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snapology cleveland aims to build STEM skills through play-based learning

Gina Cuffari, a mother of two boys who is Campus Director for the University of Phoenix Beachwood campus, has spent the past year looking for a business she could start with her children. Then she discovered Snapology – a combination of play and learning that uses Legos, Minecraft, gears, pulleys, Build-a-Bot and other fun stuff to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to 3-9 year olds. So she decided to create Snapology Cleveland, whose new tagline is “Shhh… Don’t tell them it’s education.”

“Talking to other parents and taking the kids to birthday parties, I realized there’s nothing like Snapology on the east side of Cleveland,” says Cuffari. “I visited the Snapology founders in Pittsburgh and fell in love with the curriculum. It’s simple and fun. It’s totally age appropriate and the building happens in teams.”

According to the website, Snapology was created by sisters Lisa and Laura Coe, "who observed the love their children had for creative play using building blocks and other materials that snap together. The idea of offering enrichment classes and camps to teach science, mathematics, technology and literacy concepts excited them given both of their backgrounds in mathematics and science."
 
With new offices set up at LaunchHouse, Snapology Cleveland will officially open on Wednesday, October 1st at 4 p.m. with Shaker Heights Mayor Earl Leiken presiding over a ribbon-cutting. Cuffari plans to offer classes, birthday parties, camps and playdates at various locations around Shaker and Beachwood.
 
Cuffari is partnering with the Fairmount Circle Ben and Jerry’s owner Jim Leikin to offer Snapology events in the ice cream shop’s basement. “We’ll be having our six-week Lego Engineers Let's Get Movin' class there in October,” she explains. “And we will likely follow with some fun themed classes like Adventures with Star Wars, Superheroes or Minecraft.”
 
Snapology will offer classes and winter camps in the Beachwood Community Center beginning in November. Cuffari also plans to partner with local school districts to offer after-school programming.
 
Recognizing that busy parents can't always stay for the entire duration of each class, Cuffari takes photos and video of the kids playing that parents can view on the Snapology website. With the stop-motion animation class, parents are invited to attend a movie premiere of their kids’ work.
 
Cuffari currently has one full-time employee and is recruiting area teachers who want to supplement their incomes.  “I’m hoping to find more people who are passionate about STEM education,” she says. I’m hoping to generate a buzz in the teaching community.” Candidates can get an appllication here.

baab writing uses bgv lessons to create its own funding

When Apryl Beverly signed up for the Bad Girl Ventures education program last spring, she had her eye set on winning the $25,000 loan awarded to one of the class finalists. What she ended up learning was how to make her business, BAAB Writing and Marketing, create its own success and income.
 
“The BGV program is geared around applying for a loan at the end of the class,” explains Beverly. “I was so, I need this money, I need this money. And when I didn’t get the loan I thought, what am I going to do now?”
 
What Beverly did was put the lessons she learned in the program to work and managed to drum up more than $26,000 in contracts from five clients between May and July. BAAB is a business writing service. Beverly and her staff assist their clients with writing business plans and proposals to coaching and marketing services.

“After moving past my pity party, I realized losing was the best thing for me,” says Beverly. “It's not about loans and competitions. It's about perseverance and the drive to make things happen.”

Before she started BAAB (the initials of her family members) in 2011, Beverly had worked in PR and marketing at a few different companies. She used her previous employers as a starting point to grow her own company. “I just started reaching out to previous employers, people I met in the BGV program; asking my existing clients to give me more work,” explains Beverly. “I had to be really focused and I said this is what I need to do. Now I’m not even looking for a loan. I realized I can do it without one.”

With BAAB’s growth, Beverly has been able to hire a part-time editor and a part-time writer to assist with the workload. Eventually, she plans to hire a full staff so she can focus on running BAAB.
 

ingenuity fest celebrates 10 years with engines of ingenuity summit

Ingenuity Fest will return to Cleveland Lakefront Dock 32, the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock Hall, this weekend, September 26-28, for its 10th year of highlighting and celebrating innovation in Cleveland. In addition to the music, art and technology demonstrations that attract attendees every year, Ingenuity is featuring some new attractions this year.

The event kicks off with an opening party at the Great Lakes Science Center, called “Science After Dark.” The adults-only party offers a chance to drink, mingle, explore the exhibits and see artists’ interpretations of technology in our lives.
 
A can’t-miss is a flame bonfire sculpture, powered by stationary bicycles, says Annie Weiss, Ingenuity’s marketing manager. “The faster you pedal, the brighter the flame is,” she explains.
 
