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Mall at Robinson leads the charge for the electric car

On a roof across from Houlihan’s, The Mall at Robinson in Pittsburgh has a hidden surprise: solar panels that will power free electric car charging stations the shopping center unveiled last week.

Though the effort may seem small, it could make a difference to forward-thinking car buyers seeking to purchase eco-friendly vehicles including hybrids and electric cars. These cars once cost significantly more than projected savings, but as Chevy, Ford and Mitsubishi roll out lower-end consumer models, owning an electric vehicle is possible for more people. The government has also extended rebates to consumers who buy these cars new. 

However, in order to sell electric vehicles, charging stations need to be readily accessible. Right now, they are not as common as gas stations and take more time to utilize, since electric cars are like phones and don’t get juiced up with a single jolt. “We have a mall walker who comes in every day and charges his car in the morning while he walks,” says Shema Krinsky, spokeswoman for the shopping center.

While malls are not usually the first places that come to mind for sustainability initiatives, this mall has been working for years to reduce its carbon footprint and wants to offer visitors a little education along with their consumerism. A kiosk installed in the food court this week will let shoppers monitor energy created by the solar panels and see the impact of the shopping center’s progress first hand

It's mall manager Beth Edwards' hope that upon seeing the energy savings, visitors will be inspired to examine the impact of their own personal choices on the environment.
 
Over the past eight years, the mall has reduced its kilowatt usage by 43 percent by switching to LED holiday lights among other things, according to its website. Between 2008 and 2013, the mall reduced water usage by 54 percent by switching to low-flow toilets along with other efforts.

And like your hippie friend who wanted to convert an old Mercedes into an eco vehicle, the mall collects used vegetable oil from its restaurants and makes biodiesel, which is distributed for commercial and residential use. Guests drop off used books in a collection bin in the parking lot near JCPenney and Macy's to benefit Robinson Township Library as part of Better World Books, and energy efficient hand dryers installed in all public restrooms have eliminated paper towel waste. The Mall recycles cardboard, metal, plastic, paper, cell phones, printer cartridges and wood pallets. Guests may drop off phones and ink and toner cartridges at each entrance to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and paper in the Abitibi container in Service Court 3 to benefit the American Heart Association.

According to Edwards, The Mall at Robinson has been committed to sustainability since day one. In the past nine years, the mall reports it has saved timber resources equal to 21,893 mature trees, 4,732 cubic yards of landfill airspace, 596,397 gallons of oil, 9,014,600 gallons of water and enough electric power to supply more than 466 homes for an entire year.

What have you done lately? Maybe its time to look into that electric car. 

Red Star Kombucha, the brewed in Pittsburgh glob to love

Pittsburgh has a kombucha to call its own.
 
Red Star is a local version of the fermented tea beverage and the first licensed kombucha brewery in Pennsylvania. The company is expanding to new digs in Pittsburgh and adding a second location in Philadelphia.
 
Founded by Joe Reichenbacher and Naomi Auth, business partners and brewers, Red Star opened last year on Lowrie Street in the Pig Hill Café, starting out as a growler filling station for kombucha drinkers.
 
Auth developed the recipe, three flavors: Zingerbuch, Green and 1877, the latter a robust black tea with lemon notes. Reichenbacher had the bar business know-how to get the venture up and running.
 
The brewery is relocating to Dallas Avenue in Point Breeze; the growler shop will reopen early next year in the Artisan Café, 5001 Penn Ave.
 
“There’s a pretty good kombucha base in Pittsburgh,” Reichenbacher reports, “although it will never be as popular here as beer.”
 
Kombucha, pronounced kom-boo-cha, is a fermented fungus that is gaining in popularity, especially on the West Coast in health-conscious and hippie circles. China, Japan, Korea and Russia stake claims to being early brewers.
 
Many believe Kombucha has health-boosting properties, although it has not been scientifically proven. It should be noted that others, namely health experts, warn against the home brewing of non-pasturized kombucha due to the risk of contamination.
 
The tea is brewed using a culture of bacteria and yeast, called the “scoby,” a process that takes place in large glass bottles. It’s similar to sourdough, Reichenbacher says, and "the glob" can be eaten or removed. Hence the company’s motto “in glob we trust.”
 
