Best Of 2018

Jumper — a locally based company founded by a former Army Ranger and an outdoor apparel designer — specializes in functional and fashionable apparel; clothing that works for you and looks good. The venture started with their signature undershirt, which never comes untucked and eliminates “underfrump.” Then they expanded into hoodies, sweatpants (the most crowdfunded athletic jogger production ever) and gear like the Jumper Labs action jacket. Where they also kill it? Accessories. Particularly their performance socks, described as a “work, play, do everything sock.” These comfy toe-coverers come in funky and laid-back colors to fit any personality. Want stand-out socks? Get ’em striped in bright reds, oranges and blues. Not feeling a statement? They have grey, white and black stripes that are low-key enough for workwear. Either way, the socks are suited for long hikes (made from breathable material), biking (they’re moisture-wicking), bar-crawling (lose your shoes? No slip grip) and just chillin’ on the couch. Jumper Threads, jumperthreads.com.

Getting dressed in a consumer culture isn’t easy. Fashion has become more about signaling that we can afford to keep up with trends than expressing personal style. Cincinnatian Blake Smith put these pieces together a few years back, wasn’t having it and eventually created Cladwell, a stylist app that spits out daily outfits based on what’s in your closet. The idea is to use Cladwell as a tool to create more space and time in your life for authenticity and things that matter — which aren’t “things.” Bonus: The app never misses on the day’s weather. Cladwell, 120 E. Eighth St., Downtown, cladwell.com.

Emily Little first launched her line of soaps and body products as “Little Organics,” with a focus on herbal medicine, informed and filtered through her Appalachian heritage. Now, almost a decade old, Little Organics is Queen City Alchemy, a high-end locally made holistic skincare line featuring soaps, serums, balms, deodorants and other botanicals crafted using non-toxic, compassionate and therapeutic ingredients. There are no dyes, no fillers, no parabens and no sulfates. The line is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and part of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics from the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. Find Little’s 40-some-odd products in her new community-focused Fort Thomas storefront, Vitae Viride, which also carries a curated collection of pieces from other local makers. Vitae Viride, 118 N. Fort Thomas Ave., Fort Thomas, vitaeviride.com.

Best Artful Cookware Shop
click to enlarge BRITTANY THORNTON
Brittany Thornton

Brad and Karen Hughes opened their Artichoke storefront down the street from Findlay Market in order to offer marketgoers a convenient destination to purchase cookware. From basics and classics to unique and colorful pieces, a stroll through the shop feels as special as a stop at Paris’ E.Dehillerin (except Artichoke is infinitely more organized). With a light display wall and a curated collection of Mason Cash mixing bowls (as seen on The Great British Baking Show), Dansk Kobenstyle Midcentury pots, the whimsical REVOL French chicken roaster… in the shape of a chicken, exclusive trivets from Rookwood Pottery and more, you’ll find all the tools you need to throw down in the kitchen like you’re an Iron Chef. The shop’s artful feel was enhanced in October when their building was painted with a Lichtenstein-looking Pop Art mural by street artist D*Face as part of BLINK. Artichoke, 1824 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, artichokeotr.com.

The female-centered business incubator Bad Girl Ventures underwent a makeover last year, changing its name to Aviatra Accelerators, but they haven’t strayed far from their mission of helping female entrepreneurs succeed in the commercial arena. From bridal shops to architecture firms to fitness centers, the Aviatra team utilizes their business backgrounds to connect startup dreamers with low-interest loans and nurture the development of some of Cincinnati’s most beloved and unique women-owned shops. The warm and fuzzies we feel exploring independent storefronts are due in part to services like Aviatra, so thanks! Aviatra Headquarters, 114 West Pike St., Covington, aviatraaccelerators.org.

