Store-ies 10: Annex
A visual archive of Pittsburgh retailers & their stories.
What’s the story behind your career, the journey that has led you to where you are today with Annex PGH?
Lauren and I are both have careers in the food industry. Lauren is a currently a food broker, representing fresh produce manufacturers, and I am currently in food research and development; specializing on the food safety end of the spectrum. We both have a love for shopping small, and independent brands/companies. I grew up shopping at small lifestyle stores in the South Side, like Head Board shop and Revolutions; both stores that catered to a certain lifestyle and had clothing and goods you couldn’t find in a large box store, or the mall. Through our travels around other cities, big and small, we grew more and more interested in small lifestyle clothing and home goods shops. The vibe, simplicity, and exclusivity of the shops really made an impact on us. We started to question, what would it take to open our own shop, in our own city, with brands that we believe in? And here we are, about 4 years after the idea popped in our head.
What's your next big step for the brand?
We really want to focus on designing our own items. We don’t really know what that looks like as of right now, considering we have only been open for a year, but we have learned so much about this business in that short time. Letting our creative juices flow into making/designing our own products would give us great satisfaction and hopefully open more doors.
What is one fashion word that you wish people would stop using?
I am not sure if this is used outside of Pittsburgh, but “game day casual” needs to go away. For those who may not know what that is, it is basically wearing PGH sports gear on any given day. We both grew up around Pittsburgh, and we are just as big a fan of PGH sports as the next Pittsburgher, but there are other things to wear daily than Steelers, Pens, and Pirates hoodies and tees! Let’s save that all for game day.
Benefits and challenges of having a store in Pgh?
A huge benefit of having a store like Annex in PGH; it is essentially a blank slate. We felt that PGH was a bit behind in many aspects. Obviously there have been many people taking chances years before we came around, with new restaurant concepts and boutique stores, but the city is very under saturated and we are now a city that is starting to offer many different options to many different demographics. We are very happy to be part of the many other great boutique shops the city has to offer.
A huge challenge of having a store like Annex in PGH is exposure. We greatly overestimate social media, and think the entire city will see whatever we post. We are trying to figure out ways in which we can get our name out, with advertising and other channels. We are always excited to see customers come into Annex and mention they have been meaning to check us out…it makes us feel like we are doing something right! It also really makes us happy for the North Side, which is an amazing part of the city.
What's your biggest regret?
Very cliché answer, but I really cannot think of a better one. We really wish we did this earlier. We were too caught up in the “right time” aspect of opening up. Although capital and other resources were not fully there, we really could have gotten a head start and been a bit further than we are now. Either way, the only thing that matters is that we did it.
Leather or lace?
I am a big fan of cars and motorcycles, and moto lifestyle, so naturally I would have to go with leather. I am sure Lauren would have a different opinion.
Which fashion designer or muse (dead or alive) would you love to collaborate with?
David Beckham is definitely a fashion muse for me. Being a soccer fan, and a fan of stylish threads, I think he is the epitome of a gentleman, and his style is always on point. It is extremely effortless, and seems to come natural. He is able to dress it up and dress it down, in the best way possible. There are no frills or fads with him, and that is what Annex is based on.
If you were gifted $10,000 with no strings attached, how would you use it for the shop?
Well, full disclosure; a space heater is used in the shop for winter, and a portable A/C unit is used during the summer. The entire rest of the building has central heat and air, except for the retail space! So that 10K would come in handy in changing that.
If you could make a documentary what would it be about?
I would love to make a documentary on what running a business with your partner looks like. It would be part horror, part comedy, and a lot of parts drama. I think it would be a roller coaster of emotions for viewers, and maybe even sway prospective business owners one way or the other! There are obviously very big challenges, but it has definitely given us thicker skin, in a very positive way.