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Emery lights back up April 12-14

Dance, art and music fill the Emery Theatre in Over the Rhine this weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Contemporary Dance Theatre as well as the return of MusicNOW.

The theatre, which was donated to the city in 1908 thanks to the charitable trust of Mary Emery, is currently owned by the University of Cincinnati and leased to the Emery Center Corporation, which manages the Emery Center Apartments. The theater, a replica of Carnegie Hall, is one of only three remaining halls in the nation designed with perfect acoustics. The Requiem Project: The Emery, a site-specific 501c3 founded in 2009, is working to re-establish the historic space as an event venue and interdisciplinary arts and education center. 

After going dark for the winter months as negotiations continue over the building's future, the theater hosts two major public events this weekend.

MusicNOW's first-ever art show runs in the Emery's gallery spaces through the weekend. It features pieces by Cincinnati natives Jessie Henson and Nathalie Provosty, both of whom currently work out of New York. Sunday, MusicNOW founder and The National member Bryce Dessner makes a special appearance at the Emery for a performance during a gallery party from 4-6 pm.

In addition to the MusicNOW events, the Emery also welcomes the April 13 anniversary gala for the Contemporary Dance Theatre, which was founded in 1972 by current artistic director and local dance icon Jefferson James. David Lyman plays host during the celebration, which features video, photography, costumes and more. 

While the future of the Emery and efforts to revive it remain unclear, at least for this weekend, there's a chance to enjoy an amazing local space being used for all the right reasons--to celebrate the local arts community and its connection to the broader artistic and cultural landscape of our time.

The MusicNOW exhibit and Bryce Dessner performance are free and open to the public.

Tickets for the CDC gala available here.

By Elissa Yancey
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Just three units left in award-winning Schickel Design Company's Bakery Lofts in OTR

Schickel Design Company recently won a Star Award from the Over-the-Rhine Chamber in recognition of its architecture projects in OTR. The firm’s most recent project is Bakery Lofts, which is located at 1421 Race Street.
 
“It’s wonderful to be recognized for our overall work in Cincinnati and OTR,” says Martha Dorff, Bakery Lofts’ project architect.
 
Bakery Lofts was built in the mid-1800s, and housed a bakery for about 100 years. It was originally a mixed-use building with first-floor commercial space and residential units above, but Schickel Design, 3CDC and Graybach Construction have redesigned the building and turned it into nine condos.
 
The one- to three-bedroom condos range in price from $155,000 to $350,000; and although most of the units are under contract, there are still three available.
 
William Schickel started the firm in Loveland in 1948; it moved to its current location in OTR in 2005. Schickel Design is known for renovations and new construction projects, architecture, space planning, development, interior design, stained glass, environmental graphics and art consultation.
 
Other projects completed by Schickel Design include the City Home Cincinnati project, City Home Race, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Chapel of the Holy Child and Peace Place at the hospital’s Liberty Township campus, Good Samaritan Hospital’s Dixmyth Lobby and Main Street.
 
“As a company, we see a bright future for Cincinnati, and great growth for it and cities like it,” Dorff says. “It’s geographically beautiful and a great place to live and work. It’s a city that people want to move back to and raise a family.”
 
The city is hosting a ribbon cutting for Bakery Lofts on Thursday at 10 a.m.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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MOTR owners plan to turn Woodward Theater into music venue

About six years ago, the owners of Over-the-Rhine’s oft-frequented MOTR began looking for a larger space for concerts. And they found one right across the street: the Woodward Theater.
 
“When we brought MOTR to OTR, we wanted to insert the local music community into the arts and culture discussion in Cincinnati,” says MOTR co-owner Dan McCabe. “By expanding across the street, that discussion gets a little louder.”
 
MOTR has been the OTR hotspot for free music for the past few years, and the Woodward will help attract larger bands that are too big to play MOTR. The concerts at the Woodward will be ticketed, with advance tickets available.  
 
