They’re two best friends with a passion for fashion.
Alle-Kiski Valley natives Dessie Mitcheson Pilek and Jen Zatko Atchison met as cheerleaders in seventh grade and graduated together from Kiski Area High School in 2009. These days, they are business partners who are expanding their online clothing business — East West Boutique — with a brick-and-mortar location in historic Vandergrift.
The new store, located at 140 Grant Ave., celebrates its grand opening Saturday.
Their business philosophy is about cheering on all women with a message of inclusion and empowerment. “We want to make women feel beautiful and confident in any size,” Atchison said.
After leaving their respective jobs as hairstylist and X-ray technician, the friends started the online version of East West Boutique in May. They began by selling women’s clothing in sizes x-small to 3X through a mobile app and website, shopewb.com.
Customers are encouraged to download the free East West Boutique app and tune in for the weekly “Tuesday Night Live” shopping broadcast. The show features Pilek, Atchison and guest models showing 15 new clothing selections from their inventory.
“One of our customers said she pours a ‘shoptail’ drink and gets cozy on the couch and ready to shop ‘Tuesday Night Live,’ ” Atchison said.
The expansion to a brick-and-mortar location comes after seeing their online sales exceed projections.
“We met our six-month sales goals online in one month,” Pilek said. “We were blown away.”
An Apollo native and top athlete at Kiski Area, Pilek moved to Southern California eight years ago, working as a model. She will commute from the West Coast to help run the store. Atchison, raised in Vandergrift, is married with three children and lives in New Kensington. Their two locations are the inspiration for the store’s name.
Both women serve as buyers, traveling to apparel markets in Dallas and other cities, selecting pieces that are often not found in the Pittsburgh area.
Customers can expect to find trendy sweaters, jeans, dresses, outerwear, shirts, accessories, jewelry, handbags and shoes amid a renovated historic building featuring a high tin ceiling and exposed brick wall and hardwood floors.
“We’re modern Boho with a twist,” Atchison said. “Our motto is fashion from coast-to-coast.”
Clothing prices range from $15-$75.
Atchison recalled as a little girl growing up in Vandergrift, she noticed there weren’t clothing shopping options. Her mom drove her to Monroeville or other malls to purchase clothes.
“I know before I was born, Vandergrift had a lot of shopping here in town — this was a huge, booming place to come to,” Atchison said. “Just having a little piece of that back here again with the up-and-coming restaurants, breweries and little shops opening is meaningful.”
The duo are leasing abuilding that was a trendy dress shop during the 1960s.
Customers can expect a warm welcome at East West.
“We wanted an inviting, Boho feel, but we wanted to keep the traditional feeling of the building,” Pilek said. “We just want everyone to come in, find something they’re going to love to wear but also have a fun experience with us.”
In August, they sponsored a gathering at the Vandergrift pool for women — of all ages, shapes, sizes and health conditions — to mingle in their swimsuits and “love who you are,” Pilek said at the time.
Taylor Stein, 28, of Castle Shannon is a loyal online shopper who plans to attend the grand opening this weekend. She said she frequently receives compliments while wearing her East West purchases.
“Each piece is good quality and I love the style. Everyone can find something they’re going to love,” Stein said. “I feel like a million bucks when I wear their stuff.”