The soon to open Gallery on Penn storefront. Photo courtesy of East Liberty Development, Inc.

The Catapult program began with a mission: Give small businesses in East Liberty space and support while they fine-tune their products and services for a rapidly changing neighborhood. Now, they’re ready to bring those products to the people.

Beginning on Friday, Nov. 2, Gallery at Penn will be open to the public at 5935 Penn Avenue, providing space for Catapult’s many entrepreneurs to show off their hard work and take steps toward full independence. The pop-up space is scheduled to be open for the next 12 months.

The East Liberty neighborhood has seen dramatic economic growth in the last decade as abandoned factories have been turned into offices for Google, Amazon and an increasing number of start-ups. But this new wealth has not been widely shared in the chronically underserved community. Long-time residents, many of them African-American, are finding themselves displaced amid a rising cost of living in their neighborhood.

Catapult’s program began in May of this year as more of a general business incubator, aiming to close that gap by offering mentoring and support for local and minority-owned business in East Liberty. In a statement released to the media, organizers explained that expanding into a dedicated space where their entrepreneurs can interact with customers is the “next natural phase” of the project.

“With the development of a physical Catapult: Start-up to Storefront space, we’re really excited to be able to offer this new opportunity to allow our companies to incubate their retail businesses on one of the busiest streets in the city,” says Tammy Thompson, executive director of Circles Greater Pittsburgh and manager of the Catapult program.

Here’s a look at the six female-owned business that will be setting up shop:

CobblerWorld – Head baker Terina Hicks prepares turnovers, sweet potato pie, and the aforementioned cobblers featuring assorted fruits
Naptural Beauty Supply, LLC.  – Specializing in all natural, cruelty-free skincare and makeup from founder and CEO LaShesia Holliday.
360 Cafe LLC – Founder Tyleda Worou describes 360 as an “alternative and spiritual health business” specializing in aromatherapy and other non-Western medical techniques.
IMIHI Designs  – Designer and fashionista Alexis Cathie makes clothing for plus-size women and promotes body positivity.
Kin of Duncan Apparel – clothing designed by Jasmine Duncan for all that is small (kids, pets, dolls, etc.).
TLC Libations – Custom cocktails and professional bar staff brought to you by Diane and Erika Turner.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.