“We want to see people from outside Cincinnati to see what OTR is,” says McCabe. “Musicians that play the Woodward will be coming from cities like New York, where the cost of living is high. They might consider relocating to Cincinnati, which has a great support base for musicians and the platform to build a crowd base. It’s also centrally located for touring.”
 
The Woodward’s new owners also want it to be used as more than a music venue. “I’d love to show films and host private events too,” says McCabe. “OTR is an event-driven neighborhood, and we want the Woodward to be a resource to the community.”
 
The Woodward has been used in recent years as an antiques warehouse, and hasn’t been an active storefront for a long time, says McCabe. In the next few weeks, construction will begin on the theater’s façade, including getting the lights on the outside working.
 
McCabe and his business partners are still working on plans for the inside. “We basically have a white box on the inside with a balcony, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
 
This year is the Woodward’s 100th birthday—it opened on June 18, 1913. The guys of MOTR have a big event planned for the building’s birthday, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Mason design firm sets up office in Over-the-Rhine

For 45 years, Bayer Becker’s civil and transportation engineers, landscape architects, planners and land surveyors have served the Tri-State area. And last month, the design firm opened an office in Over-the-Rhine.
 
“There’s a commitment to the urban core here in OTR, and we want to be part of it,” says Mike Dooley, an associate at Bayer Becker. “We want to be closer to the clients we work with and new talent.”
 
Founded in 1968 by Joseph Bayer and Keith “Sandy” Becker, the firm has served a variety of local and national clients and has consulted on projects in the public and private sectors. The OTR office is Bayer Becker’s fourth office in the Cincinnati area (its home office is in Mason, and there are smaller offices in Fort Mitchell, Ky., and Oxford, Ohio).
 
Bayer Becker’s new office is in the historic Saengerhalle building next to 3CDC and across the street from Washington Park. The firm looked at buildings in the Central Business District, but the opportunity arose in OTR to be near local architects and other design firms, says CFO and Vice President Tim Bayer, who is the son of founder Joseph Bayer.
 
“There are lots of businesses and entertainment here, which was very appealing to us,” Bayer says. “We want to be part of strengthening the community’s employment and aesthetic aspects.”
 
Currently, Bayer Becker is doing land surveying on several properties for 3CDC; they’re in the middle of the bidding process on a property in OTR near the casino. Yard House at The Banks was also a Bayer Becker project.
 
Bayer Becker wants to be a good business citizen and be active in the OTR Chamber of Commerce and be part of other business associations and endeavors in the business community, says Bayer. “Our goal is to continue to strengthen the community through employment, be part of celebrating client success and help improve downtown Cincinnati.”
 
The firm wants to help continue enriching the community, and later this month, they’ll be sponsoring the Urban Awakenings series, which focuses on four Cincinnati neighborhoods that are dedicated to revitalization and rejuvenation.
 
“We want to help OTR be a model for other communities,” Dooley says.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Neltner Small Batch launch fueled by art, passion, family

Good things come in small batches, whether its bourbon, beer or branding, says Keith Neltner, the native Kentuckian who has made a name for himself as a designer and filmmaker and darling of the latest Cincinnati ADDY Awards. (Soapbox profiled him last year.)

On the heels of winning an unprecedented three out of four Judge’s Choice awards at this year’s ADDY Awards, he's launching Neltner Small Batch, a venture that allows him to base all of his operations out of his renovated farmhouse studio next door to his home and two doors down from his family’s farm in Camp Springs, Ky.

It also allows Neltner to become a work-at-home dad for his 7-year-old and 3-year-old.

"I've noticed 'family' being a theme in a lot of my work recently," Neltner says. "They're little for such a short time."

Neltner Farms has been his home for his entire life and plays a large role in his identity. The land has been in his family since before the Civil War. That history inspires Neltner Small Batch’s manifesto: “Farming is hard. Sweat is religion. Art is blood.”

Known for his rustic aesthetic and acclaimed work with a wide range of artists (Hank Williams III, Shooter Jennings) and brands (Procter & Gamble, Wrigley’s), Neltner remains true to his well-established roots. “My dad taught me to work hard and be honest,” he says.

