attend the events together as well as those who go on their own.

    Following the opening “happy hour” session, the group completes a craft project such as pallet signs, light boards, ornaments, and wreaths.

    After the craft, the Meraki team then teaches guests practical tips of relaxation and mindfulness so that they can practice Meraki as a principle in their lives moving forward, Ryan says.

    These events are unique in that they combine several different aspects of health and wellness into a single experience. “We believe in the power of women coming together to take time for themselves as well as support one another,” says Ryan. “We address important topics in the lives of women in a way that is fun and relaxing. There is nothing to sell or buy at a Meraki event. Our focus is to help you live your best life, there is no catch or hidden agenda. Meraki is an affordable resource to promote health and wellness in your life.”

    The next Meraki event will be held January 25 from 6:30-9:30 pm at the Aston Woods Clubhouse in Cleves. “Our upcoming Vision event is going to allow women the opportunity to think about what they truly want in life,” says Ryan. “We will guide women through the process of evaluating their wants, needs, and goals for the upcoming year. We will then give women the resources they will need to support and grow that vision in the days to come.”

    The craft for this event is a pallet light board that is easy to make and something you’ll love hanging up in your home. There’s also a menu of appetizers and desserts.

    Ryan says that all are welcome to attend the event and can register by visiting www.meraki4us.com.

    Ryan says that there’s a lot on the horizon for Meraki in 2018, including private parties.

    “Women are booking us for so many different events from birthday parties to professional development, to Bible studies to groups of friends coming together to celebrate each other,” says Ryan. She says they’re also looking forward to expanding their events to other areas of the city.

    She says they’ll also be coming out with informational products that will help to promote the Meraki mission of living your best life.

    To learn more about Meraki, visit www.meraki4us.com. There you can take a deeper look at the Meraki experience and learn more about the team. There’s also a blog on the website where you can check out the various topics that are explored at Meraki events each month. You can also “like” Meraki on Facebook, follow along on Instagram, or contact the Meraki team directly at meraki4us@gmail.com.

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      We chat with a local family who combined their love for travel, yummy treats, and helping others with their fun spirited attitude to open a groovy little sweet shop in Mariemont. Keep reading for all the delectable details.

       

      Groovy Gumball Candy Co. is a novelty candy boutique run by a local family.

      Want to feel like a kid in a candy shop again? Make that dream a reality (even if you’re just a kid at heart now) when you step inside Groovy Gumball Candy Co., a novelty boutique that takes guests on a trip down memory lane.

      This bulk bin and gourmet candy shop is located in the heart of Mariemont Village and is a family adventure that started during car talk between husband-and-wife team Bridgett and Dave Karlson after a lunch together.

      The couple wanted to create a happy place where people felt warmth and joy just from being in the store while enjoying quality candy products.

      “Many of my childhood memories of candy surround a loved one or a fond moment from my childhood,” says Bridgett  “I was a flight attendant for a major airline for many years and my travel abroad gave me a demanding palette for tasty and fine chocolates from all around the world.”

      Following their idea, and subsequent car discussion, the family put their ideas together to open their very own candy store.

      “My mind ran wild with ideas that I bounced off my four children and husband, those ideas led to a phone call, that phone call led to a business plan and that business plan led to Groovy Gumball becoming a brick and mortar reality,” says Bridgett.

      “We carry humorous and snarky gift items that make people laugh and help them lighten up a bit,” she says. “We specialize in imported candies and chocolates from Europe, hard to find items, and a unique Belgian Chocolate Fudge line that is typically found in European confection stores.”

      Bridgett says that much of what inspired her family to follow through with their idea of a candy store is that they knew local children and parents would love it, as they’re Mariemont residents themselves. They also loved the idea of providing freshness, flexibility, and the ability to make customized candy assortments.

      “I envisioned a whimsical store that felt like a tiny escape from the outside world that was full of sweets, confections, and funny items,” she adds.

      Bridgett and Dave Karlson, Owner of Groovy Gumball Candy Co.

      Bridgett says she can’t take all of the credit for the candy shop. She also got a lot of help and input from her husband and kids, saying that her husband’s biggest contribution has been the word “groovy.”

