Store-ies 02: Steel City
A visual archive of Pittsburgh retailers & their stories.
What's the story behind Steel City?
The Steel City brand started because I believed that Pittsburgh deserved a clothing brand to tell its story. Pittsburgh is so full of rich history and we felt there was tremendous potential to make clothes inspired by its stories.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Fred Rogers. Hands down. It was a dream come true to be able to work with the Fred Rogers Company and design clothes around his show. I grew up watching him and he was so compelling and warm that I believed he was my friend. I know that so many other people love Mister Rogers as much as we do and it’s surreal that I get to design his official merchandise.
What do you see for the future of your company?
We don’t really think about the future that much. We’re just having fun right now. Our downtown store is always busy with people coming into the city and we just moved our Headquarters to Oakland. So this year has been great. Maybe we’ll open a second store. Who knows!
What is your most prized clothing item?
My Troy Polamalu jersey. I don’t wear it, it’s framed and in our store. We get asked often if it is for sale. Of course, the answer is no.
What have you learned from having a business? What mistakes have you made?
I’ve learned that the fun sells. We’ve been in business since 2011 and I can tell you for certain that people are always looking for a great experience. So I've learned that running a successful brand isn't just about making cool clothes, it's about atmosphere, energy and customer service. Sure, I've made a ton of mistakes, especially just starting out. A lot of my mistakes came early on when a was a new entrepreneur. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was trying my best to figure out how to make clothes, advertise, hire, etc. But if growing up in Pittsburgh has taught me anything; with enough effort, focus, and determination, you can overcome and make it. And, reading a LOT of books helped.
Benefits and challenges to having a store in Pittsburgh?
A huge benefit of having a store in Pittsburgh is that our customers are so die hard. When we say we “bleed black and gold” we are not being dramatic. Pittsburgh has the most loyal people you’ll ever meet. So there is always great energy in the city. Especially having a store next to the stadiums, everyone is always having a good time and excited to see their team play.
The only downside is it gets super cold in the winter. The wind downtown is no joke. Luckily we sell really thick hoodies.