The final product is mildly alcoholic, .5 to 1 percent, giving it a place in several Pittsburgh bars where it is sold on tap or used as a mixer. (Beer contains 5% alcohol.)
 
Reichenbacher agrees it can be an acquired taste, generally resembling a light brown carbonated, slightly bitter tea-like cider.
 
“I believe if it makes you feel good, you should keep doing it,” he adds, noting that he has found it to be the perfect midday pickup. “It makes me feel good so I keep drinking it.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Joe Reichenbacher, RedStar Kombucha
 
 

Living the life of a Pittsburgh child is one Wonderaddo day after another

Want to travel the world with your family on a small budget?
 
Wonderaddo is a new website that highlights global opportunities and activities for children right in our own backyard.
 
The site was created by Mandy Yokim, a native of Virginia and graduate of both University of Virginia and Duquesne. Yokim describes herself as a geekie mom who prefers to take her children places where they can learn more about diverse cultures and global issues. 
 
“Parents are so busy these days, they need a resource that spells it all out for them,” she says.
 
Wonderaddo, as the name suggests—addo means inspire in Latin—aims to instill a sense of wonder about the world through opportunities and events, whether its a trip to the World Launch Event at Pittsburgh Public Market or the Ukranian Festival in McKees Rocks.
 
The website is visually appealing, clean and easy to use. The calendar offers  events at a glance being held throughout the year. Specific topics are organized on tabs. A map of the world encourages parents and children to make the connection from a geographic perspective.
 
Yokim’s colleague and mom-friend Cassie Brkich of Brkich Design designed the site.
 
The easiest way to engage a child’s interest is by presenting opportunities that already interest them, be it languages, music or art, says Yokim. Pittsburgh is so diverse, that makes it easy.
 
“It’s a great visual representation of how Pittsburgh is connecting people and places all over the world,” she says.
 
Going forward, Yokim plans to collaborate with groups like Global Pittsburgh and the World Affairs Council to spread the world about the diverse cultural opportunities here.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Mandy Yokim, Wonderaddo

Style Truck, a mobile boutique for designer fashion, pulls up in Pittsburgh

Style Truck hit the road running this month, a boutique on wheels outfitted in adorable shades of lavender and pink. 
 
Just what is it? In my wildest dreams, Style Truck rescues me from my worst wardrobe malfunctions; unfortunately for me, that’s not the point. 
 
“It’s a good idea,” says Jackee Ging, owner and driver, pondering the idea. “If I knew that I could get a parking spot every Wednesday near Market Square, that would be great.”
 
An entrepreneur at heart, Ging started her business in response to a trend that puts mobile boutiques alongside food trucks as among the coolest up and coming businesses. Having worked in business and retail, it seemed a perfect fit, she says. Mobile boutiques are very popular in California, Minneapolis and Boston.
 
Style Truck offers designer fashion at affordable prices for professional women on the go, she explains. Ging is working with several small clothing designers and two local jewelry designers to convey a wide range of looks and an array of fabrics, including organic threads, bamboo and cotton.
 
Not all of it is professional wear, she admits. She couldn’t resist some funky tees.
 
Style Truck also carries accessories and handmade pieces by Honey In the Wood in Uniontown and Design by Samantha in Mt. Lebanon.
 
The boutique plans regular stops at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale, especially for their manicure martini ladies' nights, as well as Urban Cottage in Lawrenceville, a home décor boutique. She's also on tap as a judge for "Project Runway Unconventional Materials Challenge" and pulling in for the Yoga Fest in Point State Park.
 
Not everyone understands what she’s up to when she shows up, she admits.
 
“People look at me like I have 10 heads when I tell them it’s a food truck with clothes,” she says. “I don’t have my elevator pitch down yet.”
 
Ging is planning on teaming up with local boutiques and private individuals to offer wine and cheese parties, ladies’ nights and charity events.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jackee Ging, Style Truck
 

iTwixie. Empowering young women to hold companies accountable

When Rebecca Gaynier launched iTwixie, the mother of three girls hoped to create an online space where girls could confidently and honestly express themselves—and send a message to companies who cater to tween-age girls.

