As The Beauty Shoppe grows, cofounder Matthew Ciccone shares some thoughts about Pittsburgh and lessons learned.
The land beneath a typical highway cloverleaf is about 40 acres – roughly the size of 15th century Florence. The highway moves cars. Florence witnessed a renaissance of ideas that radically transformed science, finance, politics and the arts, ushering in the modern world.
This anecdote provides evidence for a fact we hold dear: that consequential ideas and historic movements don’t necessarily need big spaces to take hold. Far more critical is a density of diverse and creative individuals that support the free flowing exchange of ideas. Out of that dense nucleus of shared ideas, information and experiences great things can emerge, often with significance and impact far beyond their origins.
Over the past year we have been inspired and influenced by the emergence of ideas, companies, and creativity in Pittsburgh. In our own backyard of East Liberty, this density is approaching a critical mass – particularly around technology. The broad range of individual visions combined with an exceptional openness (one of Pittsburgh’s best characteristics) gives us good reason to be optimistic about its sustainability. Our view that Pittsburgh is a perfect place to start a business – or to fail trying – is neither unique nor surprising at this point. That’s a nice sign of progress. Observing the energy condensing around us, we’re excited about the probability of meaningful outcomes.
Since opening the doors in 2011, one unexpected outcome at The Beauty Shoppe has been the diversity of practices and industries of our members. The mix of freelancers and growing companies, of business and technology, of social, academic, creative – even religious – interests has produced a richer, denser, and more dynamic workplace. The experience has challenged many of our professional assumptions about how offices work. It has also challenged a commonly held view about Pittsburgh, that entrepreneurs lean towards tech startups. We are becoming not the next national tech hub, but a national cultural hub.
As The Beauty Shoppe begins the year with a new website and a new location, these themes continue to inform and drive our expansion. But the success of these efforts will always be tied to the output and feedback of our members. Our hypothesis is that getting more people, more ideas, and more diverse ambitions into one community is a good thing. We’re eager to see what comes with 2013.