We’d like you to meet Shift Collaborative, a creative agency based in East Liberty since 2013. Shift helps companies communicate better with a range of services from website development to media relations. As the neighborhood has grown and evolved over the years, Shift has along with it.
From their beginnings at the Beauty Shoppe to their current home at 128 North Highland Avenue, the agency has moved offices as their team has grown and needs have changed. We checked in with Shift’s founders, Cynthia Closkey and Sarah Mayer, to learn more about what they do and why they chose East Liberty as the place to do it.
Can you tell me about the origin of Shift and why you are motivated to do the work that you do?
We founded Shift with three entrepreneurs all coming from different backgrounds and disciplines, but with the unified vision to serve clients with a different level of involvement than we were seeing in the market.
Among the many facets of the marketing industry, two things in particular guided us. First, we are in an industry that evolves almost constantly. Plus, clients have changing needs as the market shifts and consumer behavior evolves. We aim to be responsive to both those types of changes. Secondly, clients have excellent ideas and a wealth of knowledge, and it makes so much sense to us that they be involved in the creative process. The balance of flexibility, responsiveness, creativity, and collaboration are at the heart of our work.
How did you decide to base Shift in East Liberty?
When Shift launched in 2013, the partners had ties to the Northside, Downtown, and East Liberty. We looked at all three neighborhoods and felt that the energy, people, and proximity to retail and restaurants of East Liberty tipped the scales greatly in this neighborhood’s favor.
Tell me about the offices you’ve had in East Liberty over the years.
We started out at the co-working space run by the Beauty Shoppe, when it was above Zeke’s Coffee. That place was gritty and fun and full of cool businesses. We’ll always remember the afternoon roasting time at Zeke’s…the scent permeated and wafted into our office, our hair, our clothes.
When Beauty Shoppe opened in the Liberty Bank building we were one of the first tenants in the office spaces on the third floor. We loved the vibe in that space with it’s high ceilings, lots of natural light, and architectural charm.
By 2015 we had grown to nine people and we needed more space. Then it was on to the Cube near Whole Foods.
By 2016, we were ten people and had outgrown our space once more. Again, we looked at other neighborhoods, but ultimately decided to stay in East Liberty. We love our home base at 128 N. Highland Avenue (although we’re still working remotely at present).
Shift helps brands like 412 Food Rescue and the East End Cooperative Ministry tell their story with websites, impact reports, brand identities, and more.
How has Shift grown since its founding?
Oh gosh, we’ve grown so much and in so many ways over the last 8 years. The team has changed over the years here and there, but we’ve stayed true to our DNA of collaboration, creativity, and responsiveness.
Have you helped many East Liberty or East End businesses through your agency?
We’ve collaborated with a number of East Liberty-based organizations from East End Cooperative Ministries rebrand to 412 Food Rescue’s annual Impact Reports. Other clients have included East Liberty Family Health Center, Romeo Delivers, and Women for a Healthy Environment. We’ve also partnered with folks we’ve met along the way, like NuRelm, another East Liberty-based web and app development firm.
What does community mean to Shift?
Community is a space to explore, to be curious, to learn about others, to be heard, to include others, and to be included.
What is your favorite spot(s) in the neighborhood?
There are so many great places, it’s too hard to choose.
When Pittsburgh weather cooperates it’s nice to walk the neighborhood, to see and hear people engaging with each other; that community vibe gives off such positive energy. We almost always walk back into the office with a story of something we saw or heard or a creative spark to put into our work.
Anything else you’d like to share about Shift or your services?
Shift is a brand agency that specializes in helping businesses and nonprofits create brand experiences that motivate humans and shift perspectives.
At Shift, we believe that creativity can and should be used to help organizations communicate better. This takes thoughtful exploration of ideas, experimentation to prove concepts, and the creation of sustainable solutions both internally and externally for clients.