has chosen eight local companies to compete for up to $20,000 in grants in August. The Big Pitch finalists are now a part of ArtWorks' 10-week mentorship program and will receive help from a business mentor and a U.S. Bank small business specialist to get their companies off the ground.
The eight finalists include two food-related companies, Grateful Grahams
and Butcher Betties Meats and Sweets
. Grateful Grahams is a nationally-recognized bakery specializing in handmade vegan treats. The founder, Rachel DesRochers, has already sold her products to Whole Foods locations nationwide as well as smaller specialty stores in Cincinnati and elsewhere. Butcher Betties Meats and Sweets is a female veteran-owned butcher shop providing local, grass-fed meats. The owner, Allison Hines, can be found serving up fine meats behind the counter at her Florence location.
Three finalists focus on design. Brush Factory,
owned by Hayes Shanesy and Rosie Kovacs, uses regionally sourced hardwood to craft custom furniture. Jason Snell of We Have Become Vikings
offers creative strategy and design help to small companies and community voices. Cut and Sewn, the brainchild of Jenifer Sult
, hopes to help fellow entrepreneurs with their design, sewing and pattern-making needs.
The 2015 Big Pitch competition will also feature Hazel Brown Photography
, offering photography and product development services. Founded by Jess Sheldon, it will also sell functional fine art pieces as retail.
Finally, two finalists have brick-and-mortar locations already established. Original Thought Required
, a streetwear and fashion boutique opened by James Marable, features limited edition apparel from independent designers on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. Roebling Point Books and Coffee
, located on Greenup Street in Covington, seeks to bring the neighborhood together under owner Richard Hunt's support of local authors and artists.
“This is an amazing group,” says Caroline Creaghead, ArtWorks' director of creative enterprise, “and the diversity of businesses that applied attests to Cincinnati’s growing need for small business support for working creatives. This is the type of creative talent that we want to retain and support.”
Each of the eight finalists will present a five-minute pitch on Aug. 27 in the hopes of receiving the $15,000 grand prize and/or $5,000 “audience choice” prize. Previous grant-winners Noble Denim and Madisono's Gelato have used the money and the mentorship opportunities to expand their businesses dramatically over the last year.
The August Big Pitch event will be open to the public.