Influential Women of Cincinnati 2022: Kelly Kolar-Eyman

Influential Women of Cincinnati 2022: Kelly Kolar-Eyman

We are so proud to introduce you to this year’s Influential Women of Cincinnati. These women are using their unique talents and abilities to make our region a better place. Whether it’s starting nonprofits, creating new communities, or feeding and caring for the less fortunate, these women are making a difference.


A. I was raised in Detroit and spent much of my childhood working with my father in his automotive manufacturing business. I fell in love with the creative side of the business. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Everything I am is because of my experience with DAAP. I met my husband there, and it is where the story of Kolar Design began.

I was working on my thesis for DAAP when I entered a competition for the City of Cincinnati to design the look of the Bicentennial Celebration. I won the competition and was hired as Design Director to implement my thesis. The Bicentennial Celebration included the first Tall Stacks: a music, arts and heritage festival that featured a gathering of riverboats on the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. Later, when I started Kolar Design, Tall Stacks was my first client. 


A. I like to think of the progression of Kolar Design in three chapters. The first chapter is the solo chapter. It was just me starting out and trying to grow the business. All my work was local then. I began working with Cincinnati Children’s to design healing spaces. We create a sense of calm in an otherwise busy place. Our goal at Kolar Design is to unleash the soul of the space. 

Chapter two is the growth chapter when we not only grew the size of the business, but expanded the depth of our knowledge and experience. The field of environmental graphic design was emerging, and our firm had the opportunity to bring meaning and vision into the design of physical spaces such as the local and global workplaces for P&G. 

Chapter Three is all about making our work more memorable and more measurable. We created the Kolar Experience Institute, a research and insights institute focused on exploring the intersection of people, process and place in pursuit of finding solutions that create a positive impact for our clients and communities. In recent months, we have been a part of Our Shop College Hill that is revitalizing this community by allowing entrepreneurs to have a chance at their first brick and mortar experience. Rent is free for the first six months, and coaching and mentoring are provided. We are surrounding entrepreneurs with a successful model to learn from. 


A. My passions can be defined in four pillars. The first is the arts. I believe in creating beauty in the world. The second is education. I believe in the value of ongoing education. I was a student at DAAP and have served as an adjunct professor as well. The third is entrepreneurship. I am very involved in Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, working with both local and global teams in mentoring and promoting entrepreneurship in women. The fourth is our parks and public spaces. I want to advocate for connectivity and breaking down barriers in cities. I believe these areas can help do that.

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