Catapult’s second Retail Residency is in full bloom

Serenity Bloom Storefront
Catapult Startup to Storefront program graduate Brandi Taylor has opened the doors to her floral studio, Serenity Bloom, in Pittsburgh's Northside.

On March 21st, Catapult Startup to Storefront program graduate Brandi Taylor opened the doors to her floral studio, Serenity Bloom, on the Northside of Pittsburgh.

Located at 1217 Federal Street, Serenity Bloom is the culmination of years of hard work and planning that all started with a humble passion.

The first seeds of an entrepreneurial dream

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve been helping friends, coworkers, and family members with flower arrangements,” Taylor shared. “I did my friend’s wedding in 2009 — all the decorations at the church, the bouquets, everything. And I remember when I went home every day to work on that, I was very relaxed. That was my safe place.”

It wasn’t until Taylor’s friend in Atlanta launched a floral business that she started to consider turning her passion into a side hustle.

“I went to Atlanta to shadow her for a while, just to see what it would take to build things up. When I came back, I put my money together and started purchasing different things.”

Taylor soon realized that she needed some support to take her business to the next level. Having previously worked with Catapult through her day job as a parenting training consultant, she knew that the Startup to Storefront program would be a good fit.

Growing roots in a community of budding businesses

Through the program, she learned about how to market her business and found inspiration and strength in the cohort format.

“That is what helps: you grow by leaning on one another. That’s the biggest thing, the comradery with everyone, not just the people in the program, but the Catapult staff as well,” she said.

After graduation, Taylor worked out of a storage unit and a room in the Allegheny Health Network building in Bellevue, but the spaces weren’t able to meet all of her needs and were missing a vital element — foot traffic — that could help accelerate her growth.

That’s when Catapult Business Consultant and Interior Decorator LaToya Johnson-Rainey stepped in, finding the Federal Street location for Taylor and working with Catapult to prepare it as our second Retail Residency. The first residency, IMIHI Showroom, opened in 2022 at 5903 Penn Avenue.

“I was like, okay, but what about the overhead? I’ll need this. I’ll need that,” Taylor remembered. “Although I was already a part of the Catapult program, I just didn’t know to what extent they would help.”

Catapult’s retail residencies support early-stage businesses by covering the costs of their buildout and leases as they slowly and safely ramp up their clientele, income, and experience. This gives entrepreneurs a risk-free environment to test their concepts in a prime retail location.

“It’s dangerous for businesses to enter into long-term commercial leases when they’re getting started, but it’s imperative that they have the space to show people what they can do — to have a ‘Main Street’ presence,” said Catapult Executive Director Tammy Thompson at the Serenity Bloom grand opening. “Our role is to take on that responsibility early in the process until they’re ready to take it on themselves.”

Johnson-Rainey helped bring Taylor’s vision for the Federal Street space to life.

A central element of the studio is a striking U-shaped workstation and floral bar that offers a dedicated area for Taylor to work while also providing a stylish and inviting space for clients to observe and participate in the creative process. Adding a luxurious touch are glass chandeliers punctuating the ceilings and quilted black leather chairs for waiting clients.

Cultivating a legacy

As Taylor shared at the event, she hopes this will be the first of many locations. Her goal is to quit her day job and focus on flowers full-time, eventually building something she can pass on to her children.

“My son — he’s always there with me. I’m a single parent, so when I make it, you know it’s coming,” she shared while fighting back tears at the opening.

For all of us at Catapult, that’s what it’s all about.

“We believe in nurturing people’s natural born skills and helping them put them into a business where they can be economically stable and secure and pass something onto their children,” said Thompson. “It’s important for our children to see us reach our goals. It’s important for our children to see us supported in reaching our goals.”

Support Serenity Bloom

Share This Post

More To Explore

Homeownership is within reach!