      “He loved it, insisted on it, and I’m glad I listened because it’s added a super fun edge to the store, especially as we grow into our novelty and import items that accessorize the store beyond candy,” she says. “We think everyone needs a little groovy and candy in their life.”

      Currently, the most popular candies at Groovy Gumball are the Belgian Chocolate Fudge, Trump Hair Gourmet Cotton Candy, Albanese Gummy Bear Cubs, Licorice Laces, Chocolate Covered Gummy Bears, and Dark Chocolate Gourmet Almonds.

      Bridgett says that at Groovy Gumball they also make a few candies of their own, including a Truffle & Rosemary Amish Popcorn. “We are currently working on branding our own deviation of the bourbon ball, which feels like a good fit being that I’m from Lexington and my husband and I are bourbon connoisseurs,” she adds.

      Plus, you can feel safe knowing that the items you find at Groovy Gumball are hand-selected, high-quality sweets. “We buy many candies from Sweden and Spain, which are countries that have amazing candy guidelines by using no high fructose corn syrup, Red #40 and Yellow #5,” she says. “We can’t think of any other place in Cincinnati where you can bring your significant other, parents, grandparents, kids, or good friends, take a trip down memory lane, and have an equally good time with each and every person. We do that here and we also would go as far to claim you’d be making a new memory with a visit!”

      Groovy Gumball also offers a toothbrush recycling program, which is unique in and of itself. Bridgett says that when she and her family decided they were going to open a candy shop, she knew that she didn’t want to just promote candy that could lead to dental decay.

      “So I came up with a plan,” she explains. “I reached out to some of the best and most popular dentists and orthodontists in town and created a program where I was able to give out toothbrushes provided by my “Dentists of the Month” and reward newcomers and birthday kids with a new toothbrush. There’s a tiny and little powerful moment when I hand a child a toothbrush and they realize they’re in a candy store and then you see that lightbulb moment go off. It’s awesome.”

      She says the toothbrush recycling program was just another idea that popped into her head as she was searching for a candy flavored toothpaste to sell in the shop. “I came across the shocking statistic that almost no one recycles their toothbrush and they sit in landfills,” says Bridgett. “We all know plastic can take over a million years to decompose. So with that information, we wanted to get it out there that folks can recycle their toothbrush that is 100 percent plastic. If folks throw their brush in our recycle bin, we provide a new toothbrush as well! It works.”

      Bridgett says that this spring, Groovy Gumball will launch a candy delivery box to college students that parents can regularly sign up for to be delivered in the mail. She says that she hopes to also start producing their own candy in the future as well.

      Groovy Gumball Candy Co. is located at The Shoppes at The Mariemont Strand behind Starbucks, next door to Rooted and across the street from Mariemont Elementary.

      To learn more about Groovy Gumball, visit www.groovygumball.com, “like” them on Facebook, or follow along on Instagram.

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        Freshen up your space in the new year with a custom piece from this local, woman-owned design business! Learn more about her crafty background and the innovative pieces that help with everything from keeping you organized with custom chalkboards to promoting your business with hand-lettered signs.

         

        Gabrielle Larkin, Founder of Mama Bird and Co.

        Gabrielle Larkin has always had a knack for crafts. She’s also someone who has always enjoyed learning new skills.

        She combined her love for creating and for learning new things and put them into a business called Mama Bird and Co., a design and crafting company that creates anything customers want.

        “We create custom chalkboards, mobiles, blankets, home decor, hand-lettered restaurant menus, and so much more,” says Larkin.

        She says she was inspired to launch Mama Bird and Co. after she had her second son and was in search of a way to be able to stay at home but still have a creative outlet that allowed her to support her family.

        Larkin says that she loves being able to make things that people can enjoy in their homes and their daily lives. That means when she has a customer approach her that wants a custom piece but she isn’t quite sure how to make it, Larkin will do what she needs to in order to learn how produce that quality piece for them in a timely manner.

        “I pride myself on being able to learn new skills correctly,” she adds.

         

        Her favorite pieces to make are things for children and home decor. “Anything that is personal to the customer and has a significance is always very special for me to be a part of creating,” Larkin says.

