Turning Dreams Into Reality

illustration by natalie robb
illustration by natalie robb

This post comes from the fabulous Natalie Robb. We asked her to write about her experience at the March Networking Happy Hour on her first night back in Pittsburgh. This is what she had to say.



One night five years ago, when I still thought I would do work that would change the world, I had a dream. I know, it's silly. But it was the type of dream that made your heart pound and your eyes attempt to close tighter in order to keep the dream inside, not letting the light of reality begin to pour in again.

Eventually my dream did end, but I could not stop thinking about the dream world that I had seen and started to write, sketch and flesh out this dream. In it my community interacted, collaborated, and created together. We made things we loved, drank coffee on the porch, and watched movies in the backyard. Kids were nurtured by adults and teenagers by young adults. Our elders taught us forgotten art-making skills, and artists were thriving entrepreneurs.

We encouraged each other to pursue the things that we loved learning. We tinkered. We questioned. We were inspired. We ate. We learned. The space was a place that we all just wanted to be. It was like home.

Yeah, it really does sound like a dream.

The reality of it was that a few short weeks ago I called New York City home. For 3.5 long years, as the handy freelance designer that I am, I was tossed around by various companies who were looking for efficient creatives familiar with standing out in the digital marketing space.

I needed to make a drastic move in order to fix my life and reclaim my goals that had been removed from my hands and manhandled beyond recognition. I needed to move home. I needed to move back to Pittsburgh.

The Proposal

So in the midst of my tiresome, daily NYC drudge I did something ridiculous with my dream: I formulated it into a small business proposal and submitted it to a contest put out by a Pittsburgh business incubator the Thrill Mill in October. Oddly someone thought that my dream sounded like a good business idea and accepted me as one of the 15 teams who now have office space at the Hustle Den in East Liberty.

We continue to work out our business plans daily, find community partners and funding, and work hard through the night on top of our day jobs. With 15 hour work days, I truly am hustling.

Ever since I landed here almost 3 weeks ago, I've hit the ground running. I've been meeting amazing people, enjoying the awesome Pittsburgh weather (sorry a little sarcasm...), eating great food, and will soon begin riding my bike again.

Just Keep Calm, and Drink Wine

On my first night moving back and within the first hour, my old friend Stefanie Zito—amazing hula hooper and children's educator—invited me to stop by the Propelle Happy Hour.

In keeping with my whirlwind life, I proceeded to say yes, and had a great night getting to know a variety of intelligent, passionate women. There is a wealth of good ideas out there and so many of them coming from the creative and kind women throughout this very city. Even though I was in NY among all of the creative activity, I literally feel like I have been missing out by not being here in Pittsburgh.

I am not the type who loves the formal networking event. In fact I avoid all sorts of awkward interactions with strangers, including having mild bouts of anxiety prior to calling people I don't know on the phone. Luckily, all of the women at the Propelle happy hour immediately became friends to me. There was this mutual feeling of, "I know you have something good up your sleeve. Tell me all about it."

I loved the collaborative spirit of the event and left with a handful of new friends, and even new design business from the interactions. Thank you women of Propelle, for putting together a great event at an unexpectedly wonderful venue.

And now I leave you with a little takeaway of inspiration from the Pittsburgh Winery:



Natalie Robb is a freelance designer who recently moved back to the Pittsburgh area to develop a creative community space that inspires and brings makers together.

She has been part of the design world for 8 years crafting digital design stories for ModCloth, L'Oreal, Chloe & Isabel, and the Pittsburgh event series "Speaking of".

She has a strong passion for biking, cooking, making, designing, sewing and meeting some really inspiring people here in Pittsburgh. You can find her design work on her portfolio site here.