At “chic boutique” No. 14, looking flawless runs in the family
March 28, 2016
Photography: Tara Bennett
There are surely more than 14 reasons to love No. 14: the self-proclaimed “chic little boutique” that opened, cleverly, on October 14, 2014. Its name might come as a relief to those avoiding a certain “unlucky” preceding digit. But for Brianne Conley, who co-owns the shop with her mother, Michelle Conley, the number bears great personal significance.
Their storefront on Central Lawrenceville’s 46th block emits a vibe extraordinarily different than that of Lower LV’s dense, fast-paced business landscape. But No. 14’s placement — adjacent to French pastry king La Gourmandine, across from Allegheny Cemetery — appears tailormade. On selecting a headquarters, Brianne — who was only several months out of college when the store debuted — says she never strayed from Lawrenceville. “Everybody raved about how Lawrenceville was the place to go…the ‘boom’ that was happening in the city. Once we opened, it was apparent we’d made the right decision. This neighborhood is so alive and willing to support local business. We couldn’t be happier.”
The store’s interior is a welcoming transition from Butler Street’s traffic. We work with real estate developers on the reg, and trust us: It takes serious talent to make a once-dilapidated bar look this good.
What the Conleys have created here is not only easy to look at, but so photogenic it’s actually confusing.
You know those neutral, naturally lit, seemingly unattainable minimalist-meets-glam interiors you’ve seen all over social media? That’s No. 14 in real life — from its gold and floral accents to the most Instagrammable floor in Pittsburgh. Even the beautifully upholstered furniture has a special place in the store: it’s refurbished and available for purchase, a feature made possible by Michelle’s design prowess.
Then, of course, there are the threads: a fabulous, age-inclusive assortment of professional and party pieces every fashion-forward gal dreams of adding to her collection. “We have plenty of styles for women of all ages,” says Brianne. “Since I co-own the store with my mother, we make a lot of the buys together. We try to find a blend between super different pieces and more classic styles.”
The duo’s meticulous hand-selection has certainly paid off. Their customer base is at an all-time high, both within and beyond city limits. “We adore our clients and have become friends with our regulars,” Brianne notes. “We get emails from women asking when our new seasons will arrive, because they want to make a three-hour drive to come shop. That, right there, is what it’s all about.”
Though the boutique’s grand opening was “intimidating” for Brianne, she’d always envisioned herself in a brick-and-mortar retail role. Accordingly, No. 14 soon generated a steady following of local shoppers and — thanks to the Conleys’ initially successful e-commerce platform — an influx of online orders. But as inventory began leaving the store faster than they could update its digital shelves, Brianne searched for viable alternatives.
Enter Snapchat: the hide-and-seek of photo-driven apps. It’s become recently and increasingly popular for small businesses, but especially those in the retail industry. Still, Brianne never expected an overwhelmingly positive response. “I started Snapchatting our inventory as it came in, and in no time, women were placing orders based on pictures they’d seen in the app,” she explains. It wasn’t long before No. 14’s Snapchat sales had far surpassed those of the online shop. Ever since, the store has operated solely and seamlessly with social media commerce.
“After a client’s initial sale, their information is stored in our system,” says Brianne. “Their next purchase is as simple as texting the store. ‘Can you send me a [size] small in this dress?’ We use an iPhone, which allows us to communicate through all platforms and send more images. Customers can also text us when it’s not convenient for them to make a phone call. In other words…when they’re shopping at work.”
A natural media buff, Brianne consistently manages and receives orders on Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest. Particularly captivating is the shop’s Instagram account: Its 7,300-plus followers double-tap new arrivals and savvy outfit pairings daily. “It takes a lot of time to set up [the Instagrams] and style them properly,” Brianne adds. “Honestly, I love to be behind the camera. It gives clients the ability to see No. 14 through my eyes.”
Through our eyes, No. 14 has harmoniously weaved its way onto Pittsburgh’s legendary list of retail therapy artists, bringing to the table fresh, youthful, authentic vibes. On their collective quest to make you look “flawless, darling,” Brianne and Michelle are truly just getting started.