Everyone has a story.
This week: Meet Jamie.
Meet Jamie Jones: a nursing student and founder of Laundry Love Cincinnati. Through providing free laundry and basic health essentials, Jamie is sewing empathy and compassion into our community. Who knew something as simple as laundry could have such an enormous ripple effect?
New feature stories launch every Monday and are 100% driven by your nominations. Celebrate the bright individuals in your community here.
“The person who is begging on the street corner for food and money could actually be working five jobs trying to provide for their family. You really have no idea what people are going through.”
Laundry is a sensory pleasure for me: the smell of detergent and dryer sheets, the warmth of clothes fresh from the dryer, the satisfaction of a stack of clean clothes ready to be worn again. I know that not everyone feels this way, nor that everyone has the privilege of easy access to laundry facilities, but still, I was delighted to sit in a laundromat for this conversation with Jamie Jones, a nursing student who started a neighborhood nonprofit focused on laundry. We met at City Limits Laundry in Walnut Hills to learn more about Laundry Love Cincinnati.
We met Shannon Anderson-Hammond at Starbucks in Hyde Park – one of her favorite places in the world. For Shannon, coffee is life. With her early wake-up time, intense daily workouts, exceptional work ethic, and passion for creating communities for women on and off social media, it’s no wonder that she needs a little pick-me-up throughout the day.
She’s been through her fair share of hard times, from battles with depression to surviving abusive relationships. She’s an open book who loves sharing her journey with the world to help others. She prizes transparency, encouraging everyone to speak their truth and know that no matter what we’re going through, we’re not alone. In the spirit of that message, she established YANA (You Are Not Alone), an online community where women can connect, share stories, and support one another without judgment.
The name “Rosie” just insists on optimism, and Rosie Kovacs was aptly named, for sure. She embodies entrepreneurial determination and a pure force of will to create opportunities and get things done. The C.E.O. of Sew Valley co-founded the nonprofit company in 2017, alongside C.O.O. Shailah Maynard, with the goal of bringing resources to apparel designers and entrepreneurs. The journey, of course, was anything but predictable. She shared with us the ups and downs of stepping away from her and life partner, Hayes’, venture, Brush Factory; the good, the bad, and the ugly that is the fashion industry; and more.
Some entrepreneurs have everything planned out, and when the time comes, they’re ready. As we sit in a tiny Oakley duplex surrounded by stacks of pads, perineal sprays, sitz, and more, Jess Kerr tells us she was not one of those entrepreneurs.
The postwell journey started with a moment of frustration on behalf of a friend struggling through postpartum recovery. What came next can only be explained through the perfect storm of a viral internet story, a stack of plain white boxes, and a woman determined to solve a problem.
Kirsten Moorefield never intended to start a tech company. Yet here she is, the co-founder and C.O.O. of Cloverleaf, an H.R. tech platform that allows individuals and employees to be their best selves both at work and at home. She sat down with us at Rhinegeist Brewery – back where it all began in 2015 – to chat about her journey as a tech entrepreneur; the many, many challenges along the way; finding her support network; and what it means to be a female leader in this space.
My favorite people are those who tell it like it is, and Khisha Asubuhi is no exception. At 5’11’’, she’s fierce inside and out, but she’s as real as it gets, and you find yourself instantly at home chatting with her. We sat down with the owner of Originalitees just a few weeks after the company celebrated 10 years in business to chat about Khisha’s journey of entrepreneurship, dreams for the future, and being more than “just a T-shirt shop.”
Neon lights. Bright stripes. Smashed fine china. Every detail of Homemaker’s Bar draws you in and tells a story. We sat down with co-owners Catherine Manabat and Julia Petiprin approximately one month after the bar’s opening to chat about what it’s like to be a woman in the hospitality industry, the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, and how two L.A. ladies ended up falling in love with Cincinnati.
