Adrienne Guariglia brings a modern approach to a classic fashion staple.
SISTER EPIC, the hand-made leather goods company which joined our Community Shops back in August, is here to change the fashion game in Pittsburgh.
Adrienne Guariglia, owner and founder of SISTER EPIC, studied fashion at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her hometown, before moving to Pittsburgh 3 years ago. For her senior thesis work, Guariglia began to dabble into leather work, sparking a flame that would later grow and turn into her own handbag and accessory business. Besides the construction and styling knowledge she gained from school, leather working became a self-taught passion of hers.
SISTER EPIC began as a concept in early 2018, developing itself over the year and formally launching in October 2019 as a popup at Kingfly Spirits in the Strip District. Every product is made with love, by hand in Adrienne’s home, using a balanced influence of geometry, minimalism, and beautifully captivating textures. Nearly every material used is sourced from the US. “I’m obsessed with quality, and I'm also obsessed with making sure that where I’m sourcing from is ethical, and legitimate,” says Adrienne. The hair-on hides used for products like the stunning yellow 2121 OAKLEY BAG and the KEEFFE CLUTCH are custom and sourced from Italy for their exceptional quality and unique colors and patterns.
“I source from those two locations solely, and I make sure that the majority of the hides I use come from animal byproducts, meaning that the meat has gone towards food for consumption, so that at the end of the day they’re using as much of the animal as they can. Taking all that into account is just another twist of the challenge to make sure you’re doing everything right and to your standards. I think that even when it’s extremely difficult to navigate that arena, it’s worth it in the long run because your quality stands so far apart from the rest.”
Adrienne herself is a very down-to-earth and warm personality, which makes the experience of shopping with her, if given the opportunity to do so in-person, extra special. Each handmade item, though durable, has an intimate feel to it, making the buyer feel like they bought an heirloom piece with a life to it. This small-batch, exclusive collection format for the business isn’t something she wants to give up down the road. “ Eventually I would like to get [the company] to a point where I’m not the sole person behind the production aspect, but I don’t want it to be like, ‘pile high and let it fly,’ where there are hundreds and hundreds of each style. I would like it to be specialty [items].”
When asked if she sees herself transitioning into another area of design in the future, she says:
“I think about that, but I think my initial reaction is not from a utilitarian standpoint. I don’t think I would go into your basic garments like trousers and shirts. I might start to dabble in more wearable aspects that aren’t as bag-forward. Maybe a vest or something that exists as something to carry your essentials but is still kind of garment-like.”
While long-term goals are years away and a dream that can be impacted easily and surprisingly, as we’ve seen with COVID-19, Adrienne is focused more on keeping the train moving. “Covid has thrown a wrench in everyone’s life obviously, but first and foremost, my goal right now is to keep up momentum. I think that’s a large hurdle that everybody thinks is not a goal in and of itself, and I think it is.”
Adrienne was brought onto Adda’s radar by Elysia Newman, founder of Style412, and we were excited to welcome her to our Community Shops to aid in providing her exposure and support in a time where the chance of survival of small businesses is a major concern. We know it’s hard to do it alone, and we don’t believe anyone should have to.
“My biggest hurdle was not to find fault with the fact that I’m not superwoman in all avenues,” Adrienne says in regards to what her most valuable lesson in owning a small business has been so far. “As soon as I started to [be okay with asking for help], the whole world just opens up… The standard of your work goes from mediocre to amazing because you’re working with people who are specialized in all these different avenues.”
To have someone join our Community Shops who puts as much thought and care into every aspect of her business and product as Adrienne does with SISTER EPIC felt like a match made in heaven. We are honored to provide a platform to promote such a wonderful company and wish only the best for Adrienne. Shop her stunning products on her Community Shops page!