Thriving cities depend on the adventurous among us, who alter the urban landscape when they forge their own successful paths.

Each month, we ask an influential Pittsburgher: What was it like for you in the beginning?

Tyler Haak

Creator/Owner,  Yinzstore,
Live: Downtown
Work: All Across the Area
How Long: Five Years.

What projects have you worked on in the past?

My first project was the blog, Yinzster, which moved from the original aim of describing a 20-something’s life in the city with words to celebrating everyone else’s with their pictures.  Photo projects with Yinzster like “Pixburgh” and “May Days” led me to work with @steelcitygrammers on Instagram and where I am today.

What  propelled you to start Yinzstore?

From the consumer side, I thought it would be really valuable to have a marketplace that gathered together Pittsburgh-themed products (starting with unique street photographs) that are typically disparate.  From the contributor side, I am just aware of the talent that’s out there and I think the city should be excited about all the unique things the people I’m partnering with are doing.

What struggles have you faced in starting Yinzstore?

This is a passion project, so the trend from the original blog through the Instagram page and now into the e-commerce end of things is that I have had no clue how to do any of it until I threw myself right into the thick of it.  That’s what’s made it so fun and fulfilling, but also super difficult and more than a little scary at times.

Why launch this project now?

Lifers, newcomers, visitors, and ex-pats are enthusiastic about the direction the city is taking right now, as they should be, so interest in quality content is high.  And there’s just so much talent running around – with a unique interest in their city’s betterment – that I believe different photographers, bloggers, vendors, artists, etc can all benefit from collaborative marketing.

What personality traits must someone possess in order to launch a project like Yinzstore and be successful?

I guess if you look around town, Urbanist is a great example but so are things like Handmade Arcade or Keep Pittsburgh Dope or what have you, the most important thing is probably that you have a belief in what you’re doing and you are ready to stand behind what you’re creating.  I find the best things for that have been confidence, flexibility, and patience.  And for Yinzstore in particular, it’s important to be able to work with really inspiring people you can trust.

What are you looking most forward to with this project?

I’m playing matchmaker.  I get to share a place where Pittsburghers can purchase things they otherwise may not have found and that they’ll own and cherish for a long time, and I get to help super-talented artists and creative people move their work into the lives of their target audience.  Thinking of making those connections a reality is pretty damn cool.