December 12, 2016

"Style Directory"

Attendees: Aire Plichta-Reese (@sparkleeveryday), Victoria Lopez (@ediecompany), Brittney Theiroff (@jezebel_gitterdun), Suzanne Mauro (@suzz44), Elisa Llera (@elisa_lliera), Adam Kenney (@monmadepgh), Rachel Carlson (@msrachburgh), Lindsay Silver, Christine Lemar (@iheartdesign), Elysia Purnell (@elysiapandapgh).


In an earlier discussion about “Blue Skies,” or how style community members envisioned a more ideal industry, attendees brainstormed initiatives that they’d like to see implemented in the short and long term.

Post discussion, these consolidated ideas were shared via public survey to include the greater Pittsburgh community in determining which ideas would be discussed further in later monthly topics.

The first of three ideas, chosen by greatest interest, was Building a Style Directory.

*While Style412 may or may not pursue this as a future initiative, the purpose of this and all discussions are to audit the ongoing style-related activities, and framing the possible implementation within the city of Pittsburgh. We welcome those currently considering the implementation of a Style Directory to leverage these community insights.  


Were a Style Directory to be pursued, what would the greater purpose be?

Brittney: I would like to rely on it as a resource of quality collaborators. Starting internally, with the industry through reputation and referral. I'm looking for reliable people to create with. The more we grow internally, the more externally will happen. 

Suzanne: Style Directories can mean so many different things. People or even stories. Retailers, even a directory for local boutiques. 

Brittney: I feel like there are some, but nothing that fits our specific industry needs quite yet. 

Rachel: I'm always amazed by new business and sometimes overwhelmed by who to support.

Brittney: We have to differentiate. 

Elisa: B2B instead of B2C. We have our phones. If we were thinking lifestyle, can we make it more business minded? 

Brittney: I always use Trip Advisor. I always want other people's recommendations and input. 

Elysia: We've discussed leveraging style to help build a lifestyle here in Pittsburgh, but do we want a lifestyle directory? The focus would be different. 

Brittney: People are looking for talented creators to collaborate with but no primary or "ultimate" directory to refer to. 



For instance........

Adam: Monmade ( would not be a replacement for what you're seeking. It's for "makers" which are a broader category that could include fashion. Don't you think? Where does furniture, etc. come from for this building boom. Help business do what they do best. When meeting with a realtor this becomes an evolving lookbook for these people. 

Suzanne: How is it divided?

Adam: Broken down into home goods. Tells us how they are helping a lifestyle. 

Elysia: It seems like Monmade is selective -- would we keep this Style Directory open to everyone?

Elisa: I like how restaurants are graded in NYC. Could we have something like this? Do we help people that don't receive an "A?"

Brittney: We could still include them, but help them. Know where they want to go. Fashion is subjective, so how do we measure?

Fashion is subjective, so how do we measure?

Elisa: Until we figure out who we're serving, can we answer that? It would depend on who is coming to the site.

Rachel: weeding out the noise. Well curated, but inclusive. I was just planning an event looking for makers, but not all that came back was quality.

Victoria: If we are too inclusive we're doing a disservice to the companies. We have to be able to define, atleast our perspective, of quality. 

Brittney: We can pick and choose what we blast out. Would love a recent grad list. TFP list. Help each build each other's portfolios. 

Rachel: Could do a google doc. Let people weed themselves through a series of questions on a form. 

Brittney: We have to do something to help them make the effort. 

Suzanne: Design students have websites or portfolios. You should have to be able to show people what you've done. 

Victoria: Yes, agreed. When hiring for interns I am looking for some level of work. 

Brittney: If you saw you had talent, but just had Instagram and no protfolio, should we show them the opportunity that they could have. 

Elisa: Who is to judge quality? We could have guidelines to measure against. Have to hit 5 marks. If you fall short, here is how you are the clear guidelines, etc. 

Rachel: If you have a legit list people will come to trust it!

Adam: You should set expectations. Everyone we're launching with is hand picked. This helps to shape expectations. 

Elysia: Photography, and content for example. Shouldn't it be at a certain level?

Brittney: This comes down to branding. There has to be a concession. You can generally tell right away. 

Elisa: A standard should be set at the launch. But I think criteria is also important. 

Elysia: I like the idea of hand picked. Where do we start with that? Online application, scouting?

Rachel: With you resources as a group, counsel, whatever, you could come up with them. 



How would the Style Directory be organized?

Rachel: Broken down by talent? Neighborhoods could make sense. 

Elysia: I think it could be both. 

Brittney: I think creatives travel. I think people won't care about neighborhoods.

Elisa: Are we looking to collaborate? Do neighborhoods make a difference?

Aire: One nice point of breaking down by neighborhoods could be if you do want to collaborate with someone in the North Hills (for example), and want to shoot in the North Hills. They might have connections in each are that you would not. 

Rachel: You can breakdown to lots of categories.

Elysia: Something to explore more later.

Elisa: Would be helpful if people could have tags. Let people self identify. We could categorize, they could identify what multi-purpose each serves.

Elysia: Searchable through tags or categories?

Victoria: I'm wondering if we should break the SD into industry vs. consumers?

Elisa: We don't need to make everything live. 

Rachel: Regardless, we would want to make the design clean, no overwhelming. 

Elysia: Agreed, I love the idea that the Pgh tech council is pursuing with their directory, just not the look. 

Victoria: We would need to make it exceptional. 

Brittney: What do we start with?

Rachel: Do you want it for consumers? Is it B2B or B2C?

Elisa: Start with like-minded people.

Brittney: People will see what is initially curated and weed themselves out if it doesn't apply or they don't like. 

Elysia: Is having a directory for both consumers and industry realistic? I think we should start with targeting the industry-insiders, providing them the resources they need to grow. I think it will build from there....maybe someday that can include the interests of the outward facing consumer as well. 


What is the business model / sustainability of this project?

Rachel: Yelp is sustained by ads on our site. Could look into sponsored content. You could have featured businesses / vendors. 

Elysia: Would this be a potential conflict of interest with the idea of curation and presenting "only the best."

Rachel: We clearly mark it as an ad.

Brittney: Ads can be ignored.

Elysia: One time sponsorship or ads?

Lots of people: Both for sure. 

Elisa: Ads could be done in an authentic way. 

Victoria: Featured content people aren't always the best people or ready for the coverage. I am slightly turned off by that. 


How much might something like this cost to build?

Rachel: Find someone that builds for free?

Elysia: How long did something like On the Grid ( take to build? I think this project would be comparable.

Lindsey: Definitely 100 -200 hours

Elysia: How much more complicated would it be to have a consumer-centric and industry-centric directory?

Lindsey: It wouldn't be too much of a difference and we could definitely do both.

Rachel: Raising money could help to pump people up! 

Christine: People might be willing to pay a subscription in exchange for these resources. 

Elysia: The industry is still so fragile and early growth, that if we were going to charge someone, I would rather members of Style412 invest or crowdfund from people who want this. 

Rachel: You'll definitely get more people interested in free.

Elisa: If we could prove ROI once we have metrics it will be easy. 

Victoria: Crowdfunding might also be a good way to go. 

Adam: I'm unclear on the overall connection with Style412 and the Style Directory. Would it be for small business development?

Brittney: It would help put Pittsburgh on the map for fashion.

Elysia: The directory would act as sort of the whirlpool that brings everything together. Along with other initiatives that Style412 may pursue, it would be a platform to support and connect the current industry. 


all photography courtesy of Sarah Collins