Perhaps the most significant addition to Ingenuity Fest this year is the Engines of Ingenuity Summit on Saturday, September 27 at the Great Lakes Science Center. Hosted by Plain Dealer tech columnist Michael DeAloia, the summit schedule offers dialogs between large and small companies, exhibits and presentations.
 
Weiss says the summit grew out of the feedback from prior attendees. “We saw an opportunity for this market,” she says. “I feel like there are a lot of summits for entrepreneur startups or corporate businesses, but now a lot of connections between the two. We wanted to bring unlikely conversations to the event.”
 
Such unlikely conversations include Intellectual Property versus Open Space, featuring area business leaders. “It covers when do you share with the world what you made and when do you hold it close to you,” says Weiss. Other topics include Defining Audience, Hacking Health, and Games and Gaming.
 
The summit concludes with a presentation by Bizdom, The Art of the Pitch. “It’s learning how to explain and present your idea,” says Weiss. The pitch segment will feature area business founders and people experienced with pitching their companies.
 
Jeff Duerk, dean of the CWRU school of engineering, will deliver the keynote address, “The Maker Movement and the Future of Manufacturing.”

The summit is free to attend the day of the event, but advanced registration costs $5.

local filmmaker makes goal on kickstarter, nears completion of first feature length film

Cleveland filmmaker Robert Banks, Jr. doesn’t consider his feature film Paper Shadows a film about Cleveland. Yet the entire production -- shot in 35mm black and white -- was filmed in various parts of the city

“Officially, it was all filmed in Cleveland -- east side, west side and we used archived footage of Cleveland in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” says Banks. But we’re not naming Cleveland. I didn’t want this to be a ‘Cleveland’ movie. It’s Metropolis, showing different aspects of a city in transition.”
 
Paper Shadows depicts a shared creative angst between two main characters: a widowed African-American Vietnam vet who works as a janitor at an art college and a young, white middle class female undergrad completing her final year at school. The two main characters represent cultural, class and generational gaps in society.  
 
The film uses experimental film techniques to create metaphoric symbols of the social frustration and emotional angst caused by the supporting characters. “We’re using the city as a metaphor for a woman getting a facelift,” says Banks. “All of the characters represent facets of people I’ve met over the years. I consider my films to be a moving collage.”
 
Paper Shadows is Banks’ first feature length film. He’s made 25 to 30 short films and he’s lost track of the number of film festivals his work has appeared in. Paper Shadows is Banks’ “last hoorah for cinema,” using the 35mm film instead of modern-day digital techniques.
 
Banks launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the completion of his film. On September 15 he exceeded his $10,000 goal with 252 backers and $12,685. He hopes to have the project finished by December. Banks has been using the film as a teaching experience for his students at the New Bridge Center for Art and Technology.

nortech hosts its first innovation un-conference, an event with no agenda

NorTech hosted its first Innovation UnConference at the Cleveland Convention Center Wednesday, September 24. It was billed as an exchange of innovative ideas with no set topic or agenda, but rather a chance for the more than 250 participants to set their own discussion topics.
 
“This is no longer NorTech’s conference -- it’s your conference,” NorTech president and CEO Rebecca Bagley told the group in her registration welcome. With that, more than 50 people lined up to present their discussion topics. Thirty-two sessions were chosen and the group broke into smaller discussion groups. Attendees were reminded of the two-leg law: If you don’t like a discussion or are bored, get up and move to another group.
 
Discussion topics ranged from “Collaborations Between Small and Big Companies” to “Growing Entrepreneurs from Education into the Economy.” Bagley said most of the topics centered around talent attraction, energy and technology topics.
 
The event idea originated from the MassTLC Unconference in Boston, which has been holding its event for the past 10 years. Cleveland organizers were pleased that the Cleveland Unconference surpassed Boston’s first-year attendance numbers. The Boston event has grown to about 1,200 people each year.
 
Additionally, Bagley said the idea came to her when she was on a panel at a conference and was bored. “Looking into the audience, I thought, I know he has something to say, I know she has something to say,” she recalls. “This is about how we accelerate the pace of innovation.”

Participants also had the opportunity to have one-on-one half-hour sessions with 32 mentors to pick their brains and ask advice.

red lotus offers delicious nut-based vegan alternatives to dairy

Jeanne Petrus-Rivera became a vegan seven years ago, partly for health reasons. She quickly learned that one of the things vegans miss most is dairy. So she set out to create a tasty, healthy alternative. With that, Petrus-Rivera started Red Lotus Foods, making a variety of cashew-based products that are tasty, healthy and wildly popular at local farmers markets in Northeast Ohio.

