ArtWorks "Big Pitch" finalists: Queen City Vignette and Osmia Bee Company

Whether you are looking to rent a vintage seating area, a specialty lounge for your wedding, or a beautiful chair for your portrait session, Queen City Vignette can help. Queen City Vignette


The world of event vendors is vast and at times confusing. There are thousands of options when picking out the tiniest details of an event. Amber Zaragoza and Emma Durham saw a unique vendor opportunity in 2016 to create signature spaces using antique, vintage, and exceptional décor. Queen City Vignette was born.


Queen City Vignette hosts a library of colorful furniture, textural rugs and decor for rent for weddings, parties, or events. They have more than 100 unique pieces in their furniture inventory. Most of it is antique and some custom is made.


“No one can duplicate our passion for what we do,” Zaragoza says.


Their Camp Washington warehouse allows their amassed fortune of furniture to take center stage when prospective brides and event planners explore.


“We want to move towards being a one-stop shop, and we want to add pieces that are cohesive, design-oriented, and complementary to our collection as a whole,” she says.


Queen City Vignette has been growing their inventory and 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.


Zaragoza hopes to they can add a full curated line of place settings, taking them one step closer to being a one stop shop.

“Our goal in expanding the business in this direction is to offer more to our clients, reducing their stress of working with multiple vendors,” Zaragoza says. “If we can accomplish this goal, we can essentially double our business just with doing the same number of clients we are already servicing.”


But place settings don’t come cheap. Since Queen City Vignette caters to so many, they have to be ready with 150–200 of each item in a setting. Not only that, they’ll need to buy the commercial dishwasher that is made for jobs this size.


As a Big Pitch finalist, Zaragiza has been working with two mentors, Tom O'Brian and Kaylyn Houston, to develop a business plan. “Working with a mentor has been like working with Yoda,” she says. “It can be so hard to find someone who even understands what you are going through, and they just get it.”


Zaragoza is looking forward to Queen City Vignette’s next steps as they continue to carve out the business’s unique event vendor niche. While Zaragoza and Durham were excited about hunting for all of those beautiful pieces in their warehouse, they find inspiration other ways now.


“We get genuinely excited about how old things can be reinvented to be relevant in today’s trendscape,” Zarogoza says.

Osmia Bee Company’s bee kits provide everything you need to raise bees native to the United States right in your yard. Osmia Bee Company


When Justina Block saw a crisis, not only in the local Cincinnati community, but throughout North America, she felt the need to help. The crisis? The decline of the native bee population, which if left untouched, could lead to fallout in agriculture, forests, gardens, and even food. In America alone, there are 4,000 different bee species — 700 of which are already extinct.


So Block founded Osmia Bee Company with a mission to raise awareness of the plight of native bees and provide tools so people to hatch and raise native bees themselves.


To do this, the company sells kits that include a bee house, nesting holes, accessories, and even cocoons.


“Raising these gentle, hiveless bees is simple, fun, and safe for people of all ages,” Block says. “Most importantly, it helps increase bee numbers and pollinate the plants in our communities.”


Osmia Bee Company has been growing their outreach and relationships with many community partners for the past two years. And now Block is one of eight finalists for the fifth annual ArtWorks’ Big Pitch presented by U.S. Bank where she 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.


Block hopes to improve three areas of Osmia Bee Company: manufacturing, the company website, and its outreach strategy.


“Our current cost of production is extremely high,” Block says. “A portion of the winnings would be spent designing and manufacturing a smaller, more economical bee house, cutting down the cost of manufacturing.”


Creating a smaller bee house would lower their retail value, allowing more hobbyists and backyard gardeners to raise bees. And with an improved website, Block could provide more instruction, helping people try this accessible and easy-to-start hobby.


As a Big Pitch finalist, Block has been working with two mentors, Ann Mooney and Allison Pape, to develop a marketing campaign and strategy. “I want to thank them first and foremost for believing in me and believing that what I’m doing is important to everyone on the planet,” she says. “Their advice has helped shape the way I think about my business.”


Block is looking forward to Osmia Bee Company’s next steps. And her passion for bees’ well being keeps her focused and inspired on her company.


“The bees are beautiful,” she says. “They’re diverse. And most of all, they’re dedicated. They’re tireless in their mission. They do so much for us and I really just want to give something back.”


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 on the ArtWorks website.

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