The social media partnership is taking off. Now in its fourth year, iTwixie has established itself as a positive voice in social media for young girls, ages 7-12. The firm recently relaunched its website, which is attracting10,000 unique views a month.  Substantial growth in the next three years is projected, says Gaynier.

For the AlphaLab startup company, the measure of success is about engaging young girls who come to the colorful website and stay for a solid period, long enough to post comments and vote on pressing issues of the day. On average, girls spend at least 10 minutes on iTwixie, which may not sound like much but is actually a lifetime for girls this age.

“It’s a new era for clients in this marketplace,” Gaynier explains. “Kids today are looking at three screens at the same time. We’re getting comments and feedback, which shows they are captivated. That’s what we’re really looking for.”

The power of the iTwixie platform is the candid feedback that young girls offer to companies and services that want to know what they’re thinking. Many of the products out there for tween girls really stink, says Gaynier. As a business, we’re empowering girls to send a message to companies that says this is what we want.

For example, when Abercrombie began selling pushup bikini bras targeted for seven-year-olds, iTwixie girls expressed their disapproval. When asked what kind of bathing they prefer to wear, they confirmed they preferred bathing suits that stay on in the pool and are brightly colored to one that makes them look like a teenager.

“It’s not what girls want,” says Gaynier.

Companies engage iTwixie because they want to send young girls a message and hear back from them. Robert Morris, for example, recently hired iTwixie to organize a series that would send a message that RMU is a magnet school for girls empowerment.

We only work with organizations, businesses or brands who share our mission to empower girls, says Gaynier. Actually, there's quite a few out there.

“There’s a payoff in this,” she says.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Rebecca Gaynier, iTwixie

The Motherhood revisited. Tapping the power of mommy bloggers as social media influencers

Since its inception as a website in 2006, The Motherhood has celebrated the power of women to change the world and make it a better place for children.
 
This week the award-winning mega-blog for mothers, based in Aspinwall, launched a new website that has cemented its position as a for-profit social media marketing company. 
 
With a completely new website, and an assist from Pittsburgh-based Fireman Creative and University of Pittsburgh’s Instutute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE), The Motherhood hopes to achieve what few in the marketing business have done successfully to date: harness the power of social media influencers, in this case mommy bloggers, to promote national brands.
 
The Motherhood was founded by longtime friends Cooper Munroe of Fox Chapel and Emily McKhann of New York City. They created the site in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, helping to bring a virtual community of mothers together who were united in their desire to assist families hit hardest by the storm.  
 
“The power of women drove the entire thing,” Munroe told Pop City in 2009. “We saw the power of the web for good and how, by doing our little bit with the website, we were able to make a difference.”
 
Savvy marketing women— they met each other in 1988 working for a public relations firm in Washington, D.C.—they had a long range plan from the start: to nurture a community of woman who would become the social media influencers in their future marketing business.
 
That day has come.
 
“It has been a wonderful journey,” says Munroe. “We work with organizations (and corporations) that really want to reach moms who are social media influencers with a deep and loyal readership. The word of mouth impact is unparalleled, women talking to women about what they care about.”
 
As a marketing company, The Motherhood organizes social campaigns and strategies for companies, promoting everything from the health and welfare of Sub-Saharan mothers to good hygiene, healthy pets and family fun.
 
For example, there’s the Listerine 21-Day Challenge to improve oral health. Merck for Mothers addresses maternal mortality rates in Uganda. The Hershey Camp Bondfire promotes s’mores in the summer.
 
The Motherhood connects the campaigns through thousands of blogger followers who push the stories out on their own blogs. Some of the bloggers, not all, are paid by The Motherhood for their service.
 
Their reach is tantalizing. The Motherhood has more than 14,000 followers--6,000 followers on Facebook alone--a core network of 3000 mommy bloggers and another 10,000 potential bloggers across the country. The company counts many Fortune 500 companies among its clients: Johnson&Johnson, Bayer, Verizon, ConAgra Foods, Frito Lay to name a few.
 
“The most exciting thing is how people in Pittsburgh came together and are reshaping the advertising industry,” says Paul Fireman. “Through the magic of the community they've built, they only need to grab the ticket and take the bus.”
 