One of Neltner Small Batch’s first projects illustrates the connections Neltner continues to make between art, life, hard work and passion. “Black Mule is a brand we're developing in Camp Springs that will release limited edition products,” Neltner says. “Farm tables, pottery, apparel...all made in Kentucky, sourced by local artisans.”

By Sean Peters

Feel-good, comfort food in O'Bryonville at Eat Well Cafe

The brightly lit restaurant welcomes customers when they walk in. Mismatched coffee mugs, cookbooks and a mural—which was done by chef Renee Schuler's sister, Michelle Heimann—above the lunch counter add a homey feel to Eat Well Café and Takeaway, which is exactly what Schuler was after.
 
“I wanted the restaurant to be like a living thing, which is why there’s so much green,” she says. The café seats about 35 people, and is described as fast casual—instead of table service, customers order at the counter and take a seat or, if they’re in a hurry, take their food with them.
 
Eat Well Café opened Jan. 9 in O’Bryonville in the old What’s for Dinner? space, between The BonBonerie and Enoteca Emilia.

“The neighborhood is full of positive energy,” says Schuler. “There are so many creative people doing what they love in this area, and I wanted to be part of that.”
 
When looking for restaurant space, Schuler searched all over Cincinnati. She decided on O’Bryonville because the community is interested in feeling good and living well, and that’s what food is about, she says.
 
Before opening her catering business, Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts seven and a half years ago, Schuler spent years working in restaurants and catering in New York City. When she came back to Cincinnati, she worked as the executive chef at Murphin Ridge Inn in Adams County for three years.
 
“It was a huge change,” she says. “I went from living in the city to picking out what types of cabbage our gardener would grow for the restaurant.”
 
She loves to help people plan events and create something dramatic (her second major is in theater), but she also wanted to create something accessible to people on a daily basis. Eat Well Café allows her to see some of her regular customers outside of planning events.
 
Eat Well Café’s menu was created with everyone in mind, Schuler says. There are vegetarian and vegan options alongside items like the Dr. Meat, which is a braised beef short rib sandwich. The menu will change seasonally, with spring items set to be added in two or three weeks.
 
“America is a melting pot, and American food is influenced from all over,” says Schuler. “Our menu is a mix of flavors to create something new.” Vietnamese summer rolls and pesto pasta are both menu staples, along with salads and soups.
 
The “takeaway” menu changes daily, and is based on Schuler’s mood, the weather and what she thinks would be good to eat that day. On dreary days, items like soups are takeaway staples.
 
Schuler tries to source most of Eat Well Café’s ingredients from local farmers. She uses a local, family-owned company who gets eggs for the café from an Amish farm in Northern Ohio; the bread is from Blue Oven Bakery; dairy products come from Snowville Creamery; Eckerlin Meats at Findlay Market supplies chicken and other meats. 
 
“I try to keep it as local as that makes sense,” she says. “It’s a constant challenge, especially this time of year.” Schuler’s dream is to have an Eat Well greenhouse down the street to grow all of the restaurant’s salad greens and herbs, but that’s a ways down the road.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Two locals 'frame' OTR in new ways in new shop

Imagine the walls from Professor Dumbledore’s office in the Harry Potter movies—space covered with framed photographs. That’s what the four walls of Over-the-Rhine’s newest business, Frameshop, will look like, but they’ll be covered in framed posters, neon signs, taxidermy and other oddities.
 
“We want customers to get creative, and we’re trying to do that with a more creative space,” says Frameshop co-owner Jake Gerth.
 
Frameshop happens to be across the street from Gerth’s apartment. “I wanted a business that would be part of the community,” he says. “We want to let Cincinnati know that people are moving to OTR, that it’s a good place to be.”
 
The storefront was in pretty good shape when Gerth and his business partner, Jake Baker, rented it—the floors, walls and hand-painted ceiling tiles are all original. The front of the store is the retail floor, where Baker and Gerth will showcase their talents, and their shop is in the back of the building.
 
While Frameshop isn’t quite finished, Gerth and Baker are excited for their Final Friday opening Feb. 22. They’re going to have a grand opening party that night, and start taking framing orders from customers.
 
