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The Interview: Jason Bradley-Krauss

Graphic Designer / Dad / Ambassador For Love Jason Bradley-Krauss has a love story to share. For twenty-three years he and WBNS Chief Meterologist Chris Bradley shared their lives as partners, then as adoptive parents, then as a married couple. They lived in near-perfect synchronicity until Chris became ill with leukemia, passing away earlier last [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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Graphic Designer / Dad / Ambassador For Love

Jason Bradley-Krauss has a love story to share. For twenty-three years he and WBNS Chief Meterologist Chris Bradley shared their lives as partners, then as adoptive parents, then as a married couple. They lived in near-perfect synchronicity until Chris became ill with leukemia, passing away earlier last month.

But from this partnership, Bradley-Krauss still carries two projects of love. The first is Spencer and Maria Bradley-Krauss, both adopted from Guatemala, who are the fulfillment of their dads’ lifelong desires to be parents. The second is Design with Heart Studio. Bradley-Krauss, a corporate graphic designer who announced his career ambitions in the third grade, was inspired to begin a paper goods company when he was unable to find a suitable announcement for his engagement to Chris. Design with Heart has now expanded to retailers across the country, as well as the UK, Australia, and Canada, announcing to the world that Love is indeed Love.

On falling for Chris Bradley: In 1995 I did the design work for Steppin’ Out AIDS Walk Detroit. And it was a run, rollerblade, walk event. And I chose to rollerblade. I knew who Chris was; I’d seen him on the news and thought he was incredibly handsome, but I turned around in the registration line in my rollerblades and he was standing right behind me. It caught me off guard and I literally slipped and fell. But I fought falling, so it was arms and legs all about me and I landed right on my bum. And he started laughing, and I thought, “That turkey.” But I still kind of thought, “Well, I’d still like to meet him.” And about two weeks later a friend of ours introduced us and we hit it off immediately.

On life together: Chris was very supportive of my career and my goals as I was his, and I really think we were on the same page with just about every life issue. That made parenting together easier. We talked a lot, you know. To know Chris is to know that he was a very chatty person. I remember when we first met, he called me at my office and we talked, and then about thirty minutes later he called me again, and was telling me, “I’m defrosting pork chops for dinner tonight and I’m going to go the the gym.” And he called me like two hours later, and I thought, “What’s happening?” But we remained that way. We talked throughout the day on a constant basis over the past twenty-three years.

On adoption and raising a family in Columbus: When we moved here in 1998, I was uncertain whether we would stay here in Columbus very long. And Chris was also in a business that moves people around quite a bit. But I used the opportunity to launch my design firm and establish creative roots here. Within a very short period of time Columbus felt like home. When Chris and I decided to adopt, we did not know another male couple who had gone through this process…. So in terms of arriving at parenthood, we really has to carve out and learn a lot about the adoption process, the international adoption process and then about raising kids. But we have found Columbus to be a very welcoming community and we feel really blessed to have raised our children here. Moving forward with adoption was God’s greatest gift to us. Those children are our life’s greatest blessing.

“We’ve made choices that not everyone has had the courage to make. But we didn’t make those choices to be cutting-edge. We made those choices because those were the choices that resonated with us.”

On living with integrity: When I look at Chris’ life, I see it in three segments. I see the way he lived his life, the way he fought his disease, and the way he died. And he was very consistent in each of those three categories. He wanted to live an authentic life. He led a spiritual life. He wanted to be a family man. When he was diagnosed with his illness, he wanted to make certain that something good would come out of that illness…. I remember distinctly a conversation that we had where he said, “The world seems so dark right now, but I want to shed light and make certain that something good comes out of this.” And I really think at that moment I could see cracks in the darkness and I could feel the light entering into our cancer journey. In dying, he showed such great faith. He showed such a sense of peace that he belonged to God and that God had a bigger picture for him. He knew where he was going. He was proud of what he had done. We were proud of the choices we had made as individuals and as a couple…. We’ve made choices that not everyone has had the courage to make. But we didn’t make those choices to be cutting-edge. We made those choices because those were the choices that resonated with us.