“It's not a mommy blog. It’s a whole new marketing channel, a sophisticated business that connects influencers to brands,” adds Bob Stein with Pitt’s IEE. 
 
There may be a question, for some, of corporate accountability. Do social media marketing companies like The Motherhood have a responsibility to ensure that companies are as altruistic as their campaigns claim?
 
Munroe and McKhann believe that is not their role. As a marketing firm, they create, package and deliver information on the campaigns and programs to bloggers who, in turn, spin it into prose on their own websites.

"We believe in the campaigns we work on and the clients projects we bring to bloggers. We take on campaigns that raise all boats," Munroe says.  
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann, The Motherhood; Paul Fireman, Fireman Creative; Bob Stein, University of Pittsburgh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Looking for a more meaningful job? ReWork takes on the purpose-driven career search

Landing a good job is one thing. But finding a career that is both meaningful and purpose-driven is another challenge altogether. 
 
ReWork is a Pittsburgh recruiting agency for the new economy, bringing talented people together with companies that offer rewarding careers, whether it means working for a social enterprise, a nonprofit or a company with the right mix of opportunities.
 
Take Katherine Camp, a Pittsburgh graduate with a master’s degree in international sustainable development. ReWork helped her realize her dream to work abroad by locating a position with a dairy company in India, explains Abe Taleb, ReWork founder.
 
ReWork evolved out of The Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, Colo, he explains. The program convinced him of the value in pivoting his former company, TerraShift, into a talent recruiting agency for social enterprise. 
 
“Most of the people we work with are not active job seekers,” he says. “Many (already) work full-time but want more meaningful opportunities. They want to utilize their skills and give their career a better focus.” 
 
Through an online service, ReWork matches talented individuals from all over the U.S. with national and international organizations committed to making the world a better place. The firm, which launched a year ago, employs 6 full-time people.
 
Rework is planning a series of forums to introduce entreprenuers and talented professionals to companies who are making a difference. The next Scrimmage in the Rust Belt, a day-long event, will be held on April 6th at Thrill Mill, 6024 Broad St., East Liberty from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.   

The mentors will include Donna Myers of TowerCare Technology, Mike Woycheck of AlphaLab and John Cilli of BHiveLab (part of Brunner Works). The cost is $50 to attend and includes breakfast and lunch.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Abe Taleb, ReWork
 

Pittsburgh fitness entrepreneurs raise the (heavy) bar on CrossFit with social media (hubba, hubba)

Social media is proving an effective tool in building a robust fitness business, especially when it comes to CrossFit training.
 
Jim Crowell and Josh Bobrowsky, who graduated together from Upper St. Clair High School in the South Hills, opened Integrated Fitness in 2010, first in Bethel Park and then on the South Side.

Jim was working with a hedge fund company in Austin, Texas at the time. Josh, who studied social media at CMU, was going to law school at Case Western.
 
Both athletes, they loved the passion and drive of CrossFit, an intense conditioning regimen that started in California and has swept the country, bringing serious fitness seekers together for short training sessions that demand all-out physical exertion. Pittsburgh is home to a handful of CrossFit certified gyms. 
 
The fast-paced sessions are held in the gym and change daily, combining movements such as weightlifting, kettlebells, jumping rope, sprinting and jumping and climbing rope. There’s CrossFit Games as well, competitions that bring athletes together from around the region for intense day-long gameplay.
 
“CrossFit was a perfect fit for us,” says Crowell. “We’re both passionate about helping people. It's about getting someone in the best shape of their lives, from former athletes to those who’ve never been athletic.”
 
What makes CrossFit unique is the way it builds community, adds Bobrowsky. To that extent, Integrated Fitness has successfully grown the business with the help of social media, especially YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
 
The Pittsburgh gym has achieved the distinction of having the most views per month of workout videos of any CrossFit gym in the country. YouTube videos are averaging 700,00 hits a month, boosted by world record lift videos and celebrity interviews at the gym. Bobrowsky, who handles the gyms' social media, has 43,000+ followers on Twitter. 

Social media is a way for people to share with others online and interact with people from the gym, he says. People enjoy sharing their CrossFit scores, posting them on Facebook.
 