The two Springdale natives have been friends since first grade. After college (Baker went to Ohio University; Gerth went to AIC College of Design in Springdale), they decided to open a business together. They had lots of ideas, but their experience in framing lead them to Frameshop—Baker worked in retail framing for a brief time; Gerth has a creative background.
 
“You can’t get what we do at Michael’s,” Gerth says. For example, they have an OTR print in a black wood frame made from 100-year-old reclaimed wood from OTR.
 
All Frameshop pieces will be custom, and the owners plan to turn around orders faster than a typical frame shop that takes about two weeks to complete a job—Baker and Gerth will have orders finished in about an hour.
 
“Our goal is to have customers come in, drop off a piece, go have dinner and then come pick it up,” Baker says.
 
Frameshop opens at 6 pm on Final Friday. There will be a DJ, food and tours of the store. Plus, customers can start placing orders that day.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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S&J Bakery Cafe updates name, plans for Findlay Market

With a new business name, a liquor license and sole ownership of S&J Bakery Café in Findlay Market, Stefan Skirtz is about to get even more creative with his offerings. Which is saying something for a baker who already serves a blueberry pancake cupcake with maple buttercream icing and topped with a garnish of chocolate-dipped bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

As his storefront nears its third anniversary at the Over-the-Rhine landmark this May, Skirtz remains dedicated to keeping things local and making a stop at his flourishing shop just one part of a varied market experience. 

“The reason why I wanted to come to Findlay Market was to strengthen the Findlay Market experience,” says Skirtz, 44, who grew up in Clifton Heights. “I go out every Saturday and buy our produce for the week.”

Skirtz, who opened the shop with a partner, reports that they spent 96 percent of the capital costs for the business within the 45202 zipcode. After making it through the first year in business, sales doubled in year two. He’s hopeful about the prospects for year three, during which he opened a second location—the S&J Café in the Main Library downtown.

“The sales have been very strong,” Skirtz says. “It’s given us an opportunity to constantly adapt and adjust.”

Adapting and adjusting comes naturally to the entrepreneur who started his working life far from a kitchen. He worked summers at Kings Island, then stayed with the park as its owners shifted from Kings Productions to Paramount and Viacom, where he produced live shows and planned events. 

But the Cincinnati native, who once again lives in Clifton Heights, grew tired of constant travel. He decided to pursue his lifelong love of cooking at the Midwest Culinary Institute, where he could turn his hobby into a career.

Skirtz’s theme park background makes him particularly sensitive to his customers’ feedback, which he has already incorporated into his business plans. For example, the dining room section of the Findlay store was intended for storage, but customers enjoyed having a place to sit and enjoy breakfast and lunch so he made the cheerful space permanent.  

“People instantly started coming down and starting their Findlay Market experience with us,” Skirtz says. Regulars bring their own coffee mugs, cloth napkins and silverware. Some stop in for the same menu items every Saturday at 8 a.m. sharp; others make S&J a midway break during their trip; still others end their shopping with a leisurely lunch. 

“It’s really about listening to your guests,” says Skirtz, who works with a wide range of market and local vendors, from Coffee Emporium (which created a special blend for S&J) to Bender and Eckerlin Meats for sandwich fillings.

Feedback has also led Skirtz to sell his bread in demi-loaves—customers told him that whole loaves were too big for them to finish. He’s also expanding the shop’s weekday hours to 6 p.m. to accommodate a second baguette baking in the afternoon; baguette-lovers pushed for an option to stop by S&J on their way home from work to buy a warm loaf.

Skirtz was also granted a liquor license this month as part of the newly formed Findlay Market Entertainment District, and is deciding how to incorporate it into his plans for rebranding, which will include a new menu, brunch, special programs and live entertainment.

One thing is for certain: Skirtz will continue to see Findlay Market as a “destination attraction,” reminiscent of his theme park days. “My goal is that anybody who comes in my door and eats my food, I want them to go into the Market House and start shopping,” he says. 