        Items from Mama Bird and Co. range from $25 to $100 on average, however the price can depend on the size of the project, how long it will take to complete it, and what materials are needed.

        Larkin also ensures that customers who order from Mama Bird and Co. are satisfied with the end result of their piece. “Everything I do is custom and I work closely and personally with each customer to make sure that their vision is executed,” she adds.

        When it comes to the New Year, Larkin says that she’s looking forward to the new requests she’ll receive from customers as she continues to build her brand and expand the number of people she reaches.

        To learn more about Mama Bird and Co. or to follow along, “like” them on Facebook.

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          We’re showcasing some of the city's chicest entrepreneurs and philanthropists in our annual "Women of the Year” issue! Keep reading to learn more about them and the innovative businesses they launched to bring positive change to Cincinnati and its women.

           

          Jackie Neville, Founder of Your Stylist, LLC

          Rising up from a nightmare childhood of physical abuse, Jackie Neville now has a personal styling dream job that allows her to support a cause that helps other survivors rise up, too.

          Neville has worked in retail management for more than 20 years. “I loved connecting with my customers and making clothing choices easier for them,” she says.

          Finding a client the perfect items to add to their wardrobe and seeing their reaction to those selections was always rewarding for Neville. Whether it was an outfit for a job interview, a new job, a date, happy hour, evening events, or evening events, Neville always found a great deal of enthusiasm in searching for an outfit in which her client would love and feel good.

          “I built relationships with my customers and they count on me for great wardrobe choices,” she says. “But as I grew in my retail career, I became further away from my customers because I had more responsibilities that took me away from them.”

          Then, when the Great Recession hit in 2008, Neville became even further from her customers as the stores she worked in closed and filed for bankruptcy. Her team also shrank as job eliminations became a main source of cutting back on costs, leaving Neville to focus more on operations and less on her customers.

          She eventually became burnt out on the operations tasks and was in search of a way to connect with her customers again. That’s when she took her 20+ years of experience and decided to go out on her own, launching Your Stylist, LLC in January 2016.

          “Your Stylist, LLC provides personal styling, wardrobe consulting, and shopping services to women in the Tri-State area,” she says. “Based in Cincinnati, I plan to cover a 100-mile area with future plans of expansion. My services are aimed at making my clients the best version of themselves and improving their lives through their wardrobes.”

          The full styling process from Your Stylist from start to finish is the style consultation followed by a closet audit.

          “The style consultation is where I get to know my client by asking questions to truly understand the challenges she has with her current wardrobe,” says Neville. “We also discuss body types, style personalities, and color palettes that are all in printed packets for her to keep as guides.”

          This consultation then moves to the closet audit, where Neville can see the issues and identify what isn’t working for her clients through a try-on session before determining what direction is needed in fixing a wardrobe.

          Following the consultation and audit, Neville takes clients on a personal shopping trip.

          “This is the where my client really takes the plunge in upgrading her style and finally having clothes that fit and flatter her unique shape while making her feel fabulous,” says Neville. “The value in having me as her personal shopper is that I pre-select all the clothes in the stores ahead of time with a detailed action plan in hand, so she never has to dig for a size, rummage through racks or even deal with sales associates. This service saves time, stress, anxiety and physical work for the client.”

          Neville is extra qualified in this stage of her services thanks to her 22 year career in managing retail apparel stores, giving her the ins and outs of shopping, so that all her client needs to do is show up and try on already-chosen outfits. Neville is also there every step of the way as her clients try on items, telling them why it works or doesn’t, where and how to wear it, what else to wear it with, fabric care, how she feels in it, and what she thinks the clothes say to others.

          After going through a client’s closet, all unwanted items are donated to Dress for Success Cincinnati. This organization helps disadvantaged women to receive that clothes and job readiness programs they need to dress professionally for interviews that land jobs to improve their lives and achieve economic independence.

          Neville says she was inspired to take clients’ unwanted items to Dress for Success due to a personal connection to the cause.

          “My mom and I are both physical abuse survivors at the hands of her second husband,” says Neville. “It went on for about 15 years and I know my mom could have escaped earlier had the resources like Dress for Success been available to her back then.”

