Jewelry designer and artist Rukiya McNair had a question: What if there were a place where people could go to shop collections of fair trade, handmade fashions?
More than five years ago she answered with an e-commerce site that curated such styles from across the globe, and about a year ago she opened Culture Cloz, a boutique on North Highland Avenue in East Liberty with a similar mission.
Now she’s about to expand the reach of her business again by moving the brick-and-mortar store, which she closed here this spring, to Bali, Indonesia, yet maintaining an e-commerce presence so its Pittsburgh followers can continue to shop for unique fashion finds. At 10 p.m. Saturday June 28 at Eclipse Lounge in Lawrenceville, the public can learn more at a going-away gathering for Ms. McNair featuring the music of DJ Selecta.
"I think the reception has been very positive,“ Ms. McNair, who lives in Bloomfield, says about Culture Cloz’s success so far. She hopes for the same in Bali, a rising hot spot for style.
"The community there is heavily rooted in entrepreneurship and fair trade,” she says. Plus the town of Ubud, regarded as the art and culture center of Bali, bustles with small fashion boutiques and studios -- draws for tourism. “There are a lot of yoga centers, a lot of organic restaurants. I think that Culture Cloz would be a very good fit.”
On a personal note, the new home will allow her two children, ages 5 and 3, to be closer to their father, a network engineer contracted in Afghanistan. As a longtime educator, she also will teach English once she’s settled in.
She has a couple of locations in mind for the shop, which she spotted during a trip there in April, and she’s relying on the guidance of friends who have boutiques in Bali to help mentor her through the process of relocating overseas.
"It’s going to take a little time,“ she says, with hopes of reopening in Bali this year or in early 2015.
In the new space, she plans to carry some of the same brands she did in Pittsburgh, including colorful Inkkas shoes handmade in Peru that have been popular. She will expand her offerings with handmade items from Bali that her Pittsburgh clientele can purchase on the store’s website, www.culturecloz.com. She hopes to position herself as a resource for Pittsburgh-based designers to find fabrics from other parts of the world.
She will maintain her Pittsburgh roots by continuing to work with models she selected to represent the store in photo shoots and shows and the boutique’s graphic and Web designer and photographer, all based here. Pittsburghers can follow the shop’s next steps and Ms. McNair’s travels in videos and writings she plans to post on the Culture Cloz website.
"I’m excited,” she says. “People are going to love what we have to offer.”
For more from PG style editor Sara Bauknecht, check out the PG's Stylebook blog at www.post-gazette.com/stylebook. Follow her on Twitter @SaraB_PG or email firstname.lastname@example.org.