“As a vegan, I found a lot of people who are interested in going vegan, but found it hard to give up dairy products,” says Petrus-Rivera. “Most non-dairy products are disappointing.” Cashews, on the other hand, are lower in fat but loaded with monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and other good things. Petrus-Rivera discovered that they also make a great substitute for dairy.
 
Red Lotus produces vegan flavored cashew spreads, cashew sour cream and a sweet cashew creme. “They’re really so flavorful and delicious,” she says. “I think this is the way to go to make vegan more accessible.” Flavors range from sun dried tomato and black garlic to the new spirulina bleu.
 
Petrus-Rivera participated in both the Bad Girl Ventures and Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen business programs earlier this year. She operates out of the CCLK with one employee, her husband, and sells her products at farmers markets. More recently, she’s been dropping samples by local restaurants in hopes of forming partnerships.
 
Petrus-Rivera’s dream is to form a cooperative out of Red Lotus. “We’re really just at the beginning of something that’s part of a whole paradigm shift,” she explains. “I have a huge vision and I hope to achieve it in the next three or four years.”

who's hiring in cle: heights arts, cleveland foundation, onshift...

There are plenty of good jobs to be had here in Cleveland. This is the latest installment in a regular series of posts in which we feature companies that are hiring, what those employers are looking for, and how to apply.

Heights Arts, a nonprofit community arts organization in Cleveland Heights, has a variety of newly-created job openings. The organization is looking for a community engagement and marketing coordinator, as well as a part-time gallery attendant. Deadline to apply is Sept. 30. For more information on these positions, click here.

The Cleveland Foundation needs a writer-editor to be the primary creator of written content. Tasks include the writing and editing of executive speeches and talking points, as well as content for print, online and other media. This position also serves as the primary editor and proofreader of all copy for the organization’s marketing and communications. For more information, go to foundation’s careers page. To apply, send resume and cover letter indicating salary requirements by September 30. 
 
JumpStart is looking for a chief credit officer to underwrite the loans for JumpStart’s small business loan products in the organization’s lending program. Click here for more information or here to register and apply.
 
OnShift, which makes staff scheduling and management software, needs an accounting associate to provide accounting support. The associate will input daily transactions into the ledger system, ensure files are complete and maintained, handle accounts payable duties and assist accounting personnel. Click here to begin the application process.
 
Sociagram, which offers an online cloud-based platform to create customized personal video messages, is looking for an unpaid social media/marketing intern to assist with social media marketing efforts for the launch of their new consumer product for the 2014 holiday. Applicants must have experience with social media on a personal and professional level. Candidates also must be able to think strategically and see how social media fits into an overall marketing strategy and building long-term relationships with customers. Apply here.

Dwellworks is seeking a marketing communications specialist with two to three years of experience who enjoys a fast-paced marketing environment. Experience preferred in branding, social media, writing, event management, and coordination. For more details and to apply, click here

Have hiring news you’d like to share? Email Karin at Fresh Water Cleveland and send us this information or career links!
 
 

two artists are finalists in martha stewart competition

Two local artists are finalists in the national Martha Stewart American Made Awards: Liza Rifkin in the style/jewelry category and Gina DeSantis as a wildcard in the crafts/ceramics, pottery and glass category. Rifkin owns Liza Michelle Jewelry in Ohio City and DeSantis owns Gina DeDantis Ceramics in Lakewood’s Screw Factory.

The Martha Stewart American Made Awards recognize makers, creative entrepreneurs and small business owners in crafts, design, food and style.
 
Liza Rifkin draws inspiration from her natural surroundings. Things like twigs, berries and pinecones she finds in Ohio City end up transformed into original jewelry at her studio and shop on Bridge Avenue. Each of her creations are named after Ohio City streets. Rifkin also makes custom designs and wedding rings.
 
“I make one-of-a-kind multi-crafted jewelry inspired by nature,” Rifkin explains. “I cast, fabricate and photograph everything in-house. I typically go ‘twigging’ once a week to gather new twigs and such.” A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, Rifkin opened Liza Michelle Jewelry in 2010.
 