“Not everyone initially wants to share,” he adds. “But as time goes by, almost every person in the gym has at least one workout of exercise that they’re very proud of and they want their picture up there.”
 
“It’s not about being great CrossFit champions, but creating an atmosphere that creates an engaged community that helps individuals to reach their goals,” Crowell adds.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jim Crowell and Josh Bobrowsky, Integrated Fitness
 

Obscure Games’ City of Play Festival kicks off on the North Side this Saturday

Imagine the city as your personal playground. Three point lines around trash cans. Tether balls swinging overhead, inviting gameplay, with the goal of bringing people together and making the city a place of wonder and fun.
 
Obscure Games is back, bringing with it the best new urban games in the world for The City of Play Festival on October 13, noon to midnight. Sponsored by South Side game studio Schell Games, the festival is changing the way we see the city, says Adam Nelson, the master gamer behind it all. 
 
Since its inception in 2009, Obscure Games has been playing around Pittsburgh with live gaming events. (You may recall the Steel City Games Fest and Human Curling Tournament.)
 
Urban gameplay acts as a social glue that connects people through the environment, reinforcing the idea that players have ownership of the city, says Nelson.
 
The festival will feature about 15 game installations with streets, parks and public spaces as the backdrop. Games will be located on the North Side and around the Allegheny Center and Buhl Park. Play is open to the first 100 players with a ticket, but anyone of any age can play for free in Buhl Park.
 
Among the games is Circle Rules Football and Nelson’s own game called Nashville, which involves wandering the city and giving secret signals to others in a sort of old west showdown.
 
“Pittsburgh has an opportunity to use play to convey itself as an interesting and exciting, progressive city for young people to live,” says Nelson. “The fact that we’re a smaller city is a strength. It’s who we are and easier to build a community around this.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Adam Nelson, Obscure Games

Meditation is a tranquil cure for loneliness and inflammation, says CMU study

Mindfulness meditation is proving a good way to ease two debilitating human conditions, loneliness and inflammation, according to a study published in ScienceDirect led by Carnegie Mellon University.
 
J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology within the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and his team of researchers found that resting in the present moment on a regular basis, an ancient practice dating back to the days of Buddha, actually lowered inflammation levels, a condition thought to be a precursor of many diseases.
 
Meditation has long been considered valuable in alleviating disease, but this is the first study to confirm it as an approach in reducing loneliness and the risk of disease and older adults, says Creswell.
 
For the study, the team recruited 40 healthy adults ages 55 to 85. One group undertook a regular practice of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a structured program that consisted of weekly two-hour meetings in which participants learned body awareness techniques. The meditating group also meditated privately 30 minutes a day for eight weeks.
 
Each person was assessed at the beginning and end of the study using an established loneliness scale; blood samples were also collected.
 
“We always tell people to quit smoking for health reasons, but rarely do we think about loneliness in the same way,” says Creswell. “This research suggests that mindfulness meditation training is a promising intervention for improving the health of older adults.”

While the research suggests a promising new approach for treating loneliness and inflammatory disease risk in older adults, more work needs to be done, notes Creswell.
 
“It’s important to train your mind like you train your biceps in the gym,” he says.

The team included researchers in UCLA as well.

Writer: Debra Smit
Source: J. David Creswell, CMU
 

What's next for Yinztagram? The Pittsburgh parking chair perhaps?

Unless you’ve been under a wireless rock for the past week, you’ve probably snapped multiple  pictures of yourself and friends heaving giant Primanti sandwiches over your head--or juggling Rick Sebak’s (like Mitt Romney).
 
The opportunities to add local color to your life are endless with Yinztagram.
 
“I really didn't see it becoming as popular as it has become, I thought it would remain an inside joke,” admits Colin Miller who created the app with Deeplocal colleague Matthew Pegula based on a funny idea suggested by friend Drew at Commonplace Coffee. “It’s nice to see that the community has a sense of humor when it comes to the Pittsburgh culture.”
 
Based on the reactions of friends to the beta version, I knew people would love it but didn't think it would be spread beyond my immediate friends, says Pegula.
 
