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Dayton's The Lodge Among 8 "Big Pitch" Finalists

ArtWorks Big Pitch, presented by U.S. Bank, is back for its third year with a new group of creative entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The eight selected finalists represent some of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s up and coming creative, small businesses. All were selected from a field of applicants to participate in ArtWorks’ 10-week mentorship program and business pitch competition for the opportunity to win up to $20,000 in business grants.

The eight finalists include Dayton's The Lodge.

During the ten-week mentorship program, each finalist will be paired with a business mentor and a U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist to help them strategically develop their next stage of growth, refine their business plan and craft a five-minute pitch. The program will culminate with a public “Shark-tank style” pitch event on Thursday, October 6, 2016 at one of Cincinnati’s great startup business success stories, Rhinegeist Brewery.

The Eight Finalists

Fox Aprons, founded by former sous-chef Jonathan Fox, makes professional, industry-tested work wear designed by chefs using high quality materials like raw denim and Amish leather.

Mentor: Jim Stahly, Chapter Chair of Greater Cincinnati Score and CEO of PharynMed LLC

U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist: Khadija Jlaoul

Frameshop USA, co-founded by Jake Gerth, is a custom picture framing company that offers many services including custom framing, graphic design, art buying and art transportation.

Mentor: Bjorn Simmons, Founder of Wyzerr

U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist: Kaylyn Gast

Grace Green Beauty, founded by Tempal Hitt, is a whole-being beauty and wellness line crafted with integrity and designed to feed your skin. Grace Green Beauty products are made using handmade natural products, free of chemicals and additives.

Mentor: Emily Merkle, Director of Blue and Co.

U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist: Josh Gilbert

OCD Cakes, founded by James Avant IV as a byproduct of his ongoing journey with anxiety, is a Findlay Kitchen-based bakery that offers accessible and affordable introductory baking class experiences.

Mentor: Paul Picton, President and Chocolate Maker at Maverick Chocolate

U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist: Michael Howard

SRO Prints, co-founded by Sara Swinehart, is a women-owned social enterprise offering full service apparel printing and promotional products. SRO Prints provides professional employment and a second chance to at-risk adults recovering from drug addiction.

Mentor: Carolyn Deininger, Owner of MiCA

U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist: Jonathan Simpson

The Lodge, founded by Scott Beseler to offer a one-stop shop for artists, is a dream studio space where artists of all disciplines have the tools and resources to create, produce and foster their craft.

Mentor: Anthony Robertson, Attorney at Graydon Head & Ritchey

U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist: Jake Powers

SEE PREVIOUSLY: The Lodge gets OK to to become place for creative arts in Dayton

Thane Lorbach Furniture, founded by Thane Lorbach, uses woodworking equipment and modern machinery to design manufacture custom and reproduction furniture.

Mentor: Kathy Chabot, CEO at Norwood Hardware and Supply Co.

U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist: Jennifer Wilson

Originalitiees, founded by Khisha Asubuhi, is a locally owned and operated clothing line that specializes in state, city and neighborhood pride apparel.

Mentor: Jade Doyle, Global Talent Management at AIG

U.S. Bank Small Business Specialist: Vance Marshall

“Cincinnati is a city filled with creative makers, crafters and doers. ArtWorks, with support of U.S. Bank, is excited to connect this group of talented creative entrepreneurs to successful mentors and provide them the resources and support they need to have their business thrive here locally,” says Shailah Maynard, Director of ArtWorks Creative Enterprise. “We look forward to seeing how they grow during the program and to have the community come show their support on Oct. 6 for our anticipated Big Pitch event.” 

The Culminating Event – Pitch Night, Oct. 6 at Rhinegeist Brewery

The 10-week program ends on October 6 where each finalist will deliver a five minute pitch before a public audience and a panel of judges consisting of Cincinnati business leaders.

Event Details:

ArtWorks Big Pitch Presented by U.S. Bank

6 p.m., Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rhinegeist Brewery, 1910 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH 45202 

Tickets will be available at

After all eight finalists deliver their pitch, the judges’ panel will evaluate each finalist based on the strength of their business plan and final pitch. The Judge Choice winner will be awarded a $15,000 business grant. The audience will have an opportunity to select a winner. A $5,000 business grant will be awarded to the business selected by the Audience Choice vote. Business grants are sponsored by U.S. Bank.

“We’re proud to support and foster the growth of the thriving creative small business and entrepreneurship community in Cincinnati,” Patrick Dingeldein, U.S. Bank VP of Business Banking states. “By partnering with ArtWorks and their creative enterprise efforts over the past two years, we have seen the businesses in this program find tremendous success and have been able to witness the power of possible at work.”

In 2015, Brush Factory’s Rosie Kovacs and Hayes Shanesy took home both the Judge Choice and Audience Choice vote to win $20,000 dollars. Using the winnings, Brush Factory was able to design and launch a new furniture brand called bff, Brush Factory furniture, set up a pop-up store on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine during the holiday, hire local designers and photographers to develop their brand and build a new online store.

In 2014, the $15,000 grant was awarded to Noble Denim’s Chris Sutton who used the money to help launch a sister business and storefront called Victor Athletics Club in Over-the-Rhine. The Audience Choice grant was awarded to Canopy Crew’s Django Kroner.

For more information on ArtWorks Big Pitch, 2016 finalists and past winners, visit

-Staff report

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