Rifkin nominated herself for this year’s competition after hearing that another local designer, Brian Andrew Jasinski of Grey Cardigan, had entered last year’s competition. “A few people suggested I nominate myself for it,” Rifkin recalls. “I decided I was going to do it. With all the support it’s been really great.”
 
DeSantis also draws her inspiration from nature. But she also is partial to color in her designs. “I don’t do neutrals,” she says. “I’m a child of the ‘80s. I love purple.” DeSantis first went to Lorain County Community College to study graphic design, but never made it to her first class when she discovered the potter’s wheel. She went on to earn her degree in ceramics from Kent State University. DeSantis’ work can be found around town at the Banyan Tree and Urban Orchid, and nationally through Uncommon Goods
 
The competition is stiff: 16 judges selected 800 finalists and 200 wild card finalists. The judges will choose nine winners and the public will vote for a tenth winner. Voting opened on Monday and goes through October 13. Fans can vote up to six times a day until voting closes. Readers can vote for both Rifkin, and DeSantis.
 
The winner will receive $10,000, an opportunity to be featured in Martha Stewart media and a trip to the awards ceremony in New York. Despite the competition, DeSantis and Rifkin are actually friends. "I'm wearing one of her necklaces right now," says DeSantis.

who went where? a roundup of recently filled positions

Several Cleveland companies have new faces on their staffs. Here’s a rundown of who’s in new positions.
 
Ben Faller is the Home Repair Resource Center’s new executive director. Since 2009, Faller has served as a staff attorney and chief housing specialist for the Cleveland Housing Court, working to expand the court’s problem-solving programs and engaging in outreach and policy work on housing and property issues. He previously worked for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland on housing issues and operated his own small business as a general contractor, specializing in residential remodeling. Ben is currently an adjunct professor of law at CWRU and serves as the board chairperson for Larchmere PorchFest.

2005 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Bill Nemeth has signed on to lead JumpStart's Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program after exiting his own company, Mirifex Systems, which was named the fastest-growing IT consulting firm in the United States in the 2005 Inc. 500 list. In his role, Nemeth connects JumpStart’s network of experts with entrepreneurs who need advice and guidance.
 
Marilyn Mosinski is the new director of business recruitment and development for Slavic Village Development, where she will work with area businesses and recruit new commercial retail and industrial companies to the area. Mosinski joins Slavic Village Development from MidTown Cleveland, where she was manager of planning and development. She is a lifelong Slavic Village resident, and has been active in the neighborhood’s growth and success.
 
Have a new hire to share? Email Karin with the details and we’ll spread the word!
 
 

naturalization ceremony, celebration of diversity on tap at this year's one world fest

Clevelanders will celebrate its diversity through artistic performance this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13 and 14 at the second annual Cleveland One World Festival. Taking place at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens at Rockefeller Park, the event will feature a variety of arts and activities for all ages, from a parade and performances on a dozen stages to international sporting competitions and art exhibits. Vendors and food trucks will offer authentic ethnic food and drinks. 
 
But for Clara Jaramillo, the One World Festival holds particular significance. She will become a U.S. citizen during the festival’s naturalization ceremony. Jaramillo is one of 25 people participating in the ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
 
“We’re excited about it,” Jaramillo says of becoming a U.S. citizen. “It’s been a long adventure.”
 
Born in Cali, Colombia, and raised in Medellin since she was eight, Jaramillo moved to San Antonio in 2000 with her husband, Jorge Zapata, for his career as an engineer in the medical field. From San Antonio, Zapata joined Phillips Medical Systems and they moved to San Jose, California, for eight years. They had two sons, Daniel and Nicolas, before they relocated to Cleveland nearly five years ago.
 
Jaramillo and Zapata settled in Chagrin Falls. “The schools are great, the boys are very happy,” Jaramillo says. “It’s a great place to raise a family. It’s quiet and the quality of life and the schools are much better. We think we’re going to stay here for good.”
 
Jaramillo is excited about becoming a U.S. citizen. “We’d like to be a part of the system, to be able to vote, to travel the world. As Colombians, we have to apply for visas to go to other countries.”
 
However, Jaramillo admits she is a bit nervous about the ceremony. “I’m normally very, very shy so it will be interesting,” she says. “It’s nice; it’s going to be a good moment to share with a lot of people.”
 
Zapata will receive his citizenship in a separate ceremony.

wire-net survey shows manufacturers in cleveland are doing well, optimistic

In its third quarter manufacturing outlook survey, WIRE-Net, a non-profit economic development organization for the manufacturing industry in Northeast Ohio, found that Cleveland area manufacturers are having a good year and are optimistic that business will continue to be good.
 
