Ohio Business Spotlight - April 2022
Every year from April through October, a diverse array of Ohio businesses is busy every weekend fueling the wedding season. The eight successful entrepreneurs highlighted below have dedicated their work to helping create and capture lifelong memories for Ohio couples on their wedding date. As many of us know, a tremendous amount of deliberation, preparation, and logistics goes into the wedding planning process, and Ohio is fortunate that countless and successful wedding industries call our state home. Wedding planners, florists, event venues, caterers, videographers, bakeries, wedding dress retail stores, and jewelers are all relied upon heavily to turn the excited couple’s wedding dreams into a reality.
Travis Dennie started Epic Media when he saw cinematic wedding videos and was inspired to replicate something similar. Travis is very familiar with the wedding industry from a previous employer and was very comfortable with working with couples getting married. After a few weddings and testing out his newly learned skills and equipment, Travis’s business took off! Travis said the process of registering through our office was very simple and easy. He said he submitted his forms and payment, then before he knew it, he was ready to work! Travis learned that to be successful, you should set yourself apart from competitors because clients will be more likely to pick you. He also said that before you completely dive into the wedding industry, have your set ‘skill’ be broad. For example, don’t just be a wedding photographer, start with senior pictures or family portraits, then jump into weddings. If you’re a DJ, start with proms, small parties, then do weddings. The more experience you have the better!
According to owner Katie Korobkin, Sweet Potato Catering started by accident. She was staying in the city of Sandusky with her family for a few weeks, helping pack lunches for her mom and her mom’s ‘network’, like luncheons, small gatherings, and book clubs. Over six weeks, Katie saw there was a high demand for upscale catering, so she decided to leave her job in Utah and stay in Erie County to be an Ohio entrepreneur. Katie said that because she was so young and intimidated, she felt nervous to get the registration process started, but in the end it was a very quick and easy process for her business. Katie said that her business and the wedding industry have seen several challenges over the last few years, especially due to the pandemic. Katie saw this as an opportunity for growth and to try new things. She expanded her catering services to Pop-Up weddings, catering for small gatherings, and boxed meals. She also started a campaign called ‘Support our Local Heroes’ where she made several boxed meals for essential workers, first responders, and health care heroes in the Sandusky community. Now that the wedding industry has bounced back from the pandemic, Katie said they are doing better than ever and are thankful for the lessons and skills they learned during that challenging time. For their efforts and changes they made during Covid, Sweet Potato Catering ended up winning the Pivot of the Year Award from Erie County Economic Development Corporation in 2021. As of the first of this year, Katie launched her second business called Venue 634. Katie described it as an intimate setting for engagement parties, bridal showers, birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, small weddings, and more. Katie’s advice for entrepreneurs is to find what your community’s need is, make connections with your clients so they feel more comfortable working with you, and be personable with your responses and interactions with clients.
Val Jorgensen, a fifth-generation farmer, wanted to pass along her knowledge of gardening and caring for animals, so, in 1992, she and her former husband moved their four sons to a 65-acre farm to explore and appreciate the natural world, just as she had done on the family farm in Michigan. A decade later, Val opened her farm to the public, launching Jorgensen Farms and continuing her family legacy of service to the land. After hosting a fundraiser for Slow Food’s Columbus Chapter in 2010, Jorgensen Farms made a breakthrough as social media introduced the farm to a wider audience. One of Val’s earliest memories is when Jeni Britton Bauer, the creator, and owner of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, asked to have her baby’s first birthday party at the farm! Intrigued by Jorgensen Farms’ new spotlight, requests came rolling in for weddings, birthdays, and other events. As Val is constantly striving to improve Jorgensen Farms, she uses the challenges of staying with the trends and maintaining honest communication as opportunities for growth. Furthermore, the desire to cultivate a values-driven company culture proves challenging as improvements can always be made. In spite of the obstacles in the wedding industry, Jorgensen Farms has found great success. As the business grew, Val managed to bring on full-time employees with a wide variety of expertise in weddings, catering, and floral design. Val has succeeded in her work as she has expanded the business, purchasing 35 additional acres of land in order to open a second venue in 2016. She also established a catering company with a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen in 2020—and she is relieved it was finished before the pandemic! For entrepreneurs wanting to start their own wedding businesses, Val shared that after reaching out to an attorney, getting registered as a business was a seamless process. However, she has some advice: Start with what you have. Always listen to your clients to better understand what is important to them. Take care of your employees—they are your greatest resource! And, finally, find joy in the daily process of creating a space where others can celebrate life.