The photo app that allows users to juxtapose iconic local images—from Green Belt signs to our own golden arches—on top of personal snapshots has taken Twitter and Facebook by storm. (See the best of pics in this weeks Buzz section.) The Primanti’s sandwich, in particular, has found its way into some rather hilarious situations.
 
Miller and Pegula sat they've enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame. Stay tuned. The duo has been taking requests and additional photo ops are in progress. Not wanting to give away too much, they revealed the possibility of the classic Pittsburgh parking chair, or perhaps an angle on the Fort Pitt Tunnel.
 
"We hope to release a version that lets us easily push out new content without having to go through the Apple review process,” Pegula says. “We’ve gotten lots of suggestions and additions and are always looking for more.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Colin Miller and Matt Pegula, Deeplocal

Image of Colin and Rick courtesy Deeplocal

Pitt study confirms what we already knew about the social benefits of drinking together

In a not-so-surprising finding, a University of Pittsburgh study has confirmed that moderate amounts of alcohol—consumed in a social setting—can not only enhance positive emotions and social bonding but relieve negative emotions amongst those drinking together.
 
The study breaks new ground because methodological factors may have led to earlier findings that downplayed the benefts of social drinking. Previous research on the subject has often considered only the emotional effects of drinking alone.
 
Group drinking, whether with friends or strangers, may be a positive, stimulating social bonding experience, researchers say. 
 
“Those studies may have failed to create realistic conditions for studying this highly social drug,” said Michael A. Sayette, lead author and professor of psychology in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. “In our study, we felt we had put in place an experimental procedure and a set of measures that might better capture the expected effects.”
 
Sayette and his colleagues assembled three-person groups using 720 male and female participants, a larger sample than in previous alcohol studies. Researchers assessed individual and group interactions using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) and the Grouptalk model for speech behavior, an accepted measure for facial coding developed in the 1970’s. 
 
Each participant was randomly assigned to a group of unacquainted “strangers” and instructed to drink three alcoholic, non-alcoholic or placebo drinks during a 36-minute period.  
 
Results showed that alcohol not only increased the frequency of “true” smiles, but also enhanced the coordination of these smiles, creating the likelihood of “golden moments,” defined as moments when all group members were simultaneously expressing “true” as opposed to “social” smiles.
 
Participants in alcohol-drinking groups also reported greater social bonding than did the nonalcohol-drinking groups and were more likely to have all three members stay involved in the discussion.
 
“One aim of this research is to validate a laboratory test that might be able to help identify who is especially vulnerable to alcohol use disorders, as a function of their experiences drinking in social settings,” noted Sayette.
 
The study is published online in the journal Psychological Science.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Dr. Michael Sayette, University of Pittsburgh
 

byLangley, Shadyside-based designer lingerie e-boutique and a nod from Oprah

Mollie Lang is a 30-something mother, entrepreneur and owner of a designer loungewear, lingerie and sleepwear e-boutique with attitude. 
 
byLangley has a mission, she explains. It's sending a message to women that you can head into your 30s and be confident in your life, content to spend a Friday night at home while wearing beautiful lingerie that is both comfortable and sexy.
 
The website caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey's O Magazine in February, which included her line in a Valentine's Day spread. 
 
"I want to own my sex life and how I feel about myself," says Lang who gave birth to her first child in July of 2011. "The byLangley woman wants to feel gorgeous and sexy, even after her honeymoon, with baby spit up on her shoulder."
 
A native of Pittsburgh, Lang and her husband moved from NYC to a 112-year-old home in Shadyside several years ago where she runs the business. Lang worked in retail for several years, including Tommy Hilfiger in NYC and  American Eagle on the South Side. 
 
After Maryn was born, Lang decided to go out on her own. The e-boutique has grown primarily through social media, Facebook and Pinterest and a regular "Ask Mollie" blog.  Sales are climbing; the site attracts 2000 visitors a week, 8000 a month. 
 
Lang gets thoughtful questions from customers every week. Dear Mollie? What's the best way to organize my lingerie drawer? Dear Mollie? Will this improve my sex life? 
 
"We have a lot of places still to go," says Lang, who personally answers each and every email that lands in her inbox."It's really about developing a conversation with the customer. We are creating a talking to your best friend environment and make that an essential part of the buying experience. The personalization of the site is very important.
 
