Tickled Sweet owner, Bambi Merz, had no candy experience when she purchased Auel’s Fine Chocolates over five years ago. In 54 days, she and a friend obtained permits, remodeled, and opened in a new building under the name Tickled Sweet. She considers it a grassroots business, which grew organically. Bambi was a quick learner and is now an artisan chocolatier of one of the major chocolate shops in the city.
Bambi’s determination and business savvy has led to Tickled Sweet’s success. She is a strong supporter of non-profit businesses and often shares her expertise with new business owners as an entrepreneurial coach. When COVID-19 struck, Bambi had to quickly convert to online sales and offer curbside pick-up and delivery. Tickled Sweet currently has seven employees and September – May are the busiest times of the year. The candy store in Milford has a variety of items to choose from with sea salt caramels, turtles, and opera creams ranking as the bestsellers. Visit www.tickledsweet.net for more information.
Started in 2017, Celebration Hunt takes the traditional scavenger hunt and reinvents it. Each pre-planned and pre-paid hunt includes a meal, two or more destinations, and a surprise treat at the end. The purchaser chooses the type of hunt and the customers follow the hunt card prompts to have fun exploring the city.
Owner Christianna Ware attributes the idea for her business to her mother. Christianna’s mom had to work during one of Christianna’s birthday, so she created a scavenger hunt for Christianna and her grandmother. Christianna’s birthday hunt was a big hit with the various businesses she visited. At her mom’s suggestion, Christianna started out doing hunts for friends and family. Word quickly spread, and Celebration Hunt was created.
Christianna is thankful for the help the ECDC has given her. In the fall of 2017 and 2019, interns filed articles of organization and drafted multiple agreements to help structure and protect her business. She came to the clinic because she was concerned about protecting her brand and was uncertain how to obtain reliable legal advice she could trust. Her team gave her reassurance that she was on the right track. “I appreciated learning the legal process and watching it come together in real time,” Hunt said.
Celebration Hunt offers hunts for date nights, birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day with a variety of activities to choose from. Christianna also offers corporate team-building hunts. During COVID-19, she started Celebration Designs to capitalize on her graphic design talents and she will soon offer interior design services.
Visit www.celebrationhunt.com for more information.
St. Clare’s Closet offers bridal/formal alterations, men’s tailoring, and private sewing lessons. They pride themselves on having a reliable turnaround time, high-quality work, and excellent customer service.
Owner Elizabeth Stockhauser was working for a veterinarian clinic when she realized that she wanted to own her own business. She began sewing out of her apartment and later rented space for two years before purchasing her building in East Walnut Hills. She named her business after the patron saint of needlework and embroidery, St. Clare of Assisi, who embroidered exquisite church altar cloths and invented the Assisi Embroidery, a special type of cross stitch. As customers began posting positive reviews, her business grew.
St. Clare’s Closet received assistance from the ECDC in the spring of 2019. Her intern, drafted a non-disclosure and IP agreement, an employment offer letter, and a services order form. Elizabeth is appreciative of the help from ECDC. “The documents helped protect my business and gave it a more professional appearance,” Stockhauser said.
Elizabeth’s biggest accomplishments has been growing the business, which resulted in the hiring of six employees. Her spouse, Nick Stockhauser is owner of Stock Digital Solutions Inc., and a former ECDC client.
Visit www.stclarescloset.com to learn more.
Tia Rochelle has a wealth of experience, including prior roles as an executive assistant for P&G and General Electric. She has traveled the world setting up meetings, arranging hotels and car service, and handing business affairs for busy executives. As a mom of four children, Tia also realized the everyday need to have extra help. She wanted to create a high-level white glove service on a budget so she could help top leaders around the globe as well as parents who might need a lending hand. Out of that, JahniSpot Concierge was born.
Tia received help from the ECDC in the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020. Interns drafted an operating agreement, independent contractor agreement, nondisclosure agreement, comprehensive service agreement, and terms & conditions for JahniSpot Concierge. “The ECDC organization was critical in the launch of my business. Without their assistance, JahniSpot Concierge would not be in existence,” explained Rochelle.
Tia Rochelle’s goal for JahniSpot is to offer lifestyle management and corporate concierge services at an affordable price. Unfortunately, Tia launched her business approximately 45 days before the pandemic hit. As Tia put it, she had “nowhere to go but up.”
Tia’s team of five at JahniSpot helps her deliver event management, project planning, programming, administrative needs, and merchandising to a variety of small and medium-sized businesses as well as non-profits.
Visit https://jahnispot.com for more information.
Brian Jackson, a former MadTree brewer, started out in pre-med at UC and received his bachelor’s degree in psychology. He also had a strong passion to help others. Brian was introduced to craft beer and decided that that would be his mission. His vision was to craft a beer with such integrity that it would have a profound social impact. After honing his beer making skills for a number of years, Brian decided to open the first minority owned brewery in Cincinnati.
The Esoteric Brewing Company was co-founded by Brian, entrepreneur Marvin Abrinica, and business partner Patrick Klesmith with the intent of it being a place that welcomes everyone.
Esoteric Brewing Co. received legal assistance from the ECDC in 2015. Interns drafted a non-disclosure agreement, a single-member operating agreement, and a document outlining liabilities associated with operating a brewery. The ECDC interns also identified issues to be discussed with a host brewery for the purpose of developing an alternating proprietorship, and researched registration issues with the brewery’s name. Jackson shared, “The ECDC helped me understand what was needed and assisted me with getting all the legal needs in place.”
