We are beyond thrilled to introduce you to Monica Yope, another one of our badass Rock It! members. Monica is the owner and chief creative behind Pop Craft and is part-owner of the brand new gift shop in Mt. Washington called love, Pittsburgh.
We truly got to know Monica, her businesses, and her creative spirit in our VIP Mastermind. Not only is Monica a treasure trove of creative ideas, she is also willing to show up, try new things, and do the work.
Also, she's just plain fun to be around!
We hope you love getting to know Monica as much as we have. And if you're ever in the Mt. Washington area of Pittsburgh, make sure to stop by the shop. OR, you could always hang out with her on in the Rock It! Community.
For those that may not be familiar, tell us about yourself and what you do.
I own operate love, Pittsburgh with my business partner Kelly Sanders. love, Pittsburgh is a gift shop featuring original handmade goods made by Pittsburgh artists and makers located at 301 Shiloh Street in Mount Washington.
I also own and operate Pop Craft, a pop-up crafting business that ignites your creativity by bringing craft events to Pittsburgh bars.
Where did the idea for pop-up crafting parties (workshops) come from?
I had always been a crafty person, but I never made time to make crafts and to be creative while I was working a full-time job. I figured other people had the same desire to express their creative side. I wanted the workshops to be fun and have a relaxed vibe, so I started hosting them at local bars. The experience is very positive, and I’m always happy to see how proud people are of their handiwork.
In addition to Pop Craft, you are also now the proud owner of love, Pittsburgh — a shop that sells Pittsburgh specific gifts and seasonal wares. What has that process been like, from idea formation to Kickstarter to opening?
In short, a whirlwind. We believed there was a gap in the market for people to shop Pittsburgh-made goods. The perfect location presented itself, and I went for it! Kelly and I pulled together the vision quickly and the farther we got, we kept finding more support.
The Kickstarter was a great boost to get our inventory built but also was validation that there’s a need for our shop. We only had a month from getting the keys to the storefront to the grand opening, so it was crunch-time and with the help of handy family and friends we pulled everything together. Now that we are open there is still much to do, but it’s beginning to feel more like a routine as we have a schedule and are building our store processes.
What has it been like to run two separate businesses — particularly one that is a solo traveling business versus owning a brick and mortar shop with a partner?
It’s been a learning experience — about myself and how I function in different situations. I am finding it easier to operate a business where I have a partner. We quickly make decisions, split up the work, and have each other’s backs. And, I am better at delivering results when I’m trying to meet other people’s expectations than I am at holding myself accountable.
I love the flexibility of Pop Craft, and the whole business feels very natural to me — from setting up my workshop calendar to hosting events for large groups — but I know that I’m more likely to let things slide with Pop Craft than with love, Pittsburgh where I’m accountable to a business partner.
With two creative businesses, we're curious to know what role creativity plays in your own life. Is it something you make time for on a regular basis?
Oddly enough, I find it hard to make time to be selfishly creative in my personal life. Meaning, usually my creativity is poured into my businesses, and I rarely keep it to myself. I do think I am a selfish learner though. I would much prefer to learn how to do something myself and have the skill to apply to future projects that I dream up. As I learn new arts and crafts skills I love to pass these on to Pop Crafters, or use them to make products for love, Pittsburgh. My desire to learn stretches beyond crafts, I enjoy learning just about anything from gardening, to web design, and anything that strikes my fancy.
What have been your biggest lessons over the course of running a business?
When I was just starting out, I was alone doing Pop Craft. It was very hard to be alone in a business, and I think every entrepreneur feels the loneliness at some point. By finding someone to talk to, or a group to participate in, can make a world of difference when you’re just getting started.
One of the more recent lessons I learned was the difference between good ideas and good ideas with an addressable market. Pop Craft’s market is pretty narrow in comparison to love, Pittsburgh’s. It easy to compare stats side by side of sales, Instagram followers, etc, and see that love, Pittsburgh is taking off with less friction than Pop Craft did. And that’s okay, but a lesson on the level of success you can achieve depending on what you’re selling.
Anything you wish you could do over?
I wish I claimed more businesses expenses on my taxes last year. But otherwise, no.
Famous last words... What advice would you give to women who want to infuse more creativity into their day-to-day lives?
Everyone can get lucky and have a creative idea, but the best ideas have come from me collaborating with other people. So go out and have lunch with a friend, attend a meetup, and talk to people about an idea and get their input to make it even better.