          “Women often end up trapped in bad situations due to not having the tools and resources to forge ahead to regain their independence,” she continues. “I feel that everybody deserves to feel like somebody, no matter their situation.”

          Neville wants women to know that just because clothes are unwanted from her clients’ closets doesn’t mean they aren’t perfect for someone else.

          When clients find out that she donates unwanted clothes to Dress for Success, Neville says they are ecstatic. She says they not just happy because the organization helps disadvantaged women, but because she drops the clothes off for the client and provides them with a donation receipt so they can claim it as they wish.

          Not only is Neville providing wardrobe consultations and audits to clients, and donating items to Dress for Success, but she’s helping her clients with their own self-confidence and career aspirations.

          “My style sessions are focused on the person first and the clothes second,” she says. “Because I spend so much time on discovering who she is and listening to what she has to say, it allows me to redefine her style in a way that will result in her being the best version of herself—no one else, no copying celebrities or models. I work with real women who have real lives, careers, families, budgets and things to do! I don’t talk about the latest designer, what’s on the runway, or insist on season must-haves, or what bloggers are saying (bloggers aren’t stylists), or what the trendy color is, etc.”

          Neville uses an “ask vs. tell” method that has questions she created. She has her clients tell her everything so she can pinpoint what is going to work for her. “It’s not about my style where I shop or what I wear, it is about her and her style,” says Neville. “Then, I ask her what she wants her clothes to say to other people in certain situations, such as work situations where we all want to truly present our best selves!”

          Neville says that she’s currently working on a rebrand for Your Stylist, LLC to repackage the styling services she offers and to give her website a fresh, new look. “There will be a new option on my website to select an ‘in-studio; option for the shopping, where all the clothes are brought to the studio for the client for a private styling session that is VIP all the way,” she says.

          Her studio will also play host to style seminars, open houses, and pop-up shops in 2018. She’s also hoping to go into other avenues of styling, like services for men as well as a style service that will appeal to millennials.

          “I am also proud to announce a new partnership with the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP Fashion Design program to be a co-op provider for spring 2018,” adds Neville. “This will allow me to have a full-time co-op student working for me in a dual role in addition to my freelance assistants. I am really looking forward to seeing where this relationship with UC goes and can’t wait for what 2018 has to bring.”

          To learn more about Your Stylist, LLC, visit www.yourstylistjackie.com or follow along on her Facebook and Instagram pages.

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            How do you balance work, putting healthy food on the table, and spending quality time with your family? One local lady is making that possible with a meal prep delivery services that brings hot meals straight to your doorstep. Keep reading for the tasty details!

             

            Dinner to Doorbells is a locally-based meal prep service that brings ready-to-eat meals to your door.

            With all that’s on your plate as a busy woman, it’s difficult to keep healthy, homemade meals on that plate, too.

            Beth Russell, an engineer and mother of a 10-month-old, tried out the big-box meal prep kits to help make her evening routine a little easier with family. But she found she was mostly disappointed.

            “I felt as though I was paying a company to do my grocery shopping, but I still had to do all the work, and had little time to spend with my baby after getting dinner on the table,” she explains.

            As someone who enjoys cooking, but enjoys spending time with family more, Russell knew that she couldn’t be the only mom who was running into dinnertime issues, so she decided to create a solution: Dinner to Doorbells.

            Dinner to Doorbells is a meal delivery service that specializes in no-prep or minimal prep meals.

            “There’s no chopping, dicing, searing, or sautéing,” she says. “These dinners are fully made and ready to heat and eat!”

            Russell says that Dinner to Doorbells started out as just a concept, which she then tried out with a few clients. After that, it soon took off after spreading by word of mouth. And, eventually, Russell was able to focus on Dinner to Doorbells full time.

            You can find a little bit of everything at Dinner to Doorbells. “Our meals have a broad range of influences,” she says. “We have options from Italian to Tex-Mex, from Asian to American.”

            There’s also a variety of gluten free and vegetarian options for customers as well. “We try to put a healthy spin on our menu options,” adds Russell. “You often will find Greek yogurt subbed in for mayonnaise and sour cream, and we try to pack veggies in our dishes as much as possible.”