Brian believes some of their biggest accomplishments have been surviving the pandemic, creating community engagement, and hosting events, such as their successful Juneteenth celebration.
Visit https://esotericbrewing.com for more information.
Junebug Jewelry Designs offers unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces for women who were born to stand out. Owner Dawn Grady believes that the jewelry you wear expresses the woman you are without saying a word.
Dawn has always been inspired by the strong women who raised her. Dawn never considered herself an artist but was curious about jewelry making. She attended a bead-stringing class through UC’s Communiversity Program and her fellow classmates raved about her necklace/earring set. She started buying tools and supplies and began honing her craft. She has been making jewelry for twelve years for friends and family and has been selling her jewelry for five years. Eventually Dawn decided to take a leap and lease a store in OTR.
Dawn believes the ECDC’s help was invaluable. The interns reviewed her lease agreement and pointed out an important date she had overlooked. The interns also drafted a release and work for hire agreement to use with photographers and models. They also drafted an independent contractor agreement and a worker classification memo. “To make sure all of my bases were covered, it was amazing having a resource like the ECDC,” Grady said.
Dawn’s earrings, necklaces, cuff bracelets, and rings all have a meaning. She loves that people wear her jewelry during life’s significant moments. A special time was when one of her customers from Liberia wore one of her pieces as she was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
Visit https://junebugjewelrydesigns.com for more information.
Christina and her husband Miles launched Davis Cookie Collection in May of 2014. Christina began baking when she was five years old, inspired by relatives who had run a successful downtown restaurant during the 1950s, and her family’s southern cooking. It wasn’t long before Christina and Miles created a website on Facebook and began selling cookies.
Christina always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. The Davis’s had to use their own funds to open Davis Cookie Collection over a year ago. At the time, Christina was in grad school, working, baking, and expecting a child. Eventually, Christina quit her job as a social worker so she could run her business full time.
Christina describes the help she received from the ECDC as life-changing. “Having a legal team interpret the legal jargon was so helpful,” said Davis. Her ECDC intern team created an operating agreement, reviewed their lease, drafted a permits & regulations memo, and a photo/media release form and waiver.
At Davis Cookie Collection, Christina bakes over 100 different types of cookies and also offers milkshakes and ice cream. Customers can customize their cookies with mix-ins or create their own dozen. The store offers a junior “create your own cookie” class one a month as well as kid’s birthday party packages. They offer cookie catering and provide an entrepreneur class to assist new business owners.
Christina is proud that Davis Cookie Collection has secured catering orders from large Cincy businesses. Her long-term goal is to open more locations here and perhaps in other cities. Christina also wants to create a cookie dough line.
Visit https://daviscookiecollection.com to learn more.
Yvonne Ballard is a certified interior designer for residential and commercial spaces, and her passion is creating happy, transformative environments and beautiful outfits. She worked for 12 years at Value City Furniture decorating showrooms at seven locations. Customers wanted to copy her designs and would ask Yvonne to come and decorate their homes. So she took a leap of faith and start her business Nove Home&Body Décor LLC, and she has never looked back.
She has designed stages for celebrity performances, staged homes for realtors, and has decorated a restaurant. She is also a fashion stylist, helping her client’s personality highlight their individual style.
Yvonne sought out the ECDC for legal assistance in the spring of 2016 and again in the fall of 2017. ”The documents the ECDC team created for me provided safety and security for my business, especially as an artist,” stated Ballard.
Nove Home&Body Décor LLC has operated successfully for eight years. Yvonne believes her biggest accomplishment is that she has followed her dreams.
Visit https://novedecor.com to learn more.
In 2017, after a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, Niki Marengo realized that people want to be adventurous and try new things, but might not know how to begin or what gear they need. She wanted to change the image of what an “outdoor” person should be, which is how Arrow Adventure was created. In 2019, Niki added the Adventure Gear Exchange to the company. She realized that outdoor gear was expensive. The Exchange buys, sells and consigns gently used gear so everyone can afford to get outdoors.
Arrow Adventure received legal assistance from the ECDC in the spring of 2022. Some of the documents that the interns drafted for Arrow Adventure included an operating agreement, vendor agreement, event waiver, consignment agreement and an independent contractor agreement. The participant waiver ECDC helped create for Arrow Adventure was especially important, considering the higher risk of potential injury for the customers.
“I really appreciated their patience. The ECDC interns provided step-by-step instructions and made things less overwhelming,” Marengo said. The ECDC team also helped Niki realize the benefits of registering as a woman-owned business and the importance of including “as is” on all the consignment gear.
Arrow Adventure leads an average of one to two experiences each month. Niki says her company often partners with Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance, Metroparks of Butler County, AVO Yoga, Practice Yoga, Cincinnati Parks, Cincinnati Hikes, and others to provide a laid-back setting for an introductory experience in the great outdoors. Activities often include hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, biking, paddling, archery or yoga. Niki’s goal is for Arrow Adventure to serve an economically diverse population, be a sustainable business, build community, and make the outdoors accessible to everyone.
Visit www.arrowadventuregearexchange.com to learn more.