By Charlie Deitch
Pittsburgh Current Editor
When it comes to gift-giving, shopping local, especially at small businesses, is an important part of the holiday season.
Not only are you buying a great gift for someone, you’re giving the local merchant you patronize the gift of business that they rely on to keep the doors open. Nov. 30 is the annual Small Business Saturday promotion that encourages shoppers to hit up their neighborhood businesses. And even if you’re a strict online shopper, there are plenty of Pittsburgh-based merchants open in cyberspace.
One of those is Subtl Beauty. Subtl Beauty is the brainchild of entrepreneur Rachel Reid. In Fall 2018, Reid launched her company offering makeup products that come in neat, stackable containers.
In August 2018, Reid quit her job at UPMC and began developing the product, which she saw the need for as a frequent traveller whose beauty products took about 20 percent of her carryon space. She launched a kickstarter last fall and it was fully funded in just a shade over two days. The product launched in January and success soon followed.
“It’s really been great,” Reid Says. “We really spent the first year testing the market. Since then, we have blown all of our goals out of the water. We quadrupled our sales goals and tripled our estimates of how many units we would move.” The Pittsburgh-based company also has a large customer base across the United States and internationally in countries like New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Canada.
There are two components that are key to the company’s rapid success. First, is a quality cosmetic and the second is the ability to stack those containers in a way that saves space. “Like every great product, it was born out of a solution to an existing problem,” Reid says.
The product line includes makeup bag mainstays including concealer, bronzer, powder and lip color. When the products launched, because it was a startup business, the product line didn’t include as many shades and colors as Reid wanted in an effort to make the product accessible to everyone. So this year, Subtl Beauty is adding 19 new concealer colors. And to salute the city they come from the colors named after Pittsburgh Neighborhoods.
The names include Bloomfield, Hays, Morningside, Overbrook, Highland, Homestead, Perry and Carrick. She says she began researching how products like this were being named.
“What we found was most colors are named after food, there was a lot of sameness,” she says. “We thought there had to be something that was more interesting and we thought of all of Pittsburgh’s cool neighborhoods. The city has been very good to us and this was a way to pay homage.”
The neighborhood names have no correlation to the colors that they represent. Reid says she and her team, just started thinking about neighborhoods that meant something to them. Highland, for example, is where they had their first office.
“We will be adding more colors and neighborhoods as we move forward,” she says. “But I like the idea that a customer in Singapore is deciding whether they are a Chartiers or an Arlington.”
Here are some other small businesses and holiday markets worth a look for your holiday shopping needs:
5820 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill
You’ll get an all-around good feeling buying handmade gifts from this Squirrel Hill shop. You can get great handmade pieces from around the world that were acquired ethically and at a fair price to the maker. They have everything from handmade clothing and accessories to puzzles and games.
Steel City Clothing
625 Smithfield St., Downtown
Whether you want a t-shirt featuring the Eat-N-Park Christmas Tree or a beer koozie that reads, “Hail To Pitt,” this local clothier has you covered.
Shades On Point
This locally based online company sells sun glasses that are uniquely Pittsburgh. You can tell because some are emblazoned with the city’s skyline on the stem and others carry uniquely Pittsburgh names like The Allegheny, The Mon and The South Side
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. “Three jagoffs go into the greeting card business…” That business is Yinzer Cards, the line of unique cards developed by Radio personalities Jim Krenn and Larry Richert and political cartoonist Rob Rogers. The cards are unique, funny and pure Pittsburgh. Cards can be purchased online and at select Giant Eagle and Hallmark stores as well as the Do-it Best Hardware store in Ambridge.
Queer Makers Holiday Market
Dec. 9, The Gym at Ace Hotel, 120 S. Whitfield St., East Liberty
WorkshopPGH & Assemble present a holiday edition of the queer makers market. The Queer Craft Market is an event that’s been part of Pittsburgh’s Queer Maker community for years. This fun event showcases local makers, creatives and artists for a fun one day vendor show. Guests can shop, make stuff, connect with community, and enjoy sweet jams & refreshments all day. This event is free admission and all ages.
I Made It! Market Last Minute Shopping
Dec. 14, 8013 McKnight Road, Ross
It’s your last chance before the holidays to hit up Pittsburgh’s “nomadic-indie craft marketplace.” More than 100 vendors will be on hand with handmade crafts and gifts.