"I don't want to compete with people like Victoria's Secret," she adds. "Victoria Secret is made for a fantasy of what a man wants a woman to look like. I'm working with pieces and designers that are (less well known and) coming out with things that make you feel sexy and beautiful."
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Mollie Lang, byLangley

Photo of Mollie Lang courtesy of byLangley. She's wearing the Gold Hawk Cami and T Los Angeles Wrap Cardi with Ruffle

Google Pittsburgh's rooftop garden offers workers exceptionally green eating

Google Pittsburgh's rooftop terrace is a garden of planter boxes of herbs and tomatoes flourishing alongside cucumbers and sweet potatoes. Nearby, an apiary swarms with 30,000 bees harvesting honey. 
 
"How local can we get?" asks Craig Robbins, director of dining services for Parkhurst Dining in Pittsburgh. "We're growing terrace lettuce 20 yards away."
 
Google is a global company, but it depends on the local growing community to stock the company's five micro-kitchens with vegetables, healthy snacks, organic dairy and fruits for the more than 200 employees who eat breakfast, lunch and dinner on the job. 
 
Not only is nearly everything locally grown, but the kitchen is working towards zero waste, says Lee Keener, executive chef. 
 
"Pittsburgh is an important place for our food programs team because the office really sets the gold standard," says Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg, senior communications associate with Google. "The office boasts the highest local purchasing percentage in our entire company."   
 
The poultry and beef is part of the “Never Ever” program, protein that has never been touched by antibiotics and hormones, and are humanely treated and humanely slaughtered. 
 
Farms and vendors include: Logan Family Farms, Turner Dairy, Penn's Corner Farmer's Alliance, Laurel Hill Trout Farm, Red Ribbon Soda, Gluuteny (Pittsburgh’s Gluten Free Bakery) and Coffee Tree Roasters. 
 
All food and oils are composted and recycled when possible, working with AgreCycle and ReFuel Pittsburgh. Surplus food is donated to the Greater Pittsburgh Foodbank. 
 
Zero Waste Pittsburgh and Duquesne University also conducted a study of the Google office to determine the chances of getting a food service facility to zero waste. Google was among the first to receive Zero Waste certification. 
 
"We control everything we need to control" says Keener. 
 
"Our goal is to provide the highest quality food we can, nutritionally balanced, authentically prepared, while encouraging employees to collaborate amongst each other and talk," adds Robbins.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Lee Keener, Craig Robbins and Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg for Google
 
 

East End Brewing expanding operations in Larimer and releases Illustration Ale

East End Brewing Company is raising the bar on craftsman beer artistry.  
 
The microbrewery has teamed up with Pittsburgh's Toonseum for the release of Illustration Ale, six 1-liter bottles filled with a hearty Belgian Dark Beer and original artwork on the outside. (Click here for more on the local craft brew scene.)

The labels were designed by six local artists: Mark Bender of Mt. Lebanon, Vince Dorse of Green Tree, Jasen Lex of Chartiers City, Nathan Mazur of Holiday Park, Ed Piskor of Munhall, and Dave Wachter of Mt. Lebanon.
 
The microbrewery's business is booming as well. The business is expanding with a move to Larimer to satisfy local demand. The new brewery's 17,000 square-feet is four times larger than the present space in the East End, says Scott Smith, owner and founder. 
 
For the last seven years of our operation, our business has grown 40-60% year to year," says Smith. The highly productive, lean staff of four will also grow in time.  
 
"It's a great problem to have in a down economy. Beer seems to fly in the face of all economic despair.  Unfortunately, when a brewery is operating at full capacity you can't just unplug it and go down the street. We have to start from scratch."
 
This marks the second year for Illustration Ale, an idea that came from the painstaking process of hand-bottling the beer. We wanted a label that was worthy of the effort, says Smith. 
 
"A ToonBrew is the perfect answer."
 
A hearty one liter of Illustration Ale sells for $17 at both locations with $2 going to the ToonSeum. The price also includes a $3 deposit. Smith is finding, however,  that the bottles don't often make it back to the store.
 
"People like the artwork," he says.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Scott Smith, East End Brewing Company
 
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