Pittsburgh is home to a growing community of craftspeople. The potential economic growth generated by supporting this creative class is significant. Spool is a small business willing and able to serve Pittsburgh’s thriving fiber arts community. In July, Bridgeway financed Spool with a working capital loan to cover the startup costs of opening and equipping a storefront in Allentown. Owners Jennifer Swartzwelder and Michelle Lancet belong to a new generation of small business pioneers reinvigorating Pittsburgh’s struggling main streets with products and services appealing to 21st century tastes.

“Bridgeway allowed us to add a brick and mortar location and to expand the scope of our business…”

– Michelle Lancet, Co-owner of Spool

Cultivating Customers

Spool’s business model transcends their product offering. Swartzwelder and Lancet offer customers an experiential approach that encourages customer loyalty. For example, Spool holds sewing workshops in the retail space where customers engage with a curated selection of fair trade, organic, and sustainable fabrics. They also host events in other venues to access new audiences. In addition, the brick and mortar location in Allentown augments robust online sales. Spool embodies an agile and diversified approach necessary for boutique businesses to compete with larger competitors.

Hilltop’s Big Picture

Bridgeway helps innovators like Spool reclaim the storefronts of the Hilltop’s most challenging markets. To reinforce commercial growth, the organization backs local community development opportunities like the Haberman Avenue Corridor planning process. Bridgeway provided a predevelopment grant to the Hilltop Alliance for the project. The Hilltop Alliance’s executive director, Aaron Sukenik, stated that “we could not have generated the leveraged investments in the neighborhood without that initial planning grant from Bridgeway Capital.” Bridgeway believes small business and real estate development are the keys to unlocking a higher quality of life for the Hilltop’s underserved neighborhoods.


Spool Fabric Shop

816 E Warrington Ave | Pittsburgh, PA 15210

412.481.1985 | www.spoolfabricshop.com