Beauty Shoppe will open co-working space and offices in Butler Street Lofts in January. Photo by Alexandra Ribar.

Zach Ciccone isn’t sure to what degree co-working spaces help to attract or retain people in Pittsburgh, but he certainly sees in Beauty Shoppe’s spaces “a vibrancy, happiness and inclusivity” that fulfills the company’s goal of introducing hospitality into the workplace.

In January, Beauty Shoppe — the company Zach started with his brother Matthew and their friend Rabih Helou as its third principal — will open co-working space at Butler Street Lofts in Lawrenceville marking its second branded location in the city. Four of 16 apartments in the building are leased, studios to two-bedroom units renting for $1,100 to $2,000, making the building at 212 45th Street an ideal place for modern workers, professionals or working couples, says Ciccone.

“There is a problem with how people consume office [space]. With our work, we’re trying to address that problem and we’re trying to solve it, bring joy back to the workplace,” he says. “Employers talk about that a lot with their employees. In our spaces, you have so many different types of people that it’s incredibly eclectic. You’re providing a home for people who are otherwise working from home, or a business nomad working from a coffee shop.”

Butler Street Lofts is just the start of Beauty Shoppe’s strategic expansion.

On Dec. 6, the company will open space at The Corner, a concept it developed in partnership with Penn State-New Kensington and Westmoreland County, in the former Professional Building at 707 Fifth Ave. in New Ken. The space is somewhat of an experiment, says Ciccone, to jumpstart development in the Allegheny River town north of Pittsburgh and create a destination and source of inspiration for people.

Beauty Shoppe’s principals developed Ace Hotel Pittsburgh and the hospitality industry showed them the importance of outreach to connect a project with its community, Ciccone says.

“Who knows how successful that project will be, but we’re hoping for the best,” he says of the New Ken space. “That project was designed to be a scalable, transferable model for other towns in the Rust Belt.”

Early next year, Beauty Shoppe will open a project on the west side of Cleveland, in Ohio City. In the second quarter of 2018, it anticipates opening in The Highline, McKnight Realty’s transformation of the Terminal Buildings along Carson Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

“We believe in the narrative of these post-industrial towns and the vibrancy of the entrepreneurial community in these places and how the entrepreneurial ecosystem relies upon a vibrant professional services industry,” Ciccone says.

“Traditional consumers of office space, whether an architecture firm or insurance provider, to the robotics companies and software developers who are really powering our local economics — all these people need a home. We’re pretty excited about bringing those people together to help facilitate interactions between those industries and employees.”

Beauty Shoppe opened Pittsburgh’s first co-working space in the core of East Liberty in 2011. Photo by Ryan Neeven.
Beauty Shoppe opened Pittsburgh’s first co-working space in the core of East Liberty in 2011. Photo by Ryan Neeven.

The Ciccone brothers, graduates of Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy, started Beauty Shoppe in 2011 by offering Pittsburgh’s first co-working space in the former Liberty Bank building in East Liberty. The company developed and operates Ascender, a hub for startups, at Bakery Square.

Butler Street Lofts will offer community programs and a yet-unnamed restaurant in the building, which was formerly a YMCA and charter school. In addition to its contemporary loft-style apartments, offices and co-working spaces, there’s a gymnasium that dates to the building’s days as a Y. Crow Hill Development, Beauty Shoppe’s New York-based partner in renovating the historic building, will announce the restaurant brand in January.

Crow Hill’s focus is revitalizing architecturally interesting historic buildings, says Ciccone, and “that piqued our interest in this project, having a smart, passionate collaborator. Typically, those projects are difficult to re-imagine and re-purpose, so they were interested in finding a partner who knew the local neighborhood and was interested in restoring that building as a community place.”

Ascender, a hub for startups, is located at Bakery Square. Photo by Ryan Neeven.

Beauty Shoppe’s choice of locations in Pittsburgh is strategic and proprietary, Ciccone says. But part of the partners’ strategy is to develop a network of spaces that people can utilize: lease space at one location, and gain 24/7 access to all. Pricing depends on an organization’s needs, he says, but could be as low as an individual monthly flex membership for $150 — something that might be attractive to a sales organization whose team spends most of its time in the field.

Ciccone acknowledges a relatively quick expansion of the company, and doesn’t think the market for co-working spaces is saturated yet.

“There are new and interesting players offering different price points and amenities, but our network of spaces that includes Ascender of Pittsburgh is providing a new way to consume offices,” he says. “Having a citywide network of around-the-clock professional co-working and work-life spaces is different. We’re providing a product that is for every budget. It’s extremely accessible and inclusive to all.”

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.