On grief: What I’m walking through now is what they call anticipatory grief. We knew in September that we had exhausted the treatments that were available. For me, doing everything I could to honor Chris’ wishes which were to come home and […] to be with his family, to spend as much time with his family as possible, and to die peacefully at home. And I was able to help facilitate that, and there’s a certain amount of peace that comes from that.

On Design with Heart: I set out to just design just a few cards I thought might be appropriate for male couples or female couples. And as I did that work, I thought, “I love this.” It taps into my love of typography, my love of graphic design, my love of illustration. But also, it allows me to put forth really positive messaging. And so I intended for the line to be simply based around marriage equality and LGBTQ lives. But then the message that came back to me is that love permeates all that’s good and hopeful. Love is present in all of life’s greatest celebratory moments: a new baby, new home, birthday, even thank you and thinking of you. And so I just had a little bit of time that opened up with my client work and I decided I would just give myself a week and see what I came up with. And at the end of the week I had forty-five designs done, and I had forty-five more that I wanted to get done. I just thought, “There’s something here.” I launched Design with Heart in May 2015 at the National Stationery Show in New York and it was a mad scramble to put together an entire product line, website, catalog, inventory, shipping procedures, but it was a passion project, and I derive great joy from it.… Immediately we took orders from museum stores and high-end boutiques around the country…. I think for me as a creative person the greatest thrill has been having the line picked up by the high-end museum stores because what else as a creative person was I ever going to design that would end up in a museum, right?

“But then the message that came back to me is that love permeates all that’s good and hopeful. Love is present in all of life’s greatest celebratory moments: a new baby, new home, birthday, even thank you and thinking of you.”

On the written word and love: It’s fun to know that the work that we’re doing is actually a touchpoint between people. We try to have our greeting cards start a conversation, as opposed to trying to be the conversation, so it is a connection point between two people…. It’s been really amazing also in Chris’ illness to see just how many people still take the time to understand that there is power in the written word. There is power in the connection of reaching out to someone with a written note. I hope we don’t lose that as a people. No one is ever going to take an email and print it out and save it, but I can tell you there are handwritten notes that were sent to Chris and to our family during this time that I will forever treasure.

Find out where you can buy Design with Heart stationery at designwithheart.com.

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News

Reduce, Reuse, Refill, Columbus!

Julian Foglietti

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Jamie Fairman and Adria Hall, Photo by Koko

While refillable container stores have been making waves on the coasts for a while, Columbus has largely remained out of the loop–until now. 

Koko, a sustainable living and refill shop, opening Friday, July 17, features home and self care products as well as a section for customers to fill up on essentials like laundry detergent and household cleaning products. 

Jamie Fairman and Adria Hall of the plant shop Forage, founded Koko as a way to allow better access to sustainable living and “remove the cloak of privilege” that often surrounds it. 

“Each person’s sustainability journey and efforts will look a little different, but we are here to help make it approachable and accessible to all,” said Fairman. 

The new store is located at 15 N. Westmoor Ave. in Westgate and was originally set to open on May 2 but moved the grand opening to July 17 in response to COVID-19.
The store will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with private shopping appointments available on Tuesdays. In addition to in-store shopping, Koko will offer online ordering through their website, as well as curbside pickup.

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Community

A Columbus icon has announced his retirement

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The man who has been synonymous with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for decades is stepping down after 42 years of service.

Since 1978, Jungle Jack Hanna has played a pivotal role in inspiring positive change in the local and global zoo communities. His work as a wildlife ambassador and conservationist has transformed the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium into one of the world’s best since he took on the job. Hanna will still be recognized as the zoo’s director emeritus, a title he’s held since 1992.

Hanna had this to say in a press release:

As I approach my mid-70s with more than four decades at the Columbus Zoo, I believe it is time to wind down and officially step back while CEO Tom Stalf and the Zoo’s great leadership team continue to guide the Zoo into the future. Together with many friends and partners, we’ve come a long way to make the world a better place for people and wildlife!

Jack Hanna

Hanna wore many other hats throughout his 42-year career. Those include television personality, author, and all-around pop culture icon. As he steps away from his professional role, Hanna says that he still plans to maintain a close relationship with the zoo as its “No. 1 fan.”

