Entrepreneurial UC grads roll out first batches of their unique products

Whether designing guitars or sustainable sweaters, two local up-and-coming entrepreneurs have been using their passions to inspire unique and functional products.
DJ Corney and Adam Jonovski, both recent graduates from University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, will be showcasing prototypes of their products at First Batch’s upcoming “Golden Sample” review session.
The designers were approached by First Batch—which aims to market Cincinnati’s manufacturing capability by helping entrants sell the first batch of their product—when presenting their senior theses.
“The first goal is to build a first batch of 10–20 guitars that will be available for sale in about a month, maybe a little longer,” Jonovski says. “I'm currently finishing pricing out how much everything will cost at different scales of manufacturing, so exact final price is still being determined.”
Music has always been an inspiration for Jonovski, 23, who has played percussion since middle school, and more recently picked up guitar.
Jonovski, much like his parents, grew up in Colerain and moved to Clifton to attend UC.
Now, Jonovski, who graduated from DAAP this year with a degree in industrial design, designed a particularly interesting guitar—or, as he calls it, Hatchet—for his senior thesis.
“I thought, ‘If only I could fit a guitar in my messenger bag,'” Jonovski said.  “I wanted to make it about the size of a laptap.”
And that’s exactly what he did. 
“Once I had completed this fully functional prototype, and strummed it for the first time all tuned up, I felt so vindicated,” Jonovski says. “Every decision I made, in regards to the guitar, was made to help the guitarist have a great playing experience.”
Jonovski’s design uses the same strings as a full-sized, seven-stringed guitar, and is currently crafted from alder wood, while future iterations will be made of walnut or mahogany.  
“After a lot of experimenting with guitars, ukuleles, mandolins and keyboards, I discovered that by using the thicker strings made for a seven-string guitar, I could reach the same notes as a full-sized [guitar], but at almost half the length,” Jonovski says. “Once I was able to prove that was possible, the rest of the design process focused on how a guitarist would use a guitar this small, and in what environments.”
But crafting the instrument didn’t come without complications and multiple attempts.
“For my first models, I was under a real time crunch, and couldn't afford to purchase all the necessary tools to end with a clean fret board,” Jonovski says. “After discovering all the wrong ways to do it, I was able to meet with a couple luthiers in the area who were able to give me some great advice and guidance in the art of guitar building.”
Unlike Jonovski, Corney, 23, grew up in Louisville and moved to Cincinnati specifically for UC’s industrial design program.
But it was a study abroad trip to Paris that inspired Corney to create Woolshop, a sustainable sweater and knitwear company.
“I kind of wandered around in the school and ended up hitting it off with a bunch of people in textile design,” Corney says.  “They introduced me to the world of natural dye and showed me what a knitting machine was.”
While there, Corney was able to inhabit a workspace with his new friends and colleagues to help lead an exhibition on natural dye.
His experiences made a profound and immediate impact on his designs, which utilize only natural dyes.
“Not only does the dye process allow you to move the dye house into an urban setting, but I just find the color so much more beautiful,” Corney says. “There’s a certain vibrancy and vibration about natural colors that kind of just isn’t there in synthetic dyes.”
Woolshop focuses on all aspects of the production process, however, from the farming and upkeep of the animals to how the yarn is spun and dyed, and how the knitwear item is manufactured.
Process is the most important element to Corney’s designs.
“I believe that process is almost greater than the item itself,” Corney says. “When we’re presented with anything, whether it be a camera, a sweater or a chair, we can see the physical manifestation of the thought that was behind it.”
While Corney’s process is very thought out, the intention behind the product is humble.
“The idea behind it is to make a very high-quality, basic item,” Corney says. It’s like your go-to piece—something that’s not really going to go out of style.”
While both Corney and Jonovski’s tenures in Cincinnati depend on how their products turn out, Jonovski says he’ll likely stay for the foreseeable future, as long as his design continues to come into fruition.
“It’s really my dream scenario,” Jonovski says. “If there’s any way for that to work, it’s exactly what I want to do.
First Batch’s “Golden Sample” review will be held today, August 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Losantiville, 1311 Main St.
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Read more articles by Kyle Stone.

Kyle is a freelance writer based in Cincinnati. When he isn't writing, he's making music, riding his bike and taking photos of his adventures.