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Monday, June 8, 2009

Style and Steel


I arrived at Wadria and Kristin's shared apartment on a pleasant evening late May. Their home is an artsy and eclectic mix of positive energy. Both Kristin and Wadria were very hospitable. We vibed, we talked, we laughed, I learned more about them. It was a pleasure sitting down with these two focused and powerful women on a mission. I hope that you learn something about Style and Steel. Check out the web site, and while you are there if you would like to be on the Street Team let them know@ www.styleandsteel.net. All Style and Steel events are 21 and older. You can follow Style and Steel on Twitter@Twitter.com/StyleandSteel. Facebookers can become fans of Style and Steel and also find them on MySpace as well. Enjoy.

SPOTLIGHTPITTSBURGH: Who is Wadria Taylor?

WADRIA STYLE AND STEEL TAYLOR: I am a business woman, globe trotter, and a lover and student of life.

Why did you start Style and Steel?

In my experience, I dint see a consistent night life here in Pittsburgh. So I want to do something while I am here to just enhance, to bring something new, to incorporate or to infuse other cultures, but also just really looking at what's in Pittsburgh and looking at ways that we can really tap into that. The tag line for Style and Steel is Events Transformed, I believe that events are a way to transform people, and infuse culture. To me depending on how you plan it, if you are specializing in nightlife entertainment, you can bring people together that maybe wouldn't necessarily be in the same room, and they are able to see, 'you know we are all enjoy music, we all pretty much like to dance and we all like to have fun.' A couple years ago when I was still in college at Pitt [The University of Pittsburgh] I would say things like, in the next few years Pittsburgh is going to be that next big city, and I still believe that. I see that there is more diversity as far as ethnicity is concerned. People are starting to come here from other cities also.

What does Pittsburgh have to offer to you as a transplant? What keeps you here?

She crosses her legs under her on the couch and smiles a sunny smile. When we talk about cost of living, now let's talk about cost of living. In that way, it has a lot to offer, especially to entrepreneurs. I would never have been able to start my own small business in New York, all my money would probably be going to rent.

I know that you mentioned that you have been here in the city for seven years. What was it that brought you here to Pittsburgh?

College. I went to Pitt [The University of Pittsburgh] in 2002.

What keeps you here?

The fact that I have gotten to know Pittsburgh. A lot of my friends in college they were stuck in the campus environment they didn't really, for whatever reason get to see what Pittsburgh had to offer [by way of] its history and such. Through internships and things that I did, and People that I knew I got to know the city. When I look at it, it's like 'wow it has potential!' Pittsburgh has a lot of hidden treasures; we just have to bring them out.

Why the name Style and Steel? I think I know, but tell us.

It was a process to come up with the name. Basically I wanted a name that reflected what I was trying to say as far as what Pittsburgh is already known for because Style and Steel got it roots here in Pittsburgh. Style and Steel reflects what I am bringing to the city. It is also reflective of what I am bringing to nightlife, to event planning. It's a partnership. I feel like Pittsburgh and I are growing together. I feel that the name [Style and Steel] symbolize that.

When you speak about the overall vision of Style and Steel, what is the brand? In which areas will you expand to?

Well, it's actually all infused. When we talk about style and its distinction and uniqueness, I am offering innovation. The first event that I did to launch Style and Steel was ENERGY. I had done other events in college but not under Style and Steel, so this was my first. The event had a multitude of DJs who specialize in different genres of music. There was African, Reggae, there was Hip Hop, there was House, there was a little bit of everything. There was also interior decorating. It was at the Shadow Lounge and Blue room. We transformed the Shadow Lounge as well as the Blue room in terms of decor. We brought in fabric, and lamps. I can't really describe it, you had to see it. They actually ended up buying some of the things that we added because it just really enhanced the space. So you see it's really an infusion, that's a part of the brand. People know that when they come to a Style and Steel event, it s more than just a DJ, it's more than just the music, it's a spirit. There is always someone there to tend to your needs; I believe that when you go, especially in a recession, it can't just be one thing. We have to find ways, in terms of bringing diverse people together; you have to have a diverse offering. It can't just be the alcohol; it can't just be the music. You may have to have some finger foods, may be a little lounge area for people to relax. The details really do matter. As far as the styling, back in college, I had a clothing line that I did with a friend Maria. So she and I could make cloths, so we started designing cloths for our friends, really it started with ourselves. That design element is something that I have incorporated into Style and Steel. I work with people one on one as far as styling. I do wardrobe makeovers, working within peoples budgets. If you only have $100 I promise you that I could get you five different looks with that. Just working with someones natural beauty and enhancing and refining that.

