Jake Gerth entered Artworks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank
to take his custom framing business to the next level.
has been operating in Over-the-Rhine for three years
, providing custom picture framing to both individual retail customers and larger clients like restaurants and hotels. According to Gerth, they fill an important niche in the Cincinnati and regional market, which used to be occupied by names like Closson’s, which has since died down and created opportunity for Frameshop.
What makes Frameshop different is that they create their own custom molding.
“We really tell the story of where the tree is from, what kind of species it is — we really do everything so that when you leave Frameshop, you have a final product that you couldn’t get at another framer,” Gerth says.
Gerth has been aware of the Big Pitch for a while, but wanted to wait to apply until the company had a very clear purpose for the grant. This year the timing was right, with a big goal for the company in site: opening a second location in a neighborhood like Hyde Park to become more established and increase their retail sales to individual customers.
“We were really trying to figure out our purpose and where to put the growth, and now we’re at a point where we very literally have an objective that we can accomplish,” Gerth says. “We really wanted to have a set mission.”
Leading up to this decision, Frameshop has spent a great deal of time refining their process, finding the right tools and growing from using contractors to employing a six-person crew.
For Gerth, the Big Pitch process has become just as important as the possibility of the prize. The opportunities for mentorship and connections he's made have provided diverse perspectives on the business that have proven incredibly valuable, refreshing and energizing.
“It’s actually been awesome, shockingly so!” Gerth says. “I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been thrilled with the mentorship piece of it.”
That new energy has re-invigorated Frameshop’s vision and encouraged them to think big as they work toward becoming a regional brand for both the general public and larger hospitality business projects. Perhaps one day they will even have their own timber farm to source their raw materials.
“I’ve been in Over-the-Rhine for eight years now in the same apartment, and back in the day, you could do anything if you put the work in,” Gerth says. “Even as we’ve grown the company, I still think of it as ‘what is the perfect thing for us to do — what would be the most amazing project or the best scenario?’ and then go pursue that first.”
Gerth isn’t afraid of doing the work to open a second store. So far, Frameshop has grown on its own from an idea to employing Art Academy graduates and skilled craftspeople. Opening a second shop would only be further proof of their sustainability and ability to make an impression on the region.
“We really grew this dollar by dollar, sale by sale,” Gerth says. “If there was a time that we deserved something, this is our time. We really could make an economic impact — that's what I think of the Big Pitch — is that we really would do the money justice.”
ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank is a 10-week mentorship program that culminates in a pitch competition Oct. 6 at Rhinegeist. You can purchase tickets here.