            The menu at Dinner to Doorbells allows families to choose their meals each week from a list of 7-10 options, most of which can be customized. Russell says that those who are interested in seeing sample menu items as well as the current menu can visit the Dinner to Doorbells website<dinnertodoorbells.com>.

            Russell says the most popular meals that clients order Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Zucchini Enchiladas (or any type of enchilada), Quiches, BBQ Pulled Pork, and different varieties of tacos with homemade salsas.

            For a 2-person family to eat Dinner to Doorbells three times a week, the cost is $50. For a 4-person family, 3 times a week, it is $75. You can also get customized pricing for other serving sizes as well – ordering up to 5 meals per week, for as many people as you’d like. The cost includes delivery within the 275 loop.

            With their dinner delivery service, Russell says she believes that she is helping to fill a void in the meal prep market. “Most meal prep services don’t actually do the cooking for you,” she says. “On the other hand, it is a healthy alternative to the preservative and calorie-packed freezer aisle. With the free delivery and being competitively priced with big box meal prep services, it really is a value that can’t be beat.”

            Russell says that in the three months since Dinner to Doorbells launched, they’ve grown to over 60 clients. “We are focusing on growing your client base and some different strategies around delivery,” says Russell. “We love to chat with our clients about what they are looking for and heard a lot of feedback about ‘grab and go’ options for last-minute dinner pickups, and that may be something we expand to.”

            To learn more about Dinner to Doorbells, visit dinnertodoorbells.com. You can also subscribe to the mailing list on the website and place an order online. Russell says you can follow along on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the weekly menus and see pictures of meals.

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              From Peru to the Queen City, a local lady was inspired by a sense of adventure and the unknown when she launched her own leather-carved brand. Read on to see where you can shop locally to find her products and to hear about the apparel she’ll launch soon.

              Denisse Zavala-Rosales was inspired to launch her business Antlers & Leathers from her love for adventure.

               

              For some, the unknown sets off a feeling of uneasiness. For Denisse Zavala-Rosales, it inspires. It was a sense of adventure, the unknown, the gypsy, the wild, wanderlust, the overall rugged beauty of nature, the lost, living authentic and true to yourself that inspired her to launch Antlers & Leathers.

              Zavala-Rosales is the Western and Boho-obsessed Peruvian behind Antlers & Leathers, which she says is more than just a brand but a way of life that sells eclectic leather pieces full of style and individuality. “The main focus of my brand is ‘tooling’ leather, which actually means carving leather and the main goal is creating pieces of wearable art that are as unique as the people who will be carrying them,” says Zavala-Rosales.

              When it came to launching her own business, Zavala-Rosales wanted to show off her love for leather in a business name that expresses uniqueness, reinvention, and beauty. “Antlers are unique to each animal, though they grow in symmetrical pairs,” she explains. “They shed and regrow each year, and I just think they are beautiful and give animals such characters.”

              This one-woman show is run by Zavala-Rosales and officially launched on June 4, 2017, while she was still working a full-time job at a publishing company. However, as of mid-November, she quit her 9-5 and began dedicated her life to her dreams and is now running Antlers & Leathers as her full-time venture.

              When you shop Antlers & Leathers, you’ll find that all of the products are leather goods and include vintage cuffs, carved cuffs, clutches, crossbodies, dog bandanas, purses, bags, and so much more.

              Price points vary depending on the product you purchase. Zavala-Rosales says that vintage metal hand stamped cuffs run from $40-$50, carved cuffs are $60-$70, clutches run $150-$390, and bags run from $280 and up.

              The quality of the product is certainly reflected in the price. Zavala-Rosales says that it is all 110% handmade. “I design, cut, sew, too, paint, dye, combine different types of leather, and style it all one at a time, resulting in a one-of-a-kind piece that will be truly one of a kind and unique,” she adds. “If you are looking for that heirloom-quality piece that will set you apart from the crowd, Antlers & Leathers is for you. You won’t find that at your local mall.”

              While she prides herself on the handcrafted bags, cuffs, and other unique pieces, Zavala-Rosales says she’s also working on bringing apparel to the brand, too.

