I first spotted Jessa on Instagram when she shared her outfit for Stylish Pittsburgh Day. She had this fantastic, effortless style that I wanted to know more about and after a little digging I discovered that not only does she have fantastic sense of style, she writes a fashion blog too! I was hooked and knew I had to feature her as part of my Stylish Pittsburgh series!!
Jessa’s blog is called Wavy Alabaster and if you’ve not heard of it you need to check it out. It’s gorgeous. The styling, photography and writing style are all beautiful. She’s a creative and a free spirit, she expresses herself eloquently through her personal style, and she blogs from the heart.
I had so much fun photographing Jessa for this post. We met in Frick Park and spent a couple of hours playing around with different locations and lighting, it’s so inspiring to collaborate with another style blogger like this, I highly recommend it!
In our interview Jessa talks about the difficult decision she made to leave a successful career in sports marketing to follow her dream of working in fashion and styling, she shares the story behind her blog name and she talks about her personal style. It’s a joy to read Jessa’s answers, so grab a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy!
Tell me a little bit about yourself and the inspiration behind your blog, Wavy Alabaster?
Where to begin… my husband and I currently live in a quaint home in Squirrel Hill, our first home! Sometimes we still cannot believe we did such a grown up thing. I work for Free People and am a manager up at the Ross Park Mall location. I’ve started to dive into the personal styling business and have clients here and there as I feel out my path. I love a good cup of coffee, writing in cursive, vinyl records from decades past and all kinds of music, fresh flowers, and dancing! Oh, and I’m a die-hard sports fan.
I didn’t have the typical path into blogging and styling, and, I have to say, I love that about myself. But, then again, is there a typical path? For six years after leaving the land of college, I exhausted myself in the sports industry, from working with a professional football team to providing sports marketing consultation and activation for large corporations. And, then I left. I made a drastic change and here I am. The reason and drive behind this decision was the foundation for my first post.
There always existed this love and respect for personal style and the freedom of expression it allows us. I wanted to marry this with the written word. I have kept journals throughout various chapters in my life and they are my most treasured possessions. They give me a chance to truly reflect and feel where I have been and help clarify where I am going. Wavy Alabaster is my open journal, style blog. The name on the surface physically describes me as I embrace the lack of pigment in my skin and the wild wavy nature of my hair. But the name does lend itself to a deeper meaning. “Wavy” was also chosen because, in life, we go through ebbs and flows. There will always be ups and downs, but life keeps on keepin’ on… one, continuous wave. Saying “Alabaster” always brings a smile to my face because my husband, as far back as I can remember, calls me his “alabaster beauty.” It brought a cheekiness and interest to my blog name that made it feel complete.
You moved to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia last year, what brought you to Pittsburgh and what do you think makes this a great city to live in?
My husband grew up with a devout love for the city of Pittsburgh and the sports that are the center of this city’s culture. As much as Ben enjoyed Philadelphia, Pittsburgh seemed to be much more his pace. He wanted to call the steel city home at some point during our journey together and we felt it was as good of a time as any to make the move last summer.
Leading up to the move, I had been contemplating switching up my career paths, from sports marketing to styling and fashion. After much debate, infinite pro and con lists, endless hours of advice, we converged two of our dreams! Ben and I both started looking for jobs within the ‘Burgh and as soon as one of us landed a gig, we were packing our bags! With my experience saturated with sports and corporate life, I knew I had to start from scratch. A new Free People store was opening in Ross Park Mall as Ben and I began our search. I applied for a part-time stylist position with this Brand that has always provided me with endless inspiration and the rest is history! To this day, I am beyond grateful to my store manager and the store manager from the Bakery Square location for taking a leap of faith on me.
It has been a journey of lessons for sure, but Ben and I are enjoying the Pittsburgh culture immensely! The sense of community is unmatched. It reminds me of a small town city; and when you strut down the street, “Where Everybody Knows your Name” plays in the background. It is comforting. There is a deep-rooted sense of pride for where the city has been and where it is going. The more I learn, the more I am hooked!
How would you describe Pittsburgh’s style how does it compare to that of Philadelphia’s?
Other than my knowledge about Pittsburgh sports, I knew very little about this gritty city, especially the style. Though this area might not be nationally recognized as a booming capital for fashion, it certainly exists. I think in Philadelphia, it is easy spot style. The sheer size of the city lends itself to a visible variety. When living in a smaller city or town, self-expression sometimes can be downplayed because one does not want to stick out. However, that is not the case here! Style in this city is as diverse as the various neighbors that make up the city limits. Pittsburgh has truly embraced the rise of athleisure, taking their workout gear to the streets in a put-together style statement. Yet, there is a simple chicness to dressing when a formal occasion is at hand. Dressing from day to night, nothing ever seems to be overdone. A lesson I can certainly learn from Pittsburgh style!
How would you describe your own style? Did you notice a change in your style after you moved to Pittsburgh?
My style is quirky, bohemian, relaxed, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s inspired, loud (sometimes too loud) androgynous, and meaningful. The list of adjectives could go on forever because, quite frankly, I am all over the place! I love to live in the moment with my style. The pieces I rock can be trendy or three seasons ago, thrifted or designer, hand-me-down or brand new. My day to day looks follow no criteria, which it what keeps it fresh and exciting. Style is such a creative outlet. It is beyond fun to see how folks place pieces together and the potential stories behind those outfits. Inspiration behind my style comes from a variety of things, including my environment. Living in Pittsburgh has definitely had its influence, particularly the shapes of pieces I’ve been rockin’ lately. Since moving to a city surrounded by with bridges and vast hills, I’ve added some linear, architectural pieces to my wardrobe.
I love the mix of independent boutiques and big brands here in Pittsburgh and I definitely have my favorite places to shop. Where do you like to head when you’re shopping for clothes? Do you have any favorite shops that you’ll head to again and again?
Eons Fashion Antique in Shadyside is hand downs first on my list as far as boutiques. It was the first Pittsburgh vintage shop I visited, and truthfully, I haven’t shopped branched out to many other vintage spots since heading there. It’s horrible, I know. It’s like discovering the perfect meal on the menu; and as much as you want to try something new, you just keep going back to what you know is good! Their selection is vast and unique; not to mention, they have a vase amount of men’s options and I have found some of my favorite pieces in men’s departments. Pavement, in Lawrenceville, is a close second with its statement jewelry and love for American-made, unique pieces. I also have to mention No. 14 Boutique as I recently was introduced to this chic, quaint spot on account of you, Niki! Free People has, and always will be, my big brand of choice, which I am sure was obvious from my answers above.
What’s your most treasured item in your closet?
This may be cliché, but it has to be my wedding dress. It carries such meaning and radiates such love. At just one glance, this one-of-a-kind beauty reminds me of a perfect day. A label-less dress, it was condemned to an attic of a small wedding dress boutique outside of Philly. It was a sample sent by a brand that went out of business shortly after the boutique received the first sample. At the end of my session, the seamstress, whom had been lingering away during my appointment, had a strong feeling I would love this “dress in the attic”; and after an exhaustive day of dress shopping and not having any luck finding that perfect fit, I said, “what the hell, let’s see it.” As soon as the corset was laced, I cried uncontrollably. Like the ugly, girl sob. It was perfect. A $150 later, I had my dress and a meant-to-be story.
If you’d like to check out the other stylish Pittsburghers I’ve interviewed, and find out more about #stylishpittsburgh campaign then head over here!
And if you’re a local boutique or style-obsessed Pittsburgher and would like to be featured, or maybe you know someone who you think deserves to be featured? Get in touch!!