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Philanthropy Features

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Drew Oxley's T-shirts help free sex slaves in India; what can your shirt do?

Drew Oxley has built his company, The Parative Project, on the power of a T-shirt to help rescue and employ women halfway across the world. He's betting that you'll buy into his vision, too.

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Cincinnati hosting one of only 12 NewCo conferences in U.S.

On July 23, Cincinnati joins New York, Austin, San Francisco, London, Istanbul and other notable cities in hosting the 2015 NewCo conference, when over 80 local businesses will tell their stories, demo their products or tour their facilities.  

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My Soapbox: C. Jacqueline Wood, Filmmaker

Jacqueline Wood is an artist, filmmaker and organizer who can't stop experimenting. Her drive to share experimental film with Cincinnati won a People's Liberty grant to design a 10-week communal experiment that begins Thursday, July 2.

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DePaul Cristo Rey makes history with first graduating class

A 100 percent graduation rate is impressive in itself, but all 48 DePaul Cristo Rey seniors comprising the school's first graduating class have been accepted to college, earning $2.9 million and counting in scholarships.

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Renovated housing developments bring new residents to Evanston and Covington

The fourth installment of a Soapbox series focusing on building redevelopment looks at creative residential rehabs in long-ignored sections of Evanston in Cincinnati and Shotgun Row in Covington.
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Philanthropy Videos

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Raising spirits and saving babies through color and design

Soapbox writes this week about Cradle to Cincinnati's "Happy to Wait" initiative, a partnership with Ryan Mulligan, assistant professor of fine arts at UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. See his students brighten up the Price Hill Health Center in this video slide show.

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Carol Ann's Carousel opens on riverfront May 16

May 16 marked opening day for one of Smale Riverfront Park's new signature features, Carol Ann's Carousel. This video shows the final construction and installation work at the pavilion in the past few weeks.

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Building Carol Ann's Carousel

Cincinnati Parks and the Haile Foundation have released a video showing the animal/character design and construction work currently underway for Carol Ann's Carousel, expected to open this spring at Smale Riverfront Park downtown.

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People's Liberty

The application deadline for People's Liberty's two $100,000 Haile Fellowships is next week. Learn more about these innovative grants.

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Weekend Roundup

Soapbox photographer Scott Beseler took a 35mm look at his Friday night in Cincinnati, starting at Ei8ht Ball Brewing in Newport, Ky., then venturing across the river to Findlay Market, Clay Street Press and MOTR Pub.
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Philanthropy

Katy Samuels, co-founder of Memories of Loved Ones

Katy Samuels, co-founder of Memories of Loved Ones

City: Western Hills

How did you start your business?  
My brother Scott and I are the co-founders of Memories of Loved Ones, or MoLo. We started our business with loans from our family after a mutual friend of ours, Keith Noble, passed away.  At Keith’s funeral there were many poster boards on display with original photographs.  Several years passed and the poster boards were eventually taken apart.

We started talking about how frustrating it was that Keith’s poster boards didn’t exist anymore and it got us to thinking – what do most families do with their pictures when they plan a funeral?  We found out that there are no good solutions available to families who want to preserve precious photos and memories of a loved one.

Once we had come up with our concept we decided to test our idea by offering our service for free to a friend that had lost his father.  We got great feedback and it confirmed that we had come up with a great idea.   

How did you come up the idea for your business?  
We couldn’t find any company that provided a service like this for a funeral.   There are tons of companies that can help you after a funeral but we are the first that helps you during that painful time. So, between Scott’s and my IT background, my background with Creative Memories [a program that helps convert physical photos and the like to digital images], and many other talents in our family, we were able to come up with a process that allowed us to provide this service to families very much in need of it.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Everyone that works with us is either a family member or close enough they are like family.  We are lucky to be part of a large family with many talents so we have done the majority of the work in house using as much “free help” as we can get.  Without the many talents in our family we would not be where we are today.  

To be honest, I can’t say we utilized many local resources initially.  We are now involved in groups like Bad Girl Ventures, and we’ll be meeting with a SCORE counselor next week.  I am part of a local business networking group called the Westside Referral Organization, and we’re also a part of the Delhi Business Association.

What does a typical day in your business look like?   
Our headquarters is located in my home, where we converted one side of my basement into our office.  When we’re working on projects, we’re usually here.  

Life can be a bit crazy for us!  Since we deal with funerals, our schedule is constantly changing.  When we are meeting a family onsite, we can be found in the “MoLo Mobile,” a bright purple and green, 35-foot RV (it was wrapped by our friends at Advertising Vehicles) – you can’t miss us driving down the street!  

Inside the RV, we have scanners and cameras that allow us to convert everything from photographs and keepsakes to digital onsite while meeting with a family.  

The RV is fun and casual as well – just like us!  There is plenty of diet coke, M&M’s and other junk food all on hand; we try to make the family feel as welcome and at ease as possible.

What’s next for you and your company?
We are still a small business just working toward that “break even” goal, yet the business seems to evolve every day and we’ve come so far in just two years.  We see significant growth potential with our business, and have considered pitching our idea to angel investors and VC firms with the goal of expanding and offering our service nationwide.  

If I had a dollar for every person who has told us this is the best idea they’ve heard of in years, or said, “You need to franchise this fast,” I’d be a rich person!

For now, we are happy to continue spreading the word, growing our local market and helping to make one more family’s life a little easier every day.   

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