Columbus, Ohio USA
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Dis 'n' Data
By Margaret Marten, Editor
September/October 2017


Jolie Occasions Dresses Up the Short North

Stephanie Tersigni, owner of Jolie Occasions

Feminine fashion is clearly the focus of Jolie Occasions, the new women’s apparel store that opened in August at 864 N. High Street. Ruffles, lace, silky fabrics, and floral prints dot the landscape of dresses, rompers, and tops filling the racks. Owner Stephanie Tersigni, 26, has stocked her boutique with styles sure to satisfy shoppers looking for one-of-a-kind feminine flair. “Jolie” is the French word for pretty, so the boutique’s name says it all. The shop owner’s vision is to bring wardrobe beauty to whatever occasion invites it – at an affordable price. “From the decor, to the clothes, even the prices, I just wanted everyone to walk in and feel pretty,” said Tersigni. “That sounds kind of weird, but my product is very girly, it’s feminine. It’s also affordable.” She believes her target market of twenty-somethings and students, as well as her unique selection, complements rather than competes with the existing Short North shops. Experience in clothing retail at Forever 21 during high school and work at a boutique while in college nourished her interest in fashion, eventually leading to a fulltime job at Express as a buyer. But it was her experience at the boutique Juniper during college in Oxford, Ohio, that truly inspired her. “I fell in love with the boutique lifestyle,” she said. “It’s very personal there, so when you buy something you feel like you’re getting that one-of-a-kind piece.” The owner taught her the ropes, and Tersigni’s passion for fashion led to membership in the Miami University Club of Fashion and Design. At that time, there was no fashion program at the school, so she balanced her studies in communications with activity in the club, which grew immensely over the next four years – from a handful of members to over 150 by the end of her senior year when she served as president (over 250 members now). The following year Miami University implemented a fashion minor (dropped the word “club” from the group name), and the annual fashion show is now one of the largest student-run shows in the country, said Tersigni. Modeling for an agency during college and for Columbus Fashion Week rounded out her experience of the industry, but living the life of a shopkeeper was her dream realized. “I thought of this entire store totally in my head and knew exactly what I wanted it to look like,” she explained. “I knew what I wanted the color, the walls, everything [to be].” A limited selection of Jolie’s merchandise is available online, but well over a dozen brands are in the store on High Street. Getting the right outfit, handbag, or jewelry into the possession of a grateful customer is what makes her day. “I love meeting new people and seeing new faces,” she said. “I just love the people here.” Jolie Occasions, 864 N. High St., is open Tuesday through Sunday. Visit or call 614-907-6367 for more information.

The Optical. Co: A New Company With Vision
A new eyecare center is open for business in the Short North at 870 N. High St. near the Arch City Tavern at First Avenue. The Optical. Co, referred to as an eyewear boutique, offers high-quality frames and lenses at an affordable price. In addition to lower cost, the business provides expert eyecare through a staff of licensed opticians and optometrists, including Dr. Craig Miller, optometrist and owner, who has been practicing in the Central Ohio area for over a decade after graduating from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 2004. He also operates Eye Columbus, with locations in Gahanna, German Village, and New Albany. Miller describes that center as a traditional practice. What makes his new venture, The Optical. Co, different is an emphasis on fine craftsmanship – crafting the vision specific to an individual for a better quality of vision – through a line of handmade frames from worldwide independent manufacturers at low cost. “We have eyewear that ranges from handmade frames in Germany that we can do for a complete pair with lenses for $99,” said Miller, as well as a handmade line from Italy for under $300. Moreover, the skilled, licensed optician, whom he refers to as a “craftsman,” has the experience and expertise to work with high quality materials and technology. Mostly, Miller is intent upon eliminating the cookie-cutter approach where vision is manufactured rather than carefully crafted. “There’s the frames and there’s the lenses,” he explained. “But those are just tools that we use to provide vision.” The optician creates a lens to accommodate a particular frame for a particular person with a particular lifestyle. “We’re designing these glasses for you,” said Miller, to create a better quality of vision. The Optical. Co is located at 870 N. High St. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday. Visit or call 614-477-9229 for more information.

Edgy Women’s Attire at Vamp Official
The network of new apparel stores in the Short North continues to grow along with the rapidly developing neighborhood. Joining Jolie Occasions down the street, Vamp Official opened this summer at the corner of W. Starr Avenue and N. High offering women’s clothing for young stylish shoppers. Owner Ellen Shirk, 23, describes her merchandise as edgy.