Like many who grew up in Cincinnati, Dani Isaacsohn left the city as a young adult. He attended Yale and Georgetown University, moved to D.C., and worked on both the Obama and Clinton campaigns. With a budding career in politics and law, Dani found his way back to his familial roots in Cincinnati. Inspired by his work on the campaign trail, he started CoHear, an organization focused on connecting everyday experts with local decision-makers. Together, they work to create innovative solutions to local issues that will positively impact all community members.
Cole Imperi is also a varied tapestry: She writes and hosts podcasts and runs two small businesses; she’s a teacher; and she’s trained in both yoga and typeface design. She is, first and foremost, a thanatologist – a person who studies death and dying. Her passions come together and coalesce in her work here in the Cincinnati area, through her work at the Lloyd Library and Museum as a research fellow, and more. At the vineyards, Cole and I talked about life, death, grieving, and growing.
Walking into the pottery studio where Tanya Leach often seeks refuge, turning lumps of clay into works of art, was like stepping into an alternate reality. The studio, a historic home in the heart of Covington, is filled with painted tiles and stacked shelves of tools, mixing bowls, and artwork, all covered in the fingerprints of a tight-knit community of women. Tanya, accompanied by her sister Tiffany and studio owner Jane, describes the environment as a place where women can show up and express their support and creativity freely with each other – all over good beer and even better conversation.
Rodney Christian grew up in East Westwood – to be frank, one of Cincinnati’s most struggling communities. Even as a kid, he was a leader, but he didn’t know it. One day a friend shined a light on Rodney’s gift of community and relationship building. He encouraged Rodney to help him open a basketball gym so the kids in their community had a safe place to spend their time. Today, Rodney manages a recreation center at Third Presbyterian Church in the heart of East Westwood. It’s open seven days a week, and there’s always an open door for the kids who need it.
“Do you see this? It says, ‘Breathe.’ That’s my mantra.”
Tamara Harkavy leaned in to show me her gold necklace. Though I see her almost every day in my role as ArtWorks’ executive assistant and office manager, I’d never noticed it. The message is fitting. Nearly 24 years ago, Harkavy founded ArtWorks, the nonprofit responsible for over 12,000 projects that have turned the greater Cincinnati area into an art gallery. Not to mention the businesses which have become staples to our city who went through business development training through ArtWorks, like Brown Bear Bakery, Handzy, and S.R.O. Prints. She’s also a star player on the creative team organizing BLINK. It’s a hefty load.
Susan Casey-Leininger has done it all – from working with Americorps to fundraising for the African Leaders Malaria Alliance to living and working in East Africa. Today, as the executive director of Village Life, Susan personifies the word “adventurous.” As shown in her work, Susan is passionate about cultural immersion and the benefits – as a community, society, and world – of learning about each others’ differences. Her various travels and work experiences have given her a unique and valuable perspective on fostering change both inside and outside of Cincinnati.
For those of us born with a fascination with fashion, the shirts on our backs are about more than function. What we choose to wear can be a source of confidence, a way to tell someone passing by a little bit about who we are – even what we stand for. And on a rainy summer evening, I scurried down Vine Street with my deteriorating cat-ear umbrella to meet Cincinnati’s rising style icon and nationally recognized designer, Tessa Clark.
Writing for Women of Cincy has given me the opportunity to meet and share stories with influencers and change-makers throughout Cincinnati. I usually walk away from my interviews feeling inspired, but Kick Lee is quite possibly the coolest person I never knew I needed to meet. He’s created a career and a lifestyle based around helping others achieve their dreams. As the founder of the Cincinnati Music Accelerator, he’s helping local musicians realize their worth as artists and discover how to take control of their own careers.
Monique Gilliam – mom of four, change-maker, mentor, advocate, and more – requested that we meet her at Findlay Market for our conversation. It was a peaceful Tuesday evening, and the weather was more than agreeable. She arrived with open arms, flashing her bright smile. She was rocking a gray O.T.R. T-shirt that listed the street names that she knows all too well.
Women of Cincy began on a whim on January 20, 2017, to document stories from the Cincinnati Women’s March. Five 20-somethings pulled together a few cameras, recorders, and an Instagram account the morning of the march. We had no idea what we were creating, or just how far it would take us.
