Caitlin Bright, owner of Pittsburgh’s Wallflower Vagabond, has had a passion for fashion since she was a young girl.
“When I was 13, my mom subscribed me to a teen fashion magazine and when I saw all of the pictures and articles, I just thought ‘Oh I have to do this in some respect,” she said.
Caitlin grew up in a small town, so creating outfits and finding unique pieces was an outlet for her. She loved coming to Pittsburgh to shop at stores like Highway Robbery, but also found stuff at her local Goodwill.
“If you have an eye for different items, sometimes it’s there waiting for you,” said Bright.
After graduating from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in fashion and retail management, Bright lived here and wrote for a small fashion magazine, while also working as a stylist at Free People. The jobs she had just weren’t fulfilling enough, so she moved home to Wellsburg, West Virginia. She starting dreaming up the idea of her own boutique with her mom, then the perfect building became vacant.
“It felt like it was meant to be, so we just went for it,” she said.
The process of opening up a boutique wasn’t easy for Bright. For a while, she felt like she bought the wrong things.
“In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing,” she said.
Eventually through asking questions during buying trips and learning to gauge what people would like and buy through social media, she determined what worked for her.
Wallflower opened in Wellsburg in November 2014. The name came from a lot of internal reflection from Bright about who she really was.
“I liked the idea of being a wallflower, being a chill, quiet person, but having your outer style speak for you,” she said.
After 5 years of owning Wallflower, business was booming, but Bright was ready for a change.
“I missed Pittsburgh and my friends here. I think Pittsburgh is one of those cities that once you experience it, you want to come back,” she said.
So, she packed up and reopened as Wallflower Vagabond in Dormont this past June.
Bright added Vagabond to the name to make her store stand out, as there’s already another store in Pittsburgh called Wallflower. It also just happened to perfectly describe her.
“I moved around a lot in my early years, so my mom always called me a vagabond. She said I never wanted to settle down and be in one place for too long,” Bright said.
Wallflower Vagabond is a small, but impeccably designed store. There’s floral installations hanging on the walls and outside the store. Bright painted the door pink and always has the window impeccably designed. Wallflower Vagabond has kept the same style as Wallflower and offers bohemian, romantic looks for everyone. From snake skin booties to corduroy overall dresses to leopard print sweaters, Bright always stocks the store with eclectic pieces that she loves.
“I end up wearing a lot of things from the store,” Bright said, laughing.
Despite the challenges that being a small business owner brings, Bright has loved having free reign to do whatever she wants with the store. The creative aspect is by far her favorite thing about owning her own store.
“I am not a planner in my social life at all. I’m very go with the flow, but when I get here I want every little thing to be perfect. I guess I have a split personality,” Bright said laughing.
Right now, Bright is happy how things are going with her store. She has no plans on doing a second location and plans to continue to figure out what works in her current space. Her current goal is to hold more events and collaborate with other businesses. For now, she’s enjoying being back in Pittsburgh and being a part of the thriving business community.