The inspiration, influence, and participation of friends and family played a dominant role in her evolution as a shop owner. While attending Ohio State University pursuing a degree in architecture, Shirk and a trio of sorority sisters who shared a love of online shopping and were always “trying to put together the best outfits and best looks,” asked themselves why they couldn’t have their own online apparel store, so they began to dream up the details, thinking it might work. Shirk, who was enrolled in a couple fashion courses, eventually took the initiative to convince one of her professors to allow them to engage in an independent study to develop an online store. It was the last semester of her senior year in the summer of 2016, and by the time she graduated, the site was constructed and ready to go. Although two of the originators had participated in the production, by summertime they were ready to move on to grad school, so Shirk registered the business herself and launched it the day of her parents’ wedding anniversary. She said she learned a lot about the business side of things from her dad, an engineer, and was able to use her architecture degree for the graphic side of things, but even with the help of the “best of the best” in the OSU fashion department guiding her independent study, she still had much to learn. It was while participating in the Moonlight Market on Gay Street downtown, a monthly, seasonal collaborative event with pop-up vendors, that Shirk began to work directly with customers and was not only delighted with that but with the prospect of reaching a wider range of clientele in a brick and mortar store. “I dreamed of having an actual store just to kind of make that my full-time thing,” she said. Meanwhile she was treating her business as a “fun hobby” while working in an architecture firm in New Albany. She began to look around the Short North for a storefront and spotted the papered-over space at W. Starr (the former Maotef Gifts). It turned out to be a good match: the landlord didn’t want a long-term tenant – he plans to renovate the building in a year, and Shirk was unprepared to commit to more than a year anyway. After signing the lease, she put in her two-weeks’ notice at the architecture firm, and with the help of family, friends, and friends of friends, was able to move in and welcome the public into her shop by mid-July. Shirk says her location at the northern end of the Short North is good for business, hopefully drawing younger customers and students from the university who share her innovative style. She describes the inventory as unique, “a bit more edgy, streetwear, city girl” and says her pricepoint is lower than others in the area. Shirk’s enthusiasm is bound to generate interest. “People are going to ask you where you got that when you wear it,” she says. “You know, statement pieces.” Vamp Official, 997 N. High St., is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11-7. Visit or call 614-358-6377 for more information.

Groove U, the music career college that Dwight Heckelman launched five years ago in the former Fifth Avenue Alternative Elementary School on Forsythe Avenue, has relocated to a Dublin recording studio – Circa Music, owned and operated by Allen Dicenzo. Fall classes will take place on the new campus. Dicenzo’s studio was designed in 1998 by a world-renowned acoustic design firm. “There is no studio in the entire Midwest designed to the level of Circa,” stated Dicenzo in a press release. “No one is building studios like Circa today, because it just doesn’t make economic sense in these times.” The beautiful spacious facility of wood and stone can be viewed online at In addition, students and staff will enjoy a safer neighborhood and closer proximity to local industry partners Vaughan Music Studios, and Mills James, the release stated. The tuition will remain unchanged for the two-year diploma program in music industry entrepreneurship offered by the school. The new location is within walking distance of Tuttle Mall at 5030 Bradenton Avenue.

After a year selling pastries and cakes out of the small storefront at 1247 N. High St., Elena Birukow decided it wasn’t worth the trouble commuting from her Dublin home, where most of the big baking was done, to sell individual pastries in the Short North at Elena’s Specialty Cakes, so she packed up and left in July. Her lifelong career and big business is baking elaborately designed cakes and bulk pastries for special events. Born in Moscow, she spent a quarter of a century baking in European restaurants and bakeries before moving to the U.S. a decade ago. Working from the comfort of her home now gives her the flexibility she needs to tend to her extended family and “sleep in,” she explained, but the business is still in full swing, and ordering a birthday or wedding cake or baked goods and having it delivered is no problem. Visit and for contact information. The vacant space will not remain empty long. The Angry Baker announced that their third location will open there as a kitchen for their bakers and the sale of baked goods; however, unlike their other locations, no meals or dining will be available at that address.

Spring Cleaners and Laundry, the dry cleaning service at 875 N. Fourth St. in Italian Village, closed in June. Spring Cleaners has a long history. Although it opened there in 1986 under the ownership of Joe and Alice Blankenship, it was actually founded in 1956 and originally based in the Chittenden Hotel on Spring Street between High and Front streets downtown. Five years after that, it relocated to the west side of Columbus. Twenty-five years later the business moved to Italian Village from the west side. The last owner, Dorothy Gall purchased Spring Cleaners in the mid-90s and ran it for nearly 22 years before closing in June as a result of an unsatisfactory lease. Property owners have been known to deny a long-term lease to occupants in order to pursue more lucrative tenants or to phase out for redevelopment. In any case, Gall could not see maintaining her business on a month-to-month lease and opted to close it. Best wishes to Dorothy Gall.

Coming Attractions
In addition to the soon-to-be shops and eateries mentioned previously – Babalu Tapas & Tacos, Hai Poké, Junction Cookhouse and Bar, two Cameron Mitchell restaurants, BrewDog bar, Serendipity Labs, as well as added locations for Mikey’s Late Night Slice, Candle Lab, and The Angry Baker – the Belgian Iron Wafel Co. will open at 19 W. Russell St. by the end of the year. The Grandview Heights clothing boutique Thread will launch a second location in the Brunner Building slated to open at 940 N. High by next summer.

We were saddened to learn of Randy Tarr’s passing on July 14. Randy and his mother, Nancy, operated Great Things on High for 17 years. The amazing gift and furnishings shop was famous for its gargoyles and other artistic oddities.


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