Katy Noonan owner of Living Collective – Oh So Doyenne Photo Essay
doiˈ(y)en/ a woman who is the most respected or prominent person in a particular field.
What is Living Collective?
Entering Living Collective feels like stepping into a world that understands and celebrates your quirks and weirdness. It definitely does not feel like your average stuffy clothing store. They have a ton of rad and unique items at their pop-up store located in TechArtista. Things that will make you laugh, things you will fall in love with and things you will need in your closet. Katy Noonan meets me at Living Collective to chat about business. She tells me, “we have Women’s and unisex clothing, accessories, prints, pins, patches, fun stuff… we even have spell kits!”. They are open Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-7pm at 4818 Washington Blvd (in the TechArtista building). You can also shop online or check out their app LVNG CLTV.
How did Living Collective get its start?
“I have been in retail since I was 16 but it wasn’t until working as a manager for Marc Jacobs that I really wanted to have my own shop. A good deal of my jobs were spent working for one specific designer at a time so the idea of being able to seek out and carry a collection of different brands, artists and designers was really exciting to me. After living in Chicago, Boston, and New York I felt that moving back to my hometown of to St. Louis was the perfect place to start Living Collective. There wasn’t anything in the city that was similar to what I wanted to create.”
“The biggest hurdle was really just stepping out of my comfort zone and going for it. I had been in a 9 year relationship that had just kind of fizzled out (albeit comfortable) and working jobs that weren’t satisfying me creatively or challenging me so I had to make a big decision to uproot and try something completely different.
“Leaving NYC to come back to a place where I hadn’t lived in 10+ years was difficult but it was really where everything made sense. Besides wanting to bring something new to St. Louis, I also had a support system here and I knew I wanted to be in a place that would financially work for a start-up business. What kept pushing me was the simple thought of regret, I didn’t want to wake up one day upset because I didn’t at least give it a shot. I can always go back to what I was doing before Living Collective and now with a hell of a lot more experience and the satisfaction of having built my own business from the ground up.”
We asked Katy what’s one thing she does really well and is proud of with Living Collective.
“I genuinely enjoy helping customers and connecting with new people on a personal level. I have to say that it has definitely been one my greatest strengths in my career (I am much happier in front of people than a computer).
“Growing up, I always had my own style, sometimes it made me a bit of an outcast but more often than not, it allowed me to befriend and fit in with a lot of different types of people because I wasn’t pigeonholed to one group, style, or genre. I have definitely carried that with me in a sense of “wear what you like and what makes you happy”. That mentality really breathes into the life of the shop and “living collective” as a theme. I am really proud of the fact that we have such a wide demographic of customers, almost anyone can find something they love in the shop”.
What is your favorite story about your business?
“The greatest thing is that I have been able to meet so many incredible people that I am sure I would not have otherwise had the chance to meet. One time I was on a plane to San Francisco and researching some co-working spaces while we were in the air. The guy next to me ended up ended up looking over my shoulder and we got to talking about these different spots in St. Louis, turns out he had been doing his own co-working research because had just left his firm to start his own practice of being a Small Business lawyer. Definitely a great person to have fallen into a chance meeting with and we have become friends and stayed in touch.
“Him and his wife actually have a pet pig which I pig sat for recently and brought to hang out at the shop… so okay, scratch everything above., my favorite story/experience I have had because of the business was getting to hang out with Templeton the pig”.
Have you faced any adversity being a woman in your field?
“Absolutely! I think that is a huge reason I really wanted to be my own boss (I have worked with a myriad of different personalities). The fashion industry also definitely has its own set of drawbacks for women with the industry standard of beauty they have set. Everyday you are looking at sizing and images of models and helping people with clothing and fit (and that means having to sometimes feel someone’s disappointment when they are unhappy with their own body) and I have struggled with body issues myself in this realm, It can be very difficult getting out of the mindset of comparing yourself to others or feeling you need to fit a specific size. The designers and brands that offer a larger range of sizing are still few and far between”.
Shop Living Collective online!
Check out the Living Collect Facebook page
Take a lookie at their instagram
Or go and visit them at 4818 Washington Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63108