              You can shop Antlers & Leathers’ newly launched website, or you can visit BlumeHome Shop in Lebanon and soon find the brand’s carved dog bandanas on display for made-to-order at Earthwise Pet at Harper’s Point.

              To learn more about Antlers & Leathers, visit antlersandleathers.com. You can also follow along on Instagram and “like” their Facebook page.

               

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                Want to hit the road for the holidays? If you have young ones, you might be thinking twice because of all the bedding, strollers and other kiddo equipment you’ll need to make a trip possible. We chat with the local lady behind a new baby gear rental service that’s taking a load off (literally) for families nationwide.

                When it comes to preparing for a trip away from home, it can be stressful in and of itself. Add in kids and the stress levels can really start to hit the ceiling. However, there’s a nationwide company with a Cincinnati representative that wants to help make your travel experience a little easier: Babierge.

                A combination of the words baby + concierge, Babierge is the leading baby gear rental service and marketplace that offers traveling families the opportunity to rent the baby equipment they’ll need while staying at hotels, vacation rentals, or even private homes.

                “The company leverages gig-economy baby gear rental entrepreneurs, called Trusted Partners, who deliver, setup, pickup, and clean quality baby gear that they own,” the company’s website states. “Trusted partners, mostly moms, build a business on the Babierge platform and receive insurance, as well as ongoing coaching and business mentoring, from the company.”

                In Cincinnati, that Trusted Partner is Lindsey Brown. Brown says that she was inspired to become Cincinnati’s Trusted Partner for Babierge through the stress she experienced while traveling with children.

                “My goal [through Babierge], is to help families travel with less and make more memories,” she says.

                Brown says that the way Babierge works is similar to Airbnb. You find your location, choose your gear from a wide assortment of available items, from full-size cribs to jogging strollers, car seats, and toy boxes, and then make your reservation.

                Lindsey Brown, the Cincinnati Trusted Partner for Babierge.

                “Our gear is delivered exceptionally clean, safe, and is also insured,” she adds. “The gear is delivered and set-up prior to arrival of the kiddos and I come back once they leave to pick-up.”

                This rental service allows families the freedom of lugging bulky baby gear through crowded airports while avoiding high fees and other stresses of traveling with children. The service can also be used by grandparents, friends, and other family members who don’t want to purchase expensive baby gear and store it between visits from their loved ones.

                Brown says that the most popular items rented from Babierge are a full-size crib and high chair. “We all know that kids eat and sleep a lot,” she says. “Other popular items are the white noise machine and toy package.”

                She also provided a list of items typically rented from Babierge and their prices:

                • Full size crib with mattress and linens: $14/day
                • Car seat: $10/day
                • Toy package: $10/day
                • Pack n’ play: $8/day
                • Stroller: $8
                • High-chair: $7/day
                • Video monitor: $7/day
                • White noise machine: $3/day

                While the idea behind a baby gear rental business is already unique, it’s the quality of the products from Babierge that make the company stand out among others in the industry.

                “Not only do we provide quality gear, but our customer service is extraordinary,” says Brown. “My goal is to make traveling with kids easier by providing all the comforts of home. My customers have included grandparents hosting grandkids, friends hosting out-of-town friends with kids, and those visiting Cincinnati for weddings and other activities. My customers love the fact that I can deliver and set up all equipment prior to their guests’ arrival so that they don’t have to worry about it, they just get to enjoy the company!”

                Brown says that Babierge is looking to increase its location throughout the United States in 2018 before moving to the international stage. In addition to expansion, Brown says the company also hopes to enter into more strategic partnerships with leading travel brands, similar to the ones it already works with such as Destination Hotels, Kid & Coe, and HomeAway.

                To learn more about Barierge, click here. You can also “like” Brown’s Babierge Facebook page.

                 

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                  A locally-owned, female-led marketing company is helping women succeed with happy careers, valuable work-life balance, and lengthy tenures. For our annual "Working Moms" issue, we chat with Empower's inspiring Vice President about its mom-friendly policies and new OTR digs.

                   

                  Ashley Walters, Vice President at Empower.

