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two little buds

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    From dreary to dreamy, Over-the-Rhine is now one of Cincinnati’s most desired neighborhoods. We chat with the OTR Chamber to learn about some of the newest (and soon-to-open) shops in the neighborhood and the special ways they’re celebrating the holidays this year.

    Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood boasts a recent renovation and plenty of new businesses for Cincinnatians.
    Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood boasts a recent renovation and plenty of new businesses for Cincinnatians.

    Over-the-Rhine has quickly become one of Cincinnati’s most popular neighborhoods. It’s undergone a major transformation over the last several years to becoming a hotspot for young professionals, families, and new businesses alike.

    Emilie Johnson, President of the OTR Chamber, says that in the last 12 months, they’ve welcomed a total of 45 new businesses to Over-the-Rhine. From wine bars to jewelry shops and fashion boutiques, there’s a little bit of everything in OTR, she says.

    “Warm up with a glass of wine at Skeleton Root, an OTR urban winery, shop at Lane & Kate/Two Little Buds for jewelry or pick up a beautiful, handmade wreath and even make your own bouquet of cut flowers, find that perfect gift for the chef in your or take a cooking class with a friend at Artichoke, or book at table at Please,” says Johnson.

    To help businesses continue to grow and expand, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber has an Innovation Challenge. This challenge, says Johnson, encourages business owners to submit a one-page application, or a one-minute video, to explain their vision for changing their business, whether it be an expansion using equipment or promotions, enhancing the customer experience, or another idea a business would like to launch.

    With the video and application fee, the Chamber can then select, and providing funding to, the selected businesses to help them grow.

    There are also other challenges, programs, and initiatives that the OTR Chamber puts together to help bring more businesses to the neighborhood.

    bgv_ad_2The new year will be the 10th year for the Business First Grant, the Chamber’s signature program. Over the last decade, the program has allowed the Chamber to grant out more than $425,000 to 29 businesses.

    To enter for the next deadline, be sure to submit information by December 6.

    When asked about what makes her the most excited about the growth and change in Over-the-Rhine, Johnson says it’s the continued support the businesses receive from each other.

    “While the neighborhood continues to grow with new small businesses, there is a very small-town feel, and the small business owners are supportive of each other and work hard toward the same end,” she says. “There is so much potential and more work to be done!”

    If you’d like to check out what Over-the-Rhine has to offer before the holidays arrive, check out OTR aGlow, which the Chamber is co-hosting with Chris Glass.

    On Thursday, December 8, the event will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Park + Vine. The event will include a meandering through the streets of Over-the-Rhine while the storefronts are lit up with creative displays for the holiday season.

    “We’ll gather at dusk inside Park + Vine and then head out to explore the architecture and sights of the historic area,” says Johnson. To RSVP for the event, click here.

    To learn more about new businesses, events, and programs in Over-the-Rhine, visit www.otrchamber.com.

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    Farm-fresh flowers and fashion. Two of your greatest loves? You’ll want to learn about the blossoming mother-daughter-team behind Two Little Buds.

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    The mother-daughter team behind Two Little Buds.

    A floral designing mother and daughter team have been gardening together for decades. About 10 years ago, mother Alice Francis and daughter Mindy Francis Staton decided to make a business out of it, so they launched Two Little Buds.

    Then, about a year ago, the pair decided to start their own farm, so they could sustainably grow their own product. They were inspired after attending a workshop in Washington State where they learned from the leader in the farm to vase movement, Floret. “I have had issues finding the flowers I needed for weddings around here,” Staton says. “So the only thing I knew to do, was grow my own.”

    You can find flowers from Two Little Buds at Lane & Kate in Oxford.
    You can find flowers from Two Little Buds at Lane & Kate in Oxford.

    So, today, the pair work with weddings, special events and floral retail as Two Little Buds, and the farm where they grow a large number of their flowers is called Morning Sun Farm.

    Staton says her love of gardening, of course, stemmed from her mother. “We had gardens growing up and we would spend hours tending to them,” Staton says. “And I fell in love with growing. We would also make wreaths to sell around the Holidays with the dried flowers we grew.”

    Specializing in farm to case style arrangements, Morning Sun Farm has gorgeous blooms you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else. From stunning Café au Lait dinner plate dahlias to anemones, heirloom narcissus and hyacinth flowers, there is no shortage of specialty. The rows of florals on the farm are as gorgeous as you can imagine.

    The mother-daughter team grows nearly 80 percent of what they sell commercially and through weddings and events. What they don’t grow, they make sure to find locally sourced, and farm fresh.

    Aside from their special relationship and maintaining a business and farm together, the buds are also passionate about community involvement and collaborating with other local businesses. “We love small businesses, and want to help promote them as much as possible,” Francis says. “So we do pop up shops at local boutiques as a way to encourage sales for them, and us.”

    Two Little Buds pop up shops typically involve pre-made bouquets and loose stems available for customers to quickly grab and go. Workshops, on the other hand, are user involved and differ between wreath making, flower crown creations, terrarium and farm-to-vase arrangement.

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    A flower crown-making workshop.

    In fact, Two Little Buds hosted a flower crown making workshop at the Oxford-based women’s fashion boutique, Lane & Kate. Francis says the best way to learn about these pop-up shops and workshops is to follow along on social media. They’re on Instagram and on Facebook.

    They work with big businesses, too. For example, Anthropologie recently reached out, and Two Little Buds was the first to host a pop up shop in the store. “It was such an honor to be involved,” Francis says. “They plan on hosting other markets in the future. It was such a great opportunity for all of us.”

    The mother-daughter duo also hosts in-house events at their farm and there’s one coming up. On August 20, Two Little Buds will be hosting a Farm Open House at their Morning SunFlower Farm, where guests can walk the flower fields, cut their own flowers, make floral arrangements, eat, drink and listen to local music. Workshops through Two Little Buds are typically 1-3 hours long and the cost ranges from project to project. A recent terrarium workshop cost $42 to participate and the upcoming farm-vase workshop is $93 to participate.

    Morning Sun Flower Farm is located on Morning Sun Road in College Corner, Ohio. Two Little Buds Florist is located in the Bridgewater Falls Shopping Center at 3431 Princeton Road, Suite 103, Hamilton, Ohio 45011 For more information about Two Little Buds, call (513) 737-8527 or visit their website at http://www.twolittlebuds.com.

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