Chic Spotlight: Share Some Sugar's Keara Schwartz

Chic Spotlight: Share Some Sugar's Keara Schwartz
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, and one local woman is helping you answer Mr. Rogers' questions: Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

Cincy Chic: You founded Share Some Sugar, which is a pretty sweet idea. Can you tell Cincy Chic readers a little more about the story behind your creation?


Keara Schwartz, founder of Share Some Sugar: Four years ago I moved from a small apartment in Manhattan to a starter home in Cincinnati. When I moved into my house, I needed a lot of house stuff, like power tools, gardening tools and lots of other items that would help me take care of my house. I got to know a few of my neighbors, who were all really friendly and offered to let me borrow anything that I needed. I was so appreciative of their offers since it saved me money and time going to the hardware store.


Every once in a while there was something random like a tall ladder that I needed and no one that I knew had it. The idea of spending $100 dollars on something that I would probably only use once or twice made my stomach turn. I thought to myself, "There must be someone in my neighborhood who has a ladder," but I didn’t know who that was. …


As I was going from house to house, I realized a few things. First, I was meeting all of these new neighbors that I hadn't previously met. Borrowing things was actually a great way to meet new neighbors! Second, wow, why is it so difficult to find out who has what in my neighborhood? There has to be a simpler way to go about this. I can go online and search to buy a ladder and get over 120,000 results, yet I can't find someone in my own neighborhood who has one.



Two and a half years later I needed that ladder again, but I found out that Greg had moved. At the same time, the economy was in a downturn and people's spending habits were changing. Out were the days of buying something that sat in your closet collecting dust, and in were the days of only really buying what you needed to get by. The Green Movement was becoming more widely adopted. Bringing your own reusable grocery bags to the store was not only for the eco-conscious college student, but soccer moms were following suit. People were downsizing their homes and staying in to watch a movie rather than taking the family out to dinner and to the movie theatre. Most people were a part of online communities such as Facebook or LinkedIn, but did not feel like they had a sense of community in their own neighborhood. All of these societal shifts prompted me to think about the insight that I had a few years back, "Wow, it's really hard to find someone in your neighborhood who has something that you need. There's got to be a solution to this problem." And so I created Share Some Sugar, an online service that finds someone in your neighborhood who is willing to lend you something that you need.


Cincy Chic: Obviously, sharing is a neighborly thing to do, but how does it work exactly?


Schwartz: Let's say you want to borrow "Guitar Hero" for a part that you are having? Go to and type in the item along with your ZIP code. A list appears of all of your neighbors who are willing to lend their "Guitar Hero." The results are mapped out by proximity to your ZIP code. You can click on the items to find out details, view your neighbors' sharing history/feedback and then request to borrow the item for the dates that you need it. Once your neighbor accepts the request, you meet your neighbor to borrow the item, use it, and return it to them.


The security deposit feature and contract are there to make you feel more secure in your transaction. Similar to eBay, you can leave feedback for your neighbor. This feedback system enables other neighbors to find out more about other neighbors' sharing history prior to initiating a request with them.


When you become a member, you can either join an existing neighborhood or create a new one. The neighborhood discussion groups enable you to connect with your neighbors online. You can plan block parties, give away an old bike that your child out grew, get a recommendation for a babysitter or anything else.


Cincy Chic: What are the basic rules and restrictions for sharing?


Schwartz: Well, we all learned in kindergarten that "sharing means caring." So we encourage our members to care for the items that they borrow like they would care for their possessions. It is the borrower's obligation to return the item to the owner in the same condition that they first received it in as well as to return it on time. A borrower can request an extension for an item if they need one.


Among the items that are in our "prohibited items list," we restrict our members from sharing things like weapons, firearms and knives. As of today, there are already over 900 items posted. People are sharing everything from a carpet steamer … to a GPS. It's silly to buy a GPS if you typically drive around a familiar area. But what about that road trip that you take every once in a while? It would be nice to feel like you won't get lost with a GPS that you borrowed for the weekend.


Cincy Chic: This is for our Recessionista issue, so how does Share Some Sugar cater to chic women on a budget?


Schwartz: Chic women are smart, sophisticated and conscious. We are smart with how we spend our money. We'd rather spend our money on stuff that we get use out of, like that perfect everyday purse, than stuff that just sits in our closet collecting dust. We understand that it doesn't make sense to buy certain items that will get used infrequently, especially when you can borrow it from a neighbor instead. Share Some Sugar doesn't charge you for the service either!


For example, one of the items that I have already borrowed is a carpet cleaner. I would never go out and buy one because I would use it so infrequently. But at the same time, I wanted to clean my carpet and didn't want to pay someone to do something that I could do myself. So I borrowed a steam cleaner from a neighbor and saved myself from buying one for at least $150. Now that's smart savings! There is a savings calculator on your member profile page that shows you how much money you saved yourself and your neighbors by borrowing instead of buying.


Cincy Chic: Besides the money-saving perks, what are some advantages for sharers?


Schwartz: Share Some Sugar aims to build community through sharing. Before we launched our Web site, we talked to a lot of people both in and out of Cincinnati about neighborhoods, consumption and different things that were related to Share Some Sugar. Over 70 percent of the people that we talked to told us that they don't feel like their neighborhood feels like a community. For people who don't go to neighborhood council meetings, don't have block parties to attend and don't have a dog or child to walk they feel that it's hard to meet new neighbors and feel a part of their neighborhood. They all agreed that when they know neighbors and feel a sense of community, they also feel safer and enjoy living in their neighborhood more.


Share Some Sugar helps neighbors meet each other when they meet to share items. We leverage an online community platform to build real-world relationships.


There is also a strong environmental benefit to borrowing an item rather than buying. For each item that you choose to borrow instead of buy, you lower your environmental footprint by consuming less. Bartering is a good environmental choice as well. However, we don't always want to give our items away. There are plenty of things that we own that we do need to use and want to keep, but when they are collecting dust and are not being used, we are happy to share them with our neighbors.


Cincy Chic: When you're not sharing your sugar, what do you like to do for fun?


Schwartz: I spend my free time running in Hyde Park with my dog, cycling with friends, kayaking when it’s warm, and skiing when it's snowing and cold! I also love to do crafty things like knit and redesign products that I use that I think could be improved upon. Over the past several months I have been spending most of my free time on Share Some Sugar, so I try to check out different cafes around town to change the scenery! I must say I'm a big fan of Green Dog Café. They have such yummy food and great locally roasted coffee.


Cincy Chic: What do you love most about Cincinnati?


Schwartz: Cincinnati has a great sense of community. People are very connected to their neighborhoods and other community organizations. I have been attending neighborhood council meetings all over the city to connect to other neighborhoods, and everyone is always so welcoming! I moved here from New York City four years ago, and I must say that Cincinnatians get major points for being friendly! I have met some amazing people in the time that I have lived here. There are so many active, bright and ambitious people that make living here really great!



Photographer: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Model: Keara Schwartz
Location: The McAlpin

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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