Of the 89 WIRE-Net members who participated in the survey, half of the companies reported they anticipated increased profits in the upcoming year and 31 percent expected profits to equal last year. The majority of the companies were small manufacturers, with fewer than 50 employees and sales under $10 million annually.
 
In previous years, the top two concerns of WIRE-Net members were around attracting qualified workers and sales and new customers. This year, while respondents still reported that talent attraction was a top concern, other priorities shifted to costs.
 
“They are now talking materials, the Affordable Care Act and electricity costs,” explains Julie King, WIRE-Net’s vice president of resource development and communications. “Sales and customers must be flowing because it wasn’t a barrier. So that’s how we know companies are doing well.”
 
Tom Schullman, general manager of E.C. Kitzel and Sons, a tool manufacturer for the automotive, aerospace, small appliance and mining industries, participated in the survey and agrees with the results.
 
The 30-person company has started to see an increase in business this year. “Toward the end of the second quarter we saw kind of an uptick in business and it’s carried over into the third quarter,” he says.
 
Schullman describes sales as “brisk,” which bodes well for the overall manufacturing ecosystem. “We sell tooling and that’s considered a commodity -- our customers don’t purchase unless they have a need for it,” he explains. “We’ve added new customers in the last six months. The primary thing is our customers are getting busier and it’s causing them to increase orders to us.”
 
Among WIRE-Net members, manufacturing accounts for 21,000 jobs and $1 billion in wages in Northeast Ohio, which in turn is the engine behind 13,000 additional non-manufacturing jobs.
 

spruce selects borrow rentals for free pr services promotion

Tom Sarago, owner of Spruce, chose Borrow Rentals as the winning company to receive free marketing and PR services. Sarago, who started his full-service marketing communications firm earlier this summer, offered the services to one company as a way to promote Spruce and help a worthy company.

Spruce received about 20 applications for his services. Sarago chose a few finalists before naming Ann King, owner of Borrow Rentals as the winner. Borrow is an eclectic and vintage rental house for furniture and accessories to furnish any event. “I just found Ann intriguing,” says Sarago. “She’s clearly doing so much of a good thing, I can just step in and enhance.”
 
King, who read about the contest in Fresh Water, applied because she needed the services Spruce provides. “We are such a small boutique company – we don’t have a marketing department and we don’t know how to get in the press,” she says.
 
Professional photography firm Kalman and Pabst shot promotional photos of King as part of the package. Spruce will provide PR services. “"She needs some assistance in a couple of key areas and we're working to develop a plan on how to build new relationships," Sarago says of what he’ll provide. “She wants to find new audiences and engage her existing ones. We’re helping her with social media, starting a newsletter and we will issue regular press releases.”
 
Both Sarago and King see this as the start to an ongoing relationship. “He’s awesome,” says King. “He’s so great and I’m so excited to work together and try to promote our brands. Hopefully we can help each other out – mostly to promote Borrow.”
 
In addition to working with King, Sarago says he enjoyed meeting the other applicants. “It was wonderful to hear about all these companies doing some amazing things,” he says. “Companies I wouldn’t otherwise have met.”
 

recently profiled holmes applesauce exceeds fundraising goals, looks ahead

It’s been a busy month for Ethan Holmes, founder of Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce. The 20-year-old took home $500 from Entrovation earlier this summer before moving into the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK). He then launched an Indiegogo campaign in hopes of raising $1,500, but raised $2,274. He also received 100 pre-orders and produced 400 jars, or 5,000 ounces, of his original and cinnamon applesauce in two days during his first session at CCLK.

“Producing in the kitchen was challenging,” Holmes says. “I had never made such large quantities in such a short period of time.” But with the help of friends and family, Holmes filled his orders, then hand-delivered jars of applesauce in gift bags to all of the local contributors to the campaign.
 
Holmes plans to sell heavily at local farmers markets this fall and is in talks with area restaurants about some menu collaborations. He also is waiting to hear from some retailers about carrying the applesauce.
 
Holmes headed back to college last weekend feeling optimistic about the future of Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce.
“It felt amazing to surpass my goal,” he says. “It was unbelievable to have so much support from family, friends and those interested in my product. I tried crowdfunding a year ago on Kickstarter and failed my goal, so having the strength to try again and actually being successful this time is such a great feeling to have.”

content marketing world 2014 to draw the top communications pros, kevin spacey

More than 2,500 people from 50 countries are expected to descend on Cleveland September 8-11 for the Content Marketing World 2014 conference. Professionals in marketing, communications, social media and public relations are coming to learn what’s new in the industry, socialize and network.  
 
