ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalists: Strange Stock Art Conservation and Russo’s Ravioli

Strange Stock Art Conservation

Strange Stock Art Conservation frequently conducts treatments for often overlooked historical objects, such as music memorabilia, tattoo ephemera, and folk art. Many people don’t think to pair a love of science and art history, as the two disciplines don’t seem to go together. But for Laura Moeller, a professor enlightened her on how the two pair perfectly in the craft of art conservation.


“I owe many thanks to a chemistry professor who encouraged me to check out a career path in art conservation,” Moeller says. “This is great for someone like me who was looking for a marriage of disciplines.”


After years of apprenticeships, graduate school, and working with museums in their labs, Moeller started Strange Stock Art Conservation to focus on the often-overlooked pieces that need a little saving.


“We preserve a great range of items, from family photos to Andy Warhol’s,” Moeller says.


Moeller moved Strange Stock Art Conservation to Covington, Ky. from San Francisco to help address the lack of professional conservation services available in the region. She’s seen it all —from maps, rock ‘n’ roll posters, fine art prints, photos, and sports memorabilia.


“Many describe what I do as Photoshop in real life,” she says.


Strange Stock Art Conservation is also one of eight finalists for the fifth annual ArtWorks’ Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Judge’s Choice Award and the Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on September 25 at Memorial Hall.


The award money would help Strange Stock Art Conservation to invest in equipment for specific conservation treatments.


“The equipment I need would allow me to better handle work that comes through my door,” she says. “This will create the room for growth and in the long run save more damaged and threatened cultural heritage.”


Through the Big Pitch mentorship program, Strange Stock has been working with two mentors, Victor Hernandez of U.S. Bank and Regina Carswell-Russo, owner of RRight Now Communications, LLC. Working with these mentors has provided new insight on growth potential and strategy.


Moeller cares about her clients and their stories deeply. She started her own lab, so everyone could save their history. “I believe everyone has a story, a history that is worthy of preservation and saving,” she says.


Russo's Ravioli

Garrison Jennings co-owns the Covington-based Russo’s Ravioli, which offers fast, easy, restaurant quality food you can prepare right in your home.Garrison Jennings comes from a long line of Sicilian cooks whose family recipes for handmade ravioli have been a local favorite for more than 70 years.


So when his grandfather Sam Russo passed away three years ago, he and his mother Diane were moved to take action to honor the family legacy.


“When he passed, there was no one to make our family recipes anymore,” Jennings says. “My mom didn't want our history to end, so we ended up starting the business again.”


The two soon founded Russo’s Ravioli, using his great-grandfather’s Sicilian recipe book.


“Making our handmade ravioli inspires both of us,” he says. “We feel like all of our old relatives are cheering us on from heaven. It keeps our spirits up knowing we’re continuing on our family’s heritage that dates back to the early 1940s.”


Russo Ravioli takes fresh, local ingredients to produce the ravioli, which are kept in the freezer and can be gently boiled or deep fried. The favors include meat, mushroom, butternut squash, and three cheese, and they are for sale at several farmer’s markets and 14 retail locations in two states.


Because of Russo’s Ravioli’s growth, the company is now one of eight finalists for the fifth annual ArtWorks’ Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank, where they will compete for a $15,000 Grand Prize business grant and the Audience Choice Award during a live five-minute pitch on September 25 at Memorial Hall.


“We’re hoping to win the grant to open a kitchen of our own,” Jennings says. “The kitchen will provide us with a ‘home of our own,’ and we will be able to ramp up our production and to get into more markets and stores.”


As a Big Pitch finalist, Jennings is grateful to have worked with two mentors, Emily Frank and? Mark Sousa, to improve his business, including in the areas of marketing, public relations, and customer base expansion.


“They have an attitude and positivity of great entrepreneurs that I hope I can harness one day,” he says.


How to Attend the ArtWorks’ Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank:

ArtWorks’ Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank returns for a fifth year at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Memorial Hall. Eight of Greater Cincinnati's up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs will each deliver a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for a $15,000 Grand Prize and the Audience Choice Award.

Tickets start at $10 and are available here.

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