I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland — a city not unlike Pittsburgh, where I now call home. Raised by self-employed parents, I was inspired at an early age to define my own path through life. This path has taken many unexpected and marvelous turns.
Undergraduate and graduate school for fine arts in ceramics brought me to Pittsburgh and a coveted job at the Society for Contemporary Craft. While there I learned an enormous amount about marketing, public relations, curating and running an organization. During that time I also joined the Steel City Roller Derby and gained a tremendous community of amazing women from whom I learned teamwork, strategy and to trust in my own strength. While involved in roller derby I helped develop, organize and promote fundraising events to support the sport. After retiring from the sport I worked with former teammates to found and coach the Pittsburgh Derby Brats, a junior league for girls.
Five years ago I bought a “fixer-upper” house which led to my first successful business – Women’s Work, a handywoman service. I took on a partner and we had three great years in business. When I became pregnant and my partner relocated we chose to lay down our hammers. We dissolved the company with no debt and a healthy amount of equity to divide. My passion for science took me back to school and eventually to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh where I currently work as a cardiac sonographer. While at times heart-wrenching, working with children of all ages and their families is extraordinarily rewarding.
Being involved in so many diverse areas has helped me figure out where my path ultimately needs to lead — entrepreneurship, creativity and community. Brambler, a lifestyle store for parents and children from maternity through age 6, supports families through well-curated retail, community engagement and fun!
Brambler is dedicated to bringing style, luxury and freedom to new parents and their babies through expertly curated retail and social events. We have sourced responsibly-made and well-designed products by visiting top international trade shows, doing tons of research and, most importantly, talking to parents. Our goal is to create a space where young families can find products that meet their lifestyle needs while also building a community of support through common experiences.
Brambler was conceived in December 2014 following my maternity leave. During my leave I visited with my friend Andi nearly every day. She was an invaluable support for me and we loved bouncing ideas off one another for possible business ventures. We began prototyping a coat extender for babywearing. Soon after, while talking about marketing our product, we realized how few outlets there were in our area for modern families. We switched gears. In February we enrolled in MyBusiness Startup at Chatham University, an “entrepreneurial training program … designed for women entrepreneurs in the early stages of starting their own businesses.”
Brambler will provide a safe, judgment-free space for parents to shop and gather. Whether they are taking a break from their errands or just need to get out of the house, Brambler will offer friendly, chatty staff, an integrated play area for children and seating for parents. Snacks will be available to stave off meltdowns. Our unisex bathroom will have a sturdy changing table stocked with samples so that moms and dads can handle diaper duty on the go. A gathering space is planned in order to host a variety of parenting groups. We believe part of surviving parenthood is having a community on which to lean. At Brambler, no one will have a tantrum because they’re hungry, wet or alone.
I would like to spread this loan out to benefit several aspects of the store. In order to provide the best service our staff will need to undergo training with a certified baby wearing instructor. This will allow anyone to buy a carrier and leave confident and excited that they know how to use it safely. We would use some of the funds to install a great changing station in the bathroom fully stocked with samples and spare diapers. To make our store as accessible as possible we would like to invest in a handicap ramp for our front door so everyone can enjoy our shop. In the spirit of community, Brambler Boutique will have a small sitting and playing area. Perfect for moms needing to nurse or for kids who want to test our toys. We will furnish this area with a love seat, chair, padded flooring and sample toys. Finally, in order to stay fresh and fun, we will be changing our large window signage seasonally. Our graphic designer will create on-brand, seasonally relevant imagery that will delight passers-by and customers of all ages.