Store-ies 07: Moop

 

A visual archive of Pittsburgh retailers & their stories. 

 
 
 
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WENDY DOWNS

Owner + Designer, MOOP

Photography by Rose Colored Creative

 

What’s the story behind your career, the journey that has led you to where you are today with Moop?

I started Moop shortly after finishing grad school.  My background is in art/photography. I had no experience designing or producing soft goods, but my background as an artist had given me the tools to figure out many things. I started rather organically, taught myself to sew, how to manufacture, how to grow a business from nothing into something that now employs a handful of fantastic humans. We’re about to celebrate 12 years! And, we’re excited about all the future years on the way!

Benefits and challenges of having a store in Pgh?

We are an e-commerce retailer, our customer base is all over the world.  Our walk-in retail manufacturing space in downtown Pittsburgh gives us an opportunity to meet our local audience, work in a beautiful space, and experiment with a retail store that focuses on small batch design, apothecary products, and home goods. It’s constantly rotating and has been a fun outlet for me to support other people whose work I love and products I believe in.

 

Our walk-in retail manufacturing space in downtown Pittsburgh gives us an opportunity to meet our local audience, work in a beautiful space, and experiment with a retail store that focuses on small batch design, apothecary products, and home goods.

 
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What is one fashion word that you wish people would stop using?

I’m not sure if it’s a fashion word or not but, I would love to see people stop using words like “adulting” - it gives credit to being lazy and not embracing that you have to grow up, find some ambition, discover your talents and make a life plan for yourself.  You can’t always live in the safe cocoon of what your parents achieved.  I was a young teenage single mom and my daughter is now grown and off in the world.  If she used that word around me, I would feel like she was ungrateful for everything I went through to raise her.  I worked hard to live in lousy apartments in good school districts to provide as much education as I could, as many resources and experiences as I could afford, while also raising myself, balancing working multiple jobs, being a full time student, earning scholarships to help pay for graduate school to further my education, an experience that would ultimately put me into the position to build the thing that would become my entire livelihood and provide more opportunity for both of us. It would make me feel like I failed her as a parent.  There are so many people around us who help to usher us into adulthood and when you resist it in such a way that appears on the surface to just be a clever use of language, it actually just shows your unwillingness to do something with yourself and reads more like a slight to everyone who gave a shit about you.  So, stop trying to be cute and just get to work. 

(Haha! #momadvice …I feel old.)

 
 
 
 

What's your biggest regret? 

Not getting ramen for lunch last week. Seriously! Those small things that seem like they are an indulgence, or would take too much time out of your day, those small acts are tiny little presents when your days are booked solid and you have no real time to think about what you need to do for yourself.  So, stop and get a good lunch. It will make all your regrets vanish and make you better able to balance everything you need to accomplish.

What's your next big step for the brand?

We are always working on giant leaps as well as tiny steps.  Currently, we are working on expanding our manufacturing capabilities.

Leather or lace?

I love high-quality leather goods. I can’t see myself with anything lace in my life. Though, I did once encounter a leather jacket that had a lace pattern laser cut into it that was pretty rad.

Velvet or fur?

ouf. neither. Canvas all the way!

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If you could make a documentary what would it be about? 

The history of my sewing machine mechanic. He’s in his 70’s and started working with machines while working at a sock factory in Croatia. Every time he visits for a repair I get another story of his life as a sewing machine mechanic. He has worked on a lot of machines, in a lot of places, from Levenworth prison to Ralph Lauren factories. 

Which fashion designer or muse (dead or alive) would you love to collaborate with?

Coco Chanel.  She was also largely self-taught (then sought formal training), pushed the boundaries of gender with clothing in a period of time where the hurdles were much larger than they are now. As well, her intense attention to detail.  These are things I try to employ in my own creative practice.  While our product could never be confused for a Chanel product, I am completely inspired by someone who set out against a lot of social hurdles to achieve greatness. I have a huge appreciation for those who have had to work hard to make a name for themselves, the accomplishment is just so much more impressive.

 
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Elysia Newman