November 14, 2016

"Hello, My Name is ______."

Attendees: Elizabeth Craig (Elizabeth Craig Photography), Matthew Desantis (Arts & Exotics), Lisa Slesinger (Larrimors), Kate Colussey (Highway Robbery Vintage), Terra Mcbride, Eilleen French (Revival Marketing Company), Galen Privett (Royal Pittsburgh),  Angelea Kuruc,  Lindsey Silver, Anastastia Lanz, Aire Plichta-Reese (PR Modcloth), Victoria Lopez (The Edie Company),  Elysia Purnell (Style412 Organizer & Moderator).


Overview of Style412 and previous discussions:

  • The series began as a dinner to celebrate Pittsburgh's Bicentennial through "200 Dinners." This conversation confirmed interest in moving forward with a series to audit the Pittsburgh fashion industry
  • Discussion Two, called "The Good, Bad and Ugly" established opportunities and identified lack of resources.
  • Discussion Three addressed the topic of "Quality" discovering that the lack of resources manifests itself most often in low quality events.
  • Discussion Four identified the ideal "Blue Skies" industry, overlooking existing factors and zeroing in on specific initiatives.
  • Discussion Five (today), we are moving from evaluating the external landscape to internal vision and objectives-- thinking about the story we want to tell for Style412 and develop a mission. 


We took some time at the beginning to introduce ourselves and discussion how each person views the existing discussion series...


Based on your exposure thus far, what do you think Style412 is?

Matt: Audit of the Pittsburgh Style Industry - an opportunity to help everyone with their craft.

Galen: An opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.

Kate: Style412 provides assistance to help everyone by connecting individuals.

Angalea: An organization that is working to change the fashion industry in Pittsburgh.

Anastasia: A way to identify what is going on in fashion within the city of Pittsburgh.


What qualities should our industry have?

On approachability:

Lisa: People are excited about restaurants because they feel attached to the greater community and part of a culture. 

Terra: Everyone eats, but not everyone gets style. We have a responsibility to make our industry more approachable and inclusive. 

Victoria: People that are interested in food, why is the restaurant industry happening and fashion is not?

Eileen: Consumers don't see it. It's about reach, outreach of knowledge. 


Thinking about our purpose and mission.....

(handouts of examples of mission statements of other style associations)

Terra: WHO do we want to be and WHAT is our purpose?

Eileen: Look at East Liberty. Shadow Lounge paved the way for culture. It is evidence that if you invest locally it's great. If you bring people together it's a good place to start. 

Terra: What can we do to support small business?

Kate: People spend money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We can't do 75% off, so these people don't really understand Small Business Saturday.

Lisa: Less small business Saturday and more Shop Local year-round. Nordstrom $$ is not staying local. It's going to support corporate jobs elsewhere. 

Less Small Business Saturday and more Shop Local, year-round.

Kate: Have reward programs. 

Victoria: It's about the education level of the consumer. 

Elizabeth: I like to shop local, knowing that I am helping my community. 

Kate: Maybe there is a way to unite neighborhoods through a common passion for fashion and shopping. Make a day of it, go to brunch, go window shopping. 

Terra: What if we mapped out a day in South Side, brunch, shopping, etc?


(Discussion about recommending shopping  destinations throughout the city and promotional events.)


Victoria: Boutique owners, do you find style has evolved in our city?

Kate: Yes, I believe it has to do with supply & demand, especially as it pertains to vintage clothing. 

Elysia: large companies in a mall have an advantage because of the convenience factor I think. Is there a way to combat this or make small boutiques more approachable?

Matt: I think there needs to be a more concentrated area that people can go to shop. 

Kate: Rent in the mall is comparable to small sections, like South Side. 

Lisa: Walnut St used to be like this. All family owned business. Now it's mostly mass, corporate retailers. 

Elizabeth: I'd rather find more places i'd spend more. I go on tours of other cities and experience their coffee shops, breweries, stores, etc.

Lisa: If Style412 is a resource, it's going to be about helping the whole independent movement. 

Elysia: Agreed. We need to be inclusive, yet have values. How do we accomplish both?

Eileen: Having core values and standards. We (Revive Marketing Co) don't take on a client that doesn't align with us. 


What does this look like then? Are we a Chamber of Commerce, Fashion Committee, Counsel...?

Eileen: I think a counsel is where we're headed. 

I think a counsel is where we’re headed.

Elysia: As a cousel what would our greater purpose be?

Are: to be the central source for fashion events and resources.

Kate: Elevating local talent. Currently, Pittsburgh-born talent think they have to go to NYC to get the support and resources in fashion. 

Victoria: People leave Pittsburgh because there is a larger infrastructure for the fashion industry in NYC. They think there is less risk to fail in a more competitive city than stay in one with no opportunity.

Eileen: Besides fashion bloggers there is ONE real fashion writer in this town, Sara Bauknecht of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This is not a bad thing, this is a great market opportunity. We can talk to press, creat more resources...We are our own town, our own press machine. 

Elysia: Yes, we need more of "Seen" and Keep Pittsburgh Dope. We'll never have everyone agree on style or taste, but these are examples of a lifestyle that we live. We should focus more on this as a cousel. 

Eileens: Counsel would nominate one person, business, etc. We could meet once a month to evaluate and make decisions on style as a group. 

Elysia: There was / is a group doing something similar in Pittsburgh, called Fashion Group International......

Terra: FGI definitely was not the answer. The FGI model was global and not tailored to the needs of the Pittsburgh market. 


How do we evaluate core values and standards, with style and taste being so objective?

Terra: We need to be careful. People get confused that style & taste are the same. Style is a defined direction. Taste is personal. 

Matt: Research what is happening in other cities.

Eileens: We could study other counsels, find a common ground, build on ideas that we like.

Elysia: I like an idea that Demeatria Boccella had at the kickoff dinner about "Emerging" designers and building a support system to help those who don't yet meet the standards. Rather than closing the door, keeping it open to resources and further opportunity.

Eileen: Also, testimonials and referrals mean the world to people in PGH. We live in a small city so never underestimate the powerful Rule of 3. Regarding standards, I believe we need to take PGH rule of thumb and turn it on its side. 


all photography courtesy of Sarah Collins