*Photographer: Aimee Thomas Photography
You can find Corbo’s Bakery tucked away in the heart of Little Italy in Cleveland. This mom & pop Italian bakery has been in service for over 60 years. Owners Selena and Joe Corbo create a variety of different desserts like cookies, cakes, pies, cannoli, gelato, and more. Not only are they popular for Clevelanders to walk in and grab a few desserts to take home, but they also cater weddings throughout Cuyahoga County. The bakery has seen many highs and lows over the last 60 years, but with the support of Clevelanders, they have surpassed many obstacles and continue to serve cannolis with a smile.
When Amber Massey got married, she saw there was a lack of wedding planners, but an abundance of beauty for weddings in the Lake County Community. In response, Amber started Epic Elopements in 2020 to take advantage of the wedding market in Lake County. Amber had been an event planner for over 10 years and an officiant for four years before starting Epic Elopements. Amber said the process of getting registered with the state seemed daunting at first, but with the help of other registered businesses and resources our office has available, she was able to get through the process quickly and efficiently. Amber said their goal as a business is to help clients who are looking to get married but want to do something unique, small, and untraditional. Epic Elopements provides a budget-friendly, no judgment service to ensure their clients feel stress-free. They also offer ‘Pop-Up Weddings’ which is a service where the entire wedding is pre-planned and all the client has to do is pick a date and say ‘yes’! Amber’s advice to future wedding planners is to take time to learn what is important to your clients, and to make sure their wedding experiences reflect the client’s needs because it will truly resonate with them forever!
Sherwood Florist has been making floral arrangements for weddings and special events in the Dayton area for a little over 10 years. As a team of three floral designers, Beverly, Jessie, and Carley help lots of clients throughout the wedding season. Weddings tend to be their biggest source of revenue. Sherwood Florist designs reception arrangements, bouquets, corsages, and boutonnières for the weddings they serve. Every client gets to work with one of the floral designers and create a special and unique style for their special day. Before becoming event-based only, Sherwood Florist used to be a store that the public could come into to purchase flowers frequently. When their wedding business picked up and they needed all hands on deck, they decided to become event-based only.
Lavender Bridal Salon started in 2006 when Karen Stokey decided to turn a long-term dream of hers into a reality. Karen bought an old, empty office supply store in downtown Dover that needed a complete renovation, and she turned it into what Lavender Bridal Salon is today. The showroom is over 5,000 square feet of shopping space for clients to shop for wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses, homecoming dresses, flower girl dresses, mother of the bride or groom dresses, and suit or tux rentals. When getting registered with our office as a business, Lavender Bridal Salon said the process was relatively simple and easy! Lavender Bridal said they learned that the wedding industry can be unpredictable, even when you think you might know it all. As other entrepreneurs consider joining the wedding industry, Lavender Bridal Salon recommended learning anything and everything from the side of weddings you want to pursue. They say there is a balance of making everyday something you enjoy doing while also keeping your feet on the ground.
Beckman Jewelers is a fifth-generation, family-owned business in Putnam County. Greg Beckman grew up learning the trade of jeweling and later bought the business off of his father and uncle in 2019. Beckman Jewelers offers different styles of engagement rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Beckman Jewelers helps brides and grooms custom design their engagement rings, making the process with their store a very personal one. He said they are thankful to the Ottawa community for supporting them, especially during the pandemic. Greg’s advice for other jewelers or wedding entrepreneurs is that not everyone is going to ‘fall in love’ with your services. Additionally, he said that everyone has a vision for what they want, but that doesn’t mean your good or service isn’t worthy. Greg referred to this as the ‘beast of the business’.