It’s been awhile since I profiled a local business and with Small Business Saturday this weekend, it’s the perfect time to get back into it! I couldn’t be more happy to introduce you to Kristi Moss of Kristi Boutique in Aspinwall. I had heard people talking about Kristi’s, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I actually got to meet Kristi and visit her gorgeous shop. In her own words, Kristi describes the style as a "little bit edgy, a little bit rustic refined, a little bit bohemian, with a touch of buttoned-up prep for good measure” and I would have to agree. I would definitely say that the boutique is distinctive in both it’s feel and design. The store used to be a bank and some of the old features such as the large bank vault door have been kept in place! It’s not cookie cutter, it’s not copy-cat, it is wonderfully unique and all it’s own - and I love that about it, Kristi hasn’t been afraid to create a space that is like nothing else out there. Like the boutique, she is extremely warm and inviting and is all about supporting the local community. Kristi Boutique was actually the site of our second Style Social which we hosted back on November 18th. She enthusiastically opened her store to a group of fashion-obsessed bloggers and we went to town snapping photos and admiring the beautiful merchandise. I am so pleased to introduce you to this wonderful team! Read on for more about Kristi Boutique and be sure to pay them a visit on Small Business Saturday! Plus, be sure to stop back tomorrow after you've had your turkey - I'll be posting six awesome gift ideas you can find exclusively at Kristi Boutique!
Be sure to follow Kristi Boutique on Instagram for daily merchandise updates - @kristiboutique15215
1. What motivated you to want to open your own boutique?
For as long as I can remember, I have kind of always gone down my own path. So, I think opening my own place was just something that was organically bound to happen at some point; I just never dreamed it would be at 25. I have always loved fashion, business, and people. This allows me to have all of that.
2. There are a lot of great shops and boutiques popping up in and around Pittsburgh. What do you think sets Kristi Boutique apart from the competition?
Isn’t it amazing! I am so proud of all of us. What is happening here is crazy beautiful and I am thrilled to be part of this cultural re-birth of Pittsburgh. I think it’s apparent when you approach KB for the first time, you sense something is different. You feel a vibe that is maybe a little Cali, a little New York, but original at the same time. We have worked so hard to create a physical space that matches the emotional experience you will have here. The space is large, but intimate, with a meticulously curated collection of merchandise from some of the most coveted brands in the world. We treat our clients like friends, as many of them have turned into. We are very relaxed here. Pressure is off. You can come in, sit on our couch, have a drink and just peruse if that’s what you feel like.
3, What kind of merchandise is offered at Kristi Boutique? How would you describe the style?
The style here is very much a reflection of my own personal style. I am a very casual, laid-back person by nature and my shop greatly reflects that. We aren’t dressing up as much anymore as modern-day women, but we really want our style to be smart and cool, in an effortless sort of way. This is what women come to us for. We stock a lot of great contemporary brands as well as local lines. On any given day in the shop this fall you will find destructed boyfriend jeans, coated denim, chunky cashmere sweaters, leather jackets, fur vests, tailored blazers, silk blouses, novelty leggings, leather belts & insane buckles, loungewear, intimates, and home goods (just to name a few)! Many have described our style as a little bit edgy, a little bit rustic refined, a little bit bohemian, with a touch of buttoned-up prep for good measure. We’ve got a little bit of it all.
4. There is a bit of a style transformation going on in the city. What do you think makes Pittsburgh’s style unique?
There are some Pittsburghers with some seriously awesome style. I think what makes our style so different is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, which is such a beautiful thing that I think comes from our history. We are a little to used to being the style underdogs in the fashion world. We are modest and unaware of our assets. This is changing though. When you get a bunch of us in the same room, as at the Style Social the other night, you look around and you begin to feel this pride and connection to something meaningful… it brings out the yinzer in all of us (and yes, a yinzer can be fashionable.. we are proving that). Oh, and we are nice to each other… we want to collaborate and work together. THAT is true Pittsburgh style.
5. What have been the biggest challenges of opening a boutique? What about the biggest rewards?
There are challenges everyday and just when you think you’ve mastered it all something else comes along that knocks you down. But, in my few years I have learned that this is the journey, and I had better enjoy the ride. The biggest challenge is constantly keeping tabs on everything that needs to be accomplished: accounting, buying, client service, event planning, marketing, the list goes on and on. What’s funny is that the balance and juggling act of all of this is also the best part. To be able to put your own stamp on everything is the best feeling in the world. My shop is me. I am my shop. That sense of ownership is perhaps an unexplainable feeling that I do feel every day, even on the hard ones. But, the very best thing is getting to shop for and style women, many of whom have become such dear friends. It’s the best.
6. With the holidays quickly approaching, what are the top 3 things in the store right now that you think would make the perfect gift?
1. We have a great selection of Pendleton blankets. You literally can’t go wrong with one of these for anyone on your list, male or female.
2. A Project 11 belt is a must-have for the holidays. The line is exclusive to KB and you buy the leather straps and buckles separately. They are insanely beautiful and all made in Pittsburgh. They are the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for gal.
3. A piece of Barefoot Dreams loungewear is the ultimate gift of pampering for any lady of any age. We carry a super cozy collection of the coveted brand’s robes, wraps, shawls, and loungewear pieces.
7. We’ve been talking a lot about Small Business Saturday coming up as well. Why is it so important to support small, local businesses in the community?
We talked earlier about the style movement that is going on here right now. How do you think that came to be? It all stems from the entrepreneurs willing to risk it all to put their mark on Pittsburgh by opening up shops, restaurants, salons, etc… In the last 5 years the entrepreneurial landscape of Pittsburgh has transformed itself. It is incredible and it’s largely being led by young people. People are finally starting to notice the style our city has and supporting these small businesses is crucial to allow Pittsburgh to move in the direction that it is. If we can’t sustain the small shops that give our city its character we begin to lose our uniqueness, which is what has us all talking today in the first place! It’s all connected. We all rely on each other to sustain ourselves.
8. What do you see as the biggest style trends/ necessities heading into winter in Pittsburgh?
Yes, winter is looming isn’t it?! First, you need to get yourself a very warm, wind-proof coat. I would suggest one of the Woolrich styles we have in stock right now. Stick to a classic puffer with a fur-lined hood and details and you are good to go. Plaid is also so big right now as are capes and wraps. We have the greatest plaid and cable knit shawl blankets from Yarnz. They are the perfect thing to snuggle in with or take out to dinner as a wrap.
9. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Know that you are going to have days that you think, “What the heck am I doing?!” You will also have days (more often than not) that you think, “I can’t imagine doing anything else”. You will experience both, very often. Business ownership is a roller-coaster ride and I haven’t met one person that will tell you differently. As long as you are in it for the right reasons, have a passionate fire inside you, are willing to work your tail off, you will be fine. You are capable of doing way more than you think you are, you just have to trust your instincts and stay true to the vision you started with. Oh, and ask for help if you need it. There are many things you just won’t have a clue about… I promise!
10. I’m sure running a boutique keeps you pretty busy! If you get any free time, where do you head in Pittsburgh?
Yes, it does but I am constantly working on that balance. I have a lot outside of these doors that is equally important to me, which has to remain in perspective. I love good food and will try just about anywhere new so we are constantly hitting up the new spots around town. We are also big homebodies. Stewart (my other half) and I really love lounging around home cooking, having some wine and just relaxing either alone or with friends.
Visit Kristi Boutique: 339 First Street, Aspinwall, PA 15215 / www.kristiboutique.com