Does Style and Steel only do nightlife party planning?

We specialize in night time entertainment, marketing promotion, special events and styling. We have an Eco conscience event coming up on July 24th; it's going to be at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. It's called Looking and Living Eco fab. It will feature local and national designers but all the fashions are going to be made of bio degradable recycle materials.

Any other events coming up soon?

Well, ENERGY is an annual event. It is a celebration of Style and Steel. We will have the four DJs. We have Selecta confirmed, we have Vibes Machine, and we have DJ Vex, and Lazor Crunk . It's happening at the Shadow Lounge and Blue Room once again. Expect something new. Expect the venue to be transformed once again, and expect a visual and multi faceted affair as far as different senses being indulged.

Do you have a street team?

I do. When you have a business, it's hard to do it yourself. It's hard to do it with two people. When they say dream big, dream big means you sometimes need more hands involved in it you know? I did an outreach earlier this year for a street and marketing team. I did interviews at the Shadow Lounge, Kris and I both interviewed about ten to thirteen people, and out of that group we choose like seven, and out of that group we have three still standing. I want to have a street team of men as well as women. Attractive men, attractive women, that are out going and can talk to people.

For the folks who may want to be a part of the Style and Steel Street Team, what are the criteria?

Its actually fun! You go to events! You have to be a night goer. Let's talk about requirements, (bursting into laughter). How can you promote an event and you not even know the night scene? We need you to be hustlers. As far as requirements you have to have a Facebook and a MySpace account, you have to be a positive person, and have positive energy. Energy is very important.

Kristin looks up from her computer that she has been typing on most of the time that I have been here, as if she knew that the next set of questions where for her. She is the Creative Consultant for Style and Steel. Kristin is born in Brooklyn; raised on Long Island and transplanted here.

Kristin did you and Wadria meet in college?

KRISTIN: Yes, we met at Pitt [The University of Pittsburgh]. I graduated in 06, then moved back to New York for a year, was not really feeling the situation – got an opportunity to come to Pitt. I got accepted to a teaching program in the Spanish program teaching Latin American literature.

What do you bring to Style and Steel?

I am an incredibly naturally creative minded person. I would like to bring to Style and Steel in terms of helping Wadria expand the company on its design and styling frontier. In terms of what Wadria was saying before, be it design esthetic for venues, or for personal styling.

If you could label your design esthetic what would it be?

Well my personal esthetic would have to be eclectic, urban alternative, but I don't push my vision and my personal esthetic on other people. Wadria and I have worked with a few other people, and in terms of going shopping for them we picked out outfits and helped them to revamp their wardrobe. We really follow her style and her aesthetic you know, we are not trying to make her look like we dress. For me it's about finding the positivity and beauty and inner strength in all, and really harnessing that and bringing it out.

WADRIA: Yeah,Kristin is really dope; we jive off of each other. I think our energies definitely vibe off one another. She is often able to extrapolate things in a way that I visualize them but may not be able to articulate them, so she is really great for that.

As the three of us sat and continued to talk, it beacame more like three people sharing and inspirering one aother in matters of business, not an iterview. I left theire apartment buzzing with inspiration and anticipation. I believe that what Style and Steel does best is harness positivity and beauty, in people, and spaces, and bring them out for us all to witness.

Do check out a Style and Steel event soon. ENERGY is happening on the 19th of June at the Shadow Lounge and Blue Room. Admission is only $5 before 10:30 pm. To find out about other Style & Steel events, visit www.styleandsteel.net.


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