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Suited for Service

Jim Rieser loves America, appreciates our soldiers, and makes a pretty mean suit. This is year number four for the clothier’s Suits for Soldiers campaign, a program that gifts eight soldiers with custom-made suits to help them assimilate to the workforce. The requirements are simple: the veteran must have served within the last five years [...]
Aaron Wetli

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Jim Rieser loves America, appreciates our soldiers, and makes a pretty mean suit.

This is year number four for the clothier’s Suits for Soldiers campaign, a program that gifts eight soldiers with custom-made suits to help them assimilate to the workforce.

The requirements are simple: the veteran must have served within the last five years and must be an Ohio resident. This impressive program is unpretentious and helps improve the life of soldiers and their families. What have you done today to make America better?

Employed at Hunter & Lords (a nationwide custom clothing service for men) since 1999, Rieser is head of Midwestern sales, and his niche is small market/high clientele sales that is by referral only. While I can’t give you the scoop on exactly who his clients are, I can assure you that his roster is a “Who’s Who” of Columbus power brokers and high-profile celebrities.

Walking into the Short North office in shorts, sandals and t-shirt (I am an educator on summer break), I felt underdressed. Rieser felt the same and gave me some good-natured grief. He of all people realizes the power a custom-made suit has to boost confidence and morale, helping veterans return to civilian life.

How did Rieser come up with this idea? Like many of us, he does his best thinking over a cocktail.

“I was having a beverage while remembering the terrorist attacks of September 11, and realized that I had to do something to help our soldiers. Clothes is what I do best. The idea just came from that place,” he said.

Our political leaders should have whatever cocktail Rieser was imbibing that evening.

Actually, make that a double.

“I have tremendous respect for service people. They keep the bad guys where they belong.” Reiser said. And he must deeply feel that respect, as the value of eight custom suits, custom shirts, ties and shoes comes directly out of Rieser’s pocket, valued at roughly $15,000. No big deal—just the price of a brand new Ford Fiesta.

This year’s campaign started on July 4 and ends on Labor Day. The soldiers receive their suits at the Veterans Day ceremony at the Lane Avenue Panera with friends and family in attendance. “Family members seeing the suits on the backs of their loved ones is my favorite part,” says Rieser. “It is not uncommon for a tear or two to be shed. It is a really special and meaningful ceremony.”

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished and the toughest part of the campaign is choosing the winners. Last year, there were more than 120 nominations, so Rieser enlisted the assistance of his wife and son in narrowing down the list.

“Picking winners is the hardest part because all of the nominees are worthy,” he said.

Sergeant Major Kevin Colwell was nominated by wife Kelli and was a recipient of last year’s campaign. A Green Beret since 1991 (that is a long time) Colwell said the pride involved with the suit had made a major impact on him.

“Seeing what the suit looks like on, feeling what it feels like to wear it, and most importantly how confident you feel overall when dressed in custom-made clothing, is incredible. If you want to perform your best, you need to feel and look your best, and I can’t tell you how good and confident I feel when I am wearing that suit. It’s almost like I put on my Superman cape!”

On active duty for another 10 months, Colwell has pridefully worn his suit on many occasions, especially those where he is a keynote speaker at events that raise money and awareness for wounded veterans.

“I have every confidence that the suit will someday play an integral part in opening the door to the next chapter in my life, whatever it may be,” he says. A price tag on a suit can be high, but the gift of confidence is priceless.

Unfortunately, we all know that veterans face many obstacles when returning to civilian life, with hopes of finding gainful employment.

“The biggest hurdle is that the language and terminology used in the military is not the same language and terminology as used in  the civilian business world,” Colwell said. “As a result, veterans can severely harm their own job search, and salary offerings, by unknowingly underselling their knowledge, experience and accomplishment simply due to language and terminology differences.”

If the sharpest suit around can help assist in the interview process and inspire the recipient to feel like part of the civilian employment team, the suit isn’t just a combination of cotton, polyester and leather, the suit is nourishment for the soul.

“The civilian world does not replicate the military’s culture, not in the workplace, and especially not outside the workplace, so veterans lose the feeling of being a part of a close-knit team and often feel alone and lost.”

In this age of partisanship, keyboard tough guys and raging social media feuds, this is a cause we can all get behind. Whether you stand or kneel, however you vote, and whatever social issue you are passionate about, you are afforded these freedoms due to the brave men and women who fight for our right to be as menacing or as kind as we choose. We can thank Colwell for that right, and we can thank Rieser for helping make veterans’ lives less difficult. •

Do you know someone who would benefit from this campaign? If so, nominate them at hunterandlords.com/suits-for-soldiers by September 3rd.

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Arts & Culture

Thinking Big: The Amazing Giants bring circus arts to events across town

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If you have been to a local festival, parade, or corporate event where you’ve seen stilt walkers, fire-eaters, hula-hoopers or lyra artists, there’s a good chance you’ve been in the presence of an Amazing Giant. Founded in 2011 by Jessica Minshall, The Amazing Giants was born out of one woman’s love of stilt walking and her friends’ desire to learn the skill. Now a new challenge is looming for the group—a business expansion to Hawaii.

Working in the service industry, Minshall saw a need in Columbus for a different type of entertainment. She taught herself how to walk on stilts for a festival gig out of state. This new hobby intrigued a group of her friends, and they decided to learn, too. From there, The Amazing Giants were born. “My partner and I bought a lot of stilts and just taught people how to do it,” she said. “We all found each other.”

