The moment I walked into Kristi Boutique in Aspenwall, I was greeted by a big smile and a warm welcome from Kristi, the owner. The warm and friendly welcome didn’t stop with the lovely owner, the boutiques interior might be modern and industrial but it’s unbelievably warm and inviting thanks to the wooden clad walls and soft furnishings.
The first thing that struck me when I stepped inside, were the bold original features that Kristi insisted on retaining when she transformed the old bank into a new home for her store.
As we walked round the store, it was immediately clear to me that Kristi puts an immense amount of thought into choosing which pieces to carry in the store, favoring pieces that not only mix and match well but that her clients will want to wear again and again. The collections strike the perfect blend between casual and dressy, these are pieces you’ll be wearing all the time!
I particularly love the clever mix of well-known brands and lesser-known, more unique pieces. It creates the perfect environment for the customer to find something that not only slots effortlessly into their existing closet, but that pushes their sartorial boundaries too.
It was a pleasure to meet Kristi and to learn more about her beautiful store, read my interview with her below!
|The dressing area, with belts made exclusively for the boutique.|
|The door to the old vault|
I’ve heard such great things about your boutique! Tell me a little about it and what inspired you to open it?
Of course! And that makes me so happy to hear you have heard great things about it! I opened KB almost exactly three years ago. I have always wanted to own my own shop, and have always loved fashion; so, it only made sense! KB is like my baby. I love her so much, and she continually amazes me. RTW is 85% of our business, but we are always bringing in unique pieces of jewelry, handbags, and other accessories. Some of our best labels are the likes of MOTHER, Current/Elliott Odd Molly, Sundry, Cydwoq, Ella Moss, Equipment, Campomaggi, Illia … We specialize in everyday clothes the modern woman wants to put herself in to get her through her busy day. Let’s face it; life is better when you are well-dressed. It just makes a woman feel great and confident. That’s our goal, and that’s why I have the coolest job in the world (and the coolest clients in the world). Oh, and we just relocated (still in Aspinwall!) to an old bank building that is just … amazing!
I poured a lot of time, effort, and dedication into how I wanted our new home to feel because it is such a large part of who I am. I wanted KB to remain true to who she is, but also crank it up a notch with elevated design concepts. KB has matured very quickly and her new home finally feels like it caught up with her. She is high style, but not pretentious, eclectic, but cohesive; somewhere where you can put your feet up, relax, and find some killer pieces for your closet. Oh, and leave your attitude at the door. We are all girlfriends here who do nothing but build each other up.
How long have you been in Pittsburgh and what do you think makes it a great city to live in?
I came to Pittsburgh in 2009 immediately after I graduated from Penn State University. I continued my education here, and never wanted to leave. I grew up slightly north of the city, so Pittsburgh has always been my home city. The changes that have taken place here in the last six years though are absolutely wonderful. I love food and unique libations so my list of new restaurants to try out is constantly growing! We have it all here. Pittsburghers are truly kind people, our culture scene is exploding, our landscape is beautiful, we certainly aren’t going hungry, and fashion is really having its moment here. Perhaps what I love most about Pittsburgh though is how it feels like a small hometown. When you’re out you always see someone you know, you always meet someone who knows someone you know. People look at this as a nuisance. I look at it as charm. Clearly, I could go on and on…
What do you think about Pittsburgh’s style, and how would you describe it?
This is a question I tend to get a lot, and up until recently I’m not certain how I would have answered it. Perhaps it is because I am constantly surrounded by fashion, and fashionable people, but Pittsburgh has got some seriously stylish men and women who don’t get enough credit. I think there is a definite range of styles present here; people who have zero interest in style, to people who live and breathe fashion. It’s what makes this city so diverse and beautiful. Somehow we all coexist and have many of the same values. The thing I love most about the truly stylish Pittsburghers? We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Fashion isn’t a competition; it’s a collaboration. We all should learn from each other to help define our own sense of style. Isn’t it a lot more fun that way? I think so.
How about your own style? Describe your personal style and why it works for you?
This seems to be a question that always comes up, and proves especially interesting at my current stage in life. The twenties are a very pivotal time for experimenting with personal style, and I definitely feel it! If I had to describe my style in one word I would say effortless; I think that creates an ease and a confidence, which is the most beautiful thing we can all wear. It comes through, always.
My style is often a direct reflection of my mood or the time of year. In the warmer months I am a boho chic girl at heart. You won’t catch me in fitted denim, or structured pieces (except for my favorite white leather jacket)… loose, flowing garments are what I reach for now, especially paired with longer layered necklaces and bracelets… so easy.
What or who inspires your style?
Ah! This one is easy! I find style inspiration everywhere, from random people watching, to fashion magazines, to blogs, and movies; style is everywhere you just have to pay attention to it and let it influence you.
Mostly though, I find my inspiration from the women that I work with at KB who I am so fortunate to call my clients (and friends). I realized the other day that when most of our clients walk through the door, we greet each other with a hug, not a hello, or a wave, but a HUG. This made me pause and count my blessings and can turn around any bad day in an instant. I get to play dress up every single day with women who share my passion. We experiment with looks that sometimes we would wouldn’t be caught dead in, but boy do we hit some home runs. You can’t take yourself too seriously to really nail down style; you gotta laugh at yourself sometimes. We learn so much from each other; it’s the best kind of inspiration I could ever hope to find.
Other style icons? Kate Hudson – she just gets herself, it’s the whole confidence thing; she exudes it. And does anybody wear denim as well as Ali McGraw did? I think we all aspire to.
Where are your go to places when you’re shopping for clothes (other than your gorgeous boutique!)? Do you tend to shop in malls or is there a selection of local boutiques that you head to again and again?
Well, this is a tough one because I am fortunate enough to be able to buy for the shop as if I was buying for myself (most of the time). As a result, 90% of my wardrobe comes from here… which is a very lovely perk! For the pieces I can’t get at KB, I really love shopping at local boutiques as much as I can. We have got to support each other, and let’s face it… we’ve got the most carefully curated collections around! I’m a sucker for spending wayyyy to much time perusing around Anthropologie with my head in a cloud. I always walk out with random coasters, a butter dish, and/or a pajama set that I just feel I couldn’t function without (and that somehow all perfectly coordinate). KB gets compared to Anthro all the time, and seeing that I have an obvious attraction to both, it’s no surprise.
What is your most treasured item in your closet?
I am a denim girl tried and true. Take away my jeans and I would have a serious wardrobe crisis. I can be found wearing denim of some sort five days of the week. My go to style is definitely the lived in boyfriend; the more rips the better. This silhouette flatters my body type and creates a canvas with a myriad of styling options. I am falling back in love with the flare jean and just scored an awesome pair that we have in the shop right now; a light denim wash perfect for summer. Denim should be a go-to for all women because you can wear it simply- with a great white tee, or really style it for a more polished look that still looks lived in. Dressed up or down, it’s the perfect foundation for just about any setting.