By Elissa Yancey
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Louisville startup brings culture club to Cincinnati

The Original Makers Club is a fairly new startup from Louisville—it was founded in 2011 by photographer Josh Merideth— but it already has branches in Lexington, Cincinnati and Brooklyn. OMC is an aesthetically minded brand and publication that curates, highlights and looks to elevate the culture, society and local business scenes of cities.
 
“A few years ago, Louisville was going through a similar revitalization to Cincinnati’s current one, which makes it a prime time to celebrate local culture,” says Mike Brady, managing partner and events director of OMC.
 
Comprised of design-conscious, forward-thinking local businesses, Cincinnati’s branch of OMC has about 60 members, including A TavolaEnsemble TheatreSloan Boutique21c Museum Hotel3CDCSmart Fish Studio5 Dot DesignBakersfield OTRPaolo Modern JewelersJapps4EGMiCaTaste of BelgiumDIGS and Jaguar Land Rover.
 
“We are less about adding anything than we are about showcasing the culture and talent that exists here,” Brady says. “We want to insure that those visiting the city get a real taste of her. We also wish that those currently living in Cincinnati are experiencing it to the fullest.”
 
On Feb. 8, OMC is hosting its launch event for the Cincinnati branch. Members of OMC will be providing appetizers, drinks, music and neat things to look at—including A Tavola, 5 Dot Design, Marti’s Floral DesignsParlourChristian MoerleinMatthew Metzger and Jaguar Land Rover.
 
Besides the launch event, OMC is working on creating a mural with help from Artworks and hopes to co-host larger events like a Dinner Series, which would showcase member chefs and entertain a group of people in an exotic location in or near the city, Brady says.
 
There are only a handful of tickets available for the launch event for non-OMC members, so get them while you can.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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NKU students tackle real-world business challenge in 24 Hours of Mobile Innovation Contest

Northern Kentucky University students across disciplines will come together for 24 hours to tackle a real-world business challenge during the first 24 Hours of Mobile Innovation Contest.

Up to 70 students are expected to collaborate in this fast-paced tech challenge, starting the evening of Feb. 8 at NKU's Griffin Hall in the College of Informatics.

The event is being organized by the College of Informatics and the Haile/US BANK College of Business in partnership with businesses TechAllies and MindCrate.

Without spilling the secret of the exact challenge, NKU Business Informatics Professor Teuta Cata says students will work to solve an actual business challenge that could be put into use. Students will get some guidance as they begin to create, design and code the mobile app. Broad guidelines for the app are that it will improve daily activity and business processes or develop a new game idea.

"There will be teams of students who are earning a lot of different degrees here at NKU, because we need a variety of skills," Cata says.

There will be a mixture of graduate and undergraduate students who'll work on everything from the back end to the interface to marketing and communications. Each team member should have the following technology skills: Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint; and experience with the Internet and different mobile devices. Each team should have at least one team member with a basic understanding of project management, database and data communication, among others skills.

They'll have 24-hours to meet the challenge. The awards ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9.

Cata says she got the idea for the event after watching a Cincinnati Startup Weekend event, where local entrepreneurs work for 54 hours over three days to create a startup company.

"I thought this was a great idea for students to get involved with," she says.

Outstanding students will have the opportunity to interview with TechAllies for a chance at a paid internship with the consulting company.

Written by Feoshia H. Davis
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Barking Fish expands entertainment, content development divisions

When it was founded in 2005, Barking Fish Lounge focused mostly on corporate internal and external videos. There was more focus on post work, such as editing and graphics, but the company did offer some production services at the time.
 
Since then, Barking Fish has expanded its entertainment production and content development divisions. Some of the company's recent projects include the 2010 Pete Rose documentary 4192: The Crowning of the King and 7 Below, which is a psychological thriller starring Val Kilmer and Ving Rhames.
 
“We’ve become more recognized for this type of work, which is great, but we didn’t want to lose our core business and clients,” says Aymie Majerski, producer and one of the co-founders of Barking Fish. “That’s why we’re expanding and promoting this side of the company more than ever in 2013.”
 