What began as a few friends learning a new skill and having fun together practicing it evolved into a booming business with 40 employees and contract workers, including magicians, face painters and more. They are hired for events to do everything from wearing full bodysuits covered in tiny mirrors and dancing to wearing and serving champagne from large metal skirts to dazzle a crowd.

“We have evolved with different equipment, too,” Minshall said. The Amazing Giants owns the only sway pole in the Midwest. It allows performers to create a large- scale spectacle with an extreme cirque-style pole acrobatic act without the need for a permanent installation. With hundreds of costumes, 20 pairs of stilts, and entertainment offerings of just about every circus art imaginable, The Amazing Giants truly seek to astound.

Having had great success in the Columbus market, Minshall decided to grow her business, and recently brought The Amazing Giants to Honolulu. “I had family out here that I would visit and realized they don’t have anyone doing what we do. There’s not really a group or team of stilt walkers working together,” she said. So Minshall bought six pairs of stilts, and hosts open gyms where interested performers can show off their skills and possibly train on stilts. “They don’t need to send me a resume, necessarily,” she said. “It’s about personality and talent.”

Importantly, Amazing Giants must have an abundance of confidence without an overabundance of ego. “I tell people we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. As an entertainer you have to get over your shyness and put yourself out there.” The ability to work as a collaborative team player is also key, she said. “Our team often works in tight quarters, and whether or not it is well-received, you have to put on the show as best you can.”

Although Minshall is keeping the headquarters in Columbus, now headed by Chief of Operations Olivia Ranier, she says she is excited about the expansion and her recent move to Honolulu. “It reminds me a lot of Columbus because it has that small-town, big-city feel with a similar {\(metropolitan area) population of around one million people,” Minshall said. And the environment is ripe for her type of business. “In Honolulu, we have events year-round; in Columbus our business slows down after New Year’s Eve,” she said. “There is also a lot more tourism and a convention center that brings in a ton of people.”

Although her business has expanded, don’t for a second go thinking that Minshall is going to forget where she comes from. “A lot of times people ask me where I am from and they say, ‘Wow, I’ve been hearing a lot about Ohio lately.’ I have nothing but good things to say about Columbus and what kind of platform it’s given me. It’s a massive city with a thriving arts and entertainment culture—and it’s extremely underrated. I will be Columbus-promoting forever.”

For more information visit theamazinggiants.com.

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Sports

Big Macs and Bowl Games: Enter McDonalds sweepstakes for college football getaway

614now Staff

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Now that Ohio State has secured its bid to play in the 2019 College Football Playoffs, every fan across Columbus is vying for tickets to the Bowl Game. Lucky for you, McDonald’s has the answer.

Today, McDonald’s launches their Buckeye Bowl Game Sweepstakes in partnership with Ohio State Athletics, where one lucky winner will win a trip for two to the 2019 Fiesta Bowl Game on Saturday, Dec. 28, including prime tickets to the game, transportation to and from, plus hotel and travel accommodations.

Fans can enter the Buckeye Bowl Game Sweepstakes by purchasing a Quarter Pounder or Quarter Pounder with cheese from any McDonald’s in the greater Columbus area, either in restaurants or through their favorite delivery service. With each order, customers will receive a golden ticket with entry details, leading them to the sweepstakes website.

And the best part is for every submission placed, McDonald’s Owner/Operators of Columbus will donate $1 to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, helping them meet their annual fundraising goal.

“For McDonald’s, and for those of us as local business owners, it’s about more than selling burgers. It’s about creating a lasting impact in our community,” said Mike Telich, Columbus McDonald’s Owner/Operator in a statement. “Supporting RMHC is more than just a donation, its ensuring families with ill or injured children get the emotional and physical support they need, as well an alternative to the financial burden of staying at a hotel and going out for meals."

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Community

Oh Snap! Local photo studio helping bring Columbus’ imagination to life

614now Staff

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SPONSORED

We can only count on our memories to preserve moments so much, and word of mouth can only get us so far. Sometimes, a message needs to be captured with a shutter and presented with an image.

At Zurïe Studio you can bring your imagination to life and preserve special moments in one beautiful place at a reasonable price. The space features a sun-soaked studio and clean aesthetic, allowing the subjects of your photos to command the screen without distraction.

The studio also offers paper backdrops, stools, and minimal props to amplify your project, mini session, or photo shoot. All outside props are welcome, too, with a loading dock to make setup a breeze.

Speaking of mini, (614) Kids Club has teamed up with Zurïe to offer a FREE Family Holiday Mini Photography Session! Join us December 7th from 10am-Noon at Zurïe to have your picture snapped by LA + Co Photography.

This event is open to the public (as long as you get your ticket in advance), but (614) Kids Club members will receive:

  • (614) Kids Club Members get to skip the line
  • Two digital prints of their minis – for FREE

Click here to learn more and reserve your spot!

Whether it's head shots for the office, new products you want to promote, a creative vision that keeps you up at night, or just trying to get one nice picture of your family acting like the love one another, Zurïe is passionate about the people of Columbus, and will work with you to create something beautiful and memorable.

Zurïe Studio is conveniently located at 3477 N High St. in Clintonville, directly behind the new Katalina’s. They are open 8am- 5pm every day by appointment. To learn more and book your rental, visit zurie.co.

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