Sadie Shoaf is a painter whose canvasses are constantly on the move. You might see her work while you’re walking down the sidewalk, sipping tea at a café or rocking out to a band.
“I love creating wearable art,” she says. “When something I’ve made goes to someone else and I can see them physically wearing it, that’s my favorite part.”
Shoaf is the owner of Three Pigs Collective, a vintage shop that opened in Lawrenceville on Nov. 30. Housed in a building constructed in the late 1800s, the store is a fusion of fashion and art.
Shoaf and a small group of other sellers scour thrift stores and estate sales to find clothing, shoes and accessories from the 1960s through the 1990s. They then add their own personal touches to the pieces — such as a splash of color or a fringe of lace — creating a one-of-a-kind item.
Although only 24, Shoaf is an old soul. The Clairton, Pa. native is infatuated with history and has amassed a large collection of apparel that has withstood the test of time, including a pair of well-crafted shoes from the 1940s.
“I’m still wearing them. I think that’s really incredible,” she says. “Consumerism and fast fashion always felt weird to me.”
As a teenager, Shoaf worked at Highway Robbery Vintage in the South Side and later began selling her own repurposed finds online, while pursuing her passion for painting at a local art studio. In need of a change, she moved to a farm in Athens, Ga., and bonded with a Juliana pot belly pig named Almond.
Upon her return to Pittsburgh, she continued selling her wares online and at flea markets, boutiques and coffee shops around town.
The Butler Street space is an ideal spot for Three Pigs’ permanent home, she says. Bob Friel owns the property, a time capsule of Victorian architecture and design. He has been lovingly restoring the original woodwork, tiling and tin ceilings since 1978. In the past, the building has served as a butcher shop and a barber shop.
While Shoaf lives in the second-floor merchant’s quarters, the back room will soon become Rat Lab, a photo and film studio run by Katie Krulock. Jewelry designer King Reld will regularly be on hand to make impressions of customers’ teeth to create personalized grillz — a very trendy thing these days.
Floral artists will decorate the space with living masterpieces. Come spring, Shoaf will hold events on the back patio.
She believes having a physical space, not just an online shop, will help her generation learn how to make human connections and artistic collaborations.
As she stocks more inventory on this particular Saturday, Julie Heighley, Elizabeth Heighley and Peggy McCafferty enter the store.
Participants in Lawrenceville’s Joy of Cookies Tour, the Kittanning residents were drawn into the shop by the beautiful window dressings. Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth giddily peruses the racks.
“This is my style,” she says. “I love these clothes. Everything has a story and it’s cool to know where things came from.”