“Those people attending are marketers in enterprises that create and distribute content to attract and retain customers,” explains event organizer Joe Pulizzi, founder the Content Marketing Institute. “Over half of the attendees come from the brand side, with the rest of the delegates coming from agencies, media companies and technology providers.”
 
Representatives from 36 of the Fortune 100 will attend, 10 in the Fortune 15. “The event targets the largest marketers from the leading brands around the world, so we not only attract Fortune 100 companies, but the majority of delegates come from at least the Fortune 5000 size,” says Pulizzi. “CMW is now the largest event in the content marketing industry.”
 
It makes sense the conference takes place in Cleveland, says Pulizzi. “The talent in the Northeast Ohio region for content creators is amazing,” he says, “Most people don't realize this, but for many decades, this area has been home to some of the best business publishing on the planet, In addition to that, ‘content marketing,’ as a term, might first have been used in Cleveland.”
 
While the main events, with speakers and workshops, take place at the Cleveland Convention Center, the opening reception on Monday, September 8 is an Ohio City pub crawl. CMW has rented out Market Garden BreweryBar Cento and Great Lakes Brewery. Tuesday night wraps up with ContentFest, a music festival with 10 local food trucks and bands at Jacobs Pavilion.
 
Pulizzi is excited to host the leaders in content marketing. “The over 175 speakers at the event come from around the world and are truly the leading experts in the field,” he says. “In addition, it's nice to show off Cleveland. In 2013, 75 percent of the attendees had never been to Cleveland.”
 
The keynote closing speaker is actor Kevin Spacey, currently starting in the Netflix hit, House of Cards. “Mr. Spacey is going to talk about how House of Cards has transformed the content business,” says Pulizzi. “He will share his thoughts on what enterprise marketers need to be doing to make sure their stories are told well, and how they can be found by engaged consumers.”
 
The economic impact for Cleveland is estimated to be $2.5 million, with a block of 4,000 room nights in downtown hotels already sold. Registration for the conference is still open.

rust belt pepper co. offers an authentic taste from home: pepper relish


Christina Puterbaugh grew up developing a taste for something straight out of her Macedonian heritage: pepper relish. “It is my mom’s and dad's recipe that they brought from the old country when they came to the U.S. in 1960,” says Puterbaugh. “My sisters and I ate it growing up when my parents would roast the peppers in the driveway each fall and spend a week making the relish.”

After the last of her three children was off to college, Puterbaugh, a stay-at-home mom, embarked on a career search. And then she thought of that pepper relish that she grew up with.
 
“I was ready to get involved in something I felt very passionate about and be responsible for something of my very own,” she recalls. “I love cooking and this recipe will always remind me of my parents, and I knew people would enjoy this so it all seemed to fit perfectly.”
 
With that, Rust Belt Pepper Company was born in Puterbaugh’s home-based kitchen. Customers loved the fire-roasted sweet red peppers in tomato sauce with garlic. Puterbaugh grew up eating the relish on homemade bread with feta cheese, but it has a wide variety of uses. “It’s a great appetizer on a French baguette with sprinkled feta cheese, a topping for grilled meat or fish, as a pizza sauce, in a bean dip, in pot of stew or on a Panini sandwich,” she suggests. “My husband's favorite is with scrambled eggs.”
 
As customers discovered Rust Belt Pepper, Puterbaugh, along with her mother Milica Lozanovich and daughter Michaela, struggled to keep up with demand. So this summer, after two years working from home, Rust Belt Pepper moved to the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen.
 
“The CCLK has been very helpful,” says Puterbaugh. “They provide me with their equipment and also help with labeling and getting my name and product out to the different businesses. Anyone starting a food business, the CCLK is the place to help you grow your business.”
 
Puterbaugh and Michaela now make the relish by the gallon, bottle it and label it each week at CCLK and still struggle to keep up with demand. Although it continues to be a family run business, Puterbaugh predicts that soon they will have to hire additional staff.
 
Rust Belt Pepper Company donates a portion of its proceeds to the American Brain Tumor Association in honor of Puterbaugh’s mother, a brain tumor survivor.
 
The relish is available throughout Northeast Ohio in stores like Zagara’s Marketplace and Miles Farmers Market, as well as farmers markets in the region.
 
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