This summer, we’re taking a moment to look back at that day and celebrate how far we’ve come, and then to share our vision for this movement going forward.
At this year’s Pride parade and festival, we asked Cincinnatians to tell us what brought them to Pride, the L.G.B.T.Q. folks that inspire them, and what the word “pride” means to each of them. They responded with poignant reflections on their personal journeys with L.G.B.T.Q. acceptance and the history of pride in Cincinnati.
“We wanted people to be able to thrive more quickly. I think surviving means holistically being able to find yourself in the chaos of a life that maybe you didn’t expect and no one would wish on anyone. ‘Thrive’ encompasses not only the individual or family unit of refugees, but also that the greater community wants Cincinnati to thrive.”
“I’ve never actually wanted to leave my community. Well… Let me take that back. I don’t know if I wanted to leave, but I would have left if there was no change. I knew as I got older and started to raise my family that what was going on in my community was not good for my children. I was trying to protect them from what I grew up with: the hustle and bustle. The crime. The drugs. The violence part of it.”
We sat down with “true Cincinnati kid” Ricardo (Rico) Grant to talk about his career in the hair and beauty industry, the inspirational woman in his life, and his upcoming adventure: PALOOZANOIRE, a three-day celebration bringing together over 2,000 men and women of the Black community from across the nation.
It was a hectic ride in at 9 a.m.: fluorescent buses, playground yells, untied shoelaces, and a handful of teachers guiding school kids towards Roberts Paideia Academy in East Price Hill. The school day was beginning. For many of these kids, this school is a second home, a place to feel safe and to know they are supported. But for some, it’s even more than that.
Solopreneur strategist and C.E.O. of think BIG strategies, Carla Walker, welcomed us into her downtown office and out of the busy streets and Opening Day crowds. As the hours stretched into the late afternoon, our conversation traveled from harnessing interests in professional life and strengthening international relationships to morning rituals and the moments in life that change everything.
One of my favorite things that we do here at Women of Cincy is ask all of our interviewees the same question: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life? I love seeing the threads and stories of women impacting other women – and men, too. And of course, so many respond with odes and adages to their moms, and I love getting the chance to compile those answers every year. Motherhood – like womanhood, like life – is the best combination of messy and beautiful; let’s celebrate it.
Tucked in a quiet corner on Clay Street in Over-the-Rhine, Please is a warm and inviting space that allows diners to leave their worries at the door, relax, and enjoy a good meal. With a colorfully unique restroom (#pleasepotty) and walls hugged with personal cards, photographs, bus tickets, and wine corks left by guests, the cozy restaurant is a wholesome reminder of the city it serves. Grab some wine or a warm drink and join us at the table as we discuss Ryan’s love for cooking, his perfect day, and his passion for creating an inclusive and well-rounded environment that aims to please.
Grecia met us on a snowy Cincinnati day at the public library downtown. We found a table on the top floor where we could chat without disrupting other readers. Her smile and calming demeanor made it feel like we were old friends catching up at the dining room table. She’s kind; she’s strong; she’s humble; and she makes you feel at home.
We sat down recently with Em Joy, the self-proclaimed “super-sexy nerd,” to hear their story. A Cincinnati native, graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) program, and fierce advocate for social justice, Em found a way to bring their passion and talents together to make our city a safer and more equitable place.
Tikkun Farm is a place: an old dairy barn, a renovated farmhouse, fields full of community-grown crops. But its heart and soul is Mary Laymon, an ordained minister who has studied trauma, led pilgrimages in the United Kingdom, and raised an adult son.
Ryan Adcock is on the frontlines of a tough fight to make Cincinnati a better place for women and infants. As the executive director of Cradle Cincinnati, his job revolves around listening to women and families to help reduce infant mortality in the tristate area.
Rhonda Craig is more than just a coach. She’s a mother of two; she’s the founder of a nonprofit called Sisterhood 360; she’s embarking on a personal battle with multiple sclerosis; and she’s a devoted leader to young women who need it the most.