At 73-years old, Hanna is the father of three and grandfather of six. His retirement will be made official on Dec. 31.

The Zoo will host special events dedicated to Hanna through the remainder of the year. Those include:

  • Jack Hanna Weekend – Oct. 3 and 4
  • Jack Hanna’s Home for the Holidays – Dec. 12

The Zoo reopens to the public on Monday.

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Coronavirus

Penzone shares: what to expect with salons

Julian Foglietti

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With the closing of Hair Salons on March 18th, buzz cuts and bowl cuts have made an appearance on the heads of Ohioans, young and old. Luckily for those desperate for a do, Dewine has announced that hair salons may begin to reopen on May 15th. To guide us through the transition, I spoke with Debbie Penzone, President and CEO of Penzone Salons, about serving on the Governor's salon advisory board, dealing with the business effect of the virus, and what we can expect from hair salons moving forward. 

I understand that you served as the chair of the Governor's committee board regarding reopening salons. What did you do in that role? 

On the committee, my role was pulling from my experience as a cosmetologist and business owner to assemble a group of individuals that represent our business in Ohio. We had everyone from 10 person salons to one person barbershops. braiding salons and nail salons, to schools and three health commissioners. From there, the job was building an agenda and listening to members while consulting health professionals on how to expand upon existing sanitation guidelines.  The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology has been enforcing for years. Beyond that, it was a lot of keeping time, guiding the conversations, gathering information and reporting it.  We also wanted to build plans if something did happen in a salon, and make sure that everyone could abide by these practices so we can remain safe and open.

In what ways has the virus caused you to rethink the way salons will function moving forward?

One of the things we did was go through a COVID specific certification process with Barbicide, which produces a lot of the sanitation products already used in salons and barber shops. A lot of people don’t realize that in the Ohio Administrative Code, there are very specific sanitation guidelines that you have to follow when you get your license, and there is a major component of constantly learning new sanitation practices all the time. The main difference you’ll see is us taking that sanitation to the next level: social distancing between booths, or barriers put in place, as well as reduced capacities in many salons. There will be more emphasis on reducing contact points and sanitizing things like doorknobs and counters as well. The biggest change will be the way we interact with our clients. We're a very emotional industry. We’re huggers, and we’re very close with the people we work with. Our clients are like family to us, so having to distance ourselves and not engage in that way will be different. 

What has been the greatest challenge to overcome over the past months? 

It’s really been adapting to the constant change we're all facing. We might spend all this energy sharing with our team new knowledge, but the next week it will change again. It’s been difficult to coordinate and continue to train everyone and update them with the new practices, as well as provide support for them while we're all distanced from each other. We're all scared right now, and it’s important to not lose our community so we can give each other confidence in the direction we’re heading in.

What have you witnessed over the past few months that gave you hope?

The biggest hope for me was serving on this committee. I’ve always felt so strong about our industry, so bringing so many people together and supporting one another during this difficult time. This whole thing has really brought us together as an industry, and shown that we can work together to support each other and raise each other up. There's enough clients for everybody, and it’s beautiful to see the incredible diversity of salons and see us all coming together to work with one another.

Are you worried about customers returning?

We’ve opened our booking today, but were not opening on the 15th, because we want to have a few days to go over the new procedures with our teams before we start to bring clients in. Every salon will only be operating at 50% capacity, and then we’re extending the hours to make sure everyone has the same hours they used to, and some of them are already booked out to July.

What would you say to ease the concerns of customers?

Really that we’re regulated by the state board and have so many sanitation practices in place. We have printouts posted showing the guidelines for clients that come to the stores, and for those who are high-risk, we are opening up early so they can be the first people to come in right after the salon is sanitized. What's important to remember about salons is that the regulators randomly check our spaces to make sure we're complying, and as we build on regulations, these checks are going to be taken to the next level. 

As a hairstylist, do you see any hairstyle trends emerging from this?

I definitely think there's gonna be a boom for bobs and pixie cuts, ‘cause people are just done. Maybe some bold colors, because everyone just wants to come out and say, “I’m back, baby.” Maybe just a little more attitude with the cuts people are getting.



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