                  Formerly Empower MediaMarketing, a rebranded Empower is a family-owned, certified woman-owned business. It’s also one of the largest independent U.S. media agencies left in the country with  more than 170 employees.

                  Headquartered in Cincinnati, Empower prides itself on a culture that is driven by trust and transparency.

                  “Empower’s expertise includes media, creative, word-of-mouth marketing, and digital marketing communications,” explains Senior Specialist Laura Arnold.

                  Breaking ground at Empower’s new OTR office location

                  Empower also prides itself on Vice President Ashley Walters, who leads the agency’s business development efforts. “As a media agency that engineers relationship chemistry, Ashley tackles every client challenge with the heart of a matchmaker and the precision of an engineer,” explains Arnold. “Ashley’s leadership and ability to match Empower’s strengths to a brand’s challenge has helped steer Empower into its best year in revenue in its 32-plus year history and grow a robust client portfolio across the food, home, and retail categories.”

                  According to Arnold, Ashley’s resume includes working with several P&G brands in the retail and home industries like Febreze, Chiquita, Kroger, La-Z-Boy, and HGTV over more than 10 years of experience. All of that hard work has also landed her nods from AdAge for “Top Marketing Campaign of the Year” and “Best New Product Launch of the Year” in addition to several other industry awards from PRSA, PRWeek, and WOMMA.

                  Inside Empower’s new OTR-based offices

                  Arnold says that Ashley also recently joined the Forbes Agency Council, which is made up of an eclectic group of thought leaders. “As an APR-certified, results-driven public relations and marketing professional, Ashley was hand-selected as an authority in media strategy, PR, and advertising,” says Arnold. “She has contributed to more than a dozen stories in Forbes with other key industry experts.”

                  Aside from a #bosslady who has made a name for herself, Empower is dedicated to helping women succeed. More than 71 percent of director-level and above positions at Empower are held by women. “Having such talented role models helps to encourage others and ensure they are equipped to further their careers,” explains Arnold. “Empower’s culture of people, and their families, first manifests itself not only in the statistic above, but in the average tenure of Empower employees.

                  In an industry that’s known for high turnover, Empower employees have an average tenure of nearly eight-and-a-half years thanks to a supportive and encouraging work environment, with policies like 10-week full pay maternity leave with an ease-back-in option of working four days a week at full pay for up to eight weeks.

                  Empower also offers unlimited PTO and flexible work schedules and a private health and wellness room for nursing mothers to easily maintain their work and pumping schedules.

                  Empower’s new 64,000-sq-ft office in OTR offers views of the city and a space to rent for local businesses

                  With a maternity and PTO policy that helps women succeed, Empower is also a close-knit family despite its large size. “You are known on a first-name basis by leadership and management,” says Arnold. “Empower’s CEO meets with every single person to discuss company values in detail.”

                  Following a rebrand, Empower says that it will head into the new year with its forward momentum as the top leading female owned agency in a new 64,000-square-foot office in Over-the-Rhine. They’ll also be using their fourth floor space to rent out for a business that’s interested in downtown views and unique balcony space.

                  To learn more about Empower, visit www.empowermm.com. You can also follow along on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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                    Want to learn new tips and tricks with a fun cooking class? Read on as we chat with a local chef about her cooking studio, hands-on classes, upcoming culinary events, and what would be a palate-pleasing present for the foodie on your list this year.

                     

                    Tablespoon Cooking Co. offers cooking classes for those of any skill level.

                    At Tablespoon Cooking Co., it’s all about teaching those who have a passion for cooking, no matter their skill level, how to cook good food. To help their students achieve this, Tablespoon Cooking Co. offers hands-on cooking classes and culinary events.

                    “We offer private events and custom classes for parties, showers, team buildings, and corporate functions,” says Chef and Owner Jordan Hamons.

                    Hamons says that she knows just how intimidating cooking can be. But it’s her belief that cooking should be fun that she launched Tablespoon Cooking Co. and strives to help chefs of all levels learn, practice, and master basic skills and recipes to help making cooking an enjoyable experience.

                    “Our staff of friendly, professional chefs bring years of experience into the classroom to guarantee delicious and easy results,” she adds.

                    Hamons herself is a classically-trained chef, cooking teacher, and food and beverage consultant. “My experience includes working as a professional corporate chef, private chef, and caterer,” she says. “I love to travel and learn international cooking techniques and sample food from around the globe.”

                    Tablespoon Cooking Co. operates out of Findlay Kitchen at Findlay Market as well as the Incubator Kitchen Collective in Newport.

                    Classes are welcoming to those of all skill levels. “Our chefs and assistants will adjust the class to your pace and make sure you feel comfortable and are learning,” says Hamons. Classes are also hands-on and Hamons says she and her team encourage all students in the classes to fully participate.

                    Knife Skills classes offered at Tablespoon Cooking Co. come with a light dinner at the start of class. The other hands-on classes eat what is made during the class. Most classes also include local craft beer and wine, and some classes have a specialty cocktail pairing.

                    Hamons says that all equipment and ingredients for class are provided for you, including knives and aprons, so you just need to bring along containers and bags to take home any leftovers. But, of course, they also have bags available for purchase.

                    What you wear to class is also important, as Hamons wants everyone to be safe. “Please wear closed-toe, non-slip shoes and hair should be pulled back or tucked under a hat,” she says. “We recommend wearing comfortable clothes that could potentially get a little dirty.”

                    Coming up through the holidays, Tablespoon Cooking Co. is hosting holiday-based classes, including a pie-making class and a cocktail party. To see a list of upcoming classes, click here.

                    To learn more about Tablespoon Cooking Co., visit http://tablespooncookingco.com/. You can also “like” them on Facebook, follow along on Instagram, send an email to hello@tablespooncookingco.com, or call 419-297-2907. You can check out Hamons’ culinary travel blog at The Hungry Traveler.

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                      Want to add some spice to your holiday dinner? Read on to learn about a renowned local chef who recently retired from restaurant life to pursue his passions and launch a new seasoning line that will leave you lusting for more!

                       

                      Carnivore’s Lust Dust is a unique blend of spices created by local chef Jimmy Gibson.

                      Jimmy Gibson arrived in Cincinnati in 1989. He came to open the restaurant at The Phoenix and fell in love with the city. After venturing around the country working in the restaurant industry, he wanted to make his mark in Cincinnati.

                      In the 29 years since he came to the Queen City, Gibson has been involved in more than a dozen restaurants, including Jeff Ruby’s where he served as corporate chef. He made his way to his namesake Jimmy G.’s, but recently left there in May 2016 to pursue his passions.

                      Jimmy Gibson, the founder of Carnivore’s Lust Dust

                      Then he connected with friend and fellow restaurateur Sung Jun Oh, someone Gibson had previously helped design a restaurant for and even helped rebuild his bar.

                      Gibson’s passion then transferred into woodworking. While he loved the restaurant business, he says he loved the work he was doing on the restaurants themselves.

                      However, he couldn’t stay away from the food industry for long. Gibson, alongside Tom Carroll, launched Carnivore’s Lust Dust.

                      “Carnivore’s Lust Dust is a handcrafted blend of the finest raw spices,” says Gibson. “This unique blend will enhance the natural flavors of your finest meats instead of masking what mother nature provides.”

                      Gibson says that he gives his all in everything he does, including Carnivore’s Lust Dust. “My passion for food, fun, relationships, and attention to detail shines through everything and everybody I cross,” he says.

                      “Tom has an extensive career in the fields of restaurant, bistro, deli, catering, menu design, telecommunications sales, and marketing, but has always been driven by gathering people and offering them the best when it comes to food,” says Gibson. “With that in mind, we became fast friends and had the same vision for his legendary ‘dust,’ market and distribute it to discerning and loyal ‘friends’ of ours.”

                      Lust Dust can be used as a seasoning or rub and is sold not only on the online shop, but can also be purchased at Emmett Ridge Farm or Arteflame.

                      To learn more about Carnivore’s Lust Dust, visit http://www.carnivoreslustdust.com/. You can also follow along on Twitter and “like” them on Facebook. You can contact Carnivore’s Lust Dust at 513-910-9090 or email info@carnivoreslustdust.com.