Best Bespoke Menswear (For Women, Too)
click to enlarge HAILEY BOLLINGER
Hailey Bollinger

Romualdo bespoke tailoring has been offering handcrafted menswear since 1968. With the mission of delivering one-of-a-kind, quality garments, Romualdo Pelle, an Italian immigrant now in his 80s, became a go-to designer and tailor for the local elite. The store, which has a bit of a men’s club vibe, has a library of more than 10,000 fabrics from luxury and world-renowned mills from which to build a custom suit. Garments are made from scratch, patterned, cut and sewn to your exact measurements. Pelle’s legacy is carried on by new owners Tim Brock and Chris Berre (Berre is a founder of local Artfully Disheveled fanciful mens’ accessories company), who have added a focus on crafting menswear for women. Now, ladies can have the same suiting experience, going to the store to design bespoke jackets, shirts and pants. Get measured, pick out your favorite fabric, liner and details and then wait four to eight weeks for your perfectly proportioned outfit arrive. Romualdo, 7121 Miami Ave., Madeira, romualdo.com.

Designer Rosie Kovacs and woodworker Hayes Shanesy started the Brush Factory in 2009 as a way to create well-crafted and high-quality goods. Since then, the duo has amplified their mission to include building modern furniture and other items with care and precision using “traditional joinery and solid wood construction.” They have their own line of sustainably harvested wood furniture — bff tables and desks, named after their own BFFs — and have created custom solutions for restaurants, boutiques and start-ups across the city. Their OTR storefront opened in 2016 as part of a brand expansion after winning a $20,000 ArtWorks Big Pitch grant in 2015. The shop carries items from hip design houses and traditional makers, both local and not. There are vintage Kilim rugs, local CG Ceramics dishware, Redecker household brushes and small goods like the Brush Factory’s hand-turned wooden candlesticks. Brush Factory, 1417 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, brushmanufactory.com.

Listermann Brewing Company had the very smart idea of combining two of Cincinnati’s favorite things: local beer and Fiona. Since last summer, Listermann has released several limited-edition brews named after the photogenic cutie including Team Fiona and variants Team Fiona: Bifi, DDH Team Fiona and Team Fiona: Birthday, for her first birthday. The first release of Team Fiona New England-style IPA in 2017 had people lining up to grab a coveted four-pack, and the beer did more than give people a buzz: up to 25 percent of Team Fiona beer proceeds went to the Cincinnati Zoo to assist with Fiona’s care. For Fiona’s first birthday, the brewery went bigger with variants Team Fiona: Birthday Edition, a New England-style IPA with citra and centennial hops; DDH Team Fiona, a New England-style IPA with galaxy hops (because “Fiona is out of this world”); and Team Fiona: Bifi, a New England-style IPA brewed with apricot and peaches. Fiona’s face is on each super collectible can — she’s even donning a party hat on the Birthday packaging (there’s an empty can going for $23 on eBay). The zoo series isn’t limited to just Fiona, though — Listermann also brewed a black IPA named after Kendi, the zoo’s new black rhino calf. Listermann Brewing Company, 1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, listermannbrewing.com.

The resurgence and mainstream popularity of vinyl records has led to an influx of independent record stores in Cincinnati, including MetaModern Music, one of the latest additions to the city’s growing vinyl scene. It offers new and used records from all genres and for all levels of collectors, plus bootleg cassettes, slip mats, T-shirts, incense and plenty of Grateful Dead merch. If you’re interested in making your own music, just down the block DHR Guitar Experience sells high-end American-made equipment: vintage guitars for both lefties and right-handed players, archtop and flattop solid body guitars, amps and more. MetaModern Music, 2942 Markbreit Ave., Oakley, metamodernmusic.com; DHR Guitar Experience, 3092 Madison Road, Oakley, dhrguitarexperience.com.

Manitou Candle Co. crafts small-batch and hand-poured candles made from soy wax with packaging that’s classic yet distinctly modern. Scents are broad and ever-changing, whether you want hints of lemon cedarwood musk, lavender or a floral scent, they strive to help you find what makes you feel at home and at rest. Grab a friend or two (or a whole handful), book a DIY workshop, slip on an apron and make the candle of your dreams. Workshops and classes are held Wednesdays through Sundays (and are BYOB). It’s a perfect place to host a bridal or baby shower. Manitou Candle Co., 4015 Eastern Ave., Columbia Tusculum, manitoucandleco.com.