In addition to continuing to grow the entertainment side of Barking Fish, Majerski and her team will be working with existing and potential clients to expand the commercial side of the business. This means offering more creative services than before, as well as more production services.
 
“We’ve hired an amazing production manager who will head the production side of the business,” Majerski says. “We’ve always been known for doing things ‘outside the tank,’ and we want to continue to push the boundaries and create experiences for our clients and partners.”
 
Founders Majerski, Terry Lukemire (senior editor) and Joe Busam (design director) have more than 30 years of combined experience in creative production and post-production services. Barking Fish was founded on their desire to work on a more intimate level with clients in order to create and produce quality content that animates, elevates and motivates.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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dunnhumby to occupy lot at Fifth and Race streets

The property at Fifth and Race streets has seen its fair share of change in the past 14 years. Plans for a Nordstrom, a skyscraper, even condos came and went. The parking lot stayed. But by December 2014, the new dunnhumby Centre will occupy the space.
 
Construction began on Jan. 31 on the nine-story, $122 million building that will house the branding giant’s headquarters. When completed, the project will include a three-level parking garage with 1,000 parking spaces; 30,000 square feet of retail space; and 280,000 square feet of dunnhumby office space.
 
Building plans boast lots of open space and glass windows, plus a wide staircase that will allow for more interaction between employees and less time at their desks.
 
In the future, dunnhumby can expand downward by taking over the parking garage, if needed.
 
dunnhumby currently has about 650 employees, and it plans to grow to more than 1,000 by 2018, which is one of the reasons for the new building. Also, the current dunnhumby headquarters is in the right-of-way for the proposed new Brent Spence Bridge, says Ann Keeling, public relations representative for dunnhumby.
 
Turner Construction Company is building dunnhumby Centre; it’s funded by new market tax credits, 3CDC-managed corporate loan money, and state and conventional loans.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Colette Paperie makes sending, receiving snail mail fun

Need a funny card to send to the special someone in your life? Look no further than Colette Paperie, a new-to-Cincinnati online stationery business.
 
Keli Catalano, 30, started Colette Paperie back in 2008 when she was a designer at Target in Minnesota. At the time, stationery was something she liked to do on the side, but when Catalano moved back to Cincinnati in 2010, she decided to make it her full-time job.
 
“I’ve always loved paper,” says Catalano. “Even though I don’t have a need for them, I still buy cards.”
 
Catalano designs and illustrates the cards herself. She usually draws the designs by hand and then touches them up on the computer.
 
The majority of Catalano’s business is through online sales, but she does visit craft shows and sells her products wholesale to boutiques across the country. They’re available on Colette Paperie’s website, or at Boutique 280 in Madeira and Wholly Craft in Columbus.
 
Colette Paperie offers cards for all occasions, plus journals, calendars, stationery sets, pencils and magnets. The products' messages say exactly what you want to say, but in unique ways.
 
The baby cards are some of Catalano’s craziest designs, and they tend to be the most popular among buyers. “Some of them are ridiculous, but they’re funny,” she says.
 
Catalano does take custom orders for wedding stationery, but she hasn’t concentrated on that side of her business yet. She also customizes messages on the insides of the cards for customers.  
 
Catalano’s goal is to create a new reason to send paper mail instead of email. “I love seeing people send cards for no particular reason,” she says.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Happy Chicks' at-home bakers offer vegan goods

The idea for Happy Chicks Bakery began in Jessica Bechtel’s kitchen. She and Jana Douglass, 31, have been friends and colleagues for about 10 years, and over those years, they’ve made many batches of cookies together. Since they love to bake and are both vegans, the pair figured they could make it into a business.
 
Douglass and Bechtel started Happy Chicks, a vegan bakery, in April of last year. Happy Chicks doesn’t have a storefront, but they sell their products wholesale to Park+Vine and the Family Enrichment Center in Northside. In the summer, Happy Chicks has a booth at the Northside and Madeira farmers markets. Bechtel and Douglass also do custom orders and cater special events.
 
“Our goal is to have a storefront in the next few years,” says Bechtel, 33. “We’re trying to do the business without taking out loans. When the time comes, we’ll probably look for a space downtown.” 

Happy Chicks is also in the process of looking for other wholesale opportunities to help expand their business.
 
Happy Chicks makes cakes, cupcakes, cookies, macaroons, pies, scones, muffins, a vegan croissant, breakfast roll and coffee cake; the breakfast items are popular at both Park+Vine and the Family Enrichment Center, Bechtel says.
 
The black raspberry chocolate chip cookie is a top-seller, as are the tiramisu and caramel chocolate stout cakes. They also offer seasonal-flavored treats, such as the Snowball, which is a coconut cupcake topped with coconut frosting and filled with a cranberry sauce.
 
All of the bakery’s goodies are dairy and egg-free, and most of the recipes are also soy-free. Many can be made gluten and nut-free, too.
 
Need to satisfy your sweet tooth before Valentine’s Day? Visit Happy Chicks at Sweet Victory, a wedding dessert tasting and cake-decorating contest, Feb. 6 at Cooper Creek Event Center. Or get tickets to Cupcakes & Cocktails, a ladies-only event that benefits the Eve Center, Feb. 8.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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OMYA Studio incorporates music into yoga classes for kids, adults

Yoga is usually accompanied by soothing background music, but at OMYA Studio in Northside, that background music is an important aspect of every class.
 
Co-owners Hollie Nesbitt and Mark Messerly both have musical backgrounds. Nesbitt is a former music teacher, and Messerly is a music teacher at the Cincinnati Gifted Academy and plays in several bands, including Wussy and Messerly and Ewing.
 
About four years ago, Nesbitt started Little Yoga Sunshine, a yoga program for children. She has taught yoga to Girl Scout troops and church groups; she also used to teach yoga to students at Cincinnati Public School’s after-school program. Over the years, Nesbitt has taught yoga at Wyoming Youth Services, The Women’s Connection, Lighthouse Youth Services, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Museum Center.
 
OMYA, which stands for Outreach, Music, Yoga and Arts, offers yoga classes for children, adults, families and those with special needs. “Yoga gets the body moving and helps with concentration and calming down,” says Nesbitt.
 
Yoga can teach children with autism the skill of stopping with the four “Bs” (brakes, brain, body, breath). It can also help non-ambulatory people with muscle tone and physicality, and those with Down syndrome with strengthening their joints and muscles.

“We offer lots of kid, family and special needs classes, which is something that many yoga studios don’t have,” says Nesbitt.
 
Messerly doesn’t teach yoga classes, but he’s planning to offer several music classes at OMYA. In the future, he plans to offer an early childhood music class for children with autism and ADHD. He also wants to start a guitar club for beginning and intermediate guitar players and a songwriting class for older children and adults. He’s also in the process of developing a six-week course for kids with autism, a program that doesn’t exist elsewhere.
 
“It’s always struck me that kids love music, but adults say they can’t carry a tune,” Messerly says. “I want to give music back to people. Not everyone will be a musician, but they should have music in their lives.”
 
Not only will Messerly teach a few music classes at OMYA, but he has incorporated yoga breathing and movements into the music classes that he teaches at Cincinnati Gifted.
 
OMYA also has a working relationship with WordPlay, which is housed in the same building as the studio. “We want to do some cross-curriculum work with WordPlay, where kids will write poems or song lyrics and then I’ll teach them how to add music,” Messerly says.
 
OMYA is right across the street from Yoga-Ah, the yoga studio where Nesbitt learned to teach yoga. She says they do lots of cross-promoting for the studio. “While your child is taking a class at OMYA, you can take one for adults across the street.”
 
Currently, OMYA offers one or two classes per day, with no classes held on Tuesday. Nesbitt is one of two yoga teachers, and Robyn Holleran, a professional belly dancer, teaches belly dancing classes for girls ages 12 and up; April Eight also teaches Songs of Peace classes. Classes are $10 for adults, $8 for kids and